‘though all theft is haram (sinful)- the stealing of worry beads is halal (permissible)’
The misbah (rosary/worry beads) can be seen in the hands of most men in Kuwait. Originally it served the holy purpose of helping the devout remember the number of times a particular prayer or eulogy had been recited and help keep a mans thoughts away from intemperate thoughts. Through the years, however, the worry bead has transformed into a social artifact; often a fashion statement or an indicator of wealth and social status.
Because of this, most worry beads in Kuwait more often than not find themselves in someone else’s pocket. The act of ‘stealing’ the worry beads- whether deliberate or unintentional is often overlooked and permitted amongst men and collectors.
Last year, 2012, marked the highest percentage of crimes in Kuwait in over five years, and the largest percentage of those crimes were against public funds at 63.6% of total crimes.
Amongst most of Kuwaiti society, the act of abusing public funds, government stipends and social allowances is threatening the moral fabric. It has become acceptable to take full advantage of the system. People get paid salaries for governmental jobs they never go to, individuals bribe officials on a daily basis, and families are having more children just so they can receive an extra 300 dollars a month in social welfare.
The theme of corruption and theft is demonstrated through the use of the pre 1950 Kuwaiti flag with the word Kuwait in arabic and comprises several hundred misbah’s with some missing beads. The work also touches upon the resulting sense of anxiety and worry that much of kuwait’s population feels when confronted with the uncertainty of the future for ourselves and our nation.