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September 30 2013 16:30 | Hall of Dante’s House

God Loves the Poor

Mohammed Achaibi

Vice-President of the Executive of Muslims in Belgium
Dear members of the panel,
Ladies and gentleman,
Peace be with you all
First of all I would like to express my gratitude to the organisers of this beautiful initiative, my gratitude also for inviting me to be here with you. As a Muslim, by my presence I give vent to a Divine duty to meet other communities. 
By meeting, prejudices melt and mutual respect grows. Respect that every human being amongst us deserves. Today, more than ever before we have the duty of building bridges and spreading peace amongst all people.
Hereby I would like to refer to a verse of the Holy Quran which expresses this strongly, .. O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted. (Quran, 49:13)   translation of Quran: Sahih International
By being here together we give a strong sign that peaceful coexistence is a verb. It is actively looking for the other in order to work together for a better world. A world with peace in it’s centre.
The theme of this panel is ‘God loves the Poor’ and I have been asked to give a short meditation from the Muslim faith.
As you all know Islam knows five Pillars to be applied by all believing Muslims. I give a short list of these Pillars (Arkaan) for your information:
These are :
The Creed  (Schahada),
The Prayer (salaat),
The alms  (zakat)
The fasting during the month of Ramadan (sawn), 
And the Pilgrimage to Mecca (Hadj)
Today, off course I want to limit myself to the third Pillar, the “Zakaat”, or alms. With this obliged Pillar God obliged the wealthy to give up part of their richess to those who are in need.
In the Holy Quran, this is what we read according to who has right to Zakah.   
…… Zakah expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy and for those employed to collect [zakah] and for bringing hearts together [for Islam] and for freeing captives [or slaves] and for those in debt and for the cause of Allah and for the [stranded] traveler - an obligation [imposed] by Allah. And Allah is Knowing and Wise. (Quran, 9: 60).
The Zakaat (alms) is a token of honest faith of the giver. This is because possession is very dear to us all and we give it away only for something that is equally or more dear to us. This is why zakaat is also named sadakah, because it shows the righteousness of the one who gives this in the strive for pleasing God, the Almighty.
Giving zakaat is a reason for entering Paradise. So we read in this tradition of the prophet Mohammed (saws):
Paradise is: “for those who speak good words, who spread the greeting of peace, who give food and fulfils the prayer at night, while people are sleeping” …Ahmed At-Tirmidi). (free translation) Giving Zakaat is helping the poor not to walk on the path of rage and discontentment. They see that the ‘wealthy’ can afford themselves any means of transportation, can live in the finest houses and can have all they desire.
While the poor only have their legs to move and sleep outside on the soil. Undoubtedly, this will trouble him. For example, when the ‘wealthy’ gives a financial aid, this will take away the rage and discontentment.
All kinds of research show that poverty is growing and that we’ll have to make all kinds of efforts for the weaker in our society.
We have a social responsibility towards the weaker, and we have to deal with it together. Poverty can only been banned if we work together. As an Arabic proverb is saying: “one cannot clap with one hand.”
Finally, I want to thank you for your attention and wish you an instructive debate. 
Peace be with you all.
Rome, 30 september 2013 

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