Poverty – Part 2 – A Perspective in Islam

Poverty - A Perspective in Islam

Author: Ms. Seen Noon

A reminder for us all, to stop for a minute and glance at the length of our table spreads, ranging from more than one cuisine and complying to the choices of individual family members. The need being, to think beyond our self-interest, keeping our near and dear ones in our thoughts at all times, especially in times of need. It is surely a test for those who are blessed in terms of wealth and financial stability, to look after the less privileged, in order to safeguard the balance in our society. Allah advises us to distribute our wealth to the poor and the needy, so to include them in the circle of life, allowing them to breathe a sigh of relief and not losing hope in humanity.

Quarantined in our cozy homes, with our pantries stocked up to the ceilings, and our online shopping maxing out our credit cards, we still continue to whine about the ‘tragic’ situation we are in, disrupting our routine lives. Sadly, there are more unfortunate people out there, deprived of basic living rights, trying to survive in miserable circumstances. Still we don’t ponder over the blessings we already have bestowed upon us by the grace of the Almighty, and keep on ruining our mental, psychological states over things we have no control of.

In reality, we have no idea what poverty, or misery, actually is!? Living in a state of oblivion, with zero or minimal gratitude, our long and never ending wish-list controls our moral compasses. Our prayers and supplications are aimed at requesting more material gains to satisfy our cravings, neglecting any prep for the hereafter. Little do we realize that this world is only a temporary stopover, whereas our destination is the life after death.

Poverty although immediately brings to our minds a lack of financial resource, but it also encompasses in itself a form of loss of near and dear ones. It can be used to express the loss of family support which is a big tragedy once we are faced with it. Our dear Prophet ﷺ went through a lot of hardships in his life, facing losses of his parents at an early age, loss of his wife, his beloved uncle, his children, his wealth, his tribe, he bore a lot of grief and sorrow but remained steadfast in his piety and faith in Almighty. Allah’s messenger ﷺ was always grateful with whatever he had, never raising a sign of depression over his poverty, Subhan Allah.

Often times, unintentionally we exhibit an attitude of ungratefulness, disregarding the blessings, Allah the Almighty has bestowed upon us. He is the Supreme King, most kind, over-showering us with compassionate spouses, obedient children, healthy and functioning bodies, caring relatives; these of course are valuable commodities that enhance our wealth in this world. There have been instances that I’ve come across people who have the riches of the world but are deprived of happiness, sound sleep, contentment. Obviously we realize that money isn’t the solution to all problems. The wise act on our part being that we cherish all these blessings, don’t take them for granted, by feeling gratitude frequently in front of Allah and make use of these blessings to increase our good deeds in the hereafter.

Money, wealth, and financial gains are in no way a guarantee that you are chosen by Allah as a blessed one in this world and the next. it is merely a test from Allah, examining our each and every step, testing us if we are able to remember Him in our good times and simultaneously behaving sympathetically with the less-privileged ones among us by sharing our wealth to alleviate their needs. Just imagine, the beloved Messenger ﷺ of Allah deserved to live a life in which he could at least have a one cooked meal on a daily basis. But as he chose to live a life in which he felt closer to the poor people of his community, he never desired for a better life in monetary terms, always reminding his family that he preferred the bounties of the hereafter over luxuries of this world.

Our dearest and most humble Prophet Muhammad ﷺ lived a simplistic life so that an example is set for the next generations to come. He acted as a role model for us, so we can realize that putting the needs of others over our own selves is deemed admirable in the eyes of Allah. In many instances we can witness how the Prophet ﷺ and his family would give away all the loot won from various battles, not reserving anything for their own use. Allah’s Messenger ﷺ believed in fulfilling the needs of all the poor and deserving people around him through his own pocket or through the help of his companions.

This spirit of inclining more towards giving, having full faith in Allah’s plans for us, while utilizing all our potential in order to make ends meet is truly the essence of how a believer should live his life. Allah doesn’t say that we let go of all the luxuries in order to succeed in the hereafter, rather to strike a balance in the society by sharing our prized possessions with the less privileged members. Seeking knowledge, giving it all in to gain a respectable position in the society, remembering Allah throughout the daily endeavors, are healthy means towards reaching a fruitful end in the hereafter. Although the Holy Prophet ﷺ let go of all the worldly riches in order to attain a highest place in the eternal life, but he also advised us to use the gains of this world for the benefit of the society. Sacrificing it all, while staying in isolation and carrying out our ibadah to seek Allah’s blessings is not favored in Islam. Rather, to keep things balanced, fulfilling our worldly duties while offering our religious obligations should be the norm. I see the gap between the rich and the poor growing at a much faster rate, as we are losing compassion, brotherhood, and empathy for our fellow brethren. The basic civil etiquettes are disappearing from our moral value sets, taken over by ‘I can barely manage mine’ or ‘I worked too hard for this to give it away’ etc.

Rechecking the basic Islamic teachings and pillars taught by Quran and Sunnah, would remind us that Zakat / charity is one of the basic five pillars; a yearly payment valued on our possessions and properties so as to support the poor and the needy. So, if its made mandatory in Islam to assist the poor and the weak in order for them to raise their living standards a bit, so why would Islam support the idea of pursuing a life of poverty when you can easily earn a reasonable standard of living? Islam is a religion of peace and harmony, promoting love and brotherhood, compassion and empathy, promoting a lifestyle that conveys the message of a sense of equilibrium in its best form. Understanding the deeper meanings attached to the religious rituals advised to us in the Quran and Sunnah can enlighten our communities on a grand scale. The need of the hour is to draw ourselves closer to our roots, and to abstain from following a path of corrupted and artificial satisfaction. A major cleansing should be carried out to sift away the guilty pleasures we all are accustomed to, giving birth to an everlasting sense of giving and sharing with our fellow brothers and sisters.

People, like us, we never leave a moment to cry in front of Almighty on our losses, be it any form of hardship, whereas not submitting ourselves fully to be at peace with Allah’s will. Managing a slight adjustment in our lifestyle might help us in bringing us closer to the path Allah has advised us to choose. For we are often times unaware of the hidden benefits behind the hardships that befall on us, inhibiting us from being content and grateful to Allah at all times.

 

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