Why Poor Are Getting Poorer?

How much do you get paid? Let’s imagine a country; a small country to be precise with population

How much do you get paid?

Let’s imagine a country; a small country to be precise with population of 100 person, with 75% of the population (75 person) are getting an income of $100 per person at the end of the month while the rest of the population -25 person – are getting $5000 per person at the end of the month. Now those information- about knowing the real incomes that people get- are not quite available due to the lack of trust between people when revealing their true income, as the rich people would have incentive to lie to hide their true income to skip taxes, and poor people are ashamed of what they really get so they tend to lie to meet the country’s life standards.

Income per capita

If I want to have an overview of person’s average income in this country, I would calculate a measurement called income per capita which is very simple to calculate; it can be calculated for a country by dividing the country’s national income by its population.

Now let’s get back to our imaginary example. Let us calculate the income taken by all the individuals in the country we would have { ( $5000*25)+($100*75) } = $125,000+7,500 = 132,500
the national income is $132,500 and the population is 100, so income per capita is 132,500/100 =$1,325

So, we reached now by using the national income per capita method that each person in a country of 100 population is getting a $1,325 per month! While in reality 75 persons in this county are getting an income that doesn’t exceed $100. Are we saying that economic measurements are deceivable? They are not deceivable, but they don’t reflect the truth about poverty in many countries and they skip tackling the fair distribution of income.

Newspaper and media use such measurements to announce a reduction in poverty and how governments are exerting a lot of efforts to alleviate poverty, while in reality the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting even poorer!

Fair Distribution

That will lead us to a problem called “FAIR DISTRIBUTION”, income distribution is how a nation’s total income is distributed amongst its population. If in the previous example each person of the 25 who gets $5000 monthly give some of their money to those who get $100 monthly, the income per capita would have some credibility, right?  And poverty levels would really decrease. But in real life people are greedy, they want to have all the money to themselves without giving anything to the poor.

That is why government set taxes on high income categories to offer a good living standard for the poor. As an attempt to face poverty. But if I want to exempt taxes I would easily lie about my actual income to avoid getting highly taxed. And if I’m a good person, I will not  lie but I will not give money unless asked. But if I want to help others, I would give money to poor without even waiting to be taxed.

Islamic taxes and giveaways

In Islam there are taxes as well but they are named Zakat if you are a good person who pays his taxes, and if you want to help others besides paying your taxes; you can pay Sadaqah, the only difference is that neither zakat nor sadaqah are collected by the government to face poverty. However, each and every Muslim is held responsible in facing poverty and providing a good way of living for the low income people through paying his Zakat and Sadaqah. The question now is: what is the difference between zakat and Sadaqah?

Zakat: It is obligatory upon every adult Muslim of sound mind and means. Where the individual who own a specific amount of wealth or savings (after living costs, expenses etc). This is referred to as Nisaab and on which Zakat becomes payable. The amount of Zakat to be paid is 2.5% of Nisaab.

The alms are only for the Fuqara’ (the poor), and Al-Masakin (the needy) and those employed to collect (the funds); and to attract the hearts of those who have been inclined (towards Islam); and to free the captives; and for those in debt; and for Allah’s Cause, and for the wayfarer (a traveler who is cut off from everything); a duty imposed by Allah. And Allah is All-Knower, All-Wise.” [Quran 9:60]

They ask you as to what they should spend. Say: Whatever wealth you spend, it is for the parents and the near of kin and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer, and whatever good you do, Allah surely knows it.” [Quran 2:215]

Zakat can only be paid to specific beneficiaries and projects. The Qur’an mentions eight groups of people on who Zakat should be spent:

(Chapter At-Tawbah 9/60)

  1. The Fuqara’ (the poor)
  2. Al-Maskin (the needy)
  3. Aamileen (Zakat collector)
  4. Muallafatul Quloob (poor and needy who recently converted to Islam)
  5. Ar-Riqaab (slaves; Zakat can be used to purchase their freedom)
  6. Ibnus-Sabeel: A stranded traveller in need of financial assistance.
  7. Al Ghaarimeen: A debtor
  8. Fi Sabeelillah: Those who are away from home in the path of Allah   

Sadaqah:  means giving money without that being made obligatory. It is not obligatory on any kind of wealth, rather it is what a person can give, without any specific limits or guidelines.

Poverty, a problem to solve!

What we are trying to reach here is that through the Islamic conduct poverty could be eliminated if each and every Muslims paid his Zakat beside those who pays extra Sadaqah without the intervention of the government, the economic policies or any other form of mandatory policies that are obliged upon the citizens.

Even though some of the Muslims countries are considered the poorest that would be due to the disobedience of some Muslims. But only if the Sharia standards had been morally and ethically applied by each and every Muslim in the world, the poor would have been in better situation than this one.