There are no legitimate businesses anymore, just business. The presence of God is everywhere, but many times, the loud jingle of money dropping in the cash till is louder than the prayers that come out of our mouths.Do you think doctors always wish that someone would fall ill so they can increase their business? I am sure medical practitioners will deny this and pretend to be shocked. The truth is, if everyone is healthy, then no one will pay them a visit.Let me give you an example we are all familiar with. One day, I visited a dentist, and my first impression was that the reception was empty. I was the only patient there, and the dentist was reading a trendy magazine when I arrived. Perhaps, by a way of making a conversation or purely out of frustration, she said to me: “Business is not good today.”Not to rub salt in the wound, I just smiled. Through my pain, the dentist made a few riyals. Not that I am complaining.I also remember it was nearly closing time and I would like to think that I might have been the only customer of the day.Maybe when they say “don’t eat sweets because they are bad for your teeth”, they really hope you would.I could not rein in my thoughts that evening, and they drifted further. We human beings are no better than animals. We treat our surroundings - the one we call civilised - the way beasts treat the jungle. When I was interviewing a corporate leader distributing a new brand of baby milk, he went to great lengths to convince me that the product had all the nourishment a newborn would need. It was a good start for a baby, he insisted - a road to a healthy adulthood. No one would dispute the quality of the milk, until you knew that the same man was distributing cigarettes.I did my homework before meeting him. I asked him if he had a similar message for the customers of his cigarettes. He dropped his gaze and struggled for words. They are two different products, he said - the baby milk was about nourishment and a cigarette was pure pleasure. Of course, he understood my point. As a businessman, he knew that there always would be a hypocritical part to his trade, just as doctors and dentists of the world have. And we label witchcraft as unscientific and a load of rubbish!There are people all over the world with psychological problems that witch doctors make money from. Without such people, they would be out of business. A witch doctor - and don’t you make any mistake about it - is as professional and as clever as his medical counterpart. Their livelihoods depend on the breakdown of the human system. They wait patiently for it to happen. So does the lion in the forest, before it pounces on a lamb. There are no legitimate businesses anymore, just business. From that statement, I recall an old shopkeeper, who always said to his customers when they accused him of overcharging them: “Straight business is done only in the mosque.”Well, perhaps, it helps not to delve too deep. If you have cash in your hand, then be sure the next person would want it, too. It is just the method of parting with the money that is questionable. Just give it to the poor when you don’t know what to do with it, instead of traders who would not do business in the house of God.

The writer is an Oman-based freelance columnist. This article has been reprinted from the Khaleej Times.