10 things families can do to fight poverty
by Sound VIsion Staff writer
1. Make sure to pay Zakat
What is Zakat? It is one of the five pillars of Islam. It is also an obligation which primarily benefits the poor and the needy.
Find out today what you are required to do to fulfill this Islamic obligation, and what assets you and your family have which are Zakatable. Whether it's the family business or your wife's jewelry Also, educate your kids about this necessary pillar of Islam in a family meeting.
2. Start a family Sadaqa (charity) box
Wouldn't it be great to give charity as a family? You can do this in a systematic way by setting up a family Sadaqa box in a particular spot of the house. Then, convince each person to put a portion of their allowance or salary in this box.
One of the older kids will keep track of how much is collected. Once a month, hold a family meeting to decide exactly where the money will go, whether it's to the needy family who lives next door, the homeless shelter in the city or poor relatives abroad.
3. Have a "secret Sadaqa box"
Ideally, your left hand should not know what your right hand has given in charity. Keeping this in mind, to encourage secret charity, put a secret Sadaqa box in the home.
Make it clear why it's there and tell the kids the rule is no one can give Sadaqa in this box when other people can see them. Decide as a family where the money should be given.
4. Be in regular social contact with community members
Do you think the only people who are really living in poverty are those who ask?
Wrong. Allah says in the Quran says: The ignorant man thinks, because of their modesty, that they are free from want. Thou shalt know them by their (unfailing) mark; they beg not importunately from all and sundry (part of verse 2: 273)
There are a number of people who, due to their sense of nobility and self-respect, cannot and will not ask from others, even if they are in need. The only way such individuals can be taken care of is if community members keep a watchful eye and note how they are really doing.
It may be evident in how they dress. Or in where and how they live. Either way, the only way to really know that such people are in need is to be close to them, knowing their condition after having seen it with your own eyes.
A note of caution though: once you know someone like this is in need, don't advertise their difficult situation to others.
5. Use food wisely at parties
Where do you see so much good food wasted? Usually at dinner parties and social occasions.
Next time you have a dinner party, encourage guests in a discreet and polite manner not to waste food. Then, once the party's over, if there is plenty of leftover food, drop it off at a shelter for the homeless, a soup kitchen, or a family you personally know who is in need.
If you've got a family wedding coming up, then serve the food buffet style so people take only as much as they want. Then donate the rest of the untouched food to a shelter for the needy.
6. Have a family garage sale and donate the proceeds to the poor
Are your kids getting bored as the summer wears on? Then try out this great idea they can have fun with while helping those living in poverty.
Get everyone to take out any unwanted toys, clothes, etc. from their closets. Then organize and tag all items and hold a garage sale in your back or front yard.
All of the money should go to a shelter or soup kitchen.
7. Visit a homeless shelter or soup kitchen as a family
We become so used to just opening up the fridge when we're hungry, we forget there are countless millions who don't have this luxury.
Call up the local soup kitchen and ask if you can make the food there for one meal. Nothing fancy. Just pasta for instance. Get the family and some friends to help too. This is a good exercise not just in food preparation, but in learning the proper etiquette of dealing with the poor: with kindness, care and compassion.
8. Make it a habit to meet with people of all socioeconomic backgrounds
Have you noticed that all of your friends and social contacts are from the same economic class?
If so, make a point to meet with those who don't necessarily have as much as you and your family do. Friendship must never be based on the size of a house or bank account. Teach yourself and your kids this valuable lesson.
By socializing with the poor, you'll not only develop a sensitivity to their needs, but you will learn to relate to them with respect, not in an arrogant manner.
9. Make one "poor" meal a month in the home
What do you usually eat for dinner as a family? If you've been eating rich, heavy food, give it a break for just one day out of the month. Make a very, very simple meal. This will give everyone a real live example of what it feels like to live with much less for a day. Remind everyone that for many people, such a meal is not an unpleasant reality that happens once a month. It's a way of life.
10. Fast and make Dua for those living in poverty
One of the great things about fasting is that it makes you more aware of what it's like to live with hunger.
Do a Nafl (optional) fast for a day. Get a friend to do it with you. When it's time to break your fast, make Dua for those who are living in poverty worldwide and ask Allah what you can do to help alleviate their suffering.
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