Today was Blog Action Day for Poverty…I gathered this from reading the blogs on my Google Reader, and was hoping I’d get a chance to pitch in. I’m going to be just barely on time in publishing this, as it’s about 11:30 pm as I write this.
Poverty is one of the most devastating things that can happen to a person and a family. Poverty changes people in the most inexplicable of ways. When a person of means becomes poor, it’s difficult to ask for help…sometimes, it may be difficult for the poor to express their gratitude for help given them in a manner that their benefactors would think most appropriate. The person who was once rich may have a difficult time letting go of their “rich” mannerisms. Generally, the poor are the one group it is easy to pick at: they are lazy, dumb, cling to God too much, don’t cling to God enough, etc etc etc. There are tons of popular theories for why the poor are in their wretched state, and it always comes back to the poor being responsible for their own plight, 100% of the time. Poor people don’t get a break, mainly because every little thing they do is put under a microscope, blown out of proportion, and then serves to make the poor, the victim, the under-aided, into the antagonist. Ever hear a rich (or middle class) person talk about someone who is less well off? The conversation usually takes the form of, “Poor thing, I wonder what he or she did that Allah is punishing them like this…poor thing.” It’s usually a shocking, mocking tone of sympathy that, make no mistake about it, only demonstrates how cold success can turn us. Many of us forget (or probably don’t understand) the Hadith where Rasoolullah Sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam said:
“O God, grant me life as a poor man, cause me to die as a poor man and resurrect me in the company of the poor.”
His wife asked him why he said that, and he replied:
“Because (the poor) will enter Paradise (before) the rich. Do not turn away a poor man. . .even if all you can give is half a date. If you love the poor and bring them near you. . .God will bring you near Him on the Day of Resurrection.”
Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 1376
Or maybe, it’s just one of those things that it’s easier to mouth and then forget when presented with someone who is truly poor. I write this because I have family who were once rich, and are now faced with trying times. I write it because I see how they are shown affection to their faces, and then the very same people who demonstrated action turn around and say things that subtly indicate that the poor are at fault for their own miserable situation. And perhaps they are right, perhaps my family members earned their lowly positions…but that is for Allah to determine. And it makes me angry that people feign things they don’t feel, that they feel the poor are too stupid to see the falseness, and are too powerless to do anything about it even if they can see the feigned kindness. I used to think I was unreasonable about the stand I take on this issue, because naturally it makes me emotional and lack objectivity, until I read this in Surah al-Bakarah:
Those who spend their wealth in the Cause of Allâh, and do not follow up their gifts with reminders of their generosity or with injury, their reward is with their Lord. On them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve (262) Kind words and forgiving of faults are better than Sadaqah (charity) followed by injury. And Allâh is Rich (Free of all Needs) and He is Most-Forbearing. (263)
May we never forget or injure the poor in our communities, in our families, and beyond. Charity begins at home. Let’s look around us, identify the poor, and find a way to help. It doesn’t have to be in the form of thousands of dollars, or grand gestures. It just has to be sincere. May Allah help us all take care of the poor among us, and not test us with poverty. Ameen.
As I was searching for the relevant Hadiths that I wanted to remind us all of, I came across this interesting article on Islam and Poverty, by Dr. Osman GÜNER. I include it mainly because I wish to read it more in depth later on, but hope someone out there benefits from it too, inshaAllah.
I am publishing this exactly 2 minutes before midnight. Whew…just made it!