Friday, June 30, 2006

Bill and Warren

Even the jaded observer was jolted by a series of announcements made by the sage of Seattle and the oracle of Omaha as Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are known.Bill recently declared that he would gradually withdraw from the daily administration of Microsoft to concentrate on the Melinda Gates Foundation while Buffett announced that he would donate more than 30 billion dollars to the same organisation.Between the both of them,more than 60 billion dollars or more than 80% of their wealth has been pledged to charity!In this day and age, when crass consumerism and ostentatious spending(sadly a weakness that many Muslims have fallen a prey to)reign supreme,it is truly a noble gesture on their part.

But what is the moral of the story for Muslims here?I believe that though not Muslim, both these individuals have unleashed the power of Zakah.One may not agree with all their aims or support every receipient of their aid, but the fact is that in one stroke of the pen, they have laid down the gauntlet.Are we, as Muslims, and more importantly as a community that loves the Sunnah, rise to the challenge?Where is the Muslim version of Bill Gates? Which one of us will have the magnanimity to donate the bulk of his wealth? And by God, if there ever was a community in need of help, it is our Ummah.Palestine,Somalia, Kashmir,the list is endless.Do we need to be shamed into action by these two men?

Do not get me wrong;there are men and women in our Ummah who spend in the way of Allah.But there are on the other hand, Muslims who hesitate or downright refuse to help,while having no qualms about spending money on worthless baubles.Ask me how difficult it is to get funds to construct a medical clinic, or to clothe the inmates of a madarsa, or to build a mosque and I will talk till the cows come home.Why should it be so torturous to get people to spend on the Deen? The only favor they are doing is to their own souls.Islam has never been against making money, and lots of it, in a manner that is halal.But spend wisely and in accordance with the Quran and the Sunnah and Inshallah get rewarded on the day of Judgement.A simple trade off but one that many of us barely grasp.After all, we are being asked to donate only 2.5% of our wealth,not 80%!

Bill and Warren have joined the likes of Rockfeller and Carnegie in taking the concept of philantrophy to a new level.It is time our community produced people who will make the whole Ummah proud.I long for the day when those who build 600 room palaces will get the Hidayah to construct a 600 room hospital instead.Or when those who spend millions on racing horses at Ascot will utilise that kind of wealth to provide drinking water to thirsty Africans.And to paraphrase MLK I have a dream that one day my Ummah will stand tall and proud in the comity of nations based on its deeds and nothing else.Ameen.