Commiserating with the Vulnerable During Ramadan

By Dawud Walid

The blessed month of Ramadan entails many spiritual and social lessons for those who are regardful. Among the aspects of this month which acts as a university for souls is the component of commiserating with the less fortunate and those who are unable to protect or defend themselves.

The early companions of the Prophet (prayers & peace be upon him) were primarily the most vulnerable persons in Hijazi society. Many of them lacked strong tribal protection to stave off marginalization and physical attacks upon their reversion to Islam. Some of them, in fact, were not Arabs and formerly enslaved like Salman (may Allah be pleased with him) and Bilal (may Allah be pleased with him). When the Roman emperor Hiraql summoned Abu Sufyan before his submission to Islam, he asked him if the followers of the Prophet were the aristocrats or the weak in which the response was the weak were those who follow the Prophet.

As the companions migrated to al-Madinah, some of them had no material means and were homeless. This group of companions who temporarily slept in al-Masjid an-Nabawi are known as Ahl as-Suffah (People of the Veranda). The Prophet kept company with them on a daily basis and commiserated with them. His grandson al-Hasan bin Ali (may Allah’s blessings be upon them both) even stayed with them at night in the masjid.

The Prophetic model of socialization is to keep company and commiserate with the poor, not to be aloof from those who are less off in one’s locality and thinking that giving them some food or clothing suffices. This should hold true even more during Ramadan.

Ramadan provides us the opportunity to not only invite persons to our homes who are not of our same ethnic or socio-economic levels but gives us the opportunity to have iftar at the locations of the less fortunate and to worship with others who are not as well off. The responsibility of this intentionality in commiserating resides more upon those who have means than those who are less fortunate that may not even have transportation.

At CAIR-MI, we handle cases for many Muslims who are not be able to afford legal representation for their civil rights or asylum cases. This especially holds true for the incarcerated, many who reverted to Islam while in state or federal custody. Supporting community organizations that defend the vulnerable in our society is also another form of commiseration when confidentiality is required or general public access to them is not available.

Ramadan is indeed the month of spiritual reinvigoration which includes deepening our connections with those who are weak in our society, especially fellow Muslim brothers and sisters. Please be generous not only with your wealth this Ramadan but also your time in keeping company with the poor and treating them with the same dignity that the Prophet treated Salman and Bilal.


Dawud Walid is currently the Executive Director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MI), which is a chapter of America's largest advocacy and civil liberties organization for American Muslims and is a member of the Michigan Muslim Community Council (MMCC) Imams Committee. Walid has been interviewed and quoted in approximately 150 media outlets ranging from the New York Times, Wall St Journal, National Public Radio, CNN, BBC, FOX News and Al-Jazeera. Furthermore, Walid was a political blogger for the Detroit News from January 2014 to January 2016, has had essays published in the 2012 book All-American: 45 American Men on Being Muslim, the 2014 book Qur'an in Conversation and was quoted as an expert in 13 additional books and academic dissertations. He was also a featured character in the 2013 HBO documentary "The Education of Mohammad Hussein." Walid has lectured at over 50 institutions of higher learning about Islam, interfaith dialogue and social justice including at Harvard University, DePaul University and the University of the Virgin Islands - St. Thomas and St. Croix campuses as well as spoken at the 2008 and 2011 Congressional Black Caucus Conventions alongside prominent speakers such as the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Congressman Keith Ellison. In 2008, Walid delivered the closing benediction at the historic 52nd Michigan Electoral College in the Michigan State Senate chambers and gave the Baccalaureate speech for graduates of the prestigious Cranbrook-Kingswood Academy located in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Walid was also a featured speaker at the 2009 and 2010 Malian Peace and Tolerance Conferences at the University of Bamako in Mali, West Africa. He has also given testimony at hearings and briefings in front of Michigan state legislators and U.S. congressional representatives, including speaking before members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in Washington, D.C. Walid has studied under qualified scholars the disciplines of Arabic grammar and morphology, foundations of Islamic jurisprudence, sciences of the exegesis of the Qur’an, and Islamic history during the era of Prophet Muhammad through the governments of the first 5 caliphs. He previously served as an imam at Masjid Wali Muhammad in Detroit and the Bosnian American Islamic Center in Hamtramck, Michigan, and continues to deliver sermons and lectures at Islamic centers across the United States and Canada. Walid was a 2011 - 2012 fellow of the University of Southern California (USC) American Muslim Civil Leadership Institute (AMCLI) and a 2014 - 2015 fellow of the Wayne State Law School Detroit Action Equity Lab (DEAL). Walid served in the United States Navy under honorable conditions earning two United States Navy & Marine Corp Achievement medals while deployed abroad. He has also received awards of recognition from the city councils of Detroit and Hamtramck and from the Mayor of Lansing as well as a number of other religious and community organizations.


  1. Assalamualaykum Br Dawud,

    jA for your posts on FB and social media; it’s been something I’m trying to understand myself regarding BLM. In what ways would you recommend a Muslim engage to help? (say, someone who is not black themselves)

    Hypothetically speaking; Is it advisable to participate in BLM protests? Are acts of civil disobedience like public disruptions of roadways and the like permissible? Any guidance or referral to helpful sources would make things clearer iA


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