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Rasul Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “If a community decreases the measure and weight (of sold grains or food), they will be overcome by poverty, their provisions will decrease and their ruler will be unjust.” [Ibn Majah, al-Bazzar, al-Baihaqi]
We complain all the time about the evil of our rulers – how they cheat us, lie to us and are the cause of our ruin. It is easy to point fingers at others. Much more under our control are our own actions. But how much do we analyze what we do?
The first lesson that we get from this hadith is that it is the result of our own sinning that we are afflicted with the rulers that we have. Everybody thinks of changing the world; nobody thinks of changing themselves. It is in exchange for the deception that we practice that Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) punishes us with poverty and unjust rulers.
During the khilafah of Hazrat Umar (radi Allahu anhu) three minor earthquakes afflicted Madina. Hazrat Umar (radi Allahu anhu) addressed the people and told them that if they did not stop sinning he would leave Madina. He did not explain away the earthquakes as natural phenomena. They surely are, but all natural phenomena are under Allah’s control.
Hazrat Umar’s sagacity and wisdom can be judged from the fact that several of the recommendations that he made to the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) were confirmed by revelation from Allah (subhana wa ta’ala). Rasul Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) also said that if there were to be any prophet after him it would be Umar!
The second lesson we get from this hadith is of Allah’s mercy. While poverty and cruel rulers are certainly not desirable, it is Allah’s mercy that he does not save the punishment of the cheating Muslims for the Day of Judgment.
What about those who themselves are not unethical traders but do not discourage others from sinning either? Such are also sinful in the eyes of Allah (subhana wa ta’ala).
Sometimes those who apparently did not sin and also advised others to obey Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) also appear to be caught in punishment when it descends on a community. In such a case, the punishment may be a purification for their other sins or a means of earning higher and better levels in Jannah.