Rich Muslim, Poor Muslim – Sidi Tushar Imdad

Rich Muslim, Poor Muslim – Which Would You Rather Be?

Acquiring money and building wealth can be a confusing topic for Muslims.

On one hand, when we read the Seerah and learn of the extreme frugality and hardships borne by the Sahaba it seems as if our luxurious, consumer-fed lives are opulent in comparison.

But then we have many other Sahaba who amassed and spent their great fortunes on helping the Ummah. For example, the third caliph, Uthman ibn ‘Affan, during a famine in Madinah, purchased a large caravan of food and goods at 10X the price before giving away the entirety to the sufferers!

This is the wonderful balance and perfection of Islam: we have prophets like Sayyidia Ayyub (a.s.) who was the personification of patience during adversity, having suffered extreme poverty, sickness and loss. In contrast, Allah sent us Prophet Sulaiman (a.s.) – whose wealth, power and kingdom will never be matched.

What’s remarkable is that both prophets are praised by Allah with the same words: ‘How excellent a servant, verily he was ever-returning in sincere repentance.’ (see Qur’an 38:30 & 38:44).

Sometimes, a thought may come to you – as it has to me many times – that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) himself was frugal and actually chose to be poor. Indeed, I asked this very question to Shaykh Ahmad Saad al-Azhari (who has taught tafsir for SeekersGuidance) when he visited my local masjid.

‘Didn’t the Prophet (s.a.w.) choose to be a servant prophet, rather than a ‘king prophet’ and therefore it’s his Sunnah to be poor?’

The shaykh replied that a ‘servant prophet’ is interpreted here as being ‘close to the people’. Think of a leader who is a king – distant and far in his ivory tower; now compare that to a leader who mingles with his people. The point was effective dawah and leadership, not poverty.

SubhanAllah, this is why we need the guidance of ‘ulema to help us navigate through such topics!

To summarize, Shaykh Ahmad Saad told me that there are ‘no restrictions’ in earning wealth as long as the ‘money doesn’t change their personality’, i.e. it doesn’t get a grip on our hearts.

In one of the finest contemporary manuals of spirituality ‘Sea without Shore’, Shaykh Nuh Keller gives a comprehensive list (my emphases):

“Beneficial wealth is that which is spent on one’s family, or gifts to others, charity, gaining useful knowledge, facilitating one’s works or worship, making final bequests… saving up for such things as buying a home, the children’s education, building mosques, training ‘ulema, or fulfilling other Islamic communal obligations – all of which are sound reasons to make and save money.”


The priorities for the Ummah change according to time and place. When Islam was a dominant force culturally and politically, scholars and righteous Muslims were the superstars, the celebrities! That’s why many shaykhs of the past placed heavy emphasis on zuhd (non-attachment to the world), frugality, anonymity, etc.

Now though, it is no secret that Muslims are in a state of extreme weakness. Our Ummah is filled with refugees, political prisoners, persecuted minorities, oppressed civilians and starving orphans (Ya Allah, aid them all!).

For those of us who are fortunate not to be in those groups – or living in the West – one of the greatest acts of worship we can do is to gain wealth and power for the sake of helping the Ummah. Living in the West, we have privileged access to quality education, technology and opportunity which can help us build powerful institutions – like SeekersGuidance, masajid, darul ulooms and charities – which can help heal our Ummah.

Think of Sayyidah Khadija (r.a.) – a mother of the believers. She was one of the wealthiest women of Makkah and her charity was critical in supporting the new, emerging Muslim community.

Remember Abu Bakr (r.a.) and his freeing of Bilal (r.a.) and many other slaves.

Are we not in a similar situation?


Another amazing emphasis in our Deen is the status of traders.

In Hadith we read: ‘Verily the trustworthy and truthful trader will be counted among the siddiques and the martyrs.’ (Tirmidhi)

Our contemporary ‘ulema have encouraged Muslims to excel in trade and business. An amazing example is recounted in Faza’il-e-Tijaarat where ‘Umar (r.a.) bemoaned the fact that many Muslims had given up trade due to becoming independent through the wealth flowing from conquered lands.

He replied: ‘If you are going to do that and discard trade as a profession, you will find your men will be in need of their men and your women in need of their women.’

Allama Abdul Hay Kattani comments on this prophecy that indeed Muslims left the ranks of trade and commerce whilst ‘others took hold of it and controlled the business world to such an extent that the entire Ummah came to be in need of others.’

SubhanAllah, this was written over 40 years ago, before the digital revolution and the rise of massive Western monopolies. We are now witnessing the corporate take over of the planet; businesses and businessmen are wealthier than entire nations.

Today’s traders are entrepreneurs like Bill Gates or Richard Branson. Rather than buying and selling in the physical marketplace – they leverage technology and modern skills of marketing to amass fortunes.


I hope I have convinced you that it really is part of our Deen to become wealthy enough to support our families and communities.

Indeed, many readers will be familiar with the heavy modern costs of merely owning a house and educating one’s children to university level.

For women, who already have to juggle considerable parenting and wife responsibilities, entrepreneurship is a unique solution. We are seeing an impressive rise of Muslima ‘mompreneurs’ who are modern day Khadijas!

However, there is still a huge lack of knowledge – in society as a whole – about wealth creation.

We still are caught up in outdated models of ‘work hard, go to uni, get a salaried job, save and enjoy your pension.’

It was only when I read ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’ that I had my own personal paradigm shift and realised that one should ‘not work for money, but make money work for you.’

We weren’t taught financial intelligence at school. And unless your parents were businessmen, you weren’t taught by them either.

How do you learn the fundamentals of wealth creation, money management, savings, investment and entrepreneurship (even if you are working fulltime) – all within an Islamic framework?

I am delighted to be able to invite you to a remarkable workshop Money Mastery for Purpose co-organised by one of my respected readers, Tanim Zaman – a serial entrepreneur.

 This is a two-day workshop with so many raving testimonials from Muslim professionals that it needs no praise from me.

And Tanim has given a very special discount ONLY for readers of SeekersGuidance and my community. Alhamdulillah, he has generously discounted more than I asked – over 50% off the public price!

There are only 20 seats left. Deadline is Sunday 1 March, 23:59. Please read about the event below:

I’d love to meet my readers in person. InshaAllah, I shall be speaking on Day 2 of the event.

For readers who can’t make it to London for the event, you can still benefit from watching this unique panel discussion with 3 Muslim Entrepreneurs discussing how they ‘Escaped the Rat Race’ in search of a more meaningful path. The 3 speakers who are from very different backgrounds shared some incredible insights from their journeys and valuable tips for anyone thinking of doing the same:

Tushar Imdad (aka Tushar Mohammed Imdad-ul-Haque Bhuiya) is an Islamic Time Management Coach and Educational Entrepreneur. Professionally trained as a high school English teacher, Tushar has taught or managed prominent Islamic schools in Leicester, UK, between 2007-2016. With a flair for managing multiple roles, Tushar is also a GCSE English examiner, a teacher trainer for AMS UK; professional proofreader; former lead instructor at Madrasa Manara; and is currently the Director of Shaykhspeare’s Online English Academy and High Impact Tutors.  
 A long-term student of knowledge, Tushar has studied a range of Islamic sciences at the feet of scholars such as Shaykh Nuh Keller, Umm Sahl, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, Maulana Ilyas Patel and Ustadh Tabraze Azam. In 2015 he completed Level 5 of the Classical Arabic Program from the prestigious Qasid Institute, Amman.   
Throughout his varied career, Tushar has always been driven by a passion for time management. Starting in 2009, he has delivered a mixture of workshops, webinars, web-coaching and client visits, attracting delegates as varied as CEOs, corporate professionals, housewives, dentists and scholars from places spanning the UK, US and Middle East. Tushar has published articles and delivered training for, and (now Kiflayn). In recent years he has immersed himself in  productivity systems, learning from world-class experts such as Demir Bentley, the authors of The One Thing, Leo Babuta and James Clear. His recent courses have included  ‘Principles of Islamic Time Management’, ‘Time Tactics 101’ and ‘The Breakthrough Habit’.

The Story of Abdul Razzaq and Abdul Ghani, by Novid Shaid

Writer and poet, Novid Shaid, weaves a tale of two men who led very different lives with what they were granted by Allah.

There were once two men: Abdul Razzaq and Abdul Ghani.
Abdul Razzaq was a faithful man, who was very resourceful, with a talent for acquiring wealth. By the age of forty, he had paid off the mortgages of three properties, rented them out and his portfolio continued to grow promisingly.
He spent on local projects and was always generous to the mosque and community. When his daughters got married, he gave each of them lavish send offs, inviting the whole community and ensuring everyone left the hall with a satisfied smile on their faces. His wife was always cheerful and regularly invited the local ladies around her luxuriant house to read Quran and send blessings on the Prophet, Allah bless him and grant him peace. This house was always blessed with the pitter-patter of his daughters’ children, with guests from Pakistan, with local dignitaries and businessmen.
The only thing they seemed to lack was sons. But both husband and wife were grateful for what Allah had given them and inwardly they were content. When the couple passed on, it was noticed that a hint of a smile appeared on their faces and people reported that they had heard the shahadah (testimony of faith) from their lips. Thereafter, Abdul Razzaq was lauded and remembered as an exceptional individual, who had lived the best life possible, rich in this world and rich in the next world.
Abdul Ghani was a contemporary of Abdul Razzaq, who lived some two miles away from Razzaq’s spacious, detached property on the outskirts of town. Incidentally, the two men were frequently seen standing next to each other in the congregational prayers at the mosque. But unlike Razzaq, Abdul Ghani had struggled to make ends meet throughout his life, with jobs in factories, two of which had laid him off, and taxi jobs. He had never been clever enough to multiply his wealth and, for decades and decades, he had to graft just to subsist.
His worldly possessions did not amount to much: a terraced house in a cramped area of town and an old people carrier which doubled up as a taxi. His only child and son, Hasan, inherited his dad’s artlessness and did not amount to much at school, ending up working in the local supermarket. Hasan was wedded off in Abdul Ghani’s ancestral village in Kashmir and it took Hasan and his father several years of hard work to bring the bride to England. Mrs Ghani was a simple woman who seldom complained and phlegmatically moved to each phase of her life, enshrouded in her white chadour and her few friends, whom she would call to her house from time to time.
And that’s how Ghani lived, until old age took him and his wife. Fate had it that the next available space in the local graveyard was next to Abdul Razzaq. So there the two graves stood: Abdul Razzaq’s marble gravestone, inscribed with exquisite calligraphy and Abdul Ghani’s cheap and cheerful piece with the plain inscription from the Quran: “From Allah did we come and to Him we will return”.
One day, after a burial nearby, two old acquaintances of Razzaq stood before these two graves.
“Our friend, Abdul Razzaq. What a man! So generous, such a good Muslim. Masha Allah, he had been blessed with such wealth and I will never forget that smile on his face when he passed on.”
The other looked at Abdul Ghani’s grave: “Abdul Ghani… Poor man, he worked so hard…”
That night, these two men saw some familiar faces in their dreams. The first man saw Abdul Razzaq with a face radiant and pure, but there seemed to be a weight on his back.
“How is it with you Abdul Razzaq?”
“Life is blessed,” replied Abdul Razzaq, “this world is better than yours, but all the wealth that I did not use for His pleasure has become a burden on my back.”
The other man saw Abdul Ghani, enlightened, princely, ennobled.
“How is it with you Abdul Ghani?”
“In the dunya, I was nobody. No one thought of me much or praised my name. But every penny I had, I spent for His sake, and when everyone was asleep, I used to wake up and praise His name. Now the angels visit me in a lush garden filled with exquisite fruit. His sincere remembrance has the highest value here, and money… Money means nothing here, except what was for Allah…”
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Resources for seekers

Spend, Even When You’re Destitute – Shaykh Muhammad Adeyinka Mendes

What is the benefit of giving charity and spending on others even when you’re destitute and dirt poor? When you can’t pay your rent, when you’re scraping the bottom of the barrel… We revisit some of the gems from Shaykh Muhammad Mendes when he was at SeekersHub Toronto.

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Resources for seekers:

Classifying the Hadith on Rectifying Faith Through Poverty and Affluence, Sickness and Good Health, and Prevention from Extra Worship

Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas

Question: Is this hadith qudsi correctly attributed attributed to imam tabarani? Has he classed is authentic?

“Allah said, “Verily, from amongst My slaves is he whose faith cannot be rectified except by being inflicted with poverty, and were I to enrich him, it would surely corrupt him. Verily, from amongst My slaves is he whose faith cannot be rectified except by wealth and affluence, and were I to deprive him, it would surely corrupt him. Verily, from amongst My slaves is he whose faith cannot be rectified except by good health, and were I to make him sick, it would surely corrupt him. Verily, from amongst My slaves is he whose faith cannot be rectified except by disease and illness, and were I to make him healthy, it would surely corrupt him. Verily, from amongst My slaves is he who seeks worship by a certain act but I prevent that from him so that self-amazement does not enter his heart. Certainly, I run the affairs of My slaves by My Knowledge of what is in their hearts. Certainly, I am the All-Knower, All-Aware’.”

Answer: assalamu `alaykum

The narration you mention has been cited with different wordings.

1. The wording you mention was related from Anas ibn Malik (Allah be well pleased with him) by Ibn `Asakir in his Tarikh, Ibn Abi al-Dunya in Kitab al-Awliya’, Abu Nu`aym in the Hilya, Bayhaqi in Asma wa’l Sifat, Baghawi in Sharh al-Sunna, and others.

This narration is weak due to the weakness of some its narrators, namely Hasan ibn Yahya al-Khushani and Sadaqat al-Dimashqi. [Mizzi, Tahdhib al-Kamal; Ibn Hajar, Taqrib al-Tahdhib]

2. It was also related by `Umar (Allah be well pleased with him) by Khatib in his Tarikh. The chain of this narration, however, is not free from blemish.

3. There is a similar narration relating to poverty and richness, without mentioning health, sickness, or worship, related from Ibn `Abbas by Tabarani in his Mu`ajam al-Kabir, with some additions. In the Majma` al-Zawa’id, al-Haytami says that there are people unknown to him within the chain. In addition to this, some of the narrators are weak and abandoned (matruk), such as `Ubayd ibn Kathir. [Ibn Hajar, Lisan al-Mizan]

To conclude, the narration you inquired about is present in the works dedicated to gathering the prophetic narrations. However, the chains of each are not free from defects of varying degrees, which would require a deeper analysis by a specialist in the field.


Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Scholars, Students of Knowledge, and Poverty – Mufti Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari – IlmGate

Muhammad ibn Adam

Scholars, Students of Knowledge, and Poverty | IlmGate

By Mufti Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari


How does a Muslim scholar, serious student, and others who have devoted their lives to the service of Islam and the Muslims support himself/herself? I ask because this is perhaps one of the main reasons why parents don’t wish for their children to become scholars of Islam — they are usually poor, they don’t get paid much at all (if at all), and they attract trouble from different extremist groups.

I come from an upper middle-class family. How can I convince my parents that I can become a Muslim scholar and have sufficient finances to support myself and my family?


In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,

This is indeed a very important issue that affects no doubt many students of Islamic knowledge and those wishing to devote their lives to studying and teaching Islamic sciences and dedicating themselves to the service of Islam. I would like to shed some light on the issue from two perspectives. The first part of the answer will look at the virtues of poverty and its strong attachment with acquiring sacred knowledge, and how poverty was the hallmark of our pious predecessors. The second part will look at the importance of scholars and those devoting their lives to the service of Deen having a sufficient income and the responsibility of the community in terms of taking care of their scholars. With this twofold approach, there will be a balance in what I intend to say, Insha Allah.

Poverty, hunger and scarcity of wealth, the hallmark of our predecessors

The great late scholar of Hadith and other Islamic sciences, Shaykh Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghudda (may Allah have mercy on him) compiled an excellent work on the trials, tribulations and hardships that faced many of this Umma’s scholars titled “Safahat min Sabr al-Ulama ala Shada’id al-Ilm wa al-Tahsil” (Pages on the fortitude of scholars upon the trials of studying and collecting knowledge), wherein he recorded some incredible incidents concerning our scholars and showed how much hardship they had to endure whilst studying and acquiring sacred knowledge. Some remained hungry for days, others were not able to provide for their families and some did not even marry. Some scholars went to the extent of selling their personal belongings, cloths and furniture to fund their studies and to buy books. I would really encourage students of sacred knowledge, who understand Arabic, to read this book over and over again, so that it gives us strength and makes us realize that the lack of wealth we have today is nothing in comparison to the hardships the great luminaries of Islam had to face and endure.


The fact is that the Sunna of Allah Most High has always been (for a wisdom that He knows best) to keep those close to Him and those who dedicate their lives for the service of His Deen far away from the wealth and riches of this temporary world. The word “Dunya” is from the Arabic root word “Dunuw” which means degraded and humiliated. Thus, men of Allah have always been far and distant from gathering the riches of this mortal world. Indeed, there are exceptions to this general ruling, hence we do see some great personalities of Islam having wealth in their possession, but that remains an exception and was something intended for them by Allah Most High, as it suited them, and they too utilized this wealth for Islamic causes and charities.

We see the many Prophets of Allah (peace be upon them all) that they barely made ends meet. The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) is a classic example for us, in that he preferred poverty over sumptuousness. His poverty was a poverty of choice and not something that was enforced upon him.

Let us look at some of the Hadiths in this regard, taken from Imam Nawawi’s Riyadh al-Salihin:

Sayyiduna Abu Hurayra (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said: “If I had the whole of Uhud in gold, it would not make me happy for three days to pass while I have any of it except something I have kept for a debt.” [Agreed upon]

An-Nu’man ibn Bashir said: “Umar ibn al-Khattab mentioned the things of this world that the people had acquired and he said, “One day I saw the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) sifting through some bad dates he had found in order to fill his belly.” [Muslim]

Sayyida A’isha (Allah be pleased with her) said: “When the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) died, there was nothing in my house that could be eaten by a living creature except for half a barley loaf on a shelf. I ate from it until I seemed to have had it for a long time. Then I measured it and it finished.” [Agreed upon]

Sayyiduna Abu Hurayra (Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said: “The poor will enter the Paradise five hundred years before the rich.” [At-Tirmidhi]

Sayyida A’isha (Allah be pleased with her) said: “The family of Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace) never had their fill of barley bread for two consecutive days until he died.” [Agreed upon] In one variant, “From the time he came to Madina, the family of Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace) never had their fill of wheat bread for three consecutive nights until he died.”

Urwa reported that A’isha used to say: “By Allah, nephew, we used to see three crescent moons in two months without a fire being lit in the houses of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace). I said. “Aunt, what did you live off?” She said, “The two black ones: dates and water. However, the Messenger of Allah had some neighbours among the Ansar, and they have milk camels, and they would send us some of their milk and we would drink it.” [Agreed upon]

Hence, the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) and his noble family lived a life that was far from the riches and wealth we find ourselves in today. He remained hungry for days and tied stones on his belly out of hunger. His dress was very humble, so too was his house. There are many Hadiths covered in Riyadh al-Salihin in this regard, but the abovementioned few narrations should be sufficient for the people of reflection.

The blessed companions of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) also lived a similar lifestyle. The Companion who narrated the most Hadiths from the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace), and who devoted and dedicated all his life to seeking the light of knowledge was Sayyiduna Abu Hurayra (Allah be pleased with him). He himself says: “There is none among the companions of the Prophet who has narrated more Hadiths than I except Abd Allah ibn Amr (ibn al-’As) who used to write them and I never did the same.” (Sahih al-Bukhari)

When we search for the reason behind Sayyiduna Abu Hurayra learning sacred knowledge in abundance and narrating a lot of Hadiths, it becomes clear that the main cause was that he chose to live a life of poverty and not utilize his time in gathering wealth.

Imam Bukhari relates in his Sahih that Sayyiduna Abu Hurayra (Allah be pleased with him) said: “People say that I have narrated many Hadiths. Had it not been for two verses in the Qur’an, I would not have narrated a single Hadith, and the verses are: “Verily those who conceal the clear sign and the guidance which We have sent down . . . (up to) Most Merciful.” (2:159-160). And no doubt our Muhajir (emigrant) brothers used to be busy in the market with their business transactions and our Ansari brothers used to be busy with their property (agriculture). But I (Abu Hurayra) used to remain with the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) contented with what will fill my stomach and I used to attend that which they used not to attend and I used to memorize that which they used not to memorize.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, 1/190)

Sayyiduna Abu Hurayra (Allah be pleased with him) also said: “I saw seventy of the people of Suffa and not a man among them had a cloak. They either had a waist wrapper or a sheet (kisa’) which they tied round their necks, some reaching to the middle of their legs and some reaching to the ankles. They would gather them in their hands, not wanting their private parts to be seen.” (Sahih al-Bukhari)

In accordance with the Sunna of the Prophets and the Companions, the great Imams and scholars of this Umma also led a life of poverty and self-restraint. They chose a life of hardships and trials over a life of luxury and comfort.

Sayyiduna Imam Shafi’i (Allah have mercy on him) said: “No one seeks this knowledge with pride and self-importance and then succeeds; rather, the one who seeks knowledge by putting himself down, enduring economic difficulties and serving the Ulama is successful.”

Imam Shafi’i also said: “Seeking sacred knowledge is inappropriate except for a destitute person.”

Sayyiduna Imam Malik (Allah have mercy on him) said: “No one reaches the level of learning that he desires until he endures the hardships of poverty, and he prefers poverty above everything.”

Dawud ibn Mikhraq said: I heard Nadhr ibn Shumayl say: “No individual will taste the pleasure of sacred knowledge until he becomes hungry and forgets his hunger.”

Sayyiduna Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (Allah have mercy on him) used to give poverty preference over everything else and he would say: “Patience (sabr) on poverty is a station (maqam) that only great people achieve, and poverty is more virtuous than prosperity.”

One of the Imams talked about his patience and tolerance (sabr) with poverty and that it reached such a level that even the “Sabr” pleaded to him for help and said enough. He replied: “O Sabr! Have patience”!

Imam al-Zabidi (Allah have mercy on him) said a few lines of poetry in which he said: “I said to poverty (faqr) where do you reside? “Poverty” replied: “In the turbans of the Fuqaha (scholars). I have a special bond and tie with them; hence it is difficult for me to break this tie”! (All quotes taken from Shaykh Abdal Fattah Abu Ghudda’s work, Safahat min Sabril Ulama)

Moreover, these great luminaries of Islam suffered a great deal of hardship in acquiring sacred knowledge. The incidents that took place in their lives of hardships, poverty, trials and tribulations are too many to be mentioned here. If one wishes to study them, one may refer to the above-mentioned book of Shaykh Abd al-Fattah (Allah have mercy on him).

Importance of scholars having a sufficient income

Having said all of the above, it is also important to remember that Ulama and Shuyukh cannot survive without any income. They also have bills, rent to pay and families to provide for. Thus, classical Ulama also acknowledged the fact that extreme poverty can hinder one’s service to the Deen.

Sayyiduna Imam Shafi’i (Allah have mercy on him) said: “Do not take advice from one who has no flour in his house, because he will be overcome by distress.” (Manaqib Imam Shafi’i by al-Bayhaqi)

The reason behind this, as the Ulama explain, is that if a scholar is overwhelmed by extreme poverty and destituteness, he will not be able to devote his full attention towards teaching and serving the Deen of Allah. He will always be concerned with providing for his family and earning that which will help him get through life.

Thus, Ulama explain that there are two types of poverty:

1) Dark poverty (al-faqr al-aswad)

This is when poverty completely overwhelms a person to the extent that his mind is always occupied in trying to earn a living. This kills one’s intellectual potential and capacity, and the one involved in it disintegrates as a green plant would fade away when it is starved of water. This is the poverty regarding which the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “Poverty may sometimes lead to disbelief”. This is the type of poverty from which the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) sought the refuge and protection of Allah Most High.

2) White poverty (al-faqr al-abyadh)

This is a situation where an individual is no doubt poor, but it is not to an extreme level. He is able to get through the daily economic responsibilities on a limited scale. One is content with what Allah has allocated for one; hence this poverty does not affect one’s intellectual potential, although others are generally far better well-off than one. This type of poverty is actually a blessing for a student of sacred knowledge, especially in the early days of learning, for one is saved from the worldly temptations that wealth can bring about.

Therefore, in conclusion, students of Islamic knowledge must understand that the path they have taken is a path of self-restraint, poverty and humility. One will no doubt have to sacrifice the luxuries of this world in order to truly reach a high level of knowledge and piety. Knowledge requires sacrifice. Historically, this sacrifice meant walking thousands of miles, hunger and in some cases even loss of limb. It is said that Imam Zamakhshari had a leg amputated because of frostbite he got when journeying in pursuit of knowledge.

If one is prepared to sacrifice the luxuries of this world during the early days of learning, Allah Most High then normally showers this person with bounties later on in life. The great master of inward sciences, Ibn Ata’illah as-Sikandari (Allah have mercy on him) said: “Whosoever does not endure a difficult beginning, does not have a bright ending” (man lam takun lahu bidayat muhriqa, lam takun lahu nihaya mushriqa).

At the same time, Muslim communities need to realize that scholars also have to survive and earn a living. Unfortunately, Muslim communities generally don’t appreciate and value Islamic knowledge in a manner they value other things. Scholars who dedicate their day and night in studying, teaching, researching and imparting knowledge are considered to be such that “they have nothing better to do”. Believe me, they can also go out and earn a luxurious lifestyle. They can also open their own businesses and gather wealth, but they choose not to engage themselves in earning wealth, rather they prefer to devote their lives for the service of Islam. The least we can do is to cater for their daily needs.

Imam Ibn Khallidun states in his renowned al-Muqaddima that the main reason behind Ulama being generally poor is that the masses don’t value what they have to offer. Only a handful of people truly appreciate their worth, hence they are not paid adequately. They themselves don’t like to degrade themselves by asking others to cater for their needs, hence they remain in poverty.

The value of Islamic scholars is much more than academic experts in other fields, for these experts cater for us in this life, whilst the Ulama give us advice and guide us in this life as well as the next. Hence, they should be looked after in the same manner as the experts in the other fields are looked after. Thus, we should ensure that our scholars are financially comfortable in a manner befitting their rank and honour, and that we support them in a thankful and dignified manner, not as if they are needy.

Today we see that Ulama are forced to work and run a business, for they are unable to support themselves and their families with the meagre income they acquire through teaching. As a result, their intellectual potential isn’t fully deployed for the service of the deen. This is the reason we find very few Ulama who are fully committed to the cause of teaching and research, especially in the West.

Thus, Muslim communities really need to wake up and truly appreciate the work of the Ulama. They should move away from paying the “minimum wage” to these great Shuyukh and cater for their needs in a more appropriate and respectful manner. At the same time, students of Islamic knowledge should realize that the path they have taken is not a path of gathering wealth; rather it is a path of sacrifices and hardships. With this balance, we will, Insha Allah, produce Ulama who resemble our pious predecessors in their inward and outward qualities.

And Allah knows best.

Muhammad ibn Adam
Darul Iftaa (
Leicester , UK

Interview with One of Egypt’s Neglected Poor

An interview with a poor, elderly Egyptian lady. A thought-provoking reminder for all of us. What sort of perspective do we have on difficulties?