It is an unfortunate staple of society, regardless of era or affluence; the weak and destitute suffer. The poor will starve as the rich gorge themselves, the widow will lament as the bride indulges, the orphan will suffer as the children play. It is a theme littered though the ages: Man will not care unless he is affected. Man is selfish. Man is vain. Man is greedy. Man is flawed, due to this man must have direction and guidance, only the Creator can guide his creation.
Allah has warned the person who hoards wealth, who is only concerned about his own pockets, “Competition in [worldly] increase diverts you. Until you visit the graveyards… You will surely see the Hell-fire.” (102: 1-6) Allah knows that if man is left to his own devices then he will surely destroy himself an others. This is why He has outlined the importance of helping the needy and infirm with the wealth he blesses us with.
Allah has commanded the Believers to help the needy, “Righteousness is not that you turn your faces toward the east or the west, but [true] righteousness is [in] one who believes in Allah , the Last Day, the angels, the Book, and the prophets and gives wealth, in spite of love for it, to relatives, orphans, the needy, the traveler, those who ask [for help], and for freeing slaves; [and who] establishes prayer and gives Zakah; [those who] fulfill their promise when they promise; and [those who] are patient in poverty and hardship and during battle. Those are the ones who have been true, and it is those who are the righteous.” (2:177)
This one verse truly encapsulates the spirit of Islam, its message is not solely about belief but about assisting those who are impoverished, the undesirables of society, the forgotten. It is incumbent upon the Muslim community that they worth to alleviate the ills of the World. This is our mission and one which has been entrusted to the Prophets (AS) before.
There are numerous Narrations extolling praise and emphasising the reward which one can attain if he helps the unfortunate. Abu Huraira (RA) narrates that the Prophet (SAW) said: “Whoever strives to relieve the widow, the distressed and the needy is as one, in Divine reward, who does Jihad in the path of Allah.” Abu Huraira (RA) added that as far as he remembered, the Prophet (SAW), also said, “He is as one who fasts permanently during the day and spends the nights in prayer.” (Bukhari) (Muslim) This shows how beloved the action of relieving the trails of the distressed is, an unfathomable amount of reward awaits.
The Prophet (SAW) who will be in the highest stage of Jannah has promised, Sahl ibn Sa’ad relates the Prophet said: “Whoever supports an orphan belonging to his own or any other family will be as close to me in Heaven as these fingers are to each other” Sahl relates that the Prophet (SAW) made a motion of his index and middle fingers (while he said it), and there was only a little space separating the two (at that time). (Bukhari) This narration does not single any orphan out, the orphan could have familial ties or he could not, it does not matter; the reward is the same. Jannah is fulfills every desire and whim a person can imagine, however, can anyone deny that one of the greatest desires a believer will have is to spend time with the best of creation (SAW)?
Even if a person does not spend his wealth or provide assistance to an orphan, just the good treatment of an orphan is enough to acquire reward. Abu Umamah (RA) relates, the Prophet (SAW) has said; “If anyone strokes an orphan’s head, doing so only for the sake of Allah, he will have blessings for every hair over which his hand passes, and if anyone treats well an orphan girl or boy under his care, he and I shall be like these two in Paradise.” He put two of his fingers together. (Ahmad) (Tirmidhi) This narration is very clear, the good treatment of an orphan will be, regardless of gender will result in good deeds.
The one who treats orphans is honoured, similarly, the one who mistreats orphans is disgraced. If the one who oppresses orphans is not punished in this life, the punishment of the next is more severe.
If a person is willing to raise an orphan, he should know that this deed is commendable and he will be compensated by Allah. But, he should remain wary of his conduct toward the orphan under his care, if the rights of the orphan are violated then the punishment of Allah will follow. The orphan can either secure his place in Paradise or his place in Hell.
The Prophet has said: “The best of Muslim homes is the one in which an orphan lives and is treated in a loving and affectionate manner, and the worst of Muslim homes is the home in which an orphan lives and is treated badly or cruelly.” (Ibn Majah) All Muslims who work with orphans should also take great care in their demeanor toward an orphan. Charities which fund orphanages should ensure that the money which has been donated is used to raise orphans in a safe and nurturing environment. Even the people who donate should at least check if the charity is reliable and trustworthy.
The one who looks after the poor or feeds the hungry will be rewarded, his reward will be with Allah. As only Allah can truly compensate such virtuous actions. However, the Prophet has mentioned some rewards for taking care of certain needs the destitute have: “He who clothes a naked Muslim Allah will clothe him with green garments in Paradise. As for the Muslim who feeds a Muslim who is hungry, Allah will feed him the fruit of Paradise. Then, as for a Muslim who will give water (or any other drink) to a Muslim who is thirsty Allah will give him to drink the extremely pure drink (of Paradise) on which is an unseen seal.” (Abu Dawud) (Tirmidhi)
These are only some of the rewards that the Prophet (SAW) mentioned as an incentive to spend on the impoverished. The true extent of reward will be shown in the next life. We should, when spending, have a pure intention; we should spend solely for Allah’s pleasure, not to show off.
May Allah give us the means to spend on the orphan, the needy, the hungry and the poor. May He help us be sincere in our charity. May he alleviate the suffering of the oppressed around the world. Ameen.