Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine

August 2004 - Rajab 1425 H
Volume 17-08 No : 212
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Reflections


Our Duty Towards the Poor

Our Duty Towards the Poor

Prophet Muhammad's (Pbuh) sacrifice was so complete that he did not even have enough to eat.
These days the Muslims fear poverty more than they fear Allah.

By Shahnawaz Khan

Muslims must follow Islam under all conditions. Allah s.w.t. puts every human being to test by imposing certain conditions upon him, and he will pass this test if he manages to adhere to the Islamic Principles under varying conditions.

But today, we find that Muslims have a weaker Imaan. Very few among us manage to fulfill all our duties towards Allah and the Ummah. A part of these people are those who are engaged in the full-time learning and teaching of Islam. But the very rich and the very poor among us, are governed more by the forces of the society and their needs, rather than the tenets of Islam. And though there are many exceptions, this can be safely considered as a general classification of Muslims around the world. Yes, there are other forces, such as Wars, Famines and Political Unrest which do have an effect on the Muslimís life, but these things are beyond the control of normal people. Alternatively, it can be said that if all Muslims around the world would follow Islam faithfully and in its full glory and understanding, then such Man-made calamities could be reduced to a minimum, mainly because if the Muslims are united as a Ummah and are holding on tight to the rope of Islam, Allahís help would prevent such untoward incidents.

Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) set a model example for all of humanity to follow, especially the rich among our community. At a point, when he could have easily chosen the material wealth of this world, he and his Sahaba, chose to remain in abject Poverty and distribute this wealth among the poor and the needy people. His sacrifice was so complete, that we know that he did not even have sufficient food to eat. Today, this sort of a sacrifice is almost impossible to follow by us, not because we would not like to do it, but because everyone fears Poverty and in-human conditions, more than we fear Allah. We are now a victim of our Social conditions and interestingly we are the very ones who have created this situation. Individually, we may absolve ourselves of this responsibility, but a Social System is constituted, developed, run and formed by human beings and not by buildings, roads, computers, cars and other inanimate objects. It is what we individually Do, Say, Approve, Allow, Promote, Encourage or Do not Prevent, that collectively goes towards the forming of our Culture and Social System.

Today, Poverty has become a Curse. It is not that we can remove the difference between the Rich and the Poor. So long as humanity exists there will always remain an unequal distribution of wealth, as this is dependant on many factors such as availability of Resources, Education, Ingenuity and Entrepreneurship and Individual merit, hardwork, opportunity and the natural flow of things. But it is the increasing gap between the Rich and the dis-advantaged, which is taking its toll on the human beings. Poverty today has come to being associated with Illiteracy, Increasing Population, In-human living conditions, lack of Morality, Ethics and a Social Stigma which no one would like to be associated with. The poor have become the beasts of burden and vote-banks of the politicians around the world, they can be manipulated easily and exploited to the fullest. The money meant for them can be easily diverted to the pockets of the influential, they have become a permanent Sign-board under which pretext almost anything can be undertaken.

Islamic teachings give us the path to reduce this inequality by the inherent system of Zakat, Sadqah, Fitra and the duty to help the poor. This is an active system, designed to help reduce the difference between those who have and those who have-not. And this is for our own benefit. But human beings tend to follow their own desires, and cannot control their hunger for more and more worldly gains. The desire to have more than he/she can possibly consume has led to a situation where the world is now witnessing a more dangerous period, than it ever has in the past. Remember Allah is our Creator, HE knows us better than we ourselves do, hence he has given us a Social System to follow, if we break these Rules, then we will suffer. Why we will suffer? Well, because our Creator is aware of our weaknesses and follies, and this human greed invariably leads to a destruction of mankind. Hence we are commanded to control our Urges and give, which will lead to better conditions for us.

It is not that the poor are not responsible for this condition. Only in todayís world can we have persons who are Professional Beggars, who beg not to come out of Poverty, but because it provides them with a steady and guaranteed source of Income. But this can also be due to the indiscriminate donations of the rich. Helping the poor has been taken on face value and giving out doles is considered as an acceptable part of Charity. The rich have not taken the trouble to organise their donations in a systematic and organized fashion. They have not bothered to follow-up and ensure that their Charity is really making some difference to the Society, they do not have the time or the inclination to form a system, whereby real Social causes are taken care of. Yes, it is not a perfect system, but efforts can be made to improve it, and this can be done only by those who have the resources and means. It is necessary to make the poor independant of their basic needs, only then will they be in a position to appreciate the beauty, grandeur and spirit of Islam.

For our own sake, it is very necessary to help as many dis-advantaged Muslims as possible. These poor people are becoming easy prey to anti-social elements of our society and they are being used to spread terror and mayhem in the world. Even those who are involved in the Teaching and Learning of Islam are not spared by this Curse. Poverty is forcing their hands and making them weak and likely to be mis-used by those in Power. Have we ever wondered how much salary does the Imaam in your local Masjid draw? Why are they so under-paid? Are they not the Torch-bearers to our Deen, do you not visit them for consultations on Islamic matters? What will happen if they are paid only a few hundred rupees a month? Donít they have families to take care of?

Muslims are supposed to be the leaders of mankind. They are following the path given to them by their Creator. Unless we as Muslims wake up to the problems being created in this world and do something about it, we cannot simply blame others. It is our Moral and Islamic Duty to be active in creating a congenial atmosphere in the society and that will happen when those who have been blessed, take this issue upon themselves and do the right thing.

(The writer can be reached at
mnfarms02@vsnl.net
)

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