Fruits for the Week

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Among the rich nowadays are those who possess such millions and billions that if they were just to pay zakah on their wealth, they would be able to totally eradicate poverty from their societies, let alone what could be achieved if they were to spend generously. But they withhold zakah even though they know it is an obligation, one of the pillars of Islam. So you can see them, if they give at all, spending a few pennies on ‘Eid and other occasions, or distributing bread and food in a few Islamic countries to a limited number of poor people. When simple-minded folk see masses of poor people standing at their doors and taking whatever crumbs may be thrown in their direction, they praise them for their generosity; these gullible people do not realize that the total spent by these millionaires does not even amount to the smallest part of what they should be giving, and that the few pennies they throw to the destitute are like sand thrown in their eyes (to blind them to reality). They pretend to obey Allah and spend for His sake, but nothing is hidden from the Lord of the worlds, the Lord of both rich and poor

They will not escape His punishment, for they are included among those described in the following aayah: “And there are those who bury gold and silver and spend it not in the way of Allah: announce unto them a most grievous penalty – on the Day when heat will be produced out of that (wealth) in the Fire of Hell, and with it will be branded their foreheads, their flanks, and their backs – ‘This is the (treasure) which you buried for yourselves: test, then, the (treasures) you buried!” (Qur’an 9: 34-35)

This group which grew rich through un-Islamic economic systems was one of the reasons for the rise of left-wing systems and principles in Muslim countries, because of their greed and exploitation, and their neglect of the guidance of Allah. If they had known the rights that Allah has over their wealth, and had paid it with no holding back, no-one in the Muslim societies would have dared to advocate red communism or socialism, and the class hatred which is exploited by left-wing parties would not have been able to develop.

This class hatred is the basis on which socialist governments destroyed the owners of factories and organizations, and took away their millions. Thus they lost the treasure which they have been too stingy to spend during the days of ease and plenty, when they would not even raise a poor worker’s low wage or salary by half a lira, for fear that it might reduce their profits. Indeed, some of them would make a huge fuss about paying such a small increase, while at the same time they would turn a blind eye to the thousands upon thousands spent by some of their sons in nightclubs, where some would close the whole club at his own expense so that he might have the company of the beautiful dancers all to himself.

Oppression of the poor by the rich, and hatred of the rich by the poor are unknown in a truly Islamic society, because in such a society the rich man is generous, he recognizes the rights of the poor with regard to his wealth, and he does not deny or cheat them unto their rights. He does not neglect to help, support and treat them fairly. The poor do not regard the rich with hatred because of their having more wealth. The rich man in Islamic society does not earn his wealth from haram sources; rather he earns it through his own efforts and hard work from halal sources. The principle of equal opportunity which encompasses all the members of the Islamic society allows the poor man to work and strive to become rich if he wishes. The door is open to all, so many determined, active and ambitious person may enter it. So there is no need for hatred, opportunism and vengeance, and there is no room for those hate-filled opportunists and lovers of revenge in a community of love and brotherhood, which is the society of Islam.

The Prophet (saw) used to teach his sahaabah and constantly encourage them to spend (in charity) and to uproot from their hearts the love of hoarding wealth, so that wealth would be distributed among the people and prosperity would spread to all, and so that stored-up wealth would not spell disaster for its owner on the Day of Resurrection. They had the highest example of that in the Prophet.

One day the Prophet (saw) set off for Al-Baqee’ (a cemetery in Al-Madeenah), and Abu Dharr caught up with him. While they were walking together, he said: “Those who have the most will be those who have the least on the Day of Resurrection, except for those who spend here and there in the right way.” Then they passed by Uhud, and the Prophet (saw) said: “O’ Abu Dharr!” He replied, “At your service, O’ Messenger of Allah, may I be sacrificed for you.” He said, “I would not like for the family of Muhammad to have an amount of gold equal in size to Mount Uhud, and for a dirham or a mithqaal of it to be left with them by the time evening came.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

This explains the attitude of Umar ibn Al-Khattab (ra) towards the rich men of Quraysh when they began to take things easy after they had conquered so many lands. They began to trade and invest their wealth, and grew very rich. This alarmed ‘Umar (ra), and he was deeply concerned for them, so he said: “Quraysh want to make the wealth of Allah circulate only amongst themselves, but as long as the son of Al-Khattab is alive they will not do that. I will lie in wait for them in Harrat Al-Madeenah, and I will grab them by their collars in order to save them from the Fire.

(To be continued)

by Muhammad Ali Al-Hashimi