How Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) Helped the Poor and Fought Poverty With Shari’ah, By Murthada Gusau
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Verily, all praise is for Allah, we seek His help and His forgiveness. We seek refuge with Allah from the evil of our own souls [and from our bad deeds]. Whomsoever Allah guides will never be led astray, and whomsoever Allah leaves astray, no one can guide. I bear witness that there is no god but Allah, [alone and without any partner] and I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger.
“O you who believe! Fear Allah as He should be feared, and die not except in a state of Islam (as Muslims) with complete submission to Allah.” [Ali Imran 3:102]
“O mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, Who created you from a single person, and from him He created his wife, and from them both He created many men and women, and fear Allah through Whom you demand your mutual (rights), and (do not cut the relations of) the wombs (kinship) Surely, Allah is Ever an All-Watcher over you).” [al-Nisa’ 4:1]
“O you who believe! Keep your duty to Allah and fear Him, and speak (always) the truth). He will direct you to do righteous good deeds and will forgive you your sins. And whosoever obeys Allah and His Messenger (SAW) he has indeed achieved a great achievement (i.e. he will be saved from the Hellfire and made to enter Paradise).” [al-Ahzaab 33:70-71]
As to what proceeds: Verily the best of speech is the Book of Allah and the best of guidance is the guidance of Muhammad (SAW). The worst of affairs are the newly-invented affairs in the religion and every newly invented affair in the religion is an innovation and every innovation is misguidance and all misguidance is in the hellfire. As to what proceeds:
Brothers and Sisters! Poverty is one of the calamities and dangers in the world today, that happens either to a specific person or a family or a society. Poverty has negative effects on people’s beliefs and conduct. Similarly, immoral behaviour becomes widespread to a large extent because of poverty, as a means of meeting people’s needs, so theft, armed robbery, kidnapping, murder, terrorism, adultery, fornication and sale of prohibited things become widespread. Undoubtedly these things have a negative effect on individuals and societies. Allah tells us that some of the non-believers in Makkah used to kill their children, the apples of their eyes, either because of the poverty in which they were living or for fear of poverty that might befall them.
And the Sunnah relates to us what the Prophet (Pbuh) used to do and what he taught his ummah to do, which is seeking refuge with Allah from poverty, because of the effect that it has on a person, his family and his society.
It was narrated that Muslim ibn Abi Bakrah said:
“My father used to say the following every prayer: “O Allah, I seek refuge with You from disbelief, poverty and the torment of the grave”, and I used to say them too. My father said: O my son, where did you get this from? I said: From you. He said: The Messenger of Allah (Pbuh) used to say that following every prayer.”
Servants of Allah! Allah makes it obligatory upon us to help the poor out of poverty, as He the Almighty said:
“Those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah and do not follow up their spending by stressing their benevolence and causing hurt, will find their reward secure with their Lord. They have no cause for fear and grief.”
And He said:
“To speak a kind word and to forgive people’s faults is better than charity followed by hurt. Allah is All-Sufficient, All-Forbearing.”
“Oh Believers! Do not nullify your acts of charity by stressing your benevolence and causing hurt as does he who spends his wealth only to be seen by men and does not believe in Allah and the Last Day. The example of his spending is that of a rock with a thin coating of earth upon it: when a heavy rain smites it, the earth is washed away, leaving the rock bare; such people derive no gain from their acts of charity. Allah does not set the deniers of the truth on the right way.”
And He said:
“Those needy ones who are wholly wrapped up in the cause of Allah, and who are hindered from moving about the earth in search of their livelihood especially deserve help. He who is unaware of their circumstances supposes them to be wealthy because of their dignified bearing, but you will know them by their countenance, although they do not go about begging of people with importunity. And whatever wealth you will spend on helping them, Allah will know of it.”
And He the Almighty said:
“And do not become like the woman who, after having painstakingly spun her yarn, caused it to disintegrate into pieces. You resort to oaths as instruments of mutual deceit so that one people might take greater advantage than another although Allah puts you to the test through this. Surely on the Day of Resurrection He will make clear the truth concerning the matters over which you differed.”
“Have you seen him who belies the rewards and punishments of the Hereafter? It is he who drives away the orphan and does not urge giving away the food of the poor.”
“Give to the near of kin his due, and also to the needy and the wayfarers. Do not squander your wealth wastefully; for those who squander wastefully are Satan’s brothers, and Satan is ever ungrateful to his Lord.”
He the Most High said:
“Look, you are being called upon to expend in Allah’s Way, yet some of you are being niggardly, whereas the one who is niggardly is, in fact, being niggardly only to himself. Allah is Self-Sufficient: it is you who are the needy. If you turn away, Allah will replace you by another people, and they will not be like you.”
“Do not keep your hand fastened to your neck nor outspread it, altogether widespread, for you will be left sitting rebuked, destitute.”
“(In reference to the slaves of Allah) who, when they spend, are neither extravagant nor miserly but keep the golden mean between the two (extremes).”
“You shall not attain righteousness until you spend out of what you love (in the way of Allah). Allah knows whatever you spend.”
“(O Prophet!) Tell those of My servants who believe that they should establish Prayer and spend out of what We have provided them with, both secretly and openly, before there arrives the Day when there will be no bargaining, nor any mutual befriending.”
“Allah does not love the arrogant and the boastful, who are niggardly and bid others to be niggardly and conceal the bounty which Allah has bestowed upon them. We have kept in readiness a humiliating chastisement for such deniers (of Allah’s bounty).”
“The people who where given the Book before this did not divide into sects until after the clear statement (of the Right Way) had come to them, and the only Command they were given was to worship Allah, making their religion sincerely His, turning all their attention towards Him, and to establish the Salat and to pay the Zakah: for this alone is the most true and right religion.”
He also said:
“Establish Prayer and dispense the Purifying Alms (Zakah) and bow in worship with those who bow.”
“The believers, both men and women, are allies of one another. They enjoin good, forbid evil, establish Prayer, pay Zakah, and obey Allah and His Messenger. Surely Allah will show mercy to them. Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise.”
“The alms (Zakah in this specific verses case) are meant only for the poor and the needy and those who are in charge thereof, those whose hearts are to be reconciled; and to free those in bondage, and to help those burdened with debt, and for expenditure in the way of Allah and for the wayfarer. This is an obligation from Allah. Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise.”
Brothers and Sister! 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 some people live happily, yet 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.
My people! One of the great reforms that the Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) brought was the rights and treatment of the poor. Prior to the advent of Islam, 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 (Pbuh) all that changed, the Muslims were now obliged to look after the poor, and were required to spend of their wealth to help the poor out. For instance the Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) taught the following:
“Narrated Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him): Allah’s Messenger (Pbuh) said, “Allah said, ‘O son of Adam! Spend, and I shall spend on you.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari]
The basic meaning of this hadith was that Muslims should spend from their wealth in giving charity to the poor. This teaching of the Prophet (Pbuh), to spend and to give in charity, was a very common message that he would often give as we read in another hadith:
“Narrated Harithah bin Wahab (may Allah be pleased with him): I heard the Prophet (Pbuh) 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, would have taken it, but today I am not in need of it.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari]
Brothers and Sisters! As I said 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 (Pbuh) say in this regard? The Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) 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 (Pbuh) said, “Whoever is made wealthy by Allah and does not pay the Zakah 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.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari]
Servants of Allah! 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 (Pbuh) also taught the following about wealthy people giving in charity:
“Narrated Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him): The Prophet (Pbuh) said, “The best charity is that which is practiced by a wealthy person. And start giving first to your dependents.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari]
In a longer version of this hadith we read:
“Narrated Hakim bin Hizam (may Allah be pleased with him): The Prophet (Pbuh) 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.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari]
So the Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) taught that 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 (Pbuh) 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 (Pbuh) or he was asked for something, he (Pbuh) 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.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari]
So whenever the Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) 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 (Pbuh) said, “The one who looks after a widow or a poor person is like a Mujahid (Warrior) who struggles for Allah’s Cause, or like him who performs prayers all the night and fasts all the day.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari]
So the Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) compared the one who looks after a poor person, with the one who struggles in the cause of Allah (SWT). And as everyone knows, the one who struggles 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 (Pbuh) explicitly states that a person who looks after a poor person is like the one who fights in the cause of Allah (SWT). 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.
Also Ibn Abbas related that the Prophet (Pbuh) said:
“Any Muslim who gives a Muslim a garment to wear will be in Allah’s safekeeping as long as a shred of it remains on him.” [Ahmad and Tirmidhi]
Abu Qatadah related that the Prophet (Pbuh) said:
“If anyone would like Allah to save him from the hardships of the Day of Resurrection, he should give more time to his debtor who is short of money, or remit his debt altogether.” [Muslim]
Anas related that the Prophet (Pbuh) said:
“If any Muslim plants something or sows seed from which a man, a bird or an animal eats, it counts as a charity for him.” [Bukhari and Muslim]
Salman ibn Amir reported that the Prophet (Pbuh) said:
“To give something to a poor man brings one reward, while giving the same to a needy relation brings two: one for charity and the other for respecting the family ties.” [Ahmad, Ibn Majah, Nasa’i and Tirmidhi]
Jabir reported that the Prophet (Pbuh) said:
“Avoid doing injustice to others, for on the Day of Judgment, it will turn into manifold darkness, and safeguard yourself against miserliness, for it ruined those who were before you. It incited them to murder and treating the unlawful as lawful.” [Muslim]
Abbas related that a man asked the Prophet (Pbuh):
“Tell me what should I do to be admitted to Paradise and he (the Prophet) answered: Worship Allah, associating nothing with Him, observe Salat, pay Zakah and strengthen the ties of kinship.” [Bukhari and Muslim]
Brothers and Sisters! Indeed what a great reform the Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) brought! Now if all of us in Nigeria, Africa and around the world could follow these teachings in regards to the poor people, then this would be a much better place!
My respected people! Let me repeat, did you know that the majority of the world’s population lives in poverty? From a more logical perspective, it is clear that the world system we have set up today is unjust and inhumane. Isn’t it unfair that there are people who cannot even afford one meal a day, while others thrown away food? Back then, the Arabs also had a very terrible system and they would not help the poor and needy. With the advent of Islam, all that changed. Islam gave the poor their rights and as such, Muslims must adhere to these rights. Let’s look closely at why we should help those in need!
1. To Fulfil the Commandment of Allah
As we know, giving out the Zakah (charity) is one of the pillars of faith, making it obligatory on every capable Muslim. Allah says in the Noble Quran:
“And establish regular prayers and pay the Zakah and loan to Allah a goodly loan. Whatever good you sent forth before you for your souls, you shall find it in Allah’s presence, better and greater in reward.”
2. To Extinguish Sins
Charity helps to wipe away sins. Allah says in the Noble Quran:
“If you give charity openly then what a good thing it is; and if you give to beggars, hiding it, is better for you than everything, and He will remove some of your sins. And Allah is Aware of what you do.”
And it was narrated that Ka‘ab ibn Ujrah (may Allah be pleased with him) said:
“The Messenger of Allah (Pbuh) said to me: “Charity extinguishes sin as water extinguishes fire.” [Al-Tirmidhi]
3. To Represent Islam
As a Muslim, your character and conduct go a long way in representing the religion. Non-Muslims who may not know much about Islam look at you and judge. It is therefore very vital to always show a very good character. Giving charity could show that Islam is a religion of generosity and kindness and love.
4. To Strengthen the Ummah
Although we do not have an Islamic Caliphate anymore, there are many Muslim organisations, schools and groups that function to benefit the needy Muslims all around the globe. They offer scholarships to Muslim students, help Muslims in places of natural disasters and many other amazing acts. We should all actively contribute to these groups so that we may also benefit immensely from the reward, In Shaa Allah. This way, the unity and love amongst Muslims is fostered.
5. To Touch a Heart
Kindness is one of the best ways to touch someone’s life in a positive way. By this is mean even the non-Muslims. Being kind and generous towards a non-Muslim neighbour might make him/her more inclined towards Islam, even if he does not end up taking the Shahadah.
Servants of Allah! Wealth is a gift from Allah, and as such we must work hard to earn it honestly and then give out to those who have less than we do. We must be content with what we have and be grateful. Allah does not like the greedy, stingy or boastful.
It was narrated that al-Nu’man ibn Bashir said:
“The Messenger of Allah (Pbuh) said: “The likeness of the believers in their mutual love, mercy and compassion is that of the body; when one part of it is in pain, the rest of the body joins it in restlessness and fever.” [al-Bukhari and Muslim]
It was narrated from Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (Pbuh) said:
“He is not a Muslim who eats his fill when his neighbour goes hungry.” [al-Bayhaqi in al-Shu’ab and others]
In Muwatta’ of al-Imam Malik it is narrated from Yahya ibn Sa’id that:
“Umar ibn al-Khattab met Jabir ibn Abdullah who was carrying some meat with him. He said: What is this? He said: O Amiril Mu’minin, we desired meat so I bought some meat for a dirham. Umar said: Would one of you want to fill his belly apart from his neighbour or his cousin? What don’t you pay heed to the verse, “You received your good things in the life of the world, and you took your pleasure therein.” [al-Ahqaf 46:20]?
Respected Brothers and Sisters! One of the central principles of Islam is helping others. While some perceive Islam as a faith that encourages violence rather than positive contributions to society, the Qur’an and especially the hadith highlight how helping another human being is a fundamental aspect of Islam. Muslims’ primary goal is to worship Allah, but this is done not only through rituals like prayer and fasting but also through treatment of other people.
Before the Prophet Muhammad (Pbub) started to receive revelation, he would spend a great deal of time meditating in a cave outside of Makkah. One of the issues that he reflected on was how some members of his society–like women, orphans, and those without tribal protection–were treated. It is for this reason that there are many hadith that emphasise the importance of helping others.
One hadith in particular that underscores this message comes from a collection called An-Nawawi. The Prophet (Pbuh) said:
“Whosoever removes a worldly grief from a believer, Allah will remove from him one of the griefs of the Day of Judgment. Whosoever alleviates [the lot of] a needy person, Allah will alleviate [his lot] in this world and the next. Whosoever shields a Muslim, Allah will shield him in this world and the next. Allah will aid a slave [of His] so long as the slave aids his brother. Whosoever follows a path to seek knowledge therein, Allah will make it easy for him a path to Paradise. No people gather together in one of the houses of Allah, reciting the Book of Allah and studying it among themselves, but tranquility and peace descends upon them, mercy envelopes them, the angels surround them, and Allah makes mention of them amongst those who are with Him. And whosoever is slowed down by his actions will not be hastened forward by his lineage.”
It is clear from this that helping others is connected to a believer’s worship of Allah. In other words, the hadith connects responsibility to people to other acts of worship like reading Qur’an with other Muslims and seeking knowledge. Moreover, there is a clear reward for a person who aids another, both in this world and in the next. This is important for Muslims, because each person will face Allah on the Day of Judgment and be asked about all their deeds. It is clear from the above hadith that helping others is not optional but a religious duty.
Respected Servants of Allah! The purpose of the Islamic Law (Shari’ah) is for humans to achieve happiness in this world and the hereafter, by following the law of adopting the good and neglecting the bad.
The Islamic law (Shari’ah) does not command anything that is not good for people, and it does not forbid anything that is not bad for them.
Islamic law (Shari’ah) was made to make people happy and to protect five things: religion, Life, mind/intellect, offspring, and property, which are the main rights of human in this life.
My respected people! Let’s not forget what John F. Kennedy said:
”If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.”
Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi raaji’uun! A Tribute to our hero, the father and champion of the poor and needy, late Alhaji Ahmadu Chanchangi, chairman Chanchangi Airlines.
A father, a philanthropist, a man who has impact in everybody’s lives, who helped the Da’wah of our Mallam, late Shaikh Abubakr Mahmud Gumi immensely with his wealth; Alhaji Ahmadu Chanchangi, may Allah forgive. him and make Jannatul Firdaws his last abode.
The Man had wealth, a stupendous one for that matter, but he controlled it, he never allowed it control him. He was not a religious scholar, a naive person may say, but most, if not all his associates are. So what was he? He rode the best cars, but he always gave lift to friends, even in the front seat where he sat. His friends when he was nobody, remained his friends till his last breath. He lived among the poor despite their ceaseless demands. He could have moved to the Kinkino or other reserved parts of Kaduna. His wealth was for building Masjids, schools and homes for the needy. The man had truly gave out, so I pray to ALLAH (SWT) – The best of givers – to give him best he has in stock for givers. Ameen Yaa Rabb.
I ask Allah the Most High to give his family, friends, associates and the Muslim Ummah the fortitude to bear the irreparable and irreplaceable loss, ameen.
I ask Allah to assist us in living by the Quran and Sunnah. I pray that He lets us recognize the truth for what it is and helps us to follow it, and that He lets us see falsehood for what it is and helps us to avoid it.
O Allah! Guide us and protect us from the causes of ignorance and destruction! Save us from the defects of ourselves! Cause the last of our deeds to be the best and most righteous! And forgive all of us, ameen.
My respected people! Anything good I have said in my today’s Khutbah (Sermon) is from Allah the Al-Mighty, and any mistakes are my own and we seek refuge in Allah from giving wrong advice and from all forms of calamities and fitnah. And I ask Allah’s forgiveness if I stepped beyond bounds in anything I said or I do.
May Allah be praised; and may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon His Messenger Muhammad and upon his family and Companions.
With this I conclude my Khutbah (Sermon) and ask Allah, the Almighty and the sublime, to forgive all of our sins. So seek his forgiveness, He is all forgiving Most Merciful.
This Jumu’ah Khutbah (Friday Sermon) was prepared for delivery today, Friday, Rajab 23, 1438 A.H. (April 21, 2017), By Imam Murtadha Muhammad Gusau, the Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’ah and Alhaji Abdurrahman Okene’s Mosques, Okene Kogi State Nigeria. He can be reached via: +2348038289761.