I recently read an article about Iraqi refugees in Syria turning to prostitution to alleviate their poverty.
Some thoughts that came to my mind when I read this article:
1. I’ve heard a lot of Syrians complain about the Iraqi refugees, and they seem to blame them for many things, including increasing levels of traffic, the jump in housing costs, and a proliferation of crime and places of indecency. It really has a lot to do with the sheer number of people that have come into Syria in such a short time period (which I’ve heard is closer to 2 or 2 and a half million than the number mentioned in the article), and the lack of any sort of infrastructure that would help them transition into a healthy life here, such as viable working alternatives or assisted housing, etc. I think this is a clear example of how an unjust war inevitably breeds more and more harm, including the breakdown of family structure and a negative impact on neighboring countries.
2. I cannot imagine the desperation that would lead a believing Muslim woman, who prayed and practiced (like it’s mentioned in the article) go so far, and I can only attribute it to a state of real trauma, a hopelessness, that is beyond our understanding.
We really have no idea how big a fitna (challenge or test) poverty is for so many people in this world and how it can lead to a real shaking of faith. There are so many texts in which the Prophet, salAllahu alayhi wa salam, would seek refuge from ‘al-kufr wal-faqr’ (unbelief and poverty), as if there’s a direct connection between the two.
And wealth is an equally disastrous fitna, as can be seen by its misuse in the hands of the men who visit these places. The Prophet salAllahu alayhi wa salam would also pray, “O Lord, I seek Thy refuge from […]the evil of the challenge of wealth and the evil of the challenge of poverty…” (Bukhari and Muslim).
3. It makes me really appreciate how appealing and dignified the quality of hayaa’ (modesty, chastity) is, especially in men, and how low, base and weak a man seems without it.
There’s a story of a righteous young man from the time of the tabi’i tabi’een (the third generation after the prophet salAllahu alayhi wa salam) who was once traveling. While he was alone in his tent in the desert, in the darkness of the night, a beautiful woman approached him and presented herself to him. Hearing her offer his eyes filled with tears. She asked him why he had begun to cry and he said, “Out of a feeling of lowliness before God, that He would test me in this way.” And he asked her, “Do you not fear God, that you might die at this very moment?” The woman left, weeping in repentance.
A few months later he had a dream in which the Prophet Yusuf (alayhis salaam) came to him. The man said to Yusuf (alayhis salaam), “I was amazed by your story in the Quran, and your honor and steadfastness before the wife of Azeez.” The Prophet Yusuf (alayhis salaam) said to him in return, “and I am amazed at your story, when a woman approached you in a tent in the depths of night, and you remained steadfast.”
4. It also makes me think: Isn’t this a perfect example of when polygamy would be a healthy option in a society? These same rich Gulf Arab men who frequent these places… how much better would the situation be if they married some of these women, and honored them with the full rights, material and spiritual, that a wife deserves, instead of using them in this way, which only harms everyone involved: it hurts the men’s own souls and hurts the well-being of their marriages and their families, and it harms these women in such a horrible way, putting them at risk to disease, affecting their psychology and feelings of self-worth, damaging them spiritually… There really is so much wisdom in the Shari’ah, and its goal truly is ‘to bring about benefit and good and to avoid and push away harm’ in all of its rulings.
5. When I read things like this I really think about what I’m supposed to be doing with my life. There are so many people in this world whose life struggle is simply to survive. What about me and you… what’s our struggle? What are we supposed to be doing, seeing as we’ve been blessed with so many things, not the least of which is well-being, safety and wealth?
May Allah protect us from the harms of poverty and the tests of wealth and make us people of courage, uprightness, honor and ‘iffah. May Allah make things easy for our brothers and sisters suffering in this world, and take us collectively from darkness into light, ameen.