Why at this time are the Muslims poor?


QUESTION: In the past, we were rich and the non-Muslims were poor, but now everywhere it is the opposite case. Why?

ANSWER: Some incorrect suggestions and recommendations have destroyed the zeal to endeavor that is deduced from the Divine decree, And that man has only that for which he labors (53:40), and the Islamic teaching, “God loves one who works to earn their livelihood.”

Some persons and preachers do not know that exalting God’s Word at this time depends on material progress. They do not appreciate the world as the arable field of the Hereafter. They cannot distinguish between the requirements of the middle and later ages. They do not discriminate between the contentment with endeavor and what one already has, or the praiseworthy contentment with the result and wages that come after the full exertion of one’s strength and possibilities. They confuse the two contrasting kinds of trust in God – one being a title to idleness and non-observance of the prerequisites for a desired result, which means resisting the balance between the means and labor and the result – a balance established by the Divine Will – and the other, required by Islam, which is the shell of true sincerity and means referring the outcome to Divine Will with full resignation after fulfilling all the prerequisites necessary to realize that outcome. They do not perceive the mystery of the Prophet’s full concern and compassion for his community in saying: “My community! My Community!”, nor can they comprehend the wisdom in the Prophetic saying: “The best of people are those who are the most useful and beneficial for people.”60 It is such people and preachers who have broken the inclination to and enthusiasm for labor and endeavor among the Muslims.

The second reason for our poverty is that we have sought government jobs and civil service posts for our livelihood, which is proportional to idleness and flatters pride.

The natural, dynamic way for livelihood is crafts, farming or agriculture, and trade. Civil service is the unnatural way. In my opinion, those who seek civil service and government jobs to secure a livelihood are impotent public beggars. One who seeks a civil service or administrative post should seek them only in order to serve the people and country – seeking them for livelihood means begging. Thus, since the civil service and government jobs have generally been in our hands, we have wasted our wealth and scattered our offspring around, losing both. However, the non-Muslims have kept crafts and trade in their hands, and thus become rich.

(From Munazarat [“Discussions”])

Bediuzzaman Said Nursi

60 al-Munawi, Faydu’l-Qadir, 3:481.