I feel so hypocrytical writing this. I stay in a spacious apartment, drive a really comfortable car, receive delicious sustenance on my dining table meal after meal, day after day. I have never borne the agony of having a disease and not have the means to pay for the medical bills. What right do I have to right about poverty? Before coming to India, I thought the privacy of having my own toilet is a birthright. Yet, on my way to office day after day, I see sights where men and children have to bathe in public. Child labour is illegal. However one just has take a stroll outisde one’s office, home to neighbouring construction sites or kitchens of restaraunts to find precious irreplacable youth being squeezed and twisted out from young boys. Only fools romanticise poverty.
What does God say on helping the Poor?
One doesn’t need further instructions from God to do something for the deprived. One’s conscience is sufficient. But He’s provided guidance nonetheless.
Below are a few Quranic verses that I personally found highly moving urging Believers to help the poor man:
Chapter 90 (The City), Verses 8-17
Have We not given him two eyes,
And a tongue and two lips,
And pointed out to him the two conspicuous ways?
But he would not attempt the uphill road,
And what will make you comprehend what the uphill road is?
(It is) the setting free of a slave,
Or the giving of food in a day of hunger
To an orphan, having relationship,
Or to the poor man lying in the dust.
Then he is of those who believe and charge one another to show patience, and charge one another to show compassion.
Chapter 98 (The Evidence), Verse 5
And they were not enjoined anything except that they should serve Allah, being sincere to Him in obedience, upright, and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, and that is the right religion.
Chapter 107 (The Alms Giving), Verses 1-7
Have you considered him who calls the judgment a lie?
That is the one who treats the orphan with harshness,
And does not urge (others) to feed the poor.
So woe to the praying ones,
Who are unmindful of their prayers,
Who do (good) to be seen,
And withhold the necessaries of life.
Finally few sayings of Imam Ali (AS) on various aspects of Generosity, miserliness and poverty:
1. Be generous but not extravagant, be frugal but not miserly.
2. I wonder at the mentality of a miser, fearing poverty he takes to stinginess and thus hastily pushes himself head- long into a state of want and destitution, he madly desires plenty and ease, but throws it away without understanding. In this world he, of his own free will, leads the life of a a beggar and in the next world he will have to submit an account like the rich.
3. Wealth converts a strange land into homeland and poverty turns a native place into a strange land.
4. There is no greater wealth than wisdom, no greater poverty than ignorance
5. He who practices moderation and frugality will never be threatened with poverty.
Let’s do our best henceforth, to consistently participate in charitable activities and we’ll stop giving only when we either run out of money, or run out of life.