Faqr And Ghina (Poverty And Richness)
For Sufis, poverty means that an initiate claims possession of nothing and is freed from all kinds of attachment toward worldly things, and that one feels total neediness and destitution before God in one’s relationship with Him, which is based on servant-hood and God being the Sole Object of Worship. It is not poverty as understood by ordinary people, nor does it mean begging from people by displaying one’s privations.
The Sufi way of poverty involves severing relationships with all that is other than the Eternally Besought-of-All, and depending only on Him to meet one’s needs. For this reason, the more detached one is from whatever is worldly and temporary and the more annihilated one is in depending on Divine Attributes and Essence, the more one has attained poverty and can repeat the saying of the Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings: Poverty is my pride.
As it is stated in a blessed saying, when poverty becomes a dimension of faith and submission, one no longer depends on the help, will, and power of that which is not God. Even if such a person has enough wealth to fill the whole world, since it is subject to decay and exhaustion, one does not depend upon it, but rather turns to God with all of one’s strength and feeling, conscious of his or her essential poverty and helplessness. How beautiful is the following couplet of Nabi, a seventeenth-century Ottoman poet:
Do not despise poverty, O Nabi!
Poverty is the mirror where the independence of others is reflected.
Rumi made another fine observation about poverty:
Poverty is the essence and all else is form;
Poverty is a remedy and all else the disease.
The whole world consists in vanity and conceit;
But poverty is the real core and meaning of existence.
Even if a person cannot discern his or her essential weakness and poverty with the light of belief, it is a reality that he or she is weak, poor, and needy.