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Khutba: the cost of living crisis & fear of poverty

Abdullah ibn Mas’ud reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Verily, Shaytan has influence with the son of Adam and the Angel has influence.
As for the affect of Shaytan, he promises evil and denies the truth.
As for the influence of the Angel, he promises goodness and affirms the truth.
Whoever finds this goodness, let him know that it is from Allah and let him praise Allah. Whoever finds something else, let him seek refuge in Allah from the accursed Satan.

Then, the Prophet recited the verse, “Satan threatens you with poverty and commands you to the shameful deed (of stinginess), but Allah promises you forgiveness and grace from Him. And Allah is All-Sufficient for His creatures’ needs, All-Knower.” (2:268) Sunan al-Tirmidhī 2988

Shaytan promises you poverty because of his poverty – he knows he has burnt his bridge, so he wants you to burn yours as well. Shaytan threatens you with the false fear of becoming poor, so that you hold on to whatever you have and refrain from spending it in Allah’s pleasure.

Shameful deeds

Ibn al-Qayyim reported: Some of the righteous predecessors said, “When Iblis and his soldiers gather, they do not rejoice for anything as much as three things:

  • a believer who kills a believer
  • a man who dies upon unbelief
  • and a heart in which is fear of poverty.” Ṭarīq al-Hijratayn 1/33

While Allah(SWT) promises you forgiveness because of His generosity.

We are living in what has been termed a ‘cost of living crisis’ which means that we’re all paying a lot more for energy and food, and things like rent and fuelfood prices are up almost 20%, the cost of heating a typical home has jumped more than 150%. We see the rise of second hand clothing sales over this festive period, businesses closing around us while others try to almost extort money with hidden costs and hungry debt collectors, foodbanks and warmbanks in high demand and some people are cutting back on how much they spend on food, or eating less, so they can pay for heating.

Scarcity mindset

And its perpetuated by how we view finances. Scarcity is one of the key concepts of economics. It means that the demand for a good or service is greater than the availability of the good or service. This ‘Thanos-like’ mindset lays the assumption that the world is not able to sustain human life, and affects the value people put on goods and services as well as how governments decide to distribute resources. However, Allah(SWT) is Able to do all things and reminds us in Surah ash-Shura:

“Had Allah given abundant provisions to ˹all˺ His servants, they would have certainly transgressed throughout the land. But He sends down whatever He wills in perfect measure. He is truly All-Aware, All-Seeing of His servants.” [ash-Shura 42:27]

We learn from this that Allah(SWT) could have provided abundant provisions to all, however, He(SWT) knows that we would have surpassed all bounds, so He(SWT) provides in measure. This also encourages interdependence, keeps us from arrogance and encourages gratitude & patience.

Ubayy ibn Ka’b reported: In regards to the saying of Allah Almighty, “As your Lord took from the children of Adam, from their loins, their progeny and He made them testify against themselves: Am I not your Lord?” (7:172). Adam, upon him be peace, looked at his progeny and he saw the rich and the poor, those with a beautiful appearance and otherwise. Adam said, “O Lord, why did You not provide the same to all Your servants?” Allah said, “Verily, I love to be thanked.”  Musnad Aḥmad 21232

Imam Ibn al-Qayyim said, “If all of them were given equal amounts of blessings and well-being, the blessed one would not recognize its extent and not offer gratitude, as he would not see anyone but in the same situation as him. Among the strongest means of gratitude and greatest of them to extract it from the servant is that he sees others in a contrary situation to his.”  Miftāḥ Dār al-Saʻādah 1/7

However, when this understanding is not there, it leads to exploitation and oppression. Isn’t it shocking that in this time, it is estimated that 50 million people worldwide are in modern slavery – 28 million in forced labour of which more than 100,000 are in the UK.

People want to have a monopoly over the limited resources and use them for unfair advantage.

Other negative behaviours

Fear of poverty can lead to negative behaviours including

  • Shame and unworthiness: people can start doubting whether they unworthy of receiving good things and even doubting whether Allah(SWT) cares about their situation.
  • On the other end of the scale, fear of poverty can also lead to greed, because Shaytan plants the seed so they lose trust that Allah(SWT) will provide. Envy and jealousy are rampant not wishing to see others succeed.

There is no denying that we all have basic needs for food and water, shelter and clothing. These are not bad things. The question is: where are we putting our affections? Do we obsess about these things? Do we let the thought of them control our lives and rule our motivations and thoughts?

How to combat fear of poverty

Abundance is not just money

Sometimes the people who have the least feel the most abundant and free: Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “1 silver coin is ahead of 100,000 others.” They said, “O Messenger of Allah, how is it so?” The Prophet said, “A man has only two coins, so he takes one and gives it in charity. Another man has abundant wealth, so he takes one hundred thousand coins from a mere portion of it and gives it in charity.” Sunan al-Nasā’ī 2528

Wealth is of many types:

  1. Wealth of property: the lawful is a test while the unlawful is a curse
  2. Wealth of character: being satisfied with what you have and having kind behaviour
  3. Wealth of time: It’s said that in the beginning of your career, you spend time to earn money. Once you mature, you should spend money to earn time, as the latter is non-renewable. In fact, a definition of true luxury is feeling unrushed.
  4. Wealth of connection: Most of us have family and friends we love and spend time with. Covid restrictions reminded us of the importance of that connection. Even if you don’t have that, you can have a connection from a smile with a stranger or through volunteering.
  5. Wealth of health: It only takes a bout of flu or a fever to remind us of this. No amount of money can buy health and nothing tastes good when you don’t have this blessing of health. Imam Shafi (rh) is reported to have said “Health is a crown that the healthy wear but that only the sick can see.”
  6. Wealth of heart: an aspiration greater than this world and a yearning for the Pleasure of Allah(SWT)

Rizq comes in many forms – working with great teammates, parents who are still around and healthy, finding parking slots on your bad days, having amazing friends who appreciate you.

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Richness does not exist outwardly. Verily, true richness is the richness of the soul. If Allah wills goodness for a servant, He places richness in his soul and righteousness in his heart. If Allah wills harm for a servant, He places poverty between his eyes.” Ṣaḥīḥ Ibn Ḥibbān 3055

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Moses asked his Lord about six traits he thought he had, but the seventh he did not like. Moses said: O Lord, who is the most Godfearing of Your servants? Allah said: Those who remember and do not forget. Moses said: Who is the most guided of Your servants? Allah said: Those who follow the guidance. Moses said: Who is the best in judgment of Your servants? Allah said: Those who judge people as they would love to be judged themselves. Moses said: Who are the most knowledgeable of Your servants? Allah said: A scholar who is unsatisfied with his knowledge and adds the knowledge of people to his own. Moses said: Who are the most honored of Your servants? Allah said: Those who forgive when they have power over others. Moses said: Who are the richest of Your servants? Allah said: Those who are pleased with what they have. Moses said: Who are the poorest of Your servants? Allah said: Those who desire more than they need.” Ṣaḥīḥ Ibn Ḥibbān 6217

Know the Prophetic example

Abu Huraira reported: By the One in whose hand is my soul, the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, did not satiate his family with wheat bread for 3 consecutive nights until he departed from this world. Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2976

And this was by his choice! The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “My Lord presented me with the valley of Mecca that He might turn it into gold for me. I said: No, O Lord, rather I will be satiated some days and hungry some days. When I am hungry, I will humble myself to You and remember You. When I am satiated, I will be grateful to You and praise You.” al-Tirmidhī 2347

Abdullah al-Hawzani reported: I met Bilal, the caller of prayer for the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, at Aleppo and I said, “O Bilal, tell us about the spending of the Prophet.” Bilal said, “He would not have anything left. I was the one to manage it for him since Allah sent him until the day he died. If a Muslim came to him and he saw him naked, he would order me to depart, borrow money, and purchase a cloak for him, then I would clothe him and feed him.” Sunan Abī Dāwūd 3500

Imam al-Ghazali said, “The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, was the most generous of people. He would not pass the night if he had a gold or silver coin with him. If he had any surplus and he could find no one to give it to and night-time suddenly arrived, he would not retire to his house until he donated it to whoever needed it.” Iḥyā’ Ulūm al-Dīn 2/360

Umar ibn al-Khattab reported: I entered the room of the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, while he was lying on his side over a mat. I sat down as he drew up his lower garment and he was not wearing anything else. The mat had left marks on his side. I looked at the Prophet’s cupboard and I saw a handful of barley in a small amount, the same of mimosa leaves (herb) in the corner, and a leather bag hanging to the side. My eyes started to tear up, and the Prophet said, “What makes you weep, son of Khattab?” I said, “O Prophet of Allah, why should I not cry that this mat has left marks on your side and I see little in this cupboard? Caesar and Khizra live among fruits and springs, while you are the Messenger of Allah and His chosen, yet this is your cupboard.” The Prophet said, “O son of Khattab, are you not pleased that they are for us in the Hereafter and for them in the world?” I said, “Of course.” Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 1479

Know the position of the poor

Abdullah ibn Umar reported: The poor emigrants complained to the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, for what Allah favored the rich over them. The Prophet said, “O you in poverty, I bring you glad tidings that the poor believers will enter Paradise before the rich by half of a day, the length of which is like five hundred years.” Musa ibn ‘Ubaydah recited the verse, “Verily, a day to your Lord is like a thousand years in your count.” (22:47) Sunan Ibn Mājah 4214

Abdullah ibn Amr reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “My fountain is like the distance between ‘Adan and ‘Amman, cooler than ice, sweeter than honey, its fragrance more pleasant than musk, its cups as numerous as stars in the sky. Whoever drinks from it will never be thirsty afterward forever. The first people to arrive at it are homeless among the emigrants. (صَعَالِيكُ الْمُهَاجِرِينَ)” Someone said, “Who are they, O Messenger of Allah?” The Prophet said, “Their hair is disheveled, their faces disfigured, and their clothes stained. The gates of the rulers are not opened for them and they are not favored in marriage, yet they fulfill every right over them and do not take any right belonging to them.”  Musnad Aḥmad 5994

It is for this reason that Abu Darda reported that the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Seek out the vulnerable for me, for you are only given provision and divine support due to your care for the vulnerable.” Sunan Abī Dāwūd 2594

Be grateful

Take time to appreciate everything you have in your life. Every time you say alhamdulillah, think of something that Allah(SWT) has blessed you with – the ability to attend a hospital this morning and access free healthcare while others in the world perhaps see a Dr once in their lifetime!

Al-Qurtubi reported: David, upon him be peace, said, “O Lord, show me the hidden blessings upon me.” Allah Almighty said, “O David, breath,” so David took a breath. Allah said, “Who counts these blessings in each day and night?” Source: Tafsīr al-Qurṭubī 2:52

Don’t forget the real Owner & Provider

Zakariya (AS), the uncle of Maryam(AS) would enter the Mihrab room where Maryam (AS) was staying, he would find a little miracle. She would have the fruits of the summer during the winter months and the winter fruits during Summer. Yet he was the only one with the key, and on asking her she responded.

“It is from Allah. Surely Allah provides for whoever He wills without limit.” (3:37)

He took a lesson from this. Despite him being extremely old (some said around 90 years old) and his wife unable to conceive, he realised that it is actually Allah who is in control. Time, space and all things are subservient to Allah’s command.

Ibn Kathir and others then mention a specific du’a he made;

يا من يرزق مريم الثمر في غير أوانه, هب لي ولدا و إن كان في غير أوانه

‘O, the one who provided fruits to Maryam outside of their time, grant me a child even if it is not in it’s time’.  Whilst he was in prayer with firm certainty in Allah’s power, he was then gifted with the news of Yahya (AS)!

Spend in good causes

Abdur Rahman ibn ‘Awf reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “By the One in whose hand is the soul of Muhammad, there are three I would swear an oath upon.

  1. Charity does not decrease wealth, so give in charity.
  2. No servant forgives wrongdoing, by which he seeks the countenance of Allah, but that Allah will increase his honour on the Day of Resurrection.
  3. And no servant opens the door of begging but that Allah will open the door of poverty.” Musnad Aḥmad 1674

Abu Huraira reported: A man came to the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, and he said, “O Messenger of Allah, which charity has the greatest reward?” The Prophet said, “That you give charity while you are healthy, greedy, fearing poverty, and hoping to be rich. Do not delay giving until you are on your deathbed, then say it is for such a person. It already belongs to that person.” Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 1419, Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 1032

In fact, ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “Three verses were revealed in connection with three others. One will not be accepted without its counterpart. First, the verse, ‘Establish prayer and give charity,’ (2:43). Whoever prays and does not give charity, his prayer is not accepted. Second, the saying of the Almighty, ‘Be grateful to me and your parents,’ (31:14). Whoever is grateful to Allah and is not grateful to his parents, it will not be accepted from him. Third, the saying of the Almighty, “Obey Allah and obey the messenger,’ (3:32). Whoever obeys Allah and does not obey the messenger, it will not be accepted from him.” Ghidhā’ al-Albāb 1/392

Focus on the purity of your wealth Ibn `Abbas said, “Allah commanded them to spend from the purest, finest and best types of their money and prohibited spending from evil and dishonest money, because Allah is pure and good and only accepts that which is pure and good.”

Visit al Quds to meet those who really understand wealth

I must share the story of our dear brother, Abdul Raouf Al-Muhtaseb, one of the respected attendees of the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron, Palestine who passed away this week. Abdul Raouf Al-Muhtaseb owned the only Palestinian shop left on Al-Shuhada Street in Al-Khalil, Palestine. Al-Shuhada Street is the site of the 1994 Ibrahimi Mosque massacre.

He narrates on video “They came and offered me $6m, then $7m, which I refused. Then, a local bus driver who I knew came and sat with me saying “Abed, a jewish man sent me to offer you $30m. He said that’s a good amount and then took him into his backyard and said which portion of the sky do you want for $30m?

Some time later, we were closed on a Jewish holiday. 2 American men came to see me and said if you are afraid of Hamas or the Arabs, we will protect you and take you from a hidden route to fly from Tel Aviv and can fly you to Australia or the US with residency. Even before signing, we will put money in whichever account you want – $100m. Never!  I will never betray my people. Each time they increase the money, my love for this land increases as well. You know you have a treasure when someone offers you $100 million. This treasure is expensive. If I wanted $100m, I am certain I would have got it.

But money never makes a man great – only Allah(SWT) does! I not only refuse $100m, I refuse all the money in this world. Money is good, but only when its pure. When you dip it in dirt, it becomes poison, not healthy money.”

May Allah (SWT)‎ have mercy on his soul and grant him a beautiful palace in Jannah. May Allah (SWT) give us the Iman, Tawakkul and understanding of Rizq of our dear brother from Al-Khalil (Hebron).

The story of Dhul-Bijadayn

The story of Abdullah ibn ‘abd Nahm is mentioned by Ibn ul Jawzi in his “Seeds of admonishment and reform”. He was a person during the time of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ who made tremendous sacrifices for Islam but whose name is not mentioned much amongst the great Companions.

His father had passed away, leaving no wealth behind. He was raised by his wealthy uncle, who also made him wealthy. When this young man learned of the message of the Prophet ﷺ around the time of the hijrah, he wished to also become a Muslim. His uncle was a staunch idol worshipper, however, and he prevented his nephew from following the Prophet ﷺ to Madinah. Some years later when the Prophet ﷺ returned to Madinah after the conquest of Makkah, the nephew said to his uncle, “I have waited for you to become Muslim, but I still do not see you nurture any desire in your heart to follow this man. The least you can do is allow me to become Muslim.” His uncle threatened him, “If you begin to follow Muhammad in any way, I will take everything I have given you, even the clothes on your back.” The man replied to his uncle, “By Allah, I have begun to follow Muhammad. I have already stopped worshipping stones and wood, so you can go ahead and take whatever you wish from my hands.” So, his uncle took away everything from him, including the very clothes on his back.

The man returned to his mother, who divided a thick rug into two pieces. He used half to cover his upper body and the other half to cover his lower body. With nothing but two sheets to cover himself, he secretly left his tribe in the dark of the night and made the long and tiring journey to Madinah to meet the Messenger of God (upon whom be peace).

He arrived tired and hungry, his hands and feet bloodied and scarred from the long journey. When he arrived within visible distance of Madinah, unable to contain his excitement, he stopped and thought how he could appear in the presence of the Prophet ﷺ with nothing but two coarse cloths haphazardly strung around himself for clothes. He had no choice, however, so he kept walking, and this young, soon-to-be-companion of the Prophet ﷺ made it to the masjid, where he slept until dawn. After the Prophet led his companions in the dawn prayer, the Prophet noticed the man and welcomed him with compassion into the community. After learning this man’s name was Abdul-Uzza, the Prophet told him, “You are Abdullah Dhul Bijadayn (the one with two coarse cloths)! Remain close to me and visit me frequently.” Dhul Bijadayn joined the people of Suffa, where he began to learn and memorize the Qu’ran.

Dhul Bijadayn had an intense love of the Messenger of God, with a burning desire to sacrifice his very life for God’s cause. He adamantly requested that the Messenger of God ﷺ pray that he be martyred prior to setting out for the expedition of Tabuk. The Messenger of God ﷺ prayed, “O my Lord! Make his blood inviolable to those who reject faith!”

“That is not what I had wanted, O Messenger of God”, said Dhul Bijadayn, to which the Prophet ﷺ replied, “If you go out to fight in the way of Allah, contract a fever and die, you are a martyr! If your mount throws you off, you fall and break your neck, you are a martyr! Not to worry! Whichever one of these it may be, it shall suffice for you to be a martyr!”

Although he was not killed in battle, Dhul Bijadayn fell ill and was granted martyrdom in the manner foretold by the Messenger of Allah ﷺ. As the army was preparing to head back one night during the expedition of Tabuk, Abdullah ibn Masud (may God be pleased with him) recounts, in awe, the scene he witnessed:

“In the dark of night, I saw a moving flame at the corner of the field where the warriors had set up their tents. I got up and followed it. Lo and behold; it turned out to be the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, Abu Bakr, and ‘Umar (may God be pleased with them both) carrying the body of Abdullah Dhul-Bijadayn (may God be pleased with him). They came to a spot, where they stopped and dug a grave. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ then went down into the grave, as Abu Bakr and ‘Umar (may God be pleased with them both) were preparing to pass the body to him.

‘Bring your brother closer to me,’ said the Messenger of Allah ﷺ. They did. Taking hold of his body, the Messenger of Allah ﷺ then placed him with his own hands in the grave, after which he stood and prayed, ‘O my Lord! I was pleased with him; I always was…may You be pleased with him too!’”

Abdullah ibn Masud (may God be pleased with him) continues:

“I was very much moved by what I saw. I was envious of Dhul-Bijadayn. I thought to myself there and then, ‘How I wish that grave had been my own!’”1

Imagine, someone who is known simply as the one who possessed two coarse cloths, buried by the blessed hands of the Messenger of God himself (upon whom be peace) and envied by one of the greatest companions. Dhul Bijadayn was someone who sought to please God, and God raised his rank through this intimate final farewell from the Prophet of God (upon whom be peace). He didn’t need to receive recognition from the masses because God recognizes and raises those who love God and those who are beloved to God. After losing everything to seek the pleasure of God, he truly had not lost anything. As Ibn ʿAṭā Allāh al-Iskandarī says, “What has he found who has lost [God]? And what has he lost who has found [God]?”

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