The human condition is one with many challenges and blessings, concurrent and successive. To believers, both hardship and abundance are a matter of perspective, at least in most occasions; everything we face is a test on the path to our perfection. Poverty and wealth are two of these tests – while the former comes in the guise of hardship and deficiency, the latter is cloaked in material abundance and outward comfort.
Wealth does not guarantee peace in one’s heart, in this life or in the hereafter, for it usually comes with a heavy bill – compromising one’s time and health, responsibilities to family and the larger community, a self-struggle between fully claiming the wealth or attributing it to God’s grace, and the question of how to best use this abundance.
Poverty, on the other hand, is not an easier challenge, as one is required to keep his or her patience in the face of hunger and lack of sufficient means for a life of self-sustainable dignity. Despite these difficulties, however, poverty comes with much less to be accountable for.
The story goes that one day, the famous Sultan Harun Rashid asked Bahl al-Dana, a Sufi mystic of his time, what would happen on the Day of Judgment. Bahl told him to order his servants to set a metal sheet with fire under it. After it became really hot, Bahl jumped on it barefoot and said, “I ate cheese and bread, wore a robe and underwear,” and then immediately jumped off.
“Now, it’s your turn,” he told the Sultan, who then had already realized that wealth in this world was quite a responsibility to answer for in the hereafter.
This conference aims to explore what the three Abrahamic religions have to teach us with regard to this human condition from a wide spectrum of themes, including philanthropy, globalization, gender, business, ethics, and mysticism. The Fountain is proud to be a contributor to this event, which we wholeheartedly believe reflects the worldview we strive to emphasize in our pages: a meaningful understanding of this life drawing on faith and reason.
We are grateful to Peace Islands Institute for making The Fountain a part of this event. We wish you an enjoyable stay in Istanbul and a successful conference.