By: A Ilyas Ismail MA
The problem of the poor and the rich has been a heated debate among the Sufis. Who is better between them? The poor who are patient or the rich who are good at being grateful and generous?
Some Sufis, such as Harith al-Muhasibi and Imam al-Ghazali, gave priority (afdhaliyah) to the poor. Whereas other Sufis give priority to the rich by referring to the Companions of the Prophet, who are rich, but benefactors, such as Uthman Ibn ‘Affan and Abdul Rahman Ibn uf Auf.
While Ibn Taimiyah, a premodern reformer who was very critical of Sufism, expressed new thoughts on this issue. In the book titled Al-Shufiyah wal-Fuqara, Ibn Taimiyah gives priority not to the rich or the poor, but to those who are more cautious between the two. (Kitab Al-Shufiyah wal-Fuqara ‘, pp. 25-26).
According to Ibn Taimiyah, if the good of the poor is more, then he is more important. Conversely, if the good of the rich is more, then the rich are better. If their kindness is the same, then their glory is equal.
Only, in this case, said Ibn Taimiyah, the poor first stepped into heaven than the rich. Because the step of the rich is held for a moment in front of the door of heaven because they must complete the calculation (reckoning) of the assets and wealth possessed.
Poor and rich, as stated by Ibn Taimiyah above, are not the basis of a person’s primacy. The basis for that, remains faith and piety. Here, poor and rich can only be identified as mere testing instruments.
As a test tool, both are believed to have an influence on human behavior, good and bad. This influence is of course very dependent on the recipient’s mental readiness. For this reason, there are people who are not ready for poverty, so that poverty, as the Prophet said, can bring people closer to kufr. (HR Baihaqi).
Conversely, there are also many people who are not ready for wealth, so wealth makes him stingy and arrogant. This is the meaning of the word of God, “Know! Indeed, man truly transgresses, because he sees himself as sufficient. “(Al-qAlaq: 6-7).
As a test tool, fidelity and wealth are impermanent, but are dynamic, meaning changing and rotating. Prophet Muhammad himself, in the beginning was classified as poor, but then Allah SWT made himself rich (Al-Dhuha: 9). The rich meaning here, according to most commentators, is wealth. This is because the words ‘made rich’ (Aghna) in this verse are juxtaposed with poor words ((Aailan).
However, according to Abdullah Yusuf Ali, wealth there refers more to spiritual and spiritual wealth. With this wealth, continued Yusuf Ali, the Prophet could not only overcome his worldly needs, but also be able to focus all his attention and all his time to work and worship God Almighty. Wallahu A’lam.