Rights of the Weaker and Poorer Sections of Society

The importance of respect for the rights of the weaker and poorer sections of the society, and of every kind of a needy person – the orphan, the widow, the sick, the destitute and the downtrodden – has been stressed in the teachings of the holy Prophet. To care for their needs and to look after their well-being has been described by him as a virtue of the highest order, and he has given the tidings of a vast reward on it.

(1) It is related by Abu Hurairah that the Apostle of God 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 God.” Abu Hurairah adds that as far as he remembered, the Prophet, also, said that “he is as one who fasts permanently during the day and spends the nights in prayers.” – Bukhari and Muslim

Commentary

As everyone knows, Jihad is a deed of utmost merit in Islam. In the same way, it is a most enviable state for a bondsman that his days are spent in fasting and nights in prayer. But, as the holy Prophet has stated in this Tradition, the same is the worth and value of a person, in the judgement of the Almighty, who takes pains to help and assist a weak and needy fellow-man or a helpless widow and spends of his wealth on them or tries sincerely to draw the attention of others to their problems and difficulties.

(2) It is related by Sahl bin Sa’ad that the Apostle of God 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 Apostle of God 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

Commentary

It tells that the holy Prophet raised his index and middle fingers in such a way that only a little space was left between them, and, showing the two fingers to the Companions, observed that there would be only that much of distance or difference between his station, in Heaven, and that of the bondsman who accepts the responsibility of supporting an orphan whether coming from his own family, like a nephew or a grandson, or any other family with which he has no particular ties of blood.

(3) It is related by Abdullah bin Abbas that the Apostle of God said: “The bondsman who took an orphan from among the Muslims and shared his food and drink with him, God will allow him to enter Heaven provided that he is not guilty of an unpardonable sin.” – Tirmizi

Commentary

The above Tradition makes it clear that the promise of salvation and entry into Paradise, subject to the condition that the bondsman has not been guilty of a misdeed, such as Apostasy, Polytheism or murder, which is not pardonable. Though this provision may not be included, in so many words, in a Tradition of persuasion or exhortation, it should be understood to form a part of it, as a matter of course.

(4) Abu Hurairah related to us, saying that the Apostle of God said: “Whoever patted an orphan (affectionately) on the head, solely for the sake of God, a good deed will be written (for him) for every hair over which he passed his hand, and whoever treated an orphaned boy or girl, living with him, kindly and well, I and he will be as close to each -other, in Heaven, as these fingers. “The Apostle of God, Abu Hurairah went on to relate, joined two of his fingers and showed (that they will be as close to one another as the fingers). – Musnad Ahmad and Tirmizi

Commentary

It clearly denotes that the glad tidings given in it on showing kindness to orphans are dependent upon the condition that the loving and kindly treatment is wholly with the intention of earning the countenance of the Lord.

(5) Abu Hurairah related to us, saying that the Apostle of God said: “The best of Muslim homes is the home 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.” – lbn Majah

(6) It is related by Abu Moosa Ash’ari that the Apostle of God said: “Feed the hungry, visit the sick and free the captives.” – Bukhari

Commentary

Besides feeding the hungry, it, also, contains the exhortation to visit the sick and obtain the freedom of those who are held a prisoner. As for visiting the sick, it needs be remembered that, in common parlance, it simply denotes enquiring after the health of a sick person, but, in Arabic, it is used in a wider sense and includes looking after him as well. Thus, the command of visiting the sick, given in this Tradition, does not stop merely at paying a visit to a person who is ill or enquiring about his condition, but, also, requires us to care for him, and arrange for his treatment etc., as far as possible. Similarly, the commandment of freeing the captives, obviously, denotes those who are held in captivity unlawfully, or, at least, it is hoped that good will follow as a consequence of their release, and there is no danger of a harm or evil ensuing from it. To secure the freedom of such prisoners is, of course, commendable.

(7) It is related by Abu Hurairah that the Apostle of God said: “On the Day of Judgement, God will say to His bondsman: ‘O Son of Adam! I fell ill, and you did not visit me.’ The bondsman will reply: ‘Thou art the Lord of the Worlds. How could I visit Thee?’ God will, thereupon, say: ‘Did you not know that such-and-such a bondsman of Mine was ill, but you cared not to visit him? Had you done it, you would have found Me with him,’ God will, again, say: ‘O Son of Adam I asked you for food, and you did not give it to Me,’ The bondsman will reply: ‘Thou art the Lord of the Worlds, How could I give Thee food?’ God will, then, say: ‘Are you not aware that such-and-I such a bondsman of Mine begged you for food, but you, did not give it to him? Had you done that, you would have found it with Me,’ God, again, will say: ‘O Son of Adam! I asked you fur water, and you did not give it to Me,’ The bondsman will reply: ‘Thou art the Lord of the Worlds, How could I give Thee water?’ God will, then, say: ‘Such-and-such a bondsman of Mine had asked you for water, but you did not give it to him, Listen! Had you given him the water, you would have found it with Me.’” – Muslim

Commentary

The extra-ordinary way of emphasizing the importance of being kind and helpful to the weak and the indigent adopted in this Tradition is enough to show what plate do compassion and kindheartedness occupy in the teachings of the sacred Prophet and how enviable is the lot of those who feel for the less fortunate brethren and are ready to help them in whatever way they can. What it denotes, in sum, is that whoever will help and bring solace to a sick and needy person will find God with him, and attain the goal of God-realization.