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IN the popular stories about societies, there are many lessons that can form a course of action for people, leaders and countries.
One such story is about a religious scholar (sheikh) who was walking in the fields accompanied by one of his students.
The young student saw an old shoe and guessed that it belonged to a poor man working in the nearby field. Because the Sun was about to set, he thought the man would come soon to wear the shoes.
The student suggested to the sheikh: “What do you think, O Sheikh, if we prank this worker by hiding his shoes, so when he comes to wear them, he does not find them and we will see how he behaves?”
The venerable sheikh replied: “We must not amuse ourselves with the grief of others, but you, my son, are rich, you can bring happiness to yourself and to that poor person if you put some money in his shoes and hide to see how it affects him!”
The student liked the suggestion, so he put some coins in both shoes, then he and his sheikh hid behind the bushes, waiting to see the reaction of the poor worker.
Minutes later, a man came in shabby clothes as he had finished his work in the farm. When he was about to wear his worn out shoes, he was surprised to find money inside the shoes.
He inspected the money and looked again in disbelief to make sure that he was not dreaming, then he looked around him in all directions and found no one!
So he put the money in his pocket and fell on his knees, looking at the sky, crying.
He said in a loud voice calling to his Lord: “I thank you, O Lord, who knew that my wife is sick, and my children are hungry and cannot find bread; You saved me and my children from perdition.”
The student was greatly moved, then the Sheikh said: “Are you not happier now than if you carried out your first suggestion and hid the shoes?”
The student replied, “I have learned a lesson that I will never forget. Now, I understand the meaning of words I never understood in my life: You will be happier when you give than when you receive.”
The Sheikh said: “You know, my son, that there are many ways of giving. Forgiveness when one is able is giving, supplication for your brother in his absence is giving, seeking excuses for others and dismissing the bad thought of someone are considered giving, any humanitarian community work for the sake of Allah is giving, and loyalty to the homeland and defending it during adversity are forms of giving.”
I wish this sheikh was a ruler who felt the pain of his people, especially in some parts of the Arab world; where some of their pains are audible, while others suffer silently. Anyone can help them, simply alleviating their suffering by putting some money in their worn-out shoes. This is not difficult.
It is about moving hoarded money, whose purchasing value decreases as days pass by; while moving it and completing the cycle could revive the economy, alleviate the suffering of people and secure job opportunities.
It is common knowledge that money is like blood in the arteries. If it clogs up, it leads to blood clot and damage of organs. If it flows, it becomes a source of prosperity for people and societies.
Also, Islam urges us not to hoard wealth, so that it does not turn into a curse on the hoarders.
Almighty Allah says: “… And those who hoard gold or silver and spend it not in the way of Allah, give them tidings of a painful punishment. The Day when it will be heated in the fire of Hell and seared therewith will be their foreheads, flanks and backs. This is what you hoarded for yourselves, so taste what you used to hoard.”
Therefore, the money spent on projects, development, alleviating the suffering of people and lifting harm from the needy, enhances tranquility and social stability.
We have seen what miserliness does to people in societies, and how states collapsed when they stopped spending on sustainable development.
Likewise, the uprising that took place in history when the influential, decision-makers and elites monopolized everything for themselves and deprived their people led to the collapse of Abbasid State due to miserliness on the people, which made the State an easy prey for the Tatar armies.
This gives us many lessons, the most important of which is about the wife of French King Louis XVI, whose impetuous statement fueled the French Revolution in the 18th century when she denounced the demonstrations for lack of bread saying: “Let them eat biscuits.”
This sentence incited the French to revolt against the ruler, which led to the execution of the queen and her husband.