Monday, June 11, 2012

Who’s looking out for them?

In the icy cold winter the beggars who roam the streets of Johannesburg day and night brave the darkness and the cold to go and see if they can find food, anything at all will help fill their hunger. Last night there was one at our front gate at half past two in the morning, before him, there were quite a few more. As you drive to work, warmly dressed in your comfortable car, you see them standing in the freezing cold begging for some money. Some of the beggars are children, chances are that they either ran away from an abusive home out of desperation, or got involved with the wrong crowds and turned to drugs, or they may have lost their parents to HIV/AIDS. All these scenarios are common in this country, people are destitute and in need.

People who have enough keep complaining that there are so many beggars because people are lazy. Yet even the ones who try find it difficult and I have to admit that I can understand why many of them decide to just give up. There’s this lady who we know for years. Sometimes she helps us out with some work, other times she just comes when she needs something. For about the past ten years she has been trying to complete her Grade 12. She was enrolled at one of these colleges that do adult teaching and she did one or two school subjects a year. She would come and tell us how difficult it is, how their teachers keep leaving them and the teachers themselves don’t understand the work properly. She would enthusiastically come to ask us for help in explaining her English work, because like many South Africans, English is not her first language. She would ask us for books and stationery and every time she was writing an exam she would come and tell us. I saw her eagerness and willingness to make a better life for herself and her son, yet despite her motivation, it took her about ten years to complete. Eventually she came with the good news that she had completed her Grade 12 and she had passed all her subjects. She was so proud of that certificate, I can tell you, I don’t ever remember being even remotely as proud of any certificate I’ve received. But she had worked hard, and in the end it had paid off.

Then she began to look for work. It had been very hard for her to find work because she worked slowly as a domestic worker and people didn’t seem interested in hiring her. Now that she had her High School certificate though, she thought that things would be different. For her, obtaining this certificate would open up roads. For months she searched for work, but to no avail. She thought that it would be a good idea to apply for an admin job at the South African police Service. She had heard that if you have a Grade 12 certificate then they will accept you. She was told that she had passed the age for enrolment and couldn’t apply for any job there. A few more months and her job search brought no job. It’s almost one year after she received her Grade 12 certificate and still her life has not changed at all. She is still living in the small shack in an informal settlement. She still comes every week complaining that she is hungry, asking for money for paraffin and candles.  She still has to worry about her own neighbours stealing her little belongings or her small shack being burnt down. But amazingly, she still continues to try and she still has hope.

Her most recent attempt to do something about her situation is to go and study at university. This is not an easy thing to do for someone who has no money to buy food. There is no free education in South Africa and university costs a lot of money. But in any case, she was told that she could apply for exemption and after that she will be allowed to study. Just going to the university to sort things out was difficult for this woman because she had to raise enough money for transport and this was a mission given her circumstances. Eventually she got all the money she needed and went through to the university in Pretoria and now she is awaiting their decision, with hope and enthusiasm. She truly believes that this will help her get a better life. I hope that it does, I really do, but I can’t help feeling sceptical.

I am reminded that there are millions of people in this country that are suffering on a daily basis. The beggars who come to our door all the time, people like this woman I’ve mentioned, the people begging on almost every street corner and intersection (and really I am not exaggerating here), the men who have taken to standing on streets helping people find parking in return for small change, these are but a few of the people who are suffering. Who’s looking out for all these people? Who is worried about their needs? Who is helping them to get education and jobs? Who is making sure that they have a better future, or in the very least that their children will have a better future?

The government can only do so much, it’s easy to blame those in power, and many times the blame is justified, but when you have a country swimming in debt itself and increasing demands in education, jobs, housing, health and all sectors of society then really it’s very difficult to take care of the millions who are suffering, so let’s try to understand things from the government’s point of view as well. The truth is that they are only human.

Only Allah Almighty has the ability to take care of every single one of His servants. Only Allah can see to the needs of everyone. It is easy for Allah, as easy as “Be and it Is”. But Allah tests us, and Allah wants us to turn to Him for help, and Allah wants us to rely on Him and Allah wants us to ask and expect things from Him. We are told something to the effect that a servant will get what he expects to get from Allah, so if we believe that Allah can give us absolutely anything, even things that seem impossible, then Inshaa-Allah Allah will definitely give it to us. It is when we forget Allah that things become negative.

I’m not saying that all the people suffering have forgotten Allah, maybe poverty and difficulty is their test and their means of finding Allah. I don’t know every situation and Allah Knows best. What I am saying though is that only Allah is able to look out for every single one of us so it is only Allah that we should rely on. The perfect example we are given is that of how the birds leave their homes in the morning and receive their sustenance at the end of the day. And when you really look at it, you will see that the lady I mentioned earlier is still surviving, despite her struggles she still gets by and she still has hope. The beggars on the streets find their food, even if it is late at night. Those begging for money get their cups filled somehow. In the end, Allah is taking care of every one of Allah’s servants, we just do not understand the ways in which Allah Almighty works.

So who’s looking out for the poor and the destitute, for the sick and the old, for the animals and the plants, who’s looking out for me and you, of course the answer is simple, None other than our Most Perfect Creator.

Isn’t it time that we turned to Allah completely?  Perhaps if we all turned to Allah together then we will get what we want and the suffering will stop. Perhaps if we all followed the rules of Allah and shared and cared for each other, then Allah would shower mercy upon us. Perhaps if we keep asking Allah for help then Inshaa-Allah we will get the help that we need. Only Allah can see to everyone, and all we can do is turn to Allah and do our little bit. Allah is the Greatest and Allah is The Best Helper.

Image from here


  1. It is so sad to hear about this poor woman - I don't see this kind of begging where I live it must be difficult to witness this every day.

  2. Karima

    Yes, it is difficult to see people begging all the time, it's very sad, especailly when you see young children begging. These are after effects of a terrible political system. Apartheid has been abolished in South Africa since 1994, but it takes a long time for real change to come about. This particular woman's story is very sad, but she is just one person that we know of. For her this situation is common because she knows many more people in the same or even worse situation. This is why I wish that the world could be equal, and it upsets me to see first world countries with so much money when so many people in the world are suffering. My brother just told me the other day that the pendulum first has to swing to the from the one extreme to the other before balance can come about, I'm just hoping that the balance comes soon, Inshaa-Allah.

    Stay well and thanks for your comment

  3. Assalamualaikum, sis zarina...

    I've been missing you! May Allah always protect you from any harm or evildoings.

    Malaysia is about to experience its 13th general election anytime soon. I tell you, if the current government is not knocked down and rolled over again and again and again with a bulldozer, the fate of Malaysia will be exactly the same like South Africa. Or perhaps even worse. In my country the rich are becoming richer by the day and the poor are becoming poorer. This is due to the unequal distribution of wealth only to some certain individuals, bribery, political attacks on some national issues, and many more, etc. etc.

    Mother earth has changed dreadfully to become a scary place to live. Who'll be looking out for us all then? All praises to Allah, for He's the best planner for us.

    **hugs and kisses**

  4. Ati

    Sister I have been missing you too,shukran for your duaa for me and I wish the same for you Inshaa-Allah.

    The way you talk about Malaysian government makes me laugh, but actually it's a very serious matter. There is so much exploitation and corruption going on while people are suffering, those in power (not only government) don't seem to care about those who are suffering. This world has become selfish and cold and people have become self-consumed. May Allah (swt) save us all, Inshaa-Allah. Truly Allah is the best of planners and the Knower of all things.

    It's good to have you back;-)

    Stay in touch, was-salaam

  5. "Isn’t it time that we turned to Allah completely? Perhaps if we all turned to Allah together then we will get what we want and the suffering will stop. Perhaps if we all followed the rules of Allah and shared and cared for each other, then Allah would shower mercy upon us. Perhaps if we keep asking Allah for help then Inshaa-Allah we will get the help that we need. Only Allah can see to everyone, and all we can do is turn to Allah and do our little bit. Allah is the Greatest and Allah is The Best Helper. " I just want you to know your writing is very moving. I appreciate this paragraph immensely as I feel it speaks directly to the source of the issue - turning to Allah for help.

  6. lonlon558

    Thank you for your comment, I am happy that you have found some sort of inspiration from this, if our words don't bring about goodness and truth then I believe they are not useful.

    May Allah always bless you!