Poverty and Wealth

The imam began this week by reminding us of a hadith in which the Prophet SAWS said to one of the companions:

“The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) came out to us when we were speaking of poverty and how we feared it. He said: ‘Is it poverty that you fear? By the One in Whose Hand is my soul, (the delights and luxuries of) this world will come to you in plenty, and nothing will cause the heart of anyone of you to deviate except that. By Allah, I am leaving you upon something like Bayda (white, bright, clear path) the night and day of which are the same.'”

Dear brothers and sisters, there is no doubt that poverty can be stressful and worrying times for those who experience it, and it’s a test that has its challenges. One of the main focuses of anyone, or government, is to tackle poverty, and to allow everyone to live above the line of poverty.

Our religion in unique in that it has a solution to poverty in the form of both the mandatory charity, i.e. zakat that we give to those in need, as well as recommended voluntary acts of charity i.e. sadaqa that we are often reminded of.

However, we are missing the point if we regard richness as being rich financially. In fact, the imam reminded us of this via a hadith which is translated to say:

Abu Darda’ said: “The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) came out to us when we were speaking of poverty and how we feared it. He said: ‘Is it poverty that you fear? By the One in Whose Hand is my soul, (the delights and luxuries of) this world  will come to you in plenty, and nothing will cause the heart of anyone of you to deviate except that. By Allah, I am leaving you upon something like Bayda (white, bright, clear path) the night and day of which are the same.'”

Dear brothers and sisters, we need to recognize that the material wealth is part of the test of this life and that there is nothing material of this word that we gain that will benefit us in the actual life of the hereafter. Often, one can forget the purpose of this life is that of a test and the real wealth is acquired in the hereafter based on our deeds and actions.

In fact, we know that the Prophet SAWS used to seek refunge in Allah SWT through the following supplication which is translated to say:

“O Allah! I seek refuge with You from the affliction of the Fire and from the punishment in the Fire, and seek refuge with You from the affliction of the grave, and I seek refuge with You from the affliction of wealth, and I seek refuge with You from the affliction of poverty, and seek refuge with You from the affliction of Ad-Dajjal.”

Dear brothers and sisters, we need to understand that the acquisition of wealth, both material and financial is part of a bigger plan to keep us fixated in this life and not to focus on the next. It’s a subtle trick of shaitaan that we compete with one another, we judge one another on what car we drive, where we live, where our children are taught etc.

This is not how we ought to be and this requires a shift in the way that we are thinking. In fact, Allah SWT has taught us to compete with one another in this world but only in the level of worship of Allah SWT. To compete with one another for wordly wealth makes no sense as the wealth is governed by Allah SWT, it is only He who determines the wealth we experience in this world.

 

In fact, for most of us, the wealth or lack thereof, will be part of the test that we endure in this life. We know this due to the hadith of the Prophet SAWS in which it says:

The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Take advantage of five before five: your youth before your old age, your health before your illness, your riches before your poverty, your free time before your work, and your life before your death.”

Dear brothers and sisters, for some it is a difficult test to endure. Such is the pressure of competition amongst this society in wealth that it becomes ingrained in the heart and mind to earn and become wealthy.

This reminder therefore concludes with three practical steps that we can take in order to reset our mindset to one that is focused on the real goals we should be aiming for.

  1. We should live life in both the moment but also with time of contemplation. By giving ourselves time to ponder and think of the life we have, we have the opportunity to react to the test that may present itself. Should that test be one of poverty, then we ought to use it as an opportunity to return in prayer back to Allah SWT. The imam reminded us of this via our teacher SAWS who said:

Strange are the ways of a believer for there is good in every affair of his and this is not the case with anyone else except in the case of a believer for if he has an occasion to feel delight, he thanks (Allah), thus there is a good for him in it, and if he gets into trouble and shows resignation (and endures it patiently), there is a good for him in it.

  1. We should seek above all else, a halal means by which we gain. The time and place presents many opportunities for illicit gain but we should be mindful that we will be answerable to this and it will cost us dearly in the long term. And even from the smallest income, we ought to return in the form of charity as we know this does not decrease wealth as the imam reminded us the Prophet SAWS said:

And whatever you spend for Allah’s sake will be considered as a charitable deed even the handful of food you put in your wife’s mouth.

  1. Lastly, we ought to remember that with wealth comes great responsibility. It ought to be considered a loan from Allah SWT as we will held accountable for every penny we spent in this life. In that regard, those who have less to account for, will not feel the test as severely as those who have been given greater wealth. We need to ask ourselves, are we going to be able to justify how we spent our wealth when there are those living within giving distance of our wealth in a state much worse than us?

Dear brothers and sisters, in a time and place where money if often the primary purpose of life, we need to be mindful that we do not fall into this trap. The consistent pondering our blessings alongside the purification of our wealth through charity ought to enable us to remain steadfast and pursue the true richness that is the pleasure of Allah SWT.

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