NOT FORGETTING YOUR POOR PAST
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NOT FORGETTING YOUR POOR PAST

Some people are born into the laps of luxury and opulence whilst others only see this after years of struggle, toil, and many sacrifices. It is easier for the born rich to forget the poor amongst them for they have not tasted poverty themselves. On the other hand those who have become rich can easily relate to poverty which was their lot at one time. However when the today’s rich and yesterday’s poor become deeply and intensely involved in the world, living the ‘high life’ that they forget their poor past and forget the poor amongst them then poverty becomes deeper and widespread.

Wealth is given by Allah Ta’ala to both His friends and enemies alike. For His enemies it often is a respite and a rope to advance their transgressions and grow further away from him. For His friends it is to bring them closer to Him. Therefore those who have wealth can either through their wealth gain proximity to Allah Ta’ala or move away from Him. When the poor are forgotten then Allah Ta’ala becomes distant. On the contrary when the poor are remembered and their needs are seen to, Allah Ta’ala draws close to a person and becomes his constant aid and companion in this world and will be with him even on the day of Qiyaamah as he faces the horrors of this dreadful day, as told in the following hadeeth of the Prophet Sallallaahu Alaihi Wa sallam, narrated by Hadrat Abu Hurairah Radiyallaahu Anhu:

 “Whoever relieves the hardship of a believer in this world, Allah will relieve his hardship on the Day of Resurrection. Whoever helps ease someone in difficulty, Allah will make it easy for him in this world and in the Hereafter. Whoever covers the faults of a Muslim, Allah will cover his faults in this world and in the Hereafter. Allah helps the servant as long as he helps his brother…” (Saheeh Muslim)

Amongst the most noble of acts is the act of caring for the poor by the one who was once poor. Sadly this is very seldom found in the times we live in. The rich lead their lives indulging and revelling in opulence and luxury, whilst the poor wallow in poverty and misery. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer which is only brought about because of the abandonment of the former for the latter.

Islam strongly advocates caring for the needs of the poor and needy. Qur’aan and ahadeeth are both replete with this instruction which is mostly directed to the wealthy. The following story very beautifully conveys the obligation of the rich to the poor.

There was once a man named Nasiruddin who was the slave of a king and because the king was very fond of hunting Nasiruddin often accompanied him on his hunting trips into the forests. On one of these hunting trips Nasiruddin came across a very pretty baby deer and picked it up and began walking away. The mother deer saw Nasiruddin take her baby and followed him anxiously. Nasiruddin, pleased with the baby dear, was thinking about presenting it to his children to play with. After a time, he chanced to look back and saw the mother deer following him in deep distress and anguish. He noticed too that she did not seem to care about her own safety. Moved to pity, Nasiruddin set the baby deer free. The mother deer nuzzled and licked her baby fondly and the two deer leapt happily away into the forest.

That night Nasiruddin dreamt of the Prophet Sallallaahu Alaihi Wa Sallam who addressed him thus: ‘Nasiruddin, your name has been entered in the list of Allah Ta’ala, and you will one day have a vast kingdom. But remember that when you are king you will also have many responsibilities. Just as you have shown mercy to the deer today, you should be merciful to all Allah Ta’ala’s creation if you wish to continue attracting Allah Ta’ala’s mercy. You should not forget your people and their needs, by falling into a life of luxury.’

This dream came true and Nasiruddin did become king, Amir Nasiruddin Subaktagin, father of Sultan Muhammad.

If we wish to gain and secure the proximity of Allah Ta’ala whereby He will shower us with His choicest mercies and blessings continuously we need to be constantly merciful and kind to all His creation especially the poor and needy amongst us.

In the famous Hadeethul Qudsi, narrated by Hadrat Abu Hurairah Radiyallaahu anhu who said that the Prophet of Allah Sallallaahu Alaihi Wa Sallam said:

 “Allah will say on the Day of Judgment, ‘Son of Adam, I was sick but you did not visit Me.’ 
‘My Lord, How could I visit You when You are the Lord of the Worlds?’ 
‘Did you not know that one of My servants was sick and you didn’t visit him? If you had visited him you would have found Me there.’
Then Allah will say, ‘Son of Adam, I needed food but you did not feed Me.’ 
‘My Lord, How could I feed You when You are the Lord of the Worlds?’
‘Did you not know that one of My servants was hungry but you did not feed him? If you had fed him you would have found its reward with Me.’
‘Son of Adam, I was thirsty, but you did not give Me something to drink.’ 
‘My Lord, How could I give a drink when You are the Lord of the Worlds?’
‘Did you not know that one of My servants was thirsty but you did not give him a drink? If you had given him a drink, you would have found its reward with Me.‘ (Bukhari)
 

In serving others and giving to others, we find Allah Ta’ala. In His mercy, the path to Him is one of peace and improving the world around us. Only by helping others can we help ourselves. We cannot live a life of self-indulgence and selfishness and expect to win the pleasure of Allah Ta’ala along the way.
 

It is out of the mercy and wisdom of Allah Ta’ala that He made serving others and creating a peaceful, compassionate earth one of the landmarks in the journey to Him. We cannot afford to ignore the suffering around us, because in those pleas for help is a call to getting closer to our Creator. In this hadeeth, the Prophet Sallallaahu Alaihi Wa Sallam tells us that if we ever hoped for a direct and fastest route to the pleasure of Allah Ta’ala, here it is.
 

Therefore, we have to revive our sensitivity to the simple acts of service we can do every day. When we hear of someone who is sick or in need, the impulse that we feel to help should be so strong that it is impossible to ignore. Instead, many of us have desensitized ourselves to suffering because it is out of sync with the lifestyles we choose. At most, we may be persuaded to donate, but usually not more.
Yet in the feeding of the poor, relieving the thirst and suffering, and comforting the sick lies an incredible closeness to Allah Ta’ala, so much that He says that He is there Himself with the distressed. Maybe we can rethink our priorities so that we jump at the chance to be there in the places and opportunities where the pleasure of Allah Ta’ala can be found. Maybe we can foster a high level of alertness so that we are always on the lookout for ways to please Allah Ta’ala through comforting the suffering people in our communities and neighbourhoods.

 If we remember our poor past in the way that it drives us to become more sensitive to the needs of the poor amongst us, our closeness to Allah Ta’ala will become one unlike any other. The saints of the past reached sainthood mainly through servitude to others!

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