In the name of God the compassionate, ever merciful
Mercy is an act of kindness and forgiveness offered to the one(s) who need it in cases of injustice or suffering. It generally stands for compassionate treatment of others, a disposition to be kind and forgiving, something for which to be thankful or alleviation of distress and delivery of relief.
Mercy is a requirement for a believer and has been the trait of prophet Mohammad (SAWW) and all the members of his Household (AS) whether it was forgiveness of the opposition or helping to relieve stress and suffering of others. For forgiveness please refer to my past writing on ‘Forgiveness’ for Quranic references and more detail.
The Prophet (SAWW) and the members of his Household (AS) were merciful to their opposition and their practice should be the practice of all the believers and being merciful and kind to others is and will be very much the intention of this Anonym too.
Imam Ali (AS) said it best when trying to forgive the ones who did wrong: “When I feel angry with a person how and when should I satisfy my anger is whether at a time when I am not in a position to retaliate and people may advise me to bear patiently or when I have power to punish and I forgive.”
Another kind of mercy is the alleviation of distress and delivery of relief to the poor and the hungry.
The fact that poverty exists for many people should be enough to put great concern into the heart of most human beings. Then why is it that it does not? Simply put, most people who have never been poor really do not know what it means to be poor.
A poor person is usually referred to one who has little or no wealth or possessions but more reasonably described as one who has not enough means to provide food for themselves or their family (hence hungry too), not have enough wealth to live comfortably in extreme weather conditions, not have enough to pay for a medical need that they require treatment, not be able to pay for their housing or provide basic needs of their children and the list can go on. So basically it is safe to say that someone who has a basic need for himself or his family and is not able to get it because of some kind of shortage of wealth can be classified as poor.
Contrary to what some people think or want to think, the poor does not want to remain poor. Some say that the poor are lazy or not intelligent enough or refer to them with other improper names. The fact is that the poor is no more lazy or unintelligent than someone who is not poor. Many of the poor are intelligent and are good at heart just like others.
So the question is, if the poor are not lazy and can be just as intelligent as others, they why is there poverty? Rather than to answer that question on behalf of the poor, we should ask why is not everyone rich then? Does it mean that the people who are not very wealthy are lazy or unintelligent? Certainly not; so the fact is that being poor is mostly just being a victim of circumstance.
In Islam there is a great mechanism for addressing and fighting poverty. One is the voluntary method and the other is the religious obligation. The topic of both is very much detailed and beyond the scope of this writing. Instead we will only point to these topics to provide the general idea.
The voluntary kind of help is left to the believer and their willingness to help the needy in return for promised gains.
Sureh Al-Bagharah, Verse 261: “The example of those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah is like a seed [of grain] which grows seven spikes; in each spike is a hundred grains. And Allah multiplies [His reward] for whom He wills. And Allah is all-Encompassing and Knowing.”
The other kind is the obligatory kind which is done through Zakat.
Sureh Al-Bagharah, Verses 2-5: “This is the Book about which there is no doubt, a guidance for those conscious of Allah – Who believe in the unseen, establish prayer, and spend out of what We have provided for them [i.e. give Zakat], And who believe in what has been revealed to you, [O Muhammad], and what was revealed before you, and of the Hereafter they are certain [in faith]. Those are upon [right] guidance from their Lord, and it is those who are the successful.”
Poverty can be most effectively addressed thorough organized Zakat when the state has the control of the wealth which is most effective and can be done by a state institution for an Islamic state or otherwise a national institution in case of a non-Islamic state.
Imam Ali (AS) in his letter to Malek-Ashtar when he was going to have the control of a state: “And then there is the class of the poor and the needy, whose maintenance is an obligation on the other classes.”
Probably the worst kind of poverty happens when a poor person dies and leaves his poor family behind, without any means of support. That will change the situation from just poor to totally helpless and this kind of situation requires the highest priority and attention. If this family is left without support, then it may cause a health or loss of life disaster or force any of the members of the family into committing a desperate and sinful act.