The Friday Message - Issue No: 346 - World Economic Forum at Davos

Salamun alaykum, 

Annual World Economic Forum at Davos: 

This week from Tuesday 21st - Friday 24th January 2020, about 3000 leaders drawn from business, politics, civil society, science and culture sectors have descended in the picturesque ski-resort city of Davos, Switzerland. The record turnout at this four day show piece assembly is to attend the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual meeting. The WEF is a non-profit organization, founded in 1971, to unite international political leaders, business leaders and journalists from across the globe to discuss and shape global, regional and industrial agendas with regards to economics, health and the environment. 

The delegates have gathered to attend the 50th edition of WEF. Thus, it’s for  50 years since billionaires, world business leaders and politicians have been assembling in this small village of Davos to discuss the most pressing issues facing the global economy and steer policies for future of the global economy to ‘improve the state of the world’. Has the state of the world improved? 

What is the state of the world?

Against the background of the ongoing Davos WEF meeting aiming to ‘improve the state of the world’ what then is the case with regards to poverty? 

State of the world: Poverty:

Social Metrics Commission report reveals that 4.5 million people are more than 50% below the poverty line, and 7 million people are living in persistent poverty in the UK. Government statistics show that 4.1 million children now live in relative poverty, accounting for more than 30% of children in the UK. According to the latest report by Shelter, a housing and homelessness charity, at least 320 000 people are homeless, and 5000 are rough sleeping in Britain. A research by Oxfam; the anti-poverty charity warned of an ever-increasing concentration of wealth by a handful of rich men. This sample paints an overall picture of state of the world. 

Obviously, this rising inequality in wealth ownership is dangerous. This definitely has ramifications on numerous agendas affecting man including peace, governance, happiness and living standards of the global citizen.

What is the Divine Message?

All the distinguished Messengers of God realized the severity of the concentration of wealth in a few, the crisis of poverty and its impact on people. They instilled values in people to seeking an honest and fair living and exhorted them to be charitable. They treated the poor with mercy and kindness, supported the poor and even lived amongst them. 

Wealth in Islam:

Wealth in Islam is considered as n’imah-gift- from Allah SWT. Man as the khalif- steward- of Allah SWT is a trustee of this gift and other numerous Divine gifts. Islam neither opposes material pursuit nor does it promote obsessive accumulation of wealth. Wealth is acquired as a result of one’s labour. In addition to the formal rites of ibadah-Divine service- the efforts to work too is considered as ibadah. On completion of the Salatul Juma’h the believers are exhorted to disperse through the land and seek Allah’s grace. (Sura Al Jum’ah 62: 10). 

The doctrines of Islam have set into place a check whereby the material development of human being does not eclipse their spiritual development. Further in order to mitigate the effects due to inequality prevailing in the society, Islam rewards in abundance the spending of wealth on individual, family and the society.

A cause of poverty:

A tradition from the 6th Imam J’afar As Saadiq a.s. reports that a cause of the people falling into poverty, becoming needy, hungry and naked is due to the wrong doing of the persons having wealth. Therefore, the state of world with increasing poverty and inequality in wealth is a consequence of concentration of wealth in few persons without due attention to responsibility towards its ownership.

Reflect: How covetous are you in pursuit of accumulating wealth? 

As the steward of Allah for the n’ima of wealth are you discharging your responsibility towards your family, community, society, the nation and the world? 

What needs to be done to tackle the causes of poverty and concentration of wealth in a tiny minority?

Wa ma tawfiqi illa billah.

With salaams and duas,

Sheikh Fazle Abbas Datoo
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Resident Alim
Wessex Shia Ithna Asheri Jamaat