Monday, 10 September 2007

The Rich and The Poor

BBC Radio Scotland
Thought for the Day
Thursday 29 June 2006 Amanullah De Sondy

We all want to be rich, don’t we? Money can buy us much in the world, but it also brings its own problems. This week the billionaire investor Warren Buffett announced his decision to donate 22 billion pounds to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He said he wanted to make sure that his money got used in the right way and he had re-assessed the purpose of his wealth after the death of his wife.

After reading his story, I wondered what makes us decide where we spend our wealth?

Helping our fellow human beings is promoted in all faiths and cultures. I remember interviewing Muslim donors and recipients of the compulsory alms tax. This is the 2.5% of accumulated wealth that Muslims give to the poor. Now, I was amazed when I discovered that the poor recipients were actually giving more of their money than the rich donors.

Millionaires and billionaires worldwide make it to the front pages for their generosity but who reports on the small acts of charity that make someone’s day? In Islamic tradition a smile is an act of charity. Isn’t the concept of charity just about giving what you have?

A Christian and Muslim parable springs to mind. “O you who believe, says God. I was hungry and you did not feed me, I was thirsty and you did not offer me water, I had no clothing and you did not clothe me, I was ill and you did not care for me.’ Then the believer will say, ‘O God you give to everyone so how can I give you anything?’ And God will say, ‘This person was hungry and if you had fed him you would have found me there. That person was thirsty; if you had given him water you would have found me there. And that person was ill; if you had helped him you would have found me there”

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