The Meaning of 'Pride in Poverty'
Dr. Ahmad Shafaat
It has been stated that "pride in
poverty, a life of prayer and dhikr (remembrance of God) and
constant struggle against falsehood, evil and injustice (jihad)
is the way of Muhammad". Let's clarify the first part of the
Pride in poverty does not mean that
Muslims should reject economic realities and that they should not
try to earn a living for themselves and their families. Pride in
poverty rather means that they should be prepared to become
poor in the way of God and truth and if and when they do become poor
they should not be ashamed of their poverty but feel proud of it.
There are two fears that make people
divert from the way of God and the way of truth:
fear of poverty and
fear of death. True believers are those
who have overcome these two fears by making a deal with their Lord
whereby they have sold to Him their wealth and lives and in return
He has committed to reward them with the infinite abundance and
everlasting life of the hereafter. Says the Holy Qur'an:
"Verily, God has bought
from the believers their lives and their wealth in (return for
the promise) that for them there will be the jannah..."
One of the implications of this deal
between God and the believers is the attitude mentioned above, i.e.
preparedness to face poverty in the way of God and the truth and
feeling proud of it when it does.
And poverty almost always does come to
those who truly follow the way of God and truth.
This is because the way of God and truth
almost always conflicts with the established ways of the society and
those who follow it are almost always punished by the society,
intentionally or unintentionally, in the form of economic and other
hardships. it is therefore almost impossible that a man can
follow the way of God and truth and yet lead most of his life in
prosperity and comfort. God says in His Book:
"And most certainly shall
We try you by means of danger and hunger and loss of worldly
goods, of lives and of (your labor's) fruits. But give glad
tidings unto those who are patient in adversity." (2:155)
When a person has traded away his wealth
and life for jannah (eternal bliss) he gets such courage that
he can stand alone against all the forces of falsehood and zulum
(injustice) because all that these forces can do to him is to make
him poor or put him to death and both of these eventualities he is
ready to face.
In the materialistic society in which we
live, most of us feel extremely uncomfortable when we are reminded
that poverty not riches was the pride of the man to whose Ummah we
belong. One brother so disliked this reminder that he tore away the
reminder published in a previous issue of "Al-Ummah" (a periodical
published in Montreal, Canada) which was entitled "The way of
Muhammad" and threw it on the street.
Surely this brother, unless God will
have mercy on him, has carved for himself a place in hell-fire for
thus rejecting and insulting a part of the way of Muhammad (may God
bless him evermore).