إِنَّ اللهَ سُبْحَانَهُ فَرَضَ فِي أَمْوَالِ الاْغْنِيَاءِ أَقْوَاتَ الْفُقَرَاءِ، فَمَا جَاعَ فَقِيرٌ إِلاَّ بِمَا مَنَعَ بِهِ غَنِي، وَاللهُ تَعَالَى سَائِلُهُمْ عَنْ ذلِكَ۔
Allah, the Glorified, has fixed the livelihood of the destitute in the wealth of the rich. Consequently, whenever a destitute remains hungry it is because some rich person has denied (him his share). Allah, the Sublime, will question them about it.
— Imam Ali a.s.
(Nahj al-Balagha — Peak of Eloquence: Hadith #328)
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. Praise be to Allah, the Lord of all worlds. May peace and blessings be upon our beloved Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ), his pure progeny, and his noble companions.
In this profound hadith, Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) highlights the divine decree of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) regarding the distribution of wealth. The Imam states that Allah, in His infinite wisdom, has ordained that the sustenance of the destitute is fixed within the wealth of the rich. This means that it is the responsibility of the affluent individuals to provide for the needs of the less fortunate.
The Arabic word (aqwat) "أَقْوَاتَ" used in this hadith refers to the sustenance or provisions necessary for survival. It encompasses not only food and water but also encompasses the basic necessities of life such as shelter, clothing, and healthcare. The word (al-fuqara) "الْفُقَرَاءِ" refers to the destitute or the impoverished individuals who are in need of assistance.
This hadith serves as a reminder to all Muslims that wealth is not solely for personal enjoyment and accumulation, but rather it is a trust from Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) that should be shared with those in need. It emphasizes the concept of social responsibility and the obligation to alleviate the suffering of the less fortunate.
The teachings of this hadith find resonance in the Quranic verses as well. Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) repeatedly emphasizes the importance of charity, compassion, and helping those in need. In Surah Al-Hashr (59:7), Allah says,
And [also for] those who were settled in the Home (i.e., Al-Madinah) and [adopted] the faith before them. They love those who emigrated to them and find not any want in their breasts of what the emigrants were given but give [them] preference over themselves, even though they are in privation. And whoever is protected from the stinginess of his soul - it is those who will be the successful.
This verse highlights the selflessness and generosity of the Ansar (the residents of Madinah) who welcomed and supported the Muhajirun (the emigrants from Makkah). Despite their own limited resources, they prioritized the needs of others over their own. This exemplifies the spirit of the hadith, where the rich are urged to provide for the destitute.
Furthermore, in Surah Al-Isra (17:80), Allah says,
And say: My Lord! Cause me to come in with a firm incoming and to go out with a firm outgoing. And give me from Thy presence a sustaining Power.
This verse highlights the supplication of Prophet Ibrahim (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) where he seeks sustenance from Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ). It reminds us that our sustenance ultimately comes from Allah, and He has the power to provide for all His creation.
The consequences of neglecting this divine decree are severe. The hadith states that whenever a destitute remains hungry, it is because some rich person has denied him his rightful share. This highlights the accountability that the affluent individuals will face on the Day of Judgment. Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) will question them about their failure to fulfill their duty towards the less fortunate.
Reflecting on this hadith, we are reminded of the importance of fulfilling our social obligations and the significance of wealth redistribution in Islam. It is not enough to accumulate wealth for personal gain; rather, we must actively seek ways to alleviate poverty and provide for those in need. By doing so, we not only fulfill our duty towards our fellow human beings but also earn the pleasure and blessings of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ).
May Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) grant us the understanding and ability to fulfill our responsibilities towards the destitute and may He bless us with the means to alleviate poverty and suffering in our communities.
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