Tuesday 2 September 2014 \

 

The Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) and helping the poor

The majority of the world population today lives in poverty. It is clear that the world system we have set up today is unjust.

By Sami Zaatari / 15 Feb 2013

One of the most widespread and dangerous problems faced by humanity is that of poverty, hunger and starvation. There is nothing more horrifying than the realization that as we live our happy lives here, millions of our fellow human beings live in hunger and face starvation. The majority of the world population today lives in poverty. It is clear that the world system we have set up today is unjust and inhumane.

One of the great reforms that the Prophet Muhammad (peace & blessings of Allah be upon him) brought was the rights and treatment of the poor. Prior to the advent of Islam, the pagan Arabs used to disregard the poor, they would look down on them, and could care less about them; the poor people were basically an insignificant portion of society that did not matter.  However so, with the Prophet Muhammad (peace & blessings of Allah be upon him) that all changed, the Muslims were now obliged to look after the poor, and were required to spend of their wealth to help the poor out. For instance the Prophet Muhammad (peace & blessings of Allah be upon him) taught the following:

Narrated Abu Huraira (may Allah be pleased with him):

Allah's Apostle (peace & blessings of Allah be upon him) said, "Allah said, 'O son of Adam! Spend, and I shall spend on you." [Sahih Al-Bukhari] Volume 7, Book 64, Number 264

Clarification:

The basic meaning of this hadith was that Muslims should spend from their wealth in giving charity to the poor. This teaching of the Prophet (peace & blessings of Allah be upon him), to spend and to give in charity, was a very common message that he would often give as we read in another hadith:

Narrated Haritha bin Wahab (may Allah be pleased with him):

I heard the Prophet (peace & blessings of Allah be upon him) saying, "O people! Give in charity as a time will come upon you when a person will wander about with his object of charity and will not find anybody to accept it, and one (who will be requested to take it) will say, "If you had brought it yesterday, would have taken it, but to-day I am not in need of it."[Sahih Al-Bukhari] Volume 2, Book 24, Number 492

Clarification:

As I wrote earlier, the poor people of the time were completely disregarded, especially by the elite of society, those at the top of society, the very wealthy, did not care at all for the poor people, and they would look down on them. So what did the Prophet Muhammad (peace & blessings of Allah be upon him) say in this regard? The Prophet Muhammad (peace & blessings of Allah be upon him) specifically commanded the wealthy people to give in charity and gave a very dire warning to them if they didn’t do so:

Narrated Abu Huraira (may Allah be pleased with him):

Allah's Apostle (peace & blessings of Allah be upon him) said, "Whoever is made wealthy by Allah and does not pay the Zakat of his wealth, then on the Day of Resurrection his wealth will be made like a bald-headed poisonous male snake with two black spots over the eyes. The snake will encircle his neck and bite his cheeks and say, 'I am your wealth, I am your treasure.' " [Sahih Al-Bukhari] Volume 2, Book 24, Number 486

Clarification:

So the above hadith was a warning to the wealthy people of the consequences of not looking after the poor and giving in charity. The Prophet Muhammad (peace & blessings of Allah be upon him) also taught the following about wealthy people giving in charity:

Narrated Abu Huraira (may Allah be pleased with him):

The Prophet (peace & blessings of Allah be upon him) said,"The best charity is that which is practiced by a wealthy person. And start giving first to your dependents." [Sahih Al-Bukhari] Volume 2, Book 24, Number 507

In a longer version of this hadith we read:

Narrated Hakim bin Hizam (may Allah be pleased with him):

The Prophet (peace & blessings of Allah be upon him) said, "The upper hand is better than the lower hand (i.e. he who gives in charity is better than him who takes it). One should start giving first to his dependents. And the best object of charity is that which is given by a wealthy person (from the money which is left after his expenses). And whoever abstains from asking others for some financial help, Allah will give him and save him from asking others, Allah will make him self-sufficient." [Sahih Al-Bukhari] Volume 2, Book 24, Number 508:

Clarification:

So the Prophet Muhammad (peace & blessings of Allah be upon him) taught the best of charity is the one given by those who are rich, the wealthy people. The reason for this was because the prophet wanted to give a very strong incentive for the rich to start giving in charity, something they didn’t really care about before. As well as this it was also to show the great reform of society, that now, the rich of society are giving for the poor, unlike before, when they could care less about the poor precisely because they were rich.

We also read in another hadith, what the Prophet Muhammad (peace & blessings of Allah be upon him) would do when he encountered poor people:

Narrated Abu Burda bin Abu Musa (may Allah be pleased with him):

That his father said, "Whenever a beggar came to Allah's Apostle (peace & blessings of Allah be upon him) or he was asked for something, he (peace & blessings of Allah be upon him)  used to say (to his companions), "Help and recommend him and you will receive the reward for it; and Allah will bring about what He will through His Prophet's tongue." [Sahih Al-Bukhari] Volume 2, Book 24, Number 512:

Clarification:

So whenever the Prophet Muhammad (peace & blessings of Allah be upon him) would encounter with a poor person, he would tell his companions to help and give for that person, and they would be rewarded for it. The prophet would not simply ignore them and let them be, as would have been the custom of the time, rather he gave advise and teaching to his companions to help these people.

And in another hadith we also read the following;

Narrated Abu Huraira (may Allah be pleased with him):

The Prophet (peace & blessings of Allah be upon him) said, "The one who looks after a widow or a poor person is like a Mujahid (warrior) who fights for Allah's Cause, or like him who performs prayers all the night and fasts all the day." [Sahih Al-Bukhari] Volume 7, Book 64, Number 265

Clarification:

So the Prophet Muhammad (peace & blessings of Allah be upon him) compared the one who looks after a poor person, with the one who fights in the cause of Allah (SWT) As everyone knows, the one who fights in the cause of Allah has a very high place and status in Islam, it is one of the highest honors one can have, yet the Prophet Muhammad (peace & blessings of Allah be upon him) explicitly states that a person who looks after a poor person is like the one who fights in the cause of Allah (SWT) Thus one can see the very high value and importance Islam attaches to helping and looking after the poor. This teaching is a major incentive and motivation for the people to take care, and to look after the poor.

Indeed what a great reform the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)) brought! Now if all of us around the world could follow these teachings in regards to the poor people, then this would be a much better place!

And Allah Knows Best!

 

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