Is it wrong to be poor? I know this is a ridiculous question but my life keeps telling me otherwise. I remember kids laughing at my clothes and telling me to get a hair cut because I was too poor to have those essential needs fulfilled, but I never paid much attention to them because I have always believed that Allah has set a certain amount of money and food for everyone. If there were too many rich or poor people, the balance would be ruined.
However, recently I’ve had to deal with one major problem after another which keeps reminding me I’m poor. It’s not just one or two things, it’s a lot of things in my life that require money which I don’t have. It is true that life is a struggle but quite frankly it has gotten to the point where I feel like why the hell should I even try when all I’m doing is knocking my head against a wall that is permanently set by Allah. Recently, every time I have gotten a glimmer of hope it has been crushed by this stupid label of being poor. I have to live with. This whole issue starts spinning in my mind again when I see my parents in their 50s looking for work everyday and worrying about how to pay the rent for the house. I have spent months looking for a job but got rejected for every decent one (even though I’m in the most sought after engineering program in this country) … the one I did paid $4/hr which is below minimum wage!
I know there are people worst off than myself but why must everything be a pain? Why is there such an extreme to this?
I almost pray five times a day (always miss Fajr), don’t eat haram food, have not committed adultery, keep my fasts in Ramzan, and try my best not to lie even if it gives me an advantage (my friends think I’m stupid because of that) … what am I doing wrong?
Dear brother, it is certainly true that life can be an immense physical struggle for some of us, which can become more taxing, psychologically, if others start rubbing it in. Your continuous reliance on Allah’s mercy and wisdom is nothing but admirable. It is also clear that your understanding of the reasons for varying extent of provisions for different individuals is excellent. You are doing nothing wrong. If people find you stupid in your trying to follow the precepts of your faith, so be it. Once it is appreciated that this life, in the grand scheme of things, is a fleeting phase of test and trial, all pieces of the puzzle start falling into place, so to speak. A constant reminder of this fact will help you assuage your agitated inner self. I’ll quote from Mr. Moiz Amjad’s answer to a previous question:
Indeed all our mental, physical and psychological indispositions during the life of this world are a part of our test during this life. Furthermore, it is, indeed, beyond all doubt that we are sometimes put in an apparently difficult situation to be reminded of our responsibility towards and to strengthen our relationship with our Merciful Creator and Provider. Any person who realizes this fact should not only consider himself extremely fortunate from the perspective of the ultimate outcome of such tests but shall also get a lot of strength in meeting the challenges entailed in such tests, through his reliance and trust in God’s mercy and providence.
Affluence, poverty, success, failure, happiness, sadness and all other phases of life are in fact manifestations of the trial we are in. An individual without doing much could have all the riches of the world falling in his lap, while someone else could remain mired in monetary problems, his efforts notwithstanding. Thus in this world, success, if it be gauged in monetary terms, is not necessarily with one’s efforts. This does not mean that you should discontinue your efforts. Just that while struggling and praying, do keep in mind that apparent failures, howsoever unrelenting these may seem, are Allah’s way of testing you. “Good” times might be just around the corner. The Quran says:
On no soul doth Allah Place a burden greater than it can bear. (2:286)
You have mentioned that you are in “the most sought after engineering program” in your country. How many people are able to get into that program, have you ever thought? A little reflection will show the countless favors you enjoy and surely there will be more on the way. Please do not get bogged down by your situation; maybe bringing in some innovation in your search will land you a job sooner than you think.
Remember that you are not alone in experiencing these emotional upheavals. We are all prone to them. But please never lose sight of the true nature of this world and the real life ahead of us. Tomorrow, after all, is another day.
May the Almighty grant you inexhaustible patience.
October 9, 2003