By Mohamedarif M Suleman (Nairobi, Kenya)
In a society where people are separated by social class, where the wealthy, less audacious than their colonial counterparts, believing in the tenets of feudal capitalism, ensure that social groupings have invisible barriers which do not cause trespassing.
In fact, our social woes are multipronged. Wealth is probably the means to the end. Just one of the roots of our problems. This wealth can be used to acquire ownership over things, enables the acquisition of leading edge technology that indirectly rules over others, facilitates the weaponry with which one can beautify himself or herself and even buy education at the best and most renowned places of learning. By so doing, the rich have for ages imposed themselves on society and social matters. The other have-not class, deprived of even the basic necessities of life, regard wealth as a measure of success and spend their entire lives matching up to their more progressive counterparts.
We always hear tremendous bashing of the rich, so for a change let us talk about the have-nots.
Organizations which involve themselves in charity are key to this argument. When funds are allocated on the basis of sympathy, and lack of wealth rather than merit of the case, exacerbates the reward to begging or pleading for material mercy. In this sense, such a society, or an organization that rewards wrong character or puts people in such a position that unless they complaint and disdain over their plights, would not be entertained or deemed deserving of cases of help, is an equally responsible entity for encouraging poverty and the quick shift from relying on Allah (SWT) to relying on say, community, for funds.
In real terms, whereas not all cases may be subject to microscopic scrutiny, in most cases if an audit of the bank accounts of certain people who for years have been at the mercy of public funds would be carried out, it would be discovered that poverty is not in their belongings but their minds. It is a mental state out of which they now find it impossible to shift.
Islam abhors such individuals and tells us that those who, even when poor, either extend their hands to others for help or advertise their poverty, would gain nothing but humiliation. And so quoting our 6th Imam (AS), “There is something that Allah (SWT) loves for himself, but hates for others. He hates for people to beg from others, but He loves the people to beg from Him. Nothing is more loved by Him than to be asked for something. Therefore none of you should be ashamed of asking Allah (SWT) for things, even it be just for your shoe lace.”
The responsibility of society is to stop treating people like Pavlov’s experimental animals so that there is no more conditioning towards this abominable trait, but at the same time to stop demonstrating grandly and loftily their wealth and prowess so that it later becomes a source of emulation for those who do not have, and compel them to a life of degradation. The responsibility for those who are on the other side of the fence is to understand that Allah (SWT), the merciful, has granted different strengths and bounties to different individuals, and wealth is just one of them. To seek one good, and leave the multitude of others, is pitiful.
If both groups subscribe to this philosophy, then our social woes will cease to exist.