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Imam Ali: On wealth and poverty

Imam Ali:  On wealth and poverty

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Photo: Pilgrims on Hajj from Bukhara; 1880
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Consequently, Allah, the Wise, the Omniscient, has put the organization for livelihood on moderate and proportionate lines and in order to emphasize the importance of livelihood and sustenance and to keep them correlated with each other has introduced differences in the distribution of livelihood. Sometimes, this difference and unequal distribution owes itself to the difference of human effort and sometimes it is the consequence of overall arrangement of the affairs of the Universe and the Divine acts of wisdom and objectives. This is so because, if by poverty and want He has tested the poor in endurance and patience, in affluence and wealth there is severe test of the rich by way of thanksgiving and gratifying the rights of others, namely whether the rich person gratifies the claims of the poor and the distressed and whether he takes care of the destitute or not. Again, where there is wealth there would also be dangers of all sorts. Sometimes there would be danger to the wealth and property and sometimes fear of poverty and want.

Consequently, there would be many persons who would be more satisfied and happy for lack of wealth. For them this destitution and want would be far better than the wealth which might snatch away their comfort and peace. Moreover sometimes this very wealth which one holds dearer than life becomes the cause of loss of one’s life. Further, it has also been seen that for as long as wealth was lacking character was above reproach, life was unblemished, but the moment property and wealth changed into plenty the conduct worsened, character became faulty and there appeared the vices of wine, women and wealth. In such cases the absence of wealth was a blessing. However being ignorant of Allah’s objectives man cries out and being affected by transitory distress begins complaining but does not realize from how many vices which could have accrued owing to wealth he has remained aloof. Therefore, if wealth produces conveniences, poverty serves as a guard for the character.
 
(Imam Ali)
 
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