[Friday Sermon] Alleviating Poverty And Hunger Through Zakat And Helping The Poor

Murtadha Gusau

Murtadha Gusau

In The Name of Allah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy
All praise is for Allah, we praise Him, we seek His help, we ask for His forgiveness, and we seek refuge with Allah from the evils of our own souls and the wickedness of our actions, whoever Allah guides, there is none that can lead him astray, and whoever Allah allows to go astray, there is none that can lead him to the right path.
I testify and bare witness that there is no deity worthy of worship in truth but Allah, alone, without any partners. And I testify and bare witness that our beloved Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) is His Servant and Messenger. As for what’s after:
Dear brothers and sisters! Know that, one of the most widespread and dangerous problems faced by humanity today is that of poverty, hunger and starvation. There is nothing more horrifying than the realisation that as we live our happy lives, 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 be upon him) brought was the rights and treatment of the poor, needy, less privilege and the widow. Prior to the advent of Islam (in Jahiliyyah), 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 be upon him) all that changed, the Muslims were 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 be upon him) taught the following:
“Narrated Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him): Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him) said, “Allah said, ‘O son of Adam! Spend, and I shall spend on you.” [Al-Bukhari]
Respected servants of Allah! The basic meaning of this Prophetic Hadith was that Muslims should spend from their wealth in giving charity to the poor. This teaching of the Prophet (Peace 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 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, I would have taken it, but today I am not in need of it.”” [Al-Bukhari]
As mentioned 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 be upon him) say in this regard? The Prophet Muhammad (Peace 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 Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him): Allah’s Messenger (Peace 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.’” [Al-Bukhari]
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 be upon him) also taught the following about wealthy people giving in charity:
“Narrated Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him): The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: “The best charity is that which is practiced by a wealthy person. And start giving first to your dependents.” [Al-Bukhari]
In a longer version of this Hadith we read:
“Narrated Hakim Bin Hizam (may Allah be pleased with him): The Prophet (Peace 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.” [Al-Bukhari]
So the Prophet Muhammad (Peace 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 be upon him) would do when he encountered poor people:
“Narrated Abu Burdah Bin Abu Musa (may Allah be pleased with him): That his father said, “Whenever a beggar came to Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him) or he was asked for something, he (Peace 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.” [Al-Bukhari]
So whenever the Prophet Muhammad (Peace 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 Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him): The Prophet (Peace 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.” [Al-Bukhari]
So the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) compared the one who looks after a poor person, with the one who fights in the cause of Allah Almighty. 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 honours one can have, yet the Prophet Muhammad (Peace 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 Almighty. 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 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!
Dear brothers and sisters! The religion of Islam is the complete code of life. Islam teaches us to treat all mankind with love, respect, and honour as Almighty Allah commanded us to do so. As mentioned earlier, one of the most widespread problems is poverty, hunger, and starvation that most of the human beings facing in these days. Allah Almighty loves those who help poor and needy people for getting His pleasure. Allah Almighty says in the Noble Qur’an:
“And in their wealth is a recognised right. For the (needy) who asks and the one who is deprived.” [Qur’an, 70:24-25]
Helping poor and needy by giving charity is considered as one of the virtuous acts in Islam. Religion of Islam warns those who cloak and save their wealth and don’t spend for the cause of Allah or in His way. Allah says in the Qur’an for these people:
“It is not (only) righteousness that you turn your faces towards East or West (in Prayer). But the righteousness is to believe in Allah and the Last Day, and the Angels, and the Book, and the Prophets, and to give of your wealth out of love for Him, to your kin and orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and those who ask, and for the ransom of slaves…” [Qur’an, 2:177]
Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) brought the rights and treatment of the poor which was the greatest reform in the society. Muslims are obliged to look after the poor and needy people, and required to spend of their wealth to help the poor out for the sake of Allah Almighty.
Almighty Allah will punish those on the Judgment Day who accumulate their wealth without giving the due right to the poor and needy people. Allah Almighty says in the Noble Qur’an:
“And those who hoard up gold and silver and do not spend in the Path of Allah then warn them of the painful torment.” [Qur’an, 9:34]
Respected brothers and sisters! In order to eliminate poverty from the society, Islam imposes the structure of Zakat. Allah Almighty commanded us to treat the resulting problems stemming from poverty such as theft, murder, kidnapping, terrorism and attacking people and taking their property unjustly by eliminating poverty from the society. Moreover, helping poor and needy people through charity revives the mutual social welfare and support among members of the society.
Imam As-Sakhawi said:
“Easing other people’s grief is one of the most beneficial good acts with Allah.”
Lastly, I urge all of you to remember the whole Ummah in your precious Du’as, especially in this blessed month of Ramadan.
Allah surely knows best and he is the Lords of the universe and May his peace and blessing be on his Messenger, his family, his companions and those who follow them.
I ask Allah, the Most High to grant us success and enable us to be correct in what we say and write, ameen.
Murtadha Muhammad Gusau is the Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’ah and the late Alhaji Abdur-Rahman Okene’s Mosques, Okene, Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached via: gusauimam@gmail.com or +2348038289761.

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