Friday, March 23, 2007

where would we be without our friend, you know the one, good old 'wasta'وَسطة

how would society function without it? how can people possibly live without the use of wasta?

how cool would it be if you can have instant wasta, just like the adverts 'add water and watch the effect of wasta grow on you', a man would appear with a mobile phone supplied with all the telephone numbers and he would access anyone for you, believe me this will soon be advertised in an Arab country near you.

what is the definition of wasta?, to put it quite simply wasta is an Arabic term that can best be translated into English as "clout, connections, influence, or 'pull'." The use of wasta is a form of corruption that involves using of one's connections and influence in places of power to get things done outside of the normal procedures

Wasta is basically who you know?, what your background (family)is, how connected you are. Wasta is about having someone in a power position do something (legal or illegal) for you (a favor) that couldn't be done without a wasta.

What is different from other kind of corruption is that people don’t usually hide their acts when they use Wasta, they even brag about it, and offer providing the same wasta to people around us to help them out (to get a better social standing). With enough wasta, anything can be done: any lawful punishment can be escaped, any employment can be attained, any problem can be brushed aside.

Wasta in it’s most simple forms is considered a help-out, giving a hand, but basically it is about who has it, and who don’t.

the reason i mention wasta is because when we where in mecca we where left in quite a predicament as to our accommodation in madina, the swiss lot had already been in Madina for a week and they where supposed to have booked their rooms for us, so that when they leave we take their place, but they forgot or it slipped their mind to book the rooms for us so we where left room less, we found this out whilst we where in Mecca, so our leader was panicking bless him, until some dude we got to know mentioned that he new someone who new some one who could help i.e wasta.

so it was sorted out for us, or so we thought. we get to Madina and our driver is driving past the haram almadani, and we are squashed against the windows praying that our hotel will be the one closest to the haram, instead he continues to drive further and further away until he reaches a desolate place somewhere with no sign of anything familiar. we look to our right and there's a sign on a building 'palace' something or other, we get of the coach and enter a squashed corridor, we are given rooms, 4 to a room, and then we are left to go to our rooms.

i swear as soon as i walked into our room i thought to myself people are so going to complain, basically our so called 'wasta' had dumped is in a cess pit as we would fondly call this fake palace.

4 beds to a room which was fine except that the beds where taking up every single available space so people where tripping over everything, that's fine no problem except that the sheets and bedding had stains, some fresh, one room had blood on the sheets!!! human hair was all over the pillows and blankets.

i swear i am not exaggerating this at all, in some of the rooms on the wall there where things growing, fungus, creatures yuk.

some of the toilets did not have a flush, the list could go on and on, i walked out of the room to find that most people had left their rooms and where just standing around with complete shock on their face. every one was looking for our leader who was on the phone not looking very happy himself.

most people decided that they would rather sit outside on the curb than be in the cess pit, my brother sits on the pavement comfortably and starts playing chess with a fellow hajji.

every one else was sat next to each other on the edge of the curb waiting to see what would happen, eventually some of the men went and got chicken for everyone which every one ate outside. one of the men began to shout, he had lost his cool and was saying ' wallahi I'm not sleeping one night in this hell hole, if we sleep here for even one night then we will never leave', every one was trying to calm him down which they did do eventually.

every one really didn't want to stay a single night at this place, and i didn't really blame them, i wanted to go back to mina, that was 10 times better than this place.

eventually our leader got back to us and told us that he manage dto get hold of a 5 star hotel right opposite the haram but for tomorrow and not tonight, that was good news but still no one wanted to step foot in that place especially when one of the Bengali workers told my friend that they wash the sheets and bedding once a year!!!

so in the end we stayed at another hotel that night and then the next day we moved to 'dar al-taqwah' hotel, mashallah what a difference, it was 2 to a room and it was like having a mini apartment, pretty cool

the coolest thing was when you step out of the hotel you are literally at the haram, well worth the wait in my opinion.

wasta is not always what you expect to get like in our case, it can sometimes make life easier but its effects on Arab society are often extremely disastrous.

so many incompetent people are appointed to critical positions where such incompetence can cause serious problems, giving a position to some one who is not qualified just because he's your contact is not fair and we gotta stop this mujamalah buisness.

Also, with so many jobs being given to those with connections, there are often very few left for the genuinely qualified applicants. Since there is little guarantee that hard work and dedicated studying will pay off with a good job, wasta can and often does have a devastating effect on people's motivation especially if you dont have the means for a 'good wasta'.


Brave Heart said...

well WA:it's good kind of wasta in ur case.
SOME TIMES U'LL FIND URself forced to get any kind of waste to complete ur business, i'm sorry to say that but it's a fact especially in Libya.
for me i got my job by waste,i got my job after 20 months of graduation, do u imagine that, if i didn't find wasta it may take 200 months to get job. i think when wasta can not harm any one we can do it.but when it gives the chances to bad persons over the good persons it will be depends in how we can judge the situations.
in Arab countries we have a lot of social problems to deal with, and i think it will take ages and ages to solve.
last hint: is this picture for room of hotel or room in king abdallih palace.

mani said...

oops.. didnt change the log-in on my google and my fiance` is still logged on lol.. please african delete those posts and ill post it in my name


where is khadijateri's regret button lol

mani said...

salam guys

Good post african. I am sorry to hear of the situation you have suffered. you too Braveheart..

so now we have identified the problem.. the brave next step is to ask about solutions

patrimonialism (the definition of wasta in academia) is a defining charectaristic of feudal socities, rather than democratic ones. (it also can exist in more advanced forms in democracies too though) Islam, as a way of life, and mode of governnace for a society is profoundley democratic.

Unfortunatly however,, Islam was hijacked by a cult that has changed this beautiful religion of peace into an authoritarian feudal rule.

one of the main differences between feudal rule and and demoratic rule is that some people (the powerful) always remain above the law. If this condition is satisfied.. then you will have wasta wether you like it or not, because there will always be people that make 'law' in order to oppress others while over-riding the law for whomever they like or want enslaved. thats why the more powerful your wasta, the more of a slave he is to a higher master.

By contrast, a democracy, that aims to establish justice (the first principle being that everyone is equal under the law) will create the necessary conditions for people to be able to get about the jobs they like, pursue knowledge, happiness and self-fullflillment without ever needing a wasta to get things done. An environment has to be created for what Allah swt calls.. Bism.."tanafos fel khayrat".. wasta eliminates tanafos.. the only tanafos will be the tanafos to worship your feudal lord as much as possible that he may give you some privalges that they enjoy..

you are then a fully fledged wasta, and can now use ur new found power to subordinate others..

so when wasta is the norm.. you know that 'kofr' and 'sherk' is the culture of such a society..

what are the solutions?..discuss?
(why dont they have these questions in exam papers?)

Anonymous said...

Wasta sounds evil and incredibly unfair, not to mention rather unislamic


cofman said...

Nice one white a, and very funny at times lol

Here where I live a subtle wasta can make a difference ( lol, it has to be done in a civilised way lol – No Bragging Please lol)
Also, the size/significance of the wasta could turn help/assistance - which is ok & legal - into something outside the law; ie assistance + a little push …
( the arabs, lol, not only brag, but they exaggerate as well … if your cousin, the pilot of the plane, gives you a better seat flying to Libya, you’ll tell your folks you came in his private jet )

Brave Heart said...

WA: r u ok?

white african said...

hey brave im fine, ive been in london and have only got back now so didnt get a chance to answer the comments.

im going to comment when i have sorte dout my luggage and had a cup of tea

white african said...

ok i actually belive that it's extremely difficult to get jobs or certain things done without wasta in teh arab world and you end up being forced to do something that you wouldnt neccessarily agree with, so i totally understand how you brave had to get hold of a wasta for a job but it indicates the situation at hand sadly.

also king abdallahs palace is a zillion times more extravagant than the hotel room (but saying that the hotel room was lovley:) )

oh mani how such a wonderful life it would be if we only had a regret button:)

'patrimonialism' thank you for highlighting the word, i never know what to call wasta in english.

you asked a good question' what is the solution' well democracy is def not the solution in my eyes because wasta exisits even in the west but to a higher degree (poltics and what not) your average lay men can easily go through life without the need of using wasta here.

soloution is starting from scratch, elimanating all corrupt leaders and there dogsbodies and educating the people from scratch.

you may argue that my opinion is extreme but times call for extreme measures :)

nm your totally right but whats even worse is when there is no way out but through wasta.

cofman so true :D we really do take exageration to the next level.

Anonymous said...


white african said...

annon by any chance did bush use this system of 'good old boy system'?

mani said...


Dear WA

Sorry for being late in my reply. rushed off my feet lately.. still rushed so cant elaborate.. much as I would like to.. bala3 radio ane. lol.

First, I would just like to clarify that I reject the absolute PRICIPLE of wasta, rather than some of the different forms it takes in different societies. I can appreciate that in some societies its needed, some its beneficial (when it dosent involve theft and approporiation of public resources - rarely the case though). It is recognised however that wasta is still a form of corruption, where personal conections, nepotism and other informal relationships are the means to empowering ends (money, jobs, posts, getting things done, etc) rather than a transparent system where people are treated equal and compete based on their merits, skills and abilities.

Second, Yes it also exists in the west. In fact, its existence in the west is not highlighted to us 'small timers' because it only operates in 'elite' circles.. business excecutives, managers, lords, politicians, moguls, autocrats, oligarchs, celebrities etc, while low level jobs, employment and the general population still has to abide by the rules. These elites, like the anon said for example in Texas, use systems, like the 'Old Boy' system, a network of patrimonial connections led by organistaions such as Freemasonry, Bilderberg, Skull & Bones and many many other societies secret and occultish, where the elite of the world are selected for important positions. Bush and Kerry for example (who are both second cousins btw) both are members of Skull & Bones, A secret , Cult fraternity in Yale university.. talk about being of the 'in-crew'. Much can be said here but Id rather skip and forward u scholarly documents if u are still interested..

As for democracy, we need to distinguish between the forms and functions of democracy, before we dismiss the notion. I understand what u mean when u discard democracy as useless but I think u are talking about specific FORMS of democracy, such as the representative democracy for example. When I said democracy I meant it's Functions (defined by the freedom of thought, expression and political representation, freedom to life liberty and security and the freedom of exchange, all legitimated by taxation).

For me, these are all functions of a Quranic mode of governance and teaching (despite what today's sheikhs are trying to force down our throats). You can say that you need to oblitarate everything and start teaching from the start but thats just violent romantacism. and what would u teach from the start. ok so u teach indivduals but what about when individuals form societies. what about the conflict of intrests in society, how is that to be managed.. again, I think its useless debating problems if we do not take a crack at thinking about the solutions.. cause once we do so, we start influencing our own actions.. and others learn and follow.. thats how social change comes about.. so one is either part of the problem.. or part of the solution.. :D

I tend to get carried away and I guess I did it again :D.. anyways please forgive me if my tone again sounded violent I am just very passionate for these issues. I would like to send u an excellent article about the same issue that contrasts this issue of wasta and corruption in both typs of society (the traditional, and its anti; the modern :P) so please tell me if ur intrested..

take care and salam

white african said...

mani thanks for your commnet, i would like to read the document if you could kindly send it to my hotmail address which is

that would be fantatstic said...

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