Dear brothers and sisters,
Ramadan is only a week away and alhamdullilah, so far, we have been able to speak about how to work on ourselves by adhering to the five pillars of Islam, learning about the prayers themselves and then in preparation of Ramadan, learning about goals and objectives that we should be aiming to achieve prior. For the past 3 to 4 khutbahs, the focus of my khutbahs was personal growth. Today’s khutbah, however, is about poverty and its negative effects on people around us. This is to remind us how we can benefit the community around us and how to make sure that people around us are safe, healthy, and well-fed because undoubtedly, one of the major reasons why anyone’s safety, health or means of livelihood can be threatened is poverty. While I can speak about poverty around the globe, I do wish to focus more on US because this is our home now and as the saying goes "charity begins at home”. According to census.gov, The official poverty rate nationally for the year 2020 was 11.4 percent & for the state of Massachusetts, the poverty rate is nearly 10%. This means 1 in every 10 household live under poverty with lack of food, lack of good health and lack of safety. And if you’re Black and Hispanic communities, the poverty rates are so high that its roughly 1 in every 6 households that live under poverty. I quote these statistics to inform you that poverty or the risk of being under it is so rampant that now, all of us know at least one of our family members or friends who is affected by it. Hence, as Muslims, we must understand what Islam recommends us to do about it to help those whose means have shrunk as part of their test in this life. Firstly, let’s get one thing straight... All provisions as well as all trials are from Allah SWT. We have discussed this before as well that He is Al-Razzaq meaning “the provider”. Hence, when we prosper, we should humble ourselves and understand that this can be used in the way of Allah SWT. Similarly, when we face calamities, it is to test our faith in Allah SWT and surely, only true believers adhere to their faith when times are rough. The truest example of this is prophet Ayyub AS, commonly known
by his biblical name “Job”. He lineage was of Ibrahim AS, his mother was the daughter of Lut AS (commonly known as Lot) and his wife Rehma RA was a direct descendent of Yusuf AS (also known as Jacob). He was a Prophet, yet Allah SWT tried him by taking away his wealth first and later, his health, so much so that his children passed away, his people left him except his wife and several of his organs wouldn’t function properly for several decades, except his heart and tongue. It was through his heart and tongue that he would remember Allah SWT even when Shaitan used to torment him by suggesting that Allah SWT has abandoned him. His story is worthwhile reading as there are two important lessons to learn from it :
1. Allah SWT tries everyone with the amount they can bear, even the prophets, so no one is spared or being discriminated against. Hence, whenever you think that Allah SWT is specifically targeting you or your loved one, know that He gains nothing from either your hardship or your prosperity. The reason why He is trying you is to test you and see if you’ll stay steadfast in your belief in Allah SWT.
2. Allah SWT tries everyone, but he tries those more whom He wishes to bring closer. Hence, if our trials are hard on us, understand this is Allah SWT’s way to bring us closer to him and his creations so don’t be disheartened of His blessings. Based on this and going back to the topic, Islam recommends several ways to ensure the community we live in has security in food and income.
To help us to get out of poverty, or to avoid getting trapped into it, Islam offers recommendations that, if implemented, can offer great relief in several ways. These range from the ability to deal with it and also the ability to get away from it. The first recommendation is something we’ve already discussed, which is to have faith in Allah SWT. Remember that Allah SWT is the provider (Ar-Razzaq) and everyone or everything else, are simply His means of provide us with our needs. It is His decision alone on how, why and when He wishes to provide you something or take away something, hence do not let Shaitan play games with your mind, for Shaitan is the true enemy of ours. I know people who tend to have financial issues also tend to have more mental health issues like depression and anxiety and it is those individuals who are more vulnerable but know Shaitan will not rest until he sees you losing. He is truly the accursed because he does not spare any chance and shows no remorse on taking advantage of people who are vulnerable and are down, so it is on us to try our best not to entertain any thoughts that make us doubt of Allah SWT’s greatness and ability to provide. There is also a Dua that I recommend saying in case you or any of your loved ones are in or are at risk of poverty and is mentioned in Al-Bukhari (832) Muslim (589), classified as Sahih that: It was narrated from Aisha RA that the Prophet SAW used to say in his prayer: “Allaahumma inni a’oodhi bika min al-ma’tham wa’l-maghram (O Allah, I seek refuge with You from sin and heavy debt).” Someone asked him: “How often you seek refuge from heavy debt!” He said: “When a man gets into debt, he speaks and tells lies, and he makes a promise and breaks it.” Second recommendation that applies on the person and community, encourage to work and earn a living. According to Narrated by al-Bukhari (1402): It was narrated from al-Zubayr ibn al-‘Awwaam RA that the Prophet SAW said: “If one of you were to take a rope and bring firewood on his back and sell it, thus preserving his dignity, that is better for him than asking of people who may give to him or withhold from him.” It is instructed by Prophet SAW to the person who is struggling as well as for people around him/her to help that person to find a method for the person to be able to contribute to the economy and thesociety. AS the saying goes, give the fish to the person and they will eat one day, help the person how to fish and they’ll eat for the whole year Thirdly, a recommendation an all Muslim brothers and sisters as it applies, give zakat and sadaqah to people among us who we know are struggling. According to Sheikh Saleh-al-Munajjad, Zakat is not applicable to an institution such as a school, but it does apply on poor and needy students who
Zakat is a way of Islam to prevent hording of funds into one or few hands, a problem we are seeing throughout the world, including US. Zakat holds so much importance, that it has been mentioned side-by-side with prayers (establish salat o zakat) in so many places. It was so important that Hazrat Abu Bakr RA, when he became a Khalifa after prophet SAW demise, when to war with people and false prophets who said that Zakat should not apply on Muslims As for sadaqah, Allah says in Surah Saba [34:39]. “Say: "Truly, my Lord enlarges the provision for whom He wills of His slaves, and (also) restricts (it) for him, and whatsoever you spend of anything (in Allah's Cause), He will replace it. And He is the Best of providers."
It should be part of our aqeedah that whatever we spend as saqadah: • It should be for Allah’s cause and that we should only look for its rewards from him only • Know that Allah SWT has taken guarantee of replacing whatever you spend in his cause so don’t worry, you will be compensated. Who knows, maybe Allah SWT will give you more than what you spent knowing in what circumstances you spent. Indeed, He is Ar-Razzaq (the provider) And in last, as a general reminder and my last recommendation, stay away from spending in ways that Allah has made clear to us not to go near. Allah SWT says in Surah Maidah [5:90] “O you who believe! Intoxicants (all kinds of alcoholic drinks), and gambling, and Al‐Ansaab (stone altars for sacrifices to idols etc.) and Al‐Azlaam arrows for seeking luck or decision) are an abomination of Shaitan’s (Satan’s) handiwork. So, avoid (strictly all) that (abomination) in order that you may be successful”