A man of the Ansar came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and begged from him. He (the Prophet) asked: Have you nothing in your house? He replied: Yes, a piece of cloth, a part of which we wear and a part of which we spread (on the ground), and a wooden bowl from which we drink water. He said: Bring them to me. He then brought these articles to him, and he (the Prophet) took them in his hands and asked: Who will buy these? A man said: I shall offer to buy them for one dirham. He said twice or thrice: Who will offer more than one dirham? Another man said: I shall buy them for offered and bought them for two dirhams. He gave the two dirhams to him and took the two dirhams and, giving them to the owner Ansari, he and said: Buy food with one dirham for your family, and buy an axe with the second dirham, and bring it to me. The Ansar brought the axe to the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him), who fixed a handle on it with his own hands and said: Go, gather firewood and sell it, and do not let me see you for a fortnight. The man went away, and gathered firewood and sold it. When he had earned ten dirhams, he came to the prophet and told him that he had bought a garment with some of them and food with his earnings the others. (Abu Dawud, Hadith 1637)
This incident illustrates an important distinction between simply providing relief as opposed to making someone self-sufficient. Relief is generally a short term solution to a long term problem. Self employment through economic and social change is a long-term solution.
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