Status of Poor in the Ummah
Poor people in every nation are always the ones who suffer the most. They are suppressed and treated as inferior to their richer counterparts. They seem to be at a disadvantage, not only financially but also socially. In many parts of the world, the poor are treated worse than animals; Islam strictly forbids such behavior and gives the poor a status of respect and equality.
The following Hadith from Prophet Mohammad (P.B.U.H) casts a different light on this matter. He said:
"O God, grant me life as a poor man, cause me to die as a poor man and resurrect me in the company of the poor." His wife asked him why he said that, and he replied: "Because (the poor) will enter Paradise (before) the rich. Do not turn away a poor man even if all you can give is half a date. If you love the poor and bring them near you God will bring you near Him on the Day of Resurrection." Tirmidhi
Allah’s Apostle (P.B.U.H), who, had wanted, could accumulate mounds of wealth, but never did so. He, as mentioned in this Hadith, preferred to be among poor because on the Day of Resurrection, poor will be allowed in the Paradise 500 years earlier than the rich. This is to reward them for their suffering in this temporary world. This Hadith also encourages one to help the needy ones as per one’s capability.
This does not mean that rich are looked down upon, but only that the sufferings of poor will not go unnoticed and they will be compensated.
The wealthy people should not forget that all that they have has been given by Allah and He has the power to take it back, if He ever wishes so. They must have firm belief in this and be thankful to Allah for blessing them. The practical way of thanking Him is by obeying His commands.
Allah Ta’ala encourages the rich people of the ummah to take care of the poor ones with the wealth that Allah has blessed them with, treat them with respect and not look down on them.
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:
"If you love the poor and bring them near you... God will bring you near Him on the Day of Resurrection." - Tirmidhi
In the above Hadith, Allah’s Messenger (P.B.U.H) relays Allah’s orders that one should not keep the poor away or think of them as inferior due to their social status. It also shows Allah’s love for His creatures even if He hasn’t blessed them with riches.
In our society, and in almost every society in this world, the poor are not given equal rights. It is not uncommon to see a rich man go unscathed even after committing horrendous crimes while the poor are punished for their tiniest of mistakes. Allah Subha na wa ta’ala despises injustice. In a Hadith, Prophet (P.B.U.H) said:
"The people before you were destroyed because they inflicted legal punishments on the poor and forgave the rich." - Bukhari
It is important for Muslims to understand that every Muslim should be respected equally, regardless of their social status.