During these holidays (2012 – 2013) I employed one of the ladies from Blikkiesdorp to do some domestic duties in our home. This was not because our home required any special attention, but rather because I wanted her to have some extra income during this time of the year. Sometimes we come across very ordinary people; people with very little to their name, but they teach us very valuable lessons in Islam about ourselves and about them. When she started working here, she refused to eat our food. Because of her poverty, she only has one meal a day and for the rest of the time she just drinks coffee or tea. She also refused our food, because her stomach was not used to food like that.
Today I feel embarrassed to have a person in my home who refuses to eat even if food is available, because of her poverty, and I think of so many of us who spend large sums of money on all kinds of luxuries while others, at the bottom of the social scale, have very little. I have been listening very carefully to what she says, and many times I envy the faith that Allah Almighty has stored in her heart. Although poor is terms of worldly goods and worldly acquisitions, she has a richness in faith that many of us would envy. Sometimes in the Qur’an Allah (ﷻ) speaks about the fuqara and the aghniya. Usually this is defined as those who either have an income that just satisfies their needs or an income that does not. These are the fuqara. The aghniya, of course, are those with more than enough, those who must give zakah.
Sometimes Allah (ﷻ) grants us an understanding of words or statements in the Qur’an, which are exceptional. I am not saying that my understanding is exceptional. I am saying that the understanding is exceptional. The word fuqara can also refer to those who are socially poor, but spiritually rich, and the word aghniya can also refer to those who are socially rich but spiritually poor. This lady is a classic example of a person who, because of social circumstances beyond her control, has lost all interest in worldly things, and her primary concentrations are on her Lord. This concentration is not in the form of formal remembrance such as the individual or congregational adhkar, but it is remembering her Lord as part of her general remembrance. And so Allah Almighty is always in her heart. I do not know, but I think that her heart is so special by her Lord that His remembrance in it is also His Presence in it. I am not saying that the socially-advantaged cannot also remember their Lord at this level. What I am saying is that the socially-disadvantaged, through their social deprivation, turns to their Lord with greater intensity. They do this not because of their social deprivation. You must understand this. They do this because their hearts are between “Two Fingers” of Allah Almighty and He has turned those hearts towards Him. What does this mean? What a gigantic grace that Allah Almighty makes those hearts for Him and they remember Him, because that is His Will, and they call on Him in the quiet of the night (as she does) when the whole of Blikkiesdorp is either asleep or engaged in remembrance of other than Allah (ﷻ). Her joy does not lie in the personal arrangement of the affairs of this world, but her joy lies in being inspired to call on her Lord in the depths of the night. This is her spiritual joy; a joy few experience, because of their attachment to worldly goods and affairs. I do not know whether I am right or wrong. Perhaps… either way; but I have a special feeling about such people; the socially deprived but the spiritually rich. On numerous occasions I have gone to these extremely poor areas and sitting amongst people ravaged by social conditions, I still feel at home. Are these people my real brothers and sisters in Islam, or what?
Many of us have roots in highly impoverished areas, and our associations in those areas were those who were highly socially disadvantaged. Today many of us have climbed the social ladder and, in some cases, have forgotten our roots. These people from Blikkiesdorp are a remembrance of time before, of days in the far distant past. They present to us our past memories and remind us who our actual brothers and sisters are. We ask Allah Almighty to classify us with those socially-disadvantaged but rich in faith, amin.