Imam Sajjad (PBUH) used to consider people’s “financial hardship” as a catastrophe. Financial hardship is when one sees poverty growing in an Islamic country such that its elimination is extremely difficult.
As an example one of the companions of Imam Sajjad had complained to him about his debt; Imam cried of disappointment. When they asked him why he was crying, the Imam responded, “Isn’t it that shedding tears are for grave calamities? Which calamity is greater than when a person sees his brother in faith in need of something that he cannot obtain or see him in a situation that he cannot solve.”1
The life of Imam Sajjad (PBUH) is a clear example of the Imam’s emphasis on solving people’s financial problems in practice.
Narrations have reported how the Imam divided his wealth twice and gave it away in the way of Allah.2 Hidden financial help was one of the ways that Imam Sajjad (PBUH) would solve the issue of poverty.
Muhammad ibn Ishaq has narrated, “A group of people lived in Medinah, but did not know who is sustaining their living conditions. When Ali ibn Hussein (PBUH) was martyred, they no longer received their nightly payments.”3
Another narrator reports, “Ali ibn Hussein had been accused of greed. But when he was no longer in this world, people realized that he had supported the living of more than a hundred families in Medina.”4
Along side the hidden financial help, the Imam would also help through other methods. Imam Reza (PBUH) has narrated a hadith from his grandfather Imam Ali ibn Hussein (PBUH), “I am ashamed from Allah to see one of my brothers (whom) I pray to Allah for him to go paradise, but that I would remain greedy towards him in this world. And when the Day of Judgment arrives, they would tell me, ‘If heaven was in your hands, for sure you would have been much greedier, much greedier, much greedier.”5
Looking at the matter as such shows that a pious person does not fight poverty only for purposes of attaining worldly riches; rather, he/she also considers the blessings of the hereafter.
If we compare these stances of Imam Sajjad (PBUH) with what Bani Umayyid rulers would do, such as using public wealth towards making a luxurious life for themselves, wasting, always putting their needs ahead of the people’s needs, and cutting off the income of Imam Ali’s (PBUH) followers and families of soldiers who had angered the dynasty, it is obvious that the manner in which Imam Sajjad (PBUH) acted was opposite that of the dynasty. It was in fact a political fight with them.
In reality, the Imam (PBUH) stood up against the way the dynasty would take advantage of the people’s financial situation. He would not allow the unjust to force the poor and those harmed to obey the dynasty using money they had usurped. The rulers would force the less fortunate to even commit crimes. The help provided by the Imam (PBUH) prevented this situation through his ongoing assistance.
Selection taken from Hujjatul Islam Sayyid Muhammad Reza Husseini Jalali’s The Jihad of Imam Sajjad (PBUH)