How Do I Reconcile Between Being Born in a Privileged Family and Seeing Poverty All Around Me?

Answered according to Shafi'i Fiqh by
Question: How Do I Reconcile Between Being Born in a Privileged Family and Seeing Poverty All Around Me?

Answer: Assalamu alaykum,Thank you for your question. I empathize with your feelings. One of the heartbreaking things in this world is seeing the disparity between people and sometimes not being able to do anything about it.

Zakat and charity

The best thing that you can do is the obvious thing. Give your obligatory zakat every year without fail, and give regular charity, even a little, but consistently. Allah, Most High, says, “It is not righteousness that ye turn your faces to the East and the West, but righteous is he who believeth in Allah and the Last Day and the angels and the Scripture and the Prophets; and giveth his wealth, for love of Him, to kinsfolk and orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and to those who ask, and to set slaves free; and observeth proper worship and payeth the poor-due. And those who keep their treaty when they make one, and the patient in tribulation and adversity and time of stress. Such are they who are sincere. Such are the God-fearing.“ [Qur’an, 2:177]

If you find that you are not able to give charity as much as you can, find solace in the following Prophetic hadith, “Your smiling in the face of your brother is charity, commanding good and forbidding evil is charity, your giving directions to a man lost in the land is a charity for you. Your seeing for a man with bad sight is a charity for you; your removal of a rock, a thorn, or a bone from the road is a charity for you. Your pouring what remains from your bucket into the bucket of your brother is a charity for you.“ [Tirmidhi]


Simultaneously with the above, you should show gratitude for the blessings that have been bestowed on you, and this is the best way of fettering your blessings, by Allah’s will. Never be condescending towards them, and remember that your worth is not more than theirs, as the only distinguishing factor between people is God-fearingness. Also, recall this Prophetic hadith, “The poor are admitted into Paradise before the rich, by five hundred years, (i.e.) half a day.“ [Tirmidhi]

Please see this excellent article in full about the radical reality of gratitude:

Finally, the next best thing that you can do for those impoverished around you is supplication. There is no supplication that Allah does not hear, and every asker is guaranteed a response in the way that Allah deems fit. Pray for those who are suffering and read this article to understand the nature of this world: 

The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “When half of the night or two-third of it is over. Allah, the Blessed and the Exalted, descends to the lowest heaven and says: Is there any beggar so that he be given? Is there any supplicator so that he be answered? Is there any beggar of forgiveness so that he be forgiven? (And Allah continues it saying) till it is daybreak.“ [Muslim]

May Allah give you the best of this world and the next.
[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria, for two years, where she studied aqidah, fiqh, tajweed, Tafseer, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her Master’s in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan, where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She recently moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.

This answer was collected from It’s an online learning platform overseen by Sheikh Faraz Rabbani. All courses are free. They also have in-person classes in Canada.

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