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The Poor: When hopelessness is Comfort

They're poor, yet richer than all of us.
It was a thrilling experience. No movie has ever affected me as this one. I could have lived a 100 years without seeing this. No one I know has ever gone, by their own will, there. Only it wasn't a movie this time. More REAL than anything else I've ever seen. SO real that I'm still having difficulty moving on.

More than a week ago, I was taken by my mother's friend to visit over 20 poor homes. I have never been that close to them. My maximum was having them come to a charity unit and dealing with them personally there. But to actually see their homes by my own eyes was not one of my plans. However, off we went; Mrs.G, Mrs.H, Mrs.R and yours truly, to a whole area stacked with the poorest people my eyes have ever lied on.

Streets: no streets. More like human tunnels that the sun rays don't get to. To those in Egypt, no it's not a "7ara", much much smaller, only fits one person by width.
Air: I don't think I've taken one deep breath my whole time there. The air is damp. No certain smells but rather a stiff sensation of not enough air in my lungs.
Homes: No chairs. Tables. Plates. NOTHING. As big as a four sided square about 1 meter wide. Made of rock (I don't know how). No Roof, only bamboo and sticks from above. Of course, no bathrooms.
Men: I haven't seen one man or boy child in the whole area. Both men and boys are at work. I remember seeing a 5 year old boy carrying a much bigger than his size, tray of fresh bread and calling out for people to buy it. I looked at him and smiled. He smiled back and moved on.
Women: Sitting on the floor infront of their homes. Heard lots of laughs. Couldn't understand how do they still laugh amidst this hell hole of a life they have.

We started our day. We had a list of specific homes that we had to visit. We were to visit only families with no fathers.( No fathers here means men who died, men who are paralyzed/sick, men who have left their families behind for a better life.) I was watchful, alert, aware of every detail around me, not adapting, but temporarily surviving.

The first Family we visited had one child. The husband blind and paralyzed after an accident. The wife still in love with her husband and son.
Some things she said:
"He (her husband) has treated me well during his years of strength, it is my time to thank him now (by taking care of him) till he dies. He deserves all that is good. He deserves much more than that."

" I fear to die before him and then no one would look after him"

"The boy is a present from Allah. I had 6 miscarriages before him for a period of 18 years. Then one night I slept, and saw the Prophet PBUH in my dream. He PBUH took me to Masjid alAqsa, and gave me 3 dates. I ate one. 2 months later, I was pregnant. I asked a Sheikh about the vision, he told me that if I'd have ate the 3 dates, I would have had 3 sons."

"I have seen the Prophet in my dreams twice. One of them was in this room you are in now. In this room, we speak quietly to respect that the Prophet was in it years ago in my dream. This is a special room and you are special people. "

This house is the only one with 2 rooms. The room she speaks of has a bed and the floor is covered with prayer carpets. Although she can't read or write, a Qur'aan is placed on a clean piece of cloth on a chair. Again, the only house that has a chair.

"Now I don't want anything from this world but to go to heaven. (she swears again that she doesn't want anything). I am richer than all the rich. I am rich with faith. It's the food that eases my hunger and gives me patience."

I blink twice and look at her closely, memorizing her features. This is a woman I never want to forget.

"Since my husband's accident. Men here have been trying to abuse me, knowing that noone will protect me. Thanks to Allah, I have been saved every time. A woman here must have a man to lean on. "

I have seen so many other families. Each with a more dramatic story than the one before. But they all had one thing in common: Hopelessness and comfort. They didn't complain. Smiled alot and laughed more. One even challenged us to find a rich family that has the happiness they have, a rich family that has children who treat their mother like a queen.

"I am their queen. They would die for me. No money could buy me that", one sick mother said.

Every visit I held my tears in. The moment we'd leave, I'd let my tears fall. They say there's a first time for everything. Every visit affected me as if it was the first time.

They thanked Allah for everything. The word "Alhamdullelah" is said alot there. The words "We don't know how to thank God for all his blessings" was heard almost every time there. I thought to my self, "what blessings?", I longed to ask them how are they satisfied and what blessings are they talking about. To my eyes, I saw nothing. I saw sickness, orphans and hunger.

I tried to convince myself that they are satisfied. That if they're not, they would have gone crazy. To wake up every day for more than 20 years with no change- only to the worse, and still feel strong and lively is a miracle.

By the end of the day, I reviewed my life. I have everything and forget to thank. Not only that, I'm also always wanting more. That was then. Now, I have learnt my lesson. and like the woman above said: "Now I don't want anything from this world but to go to heaven."

I tell her: Take me with you.

P.S. Mrs.G. in an attempt to relieve my shock, told me that poor people, on Judgement day, go to heaven 500 years earlier than the rich.

i was told before :
"whenever you feel desperate and hopless, look at the ppl who are in worse conditions more than you, then , you will feel good, not only good, but you will feel lucky to be the way you are "

thats exactly what happened to you, you were shocked but the mere truth, you saw them in front of you , eye to eye, face to face.

iam glad you learnt that lesson , it will help you to gain the missing satisfaction in your life.

satisfaction that make those ppl laugh and smile despite the hell they are living in.

Slmz. This is a beautiful but sad post. We have a similar situation in South Africa- but here the poor have contentment but little Faith. Faith that some of us have but are selfish to share! Esp to share with those who really need it.. Also, saw you asked Bb about palestine? I went last year- see my blog: www.meexplore.blogspot.com

That was a beautiful story. Sometimes I really envy those that have nothing and it seems as if nothing to live for, yet they have the greatest faith and have learned a lesson that we all should. All the money and all the material things won't do you any good when it comes time to meet your maker. I believe they will be the first in Heaven. This was a great reality check for me. Thanks for sharing the story.

Thank you jannah for this post. I would love to help please will you email me on yoshar@yahoo

and tell me more and if there is a mean to help , let us see and JAK


your words are so true. I have never known what it meant to wake up not knowing whether you'll find food by the end of the day or not. More still, I have never known how to forget the hunger and think of the other blessings in my life. They have amazed and shocked me. Definetely can't wait to go again.


Why not you start sharing your faith with them? A good word will be kept in their heart for a long time :)
Thanks Bilal for sharing your website. Has helped me a great deal.


Yes, money will only be left behind when we die. It's those lessons in life that mean everything.


Thank you for offering help! That's great news! InshAllah as soon as Mrs.G contacts me again, I'll send you.

That's what I always think once things are getting tough ... "it could be worsde" - if you believe it or not, it does work! Even we are in a difficult situation .. there are always folks who have it much worse than we. I find it so inportant to set everathing into perspective!! Thanks so much for this great post ... it's very thought-provoking!! :)

you always amaze me with the quantity of good you have in your heart, you made me do things just to feel as you do.
Usually when i want to do something good , I give money to my brother and he will spend it or give it to the people he know they need it.
But now i searched for the needing people of all kinds , poor , sick , alone with no parents and i am trying to help as much as i can , with money , with care , with time , and with pushing people to offer some help.
And I thank you for this.

we should be doing more to share our faith!
but we do the best we can- make dua...
Eid Mubarak to you and your family...

Profoundly Touching.. Extremley Moving Moving and it shows how tiny we are with our pretty meaningless and inferior pains that some people out there would think of more as a luxury...

Loved your post and admired your kindness and sensibility... Rabena yegazeeki belkheer we yekremik insha2allah...

Kol sana wenti tayeba...

Jazakallah for the comment on my blog. May i request that you link it up here?

I'm glad you found this post thought provoking. I only hope that it would ease the pain of any reader facing hard circumstances!
Eid Mubarak to you dear Karin :)

"But now i searched for the needing people of all kinds , poor , sick , alone with no parents and i am trying to help as much as i can , with money , with care , with time , and with pushing people to offer some help."

Oh my God! I don't believe this!!!! MashAllaaaah Hesham, this is an amazingly beautiful thing you've done! I see you question the good in my heart? now I'm questioning the good in yours!!
I have written this post with the intention of reminding my friends with the word: elhamdulellah (thanks to Allah), I didn't imagine it would reach you so deep that you'd turn it into actions!

I hope you continue what you've started and may Allah bless you brother :)

Eid Mubarak to you too brother!

"it shows how tiny we are with our pretty meaningless and inferior pains that some people out there would think of more as a luxury..."

That is exactly how I felt on my drive home from there. Nothing mattered any more. After all, my pains and complaints are Nothing in comparison to these so patient, content and happy folks.

Allah ygazeek kol kher for this encouragement :) wenta tayyeb ya rab!

We arfe so spoilt aren't we, I keep getting this feeling all the time, we complain from minor, meaningless stuff while real pain is experienced by others out there. The funny thing is most of them are real thankful and not as nagging as we are all the time... It is quite ironic, we have more and yet we complain more...

I ve visited a great number of sites, which I want to close, just having opened them! On your site I have spent all my free time, and even not having noticed this. Thank you, guys!
- scribblingmind.blogspot.com r
spaghetti alla carbonara

This is a great website! Easy to find helpful information. Your web site is helpful. I will be back!
- www.blogger.com u
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Assalaamu alaikum Jannah
Do u know Im so silly I didnt realise u had a blog-saw u posted on Bilals blog. Yes, the poverty in Egypt is heartbreaking. I tried getting involved but met with little help on the organisations sides. I realised I didnt send u the details of the maraakiz which u wanted. Im back in SA, but just google arabic maraakiz -fajr,diwan,markaz nile, cordoba,qahira, are the better known. I'll be a regular visitor from now. oh yes- i was denied entry into palestine because israel regards islamonline as a security threat. take care

Dear Bibi-Aisha,
Welcome to my blog sister :)
Poverty here is EVERYWHERE! It hurts that it gets worse every year than the one before... Most of these people's grandparents weren't even poor!
Anyways... hope we'd all get a chance to visit the Holy lands one day.
Salam alaykum!

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  • I'm Jannah
  • From Cairo, Egypt
  • If I am as honest as I know how to be, I may discover here as I write, day after day, something in myself, something of my own nature... that I might otherwise not be aware of...
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