By Muhammad Yunus, New Age Islam
26 September 2017
(Co-author (Jointly with Ashfaque Ullah Syed), Essential Message of Islam, Amana Publications, USA, 2009)
The caption follows up on the opening passage of Surah al-Baqara that we have reviewed under Reflection-8: “This is the Divine Writ, let there be no doubt about it: it has guidance for the morally upright (Muttaqin) (2:2) - who believe in the unseen, perform the prayers, spend out of what We have provided for them”(2:3).
Having reflected on prayer (Salah) and moral uprightness (Taqwa) in Reflection 9, we now take up the theme of spending.(yunfiqun) ‘out of what God has provided. ‘A cross section of Qur’anic verses on this theme as listed below show that this instruction is for sharing one’s wealth or income with the needy members of the society. A close reading of these verses will also show that the Qur’an takes due account of the behavioral aspects and crafty machinations of human mind that is ever keen to find an excuse to hold back from spending for those in need.
“You who believe, spend of what We have given you before there comes a Day in which there will be no bartering, no friendship, and no intercession; and as for the inveterate deniers (of truth) - they are the unjust” (2:254).
“Those who spend their wealth in God’s way, and do not follow up on what is spent with reproach or with abuse - for them, their reward is with their Lord - there will be no fear upon them, nor shall they grieve” (2:262).
“You who believe, spend (in charity) of the good things you have earned, and from what We have produced for you from the earth. Do not choose the bad things from it for your spending, that you would not take except with disdain; and know that God is Self-Sufficient and Praiseworthy” (2:267).
“Those who spend their wealth (in charity) - night and day, secretly and openly - they have their reward with their Lord: there will be no fear upon them nor shall they grieve”(2:274).
“You can never become righteous unless you spend (in charity) what you care for. (Remember,) whatever you spend – surely God remains Cognizant of it” (3:92).
The Qur’an however warns:
“Spend in God's way, yet do not expose yourself to ruin through your own hands, and do good – for indeed, God loves the compassionate” (2:195)
The Qur’an also decreed a mandatory share of the poor in the wealth of the rich (70:25)
“And in wealth of the believers (literally, ‘whose’), there is a definite right (70:24) for the (needy) who asks, and the deprived” (70:25).
The Qur’an that dominated the social, commercial and civil ethos in early Islam must have greatly reduced the income disparity of the times but the remoteness of the era and from the Qur’anic ideals has turned the clock back by many centuries in the Islamic societies. This is reflected in rampant poverty, rising income disparity, lack of social securities, growing number of beggars and child labor, and an increasing availability of cheap industrial and domestic labor in most 3rd world Muslim countries. Hence, the rich and resourceful Muslims who recite the Arabic Qur’an or listen to its beautiful recitation from U-Tube must also heed what it says – if they really believe in their final accountability to God and do not regard this Book as something that ought to be discarded (25:30).
The Muslims generally merge the Qur’anic exhortation to spending for the needy with the institutional Zakat that is somewhat like wealth tax to be discussed in the next Reflection.
Part Nine of the Series:
Muhammad Yunus, a Chemical Engineering graduate from Indian Institute of Technology, and a retired corporate executive has been engaged in an in-depth study of the Qur’an since early 90’s, focusing on its core message. He has co-authored the referred exegetic work, which received the approval of al-Azhar al-Sharif, Cairo in 2002, and following restructuring and refinement was endorsed and authenticated by Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl of UCLA, and published by Amana Publications, Maryland, USA, 2009.
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