TOPIC: POVERTY ALLEVIATION IN ISLAMIC PERSPECTIVES.
Audhu billah minash shaytanir rajeem Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem. Alhamdu lil laahi Rabbil aalameen. Was salatu was salamu ala nabiyyillah Muhammad al Mab’uthi rahmatan lil aalameen.
The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty has been observed on October 17 every year since 1993, when the United Nations General Assembly designated this day to promote awareness of the need to eradicate poverty and destitution in all countries. The theme for this year’s UN Day for the eradication of poverty is “Acting together to empower children, their families and communities to end poverty”.
Therefore, our sermon this week is dedicated to look at issues surrounding the alleviation of poverty.
It is important to note from the onset that according to Islam poverty cannot be totally eradicated but it can be alleviated.In a Hadith Qudsi, Allah SWT says, :Some of My worshipers are only reformed and best fitted with poverty and if I am to enrich them this will spoil them, and some of My worshipers are only reformed and fitted with richness and if I impoverish them this will spoil them.
In other words, the poor and the rich seem to be selective, depending on Allah’s prerogative, mercy, and love, in ensuring the avoidance of spoiling the worshipers.
Poverty is perceived as having negative nature in itself but also implicate negative consequences to individuals, society, and nations. Views of some Islamic scholars are presented below: Poverty is regarded as being one of the worst problems in society (Nofal, 1984), as a dangerous social problem (al Qaradawi, 2002), as the most terrible social ills and main enemy to nation’s development planning (Abdullah, 1984), as a social time bomb (Fadhil, 1992), as one of the oldest enemies of mankind (Iqbal, 2002), as the greatest evil (Huq, 1996), as a threat to human’s beliefs and to the security and stability of the society as a whole (Salih, 1999).
Some relevant quran references may include: a) It rejects the idea of any single human being or any particular class of humans having the exclusive right on the available natural resources. (16:V.72).The Qur’an promotes the idea of brotherhood amongst believers as a tool to reduce the social and economic inequalities in society. (5:3). It Qur’an promotes the concept of ‘family empowerment’ as against the conventional idea of the empowerment of women 51:V.50. It further declares that both men and women are equal in terms of work and financial rewards.(4:V.33) Trustworthiness and justice are the two essential qualities identified for management candidates as described in the Holy Qur’an. It also instructs people to select on merit the best possible person for any role. (4:59). Chapter 53:39-41 of the Qur’an encourages Muslims to work hard to meet their daily needs. The Qur’an also directs believers not to hoard money in terms of gold and silver (9:34-35) but to invest and circulate money in the economy to generate more jobs (34:40). It even defines the rules to spend money i.e. forbidding hoarding as well as extravagance and wastefulness (17:27-30). Interest is prohibited by Islam in the Qur’an. The ideas of trade and charity (2:275-276) are promoted as alternatives to help the others. The rationale behind these teachings is to encourage positive economic activities and discourage earnings gained merely through interest (without a person making any real efforts of his/her own). The Qur’an asks lenders to give up whatever remains outstanding in interest or else it will be deemed a war against God (2:280-281). As an alternative to income generated from interest, the Qur’an encourages believers to adopt legitimate trading practices(2:276). Charity reduces the level of inequality in society. Money is transferred from the rich to the poor, who borrow mainly for subsistence purposes. Believers are asked to pay charity if they truly desire the blessings of God (2:277). The Holy Qur’an does not restrict the concept of charity to merely a donation in cash or kind. It encourages Muslims to voluntarily participate in welfare projects (61:10-12). The philosophy is to share and transfer knowledge and expertise to the needy and poor thereby improving their economic plight (caused by the unequal distribution of wealth in society (34:38). Numerous verses of the Qur’an urge Muslims to give charity (2:265,2:266 and 2:272). These verses encourage the rich to contribute towards the welfare of the poor segments of society to seek the blessings of God without taunting those less fortunate (2:V.263). Just and proper distribution of wealth is another instruction of the Qur’an which clearly defines rights and ways to divide the property of a deceased relative among the legal heirs. The logic is to discourage the concentration of wealth in a few hands and to encourage believers to work and earn a living instead of merely living off their forefathers’ wealth (4:8)
In conclusion, it is important to remember the the theme and thus act together to empower children, their families and communities to end poverty.