An American Islam
Tax on the Rich Rooted in Judeo-Christian-Islamic Principles
In the Quran, this concept is explicitly explained:
Verily, the human being is born with a restless disposition. [As a rule], whenever misfortune touches him, he is filled with self-pity; and whenever good fortune comes to him, he selfishly withholds it [from others]. Not so, however, those who consciously turn toward God in prayer. [And] who incessantly persevere in their prayer; and in whose possessions there is a due share, acknowledged [by them] for such as ask [for help] and such as are deprived [of what is good in life] (70:19-25).
Another passage in the Quran reads:
[But,] behold, the God-conscious will find themselves amid gardens and springs, enjoying all that their Sustainer will have granted them [because], verily, they were doers of good in the past: they would lie asleep during but a small part of the night and would pray for forgiveness from their innermost hearts; and [would assign] in all that they possessed a due share unto such as might ask [for help] and such as might suffer privation (51:15-19).
President Obama, in fact, is asking less of the rich than Jesus did. When a man came to Jesus asking how he can attain eternal life, he told him: "Go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me" (Mk. 10:21) and "How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!" (Mk. 10:23)
The President is only asking the rich to pay a few percentage points more than what they are paying now. In his latest budget, Obama proposed a 30 percent tax on those with incomes above $1,000,000. Conservative Christian leader Ralph Reed of the Faith and Freedom Coalition criticized this concept, saying that tying this tax policy to Jesus' teachings was "theologically threadbare and straining credulity." But it is Reed's response that strains credulity.
The wealthy should pay their fair share of taxes. The obligation of those who are doing well to help those that are less fortunate is deeply rooted in the Judeo-Christian (and Islamic) traditions. This is because the ultimate source of this concept is the God of Abraham Himself who, despite the contention of some, is worshipped by Muslims, Christians and Jews alike.
You would think that this common belief in a common Lord would bring people together on an issue such as this. But, this is the 2012 election season. Very little, it seems, makes sense.
Hesham A. Hassaballa is a Chicago-based physician and writer. He is author of, most recently, Noble Brother: The Story of the Prophet Muhammad in Poetry (Faithful Word Press). You can follow Hesham Hassaballa on Facebook.