From time to time we hear those who are in doubt of God’s existence, ask the question: If God exists, why does poverty? How can God, if He exists, the creator of heaven and earth, not eradicate poverty? Since poverty exists, it must mean God doesn’t. The answer to many will be difficult to accept, as the reason lies somewhere much closer to home. First of all, we must ask ourselves if there is enough food on the planet to feed its population, or did God create the circumstances for poverty to always exist? Currently, the estimated population of the world is approximately 7 billion, and there is enough food in the world in this moment of time, to be able to feed 10 billion people. So if there is enough food in the world to fulfill the need of every human being, and more, then why does poverty exist? Nelson Mandela would like to answer the question: “Poverty is not an accident, like slavery and apartheid, it is man-made and can be removed by the actions of human beings.” You see, in 2012 alone,
the world’s top 100 richest people earned enough money to eradicate extreme poverty four times over. Poverty does not exist because God does not exist. Poverty exists because of the actions of human beings, because of your action. Yes, you. “Did you think you would enter the Garden without God first proving which of you would struggle for His cause and remain steadfast?” [Quran 3:142] There is a reason you and I are here. There is a reason we exist: “Did you think we had created you in vain, and that you would not be brought back to Us?” [23:115] There is a mission we must fulfill. What is that mission? It is the same mission that the Prophets of God were sent with; “We sent the Messengers with clear signs, the scripture and the balance, so people could uphold justice.” [57:25] Our purpose on earth is to live for a cause greater than ourselves, a cause for justice. This is our purpose, our mission on earth. If human beings strove to fulfill this purpose then poverty would not exist. If we
strove to implement institutions that safeguarded the basic rights of every human being then justice would prevail. This is why the institution of Zakaat (the redistribution of wealth) is a central component of Islam. It is ordained ”So that wealth does not circulate among your rich people only” [59:7] The institution of Zakaat has the potential to solve the problem of global poverty, just as it did in the 8th century under Umar Ibn Abdulaziz, who had eradicated poverty from society, to such an extent that when there was no one left to claim Zakaat, the money was used to feed the birds of his empire. It’s time we stop blaming the Creator for problems we have created ourselves, and strive to restore the balance we have disturbed.