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Dawah and Interfaith

The Beggars in Pinstripe Suits

Dr Muhammad Wajid Akhter

Published

To mark the 10th anniversary of Charity Week, we’ll be sharing inspirational stories from across the years. These are the kind of hidden stories that go behind the numbers and the efforts. They are the kind of stories that open our eyes to the beautiful people who made this all possible.

One of the few reality shows that I don’t find genuinely repulsive is “Undercover Boss.” The premise is actually genius, with the heads of large companies being asked to work incognito as an entry-level employee in the same company. Often, they are exposed to how dysfunctional things are far beyond their gaze. They realise that whilst they were too busy leading, the actual heart and soul of the company was being fundamentally altered.

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That is actually an Islamic principle and was best exemplified when the Prophet (SAW) got involved in the manual labour of building his mosque in Medina. Literally anyone else could have done that kind of mindless task, but the Prophet (SAW) did it to show that even the greatest man to walk the Earth was not above getting his hands dirty in physical labour.

So, a few years into the Charity Week project, I realised that I hadn’t actually collected any money for some time. I was too busy organising and delegating. I decided to change that and called up some of the younger generation to ask if I could go along with them for a street collection. Street collections are interesting since every city, every borough and indeed every street has its own flavour.

The brothers I was collecting with decided to target the heart of the financial district in London. Everyone who lived and worked there were extremely well off. These were the bankers and businessmen who ran powerhouses across the world. The titans of industry. Hermes suits, Louboutin shoes, Lanvin loafers – these people were wearing clothes that would cost the average person a months salary. So you would think that they would be generous with their money right?

Wrong.

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We stayed for close to 5 hours and not a single person donated a single penny. Not a single penny. “Lets go home” I said dejectedly, but one of the brothers was adamant. “I’m not leaving till I get at least one donation. I’m just not. I refuse to believe that there isn’t one person in this entire area of millionaires that will donate anything for orphans.” I could see he was serious so we stayed.

Then we got it.

A man in a shabby coat walked past us and dropped in some coins. We were elated. The brother who vowed not to leave was so happy he shook the mans hand. “What do you do?” he asked. “Me? I’m the janitor.” With that he went on his way, to clean the offices of the millionaires.

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The Prophet (SAW) said, “The generous man is near Allah, near paradise, near men and far from hell, but the miserly man is far from Allah, far from paradise, far from men and near hell. Indeed, an ignorant man who is generous is dearer to Allah than a worshipper who is miserly.”

[Tirmidhi]

If you are interested in becoming part of the Charity Week team or starting the project in your school, college, University or city – get in touch. info@onecharityweek.com

Help Us End 2020 with 1000 Supporters!

Alhamdulillah, we're at 900 supporters. Help us get to 1000 supporters before 2020 ends. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Dr. Muhammad Wajid Akhter - Doctor, Medical Tutor (Social Media, History & Medicine) - Islamic Historian - Founder of, and current board member to Charity Week for Orphans and needy children. www.charityweek.com - Council member, British Islamic Medical Association

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Jon Solis

    October 29, 2013 at 10:23 PM

    True charity is when you give anonymously without any expectation of public acknowledgment. While shows like Undercover Boss may accomplish good and be fun entertainment, it should be understood that it is really done mostly for the free 1 hour advertisement that the show accomplishes for the company in question.

  2. Avatar

    Zain

    November 4, 2013 at 6:26 PM

    That is unfortunate, but stop complaining about the actions of others and make more money so you don’t need to ask other people for money in the first place.

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