By Sirajuddin Aziz
May 12, 2019
THEY ask thee, what they should spend in charity. Say: whatever ye spend that is good is for parents and kindred, and orphans, and those in want, and for wayfarers. And whatever ye do that is good… God knows it well” (II: 215).
This verse amply defines what charity is. It addresses what can be given in charity; to whom charity is to be given and how it is to be dispensed. Anything that is useful, helpful and valuable can be given. ‘Good’ manifests only positive attributes. The connotation, here is that any object that is of say no useful value, when given in charity, is really no charity. Charity, that is good, can be a worthy advice, a useful knowledge, a kind word; it could be money or property. Charity should be devoid of harmful or negative intent. The verse provides for those who have first claim on charity. In observing this tenant, all pretence, show and insincerity, must be shunned.
Allah sets in the Holy Qur’an, for believing souls, a very high standard for charity. The verses from 261-277, in Surah Al-Bakr, provide for the meaning and quality of charity. Allah promises,
“The parable of those who spend their substance in the way of Allah is that of a grain of corn; it growth seven ears, and each ear hath a hundred grains. God giveth manifold increase to whom He pleaseth” (II-261).
Here, The Lord induces mankind to indulge in acts of charity, with the faith and belief that giving from resources blessed by Him, will not diminish and reduce them, but on the contrary, if He pleases, these would increase manifold. By giving charity, one must not expect reward or subservience from the taker. Charity must be in the way of Allah and hence reward spiritual or material is to be expected from Him alone, according to His good pleasure and plan. Acts of generosity, if reminded upon, lose their real value and cease to be in the way of Allah.
“O ye, who believe, cancel not your charity, by reminders of your generosity…” (Al-Bakr-264).
False Charity, Filled With Pretence, To Be Seen And Appreciated By Men, Is No Charity.
Charity, without motives of ostentations or publicity, is true charity. Charity concealed within the ambits of seeking good pleasure of Allah, endures
“but if ye conceal them and make them reach, those really in need, that is the best for you; it will remove from you some of your stains of evil…”(Al-Bakr:271).
Charity does not impoverish, but enriches the giver has more happiness and less fear.
“for Charity, seeking the countenance of Allah, will increase, it is those who will get a recompense multiplied.” (Surah Rum: 38)
Charity is a fundamental teaching of the Holy Quran. Every verse that exhorts believers to observe Salat is either prefixed or suffixed, with the need to observe charity.
“And especially those, who establish regular prayer and practice regular charity, and believe in God and in the Last Day: to them shall we soon give a great reward”. (Surah Nisa: 162).
Charity, is an act, which must be practiced at all times, irrespective of prosperity or otherwise, the meaning of Charity, being so wide, it does not merely encompass the sharing of material wealth, but includes the non-material. Prosperity, therefore is relative, it can be material, spiritual, or both.
“Those who spend freely, whether in prosperity, or in adversity;… for Allah loves those who do good”.(Surah Al-Imran: 134).
Charity infuses in a believing soul traits and attributes of generosity, benevolence and munificence. It erases stains of evil and purifies the inner-self. There are several prophetic traditions alluring to acts of charity. The entire life of our beloved Prophet is replete with his kindness and the will to ameliorate human sufferings. If we Muslims sincerely observe the dictates of charity as ordained in the Holy Book and as practised by the Holy Prophet, we can build a society that will be devoid of pretence and ostentatiousness. In a truly Islamic society all members would lead a simple life.
During the caliphate of Hazrat Abu-Bakr a blind old woman lived in Madina. Hazrat Umar used to go to her every morning to help her in the domestic work. After a few days Hazrat Umar realized that someone else was coming much earlier to help the blind lady. One day Hazrat Umar started from his home earlier than his usual time to find out that person. Reaching the blind woman’s house he saw Hazrat Abu Bakr coming out of the door after having finished the old lady’s domestic chores. This was an act within the confines of a high standard of giving and charity. Hazrat Ayesha, the most beloved wife of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), was known for her generosity and benevolence. She would go to any length to help others. If she had nothing but only a date to give, she would not hesitate to give it saying that on the Day of Judgment “Everyone who had done even an atom’s weight of good shall be hold it”. She once gave away hundred thousand Dirhams in Charity, given to her from Baitul Mal, for her provisions.
On one occasion a beggar knocked at the door of Hazrat Ali for food at the time of Iftar. He offered the beggar the only bread he had and broke his fast with salt and water only. This became an everyday routine and Hazrat Ali did not refuse the beggar ever.
“For those who give in charity, men and women, and loan to Allah, a beautiful loan, it shall be increased manifold, to their credit, and they shall have (besides) a liberal reward”. (Surah Hadid: 18)
We should not postpone good resolutions to the future. An act, a deed of goodness must be hurriedly taken upon. “And spend something in charity, out of the substance which we have bestowed on you, before Death should come to any of you and he should say,
“O my Lord! why did thou not give me respite for a little while? I should then have given (largely) in charity…” (Surah Munatiqeen: 10).
Let us therefore rush and indulge excessively in acts of charity, to seek the pleasure of Almighty Allah.
Sirajuddin Aziz is a senior banker with interest in Religion.