Wednesday, March 08, 2006

A terrible disease

I guess this is what blogs are for: personal reflection. This is a reflection on something that happened to me this week. I had written a grant proposal that would pay for my summer salary so that I may write a book: Economic Analysis of Islamic Law. I thought that I had a reasonable chance to get funded. Alas, I received a letter on Monday telling me that I did not get the funding. I felt depressed about it, and when I tried to put a positive spin on it, I thought to myself that this is better, since it will free up more time to work on statistics of extremes, which may help me to get other research grants or consulting and training work on risk management.

How sick! I didn't recognize fully how terrible this was until I started preparing a khutba for Friday. The topic: زهد, or disineterest in worldly things. I guess my aim was to soothe myself, and put yet another positive spin on my disappointment at not receiving the funding.

The true disease is obvious: if I was only willing to do the work on Islamic law and economics if I got paid for it, then I am in large part doing it for the money. All of my self deception about refusing to serve as a consultant to providers of so-called "Islamic finance" (which couldn't be farther from Islam) must then be a mixture of pride and sour grapes. I must be as much of a hypocrite as the self-appointed "scholars" who told their benefactors at Dow Jones that they would do God's work for free, but "if paid, [they] should be paid handsomely". I am just another mercenary and peddler of religion.

Unless... Unless I sacrifice my summer salary and consulting income, and decide to work on the book anyway, on my own time. There is still a good chance that this is also driven by pride and self-deception, but at the very least there will be no direct financial component to the decision.

For now, I am depressed to discover how materialistic I am in reality -- how far I am from زهد. I am obviously someone who gets happy when I get money, success, fame, etc., and gets sad when he loses those things. That is the opposite of faith... That is the ultimate disease of the heart -- not only being attached to the world, but also tying pretensions of doing religiously meaningful work to material gains.


Blogger heraish said...

Al-Qaradawi has discussed the issue of whether it is appropriate to get paid to do Islamic work.

He says that he believes that there is a need to have paid Islamic workers.

However, for himself he has preferred to earn his living by being in the field of academia and doing dawa work on his own extra time.

This model has enabled him to be independent in his thinking. Therefore he actually believes in what he produces. And those opinions are uncluttered, to a large extent, from institutionalized pressure.

God Knows Best.

2:56 AM  
Blogger heraish said...


One of the ways Al-Qaradawi is recomminding for the production of unbiased scholars is to have the financial support within the family.

Some members of jamaat al tabligh actually follow this as well.

The way this model works is that a couple has a number of children. Some children are put in "Islamic schools" to acquire secular knowledge in an Islamic environment. However, one child is encouraged to pursue purely Islamic studies geared towards him being an Islamic scholar.

When the children grow up the ones with the secular degrees having careers pitch in to support the scholar sibling. This way the scholar has a source of material support and can focus on Islamic work.

8:40 PM  
Blogger heraish said...


You should submit your project as a proposal to the Amr Khaled page. You may suggest that you can supervise a team of youth to help you out on the project. Thereby you may also choose to expand the scope of the project as well.

May God give you success and guidance.

7:03 PM  

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