There once was a very wealthy Islamic scholar by the name of Ibn Hazm. One of Ibn Hazm’s flaws was that he often got into heated debates. More often than not, he won. During one of his debates with a man who was not as wealthy, Ibn Hazm won again because he was able to recall a text that his opponent did not. His opponent, obviously upset that he lost, said something along the lines of “perhaps I didn’t see that because the oil from my candle ran out.” In so many words, the man was trying to communicate that Ibn Hazm had a higher advantage because he could afford lighting, while the other man only had a candle that went out while he was studying for the debate. Ibn Hazm, being the strong debater that he was, replied saying something along the lines of “yes, and I had a hard time seeing this text under the golden chandeliers of my house.” Basically, he was saying that just as you were distracted by your poverty, wealth is a distraction for people of knowledge. His candle is a distraction, and Ibn Hazm’s chandelier is as well. No excuses. And, he won that debate as well.
The point of this story is that while life appears to be unfair at times, we cannot forget that Allah swt is ALWAYS fair. We cannot forget that, no matter what, we were put on this earth to do good. Fairness is completely subjective to a human, and it is a mindset nowadays. It is a mindset because it is usually about entitlement: what we think we deserve. In reality, we are corrupted in the sense that we do not want life to be fair. We want life to be unfair in our favor.
Most religions have an aspect widely known as the prosperity doctrine. The prosperity doctrine is a concept of if God loves you, you will be well off, and if he does not, then you won’t be. Islam does not work that way. Islam preaches the exact opposite. If Allah (swt) loves you, then he tests you, whether it be with your wealth, health, or children. Even being wealthy can be a test. Our prophet (pbuh) was tested in a vast variety of ways, and he passed with flying colors. There was a time in his life where he was fairly wealthy. Of course, he took that as being fair, but not like we would. His money was not used for new cars and the latest phones; his money was used to support orphans and to feed the poor.
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was also tested with just enough wealth. The “just enough” is what we consider poverty. The Prophet (pbuh) had a time in which his wife, Aisha, would say that they only had one meal per day. They lived in a place so small that when the Prophet (pbuh) would go into prostration while praying, he would have to tap Aisha on her leg so she would move it. He (phuh) slept on a mattress made of branches and leather. A mattress so hard that his companions noticed, cried, and told him that it wasn’t fair for him to endure that when kings have silk and comfort. He (pbuh) would eloquently respond by saying, “Isn’t it enough that they have the dunyah and we have the hereafter?” If this was “fair” for our beloved prophet (pbuh), why isn’t it to us?
Whether rich or poor, we are Muslims and we are on this Earth for a reason, but our stay and status are not permanent. Allah (swt) is always fair. May He (swt) help us realize His fairness and accept all the trials that He sends our way with a positive attitude. Ameen.
By Aydah Nofal