By Babatunde Jose
It is not righteousness that ye turn your faces towards the East or West; but it is righteousness–to believe in Allah and the Last Day, and the Angels, and the Book, and the Messengers; to spend of your substance, out of love for Him . . . . and to practice regular charity. . . (Quran 2:177)
As if to emphasize a warning against deadening formalism, we are given description of the righteous and God-fearing man. He should obey salutary regulations, but he should fix his gaze on the love of Allah and the love of his fellow-men. We are given four heads: Our faith should be true and sincere; we must be prepared to show it in deeds of charity to our fellow-men; we must be good citizens, supporting social organization; and our own individual soul must be firm and unshaken in all circumstances.
Faith is not merely a matter of words: We must realize the presence and goodness of Allah. Practical deeds of charity are of value when they proceed from love, and from no other motive. In this respect, also, our duties take various forms, which are shown in reasonable gradation: our kith and kin; orphans (including any persons who are without support or help): people who are in real need but who never ask (it is our duty to find them out, and they come before those who ask); the stranger, who is entitled to laws of hospitality; the people who ask and are entitled to ask, i.e., not merely lazy beggars, but those who seek our assistance in some form or another (it is our duty to respond to them).
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, –Allah knoweth it well. (Quran 2:215)
Three questions arise in charity: (1) What shall we give? (2) To whom shall we give? And (3) how shall we give? The answer is: Give anything that is good, useful, helpful, and valuable. It may be property or money; it may be a helping hand: it may be advice; it may be a kind word; “whatever ye do that is good” is charity. On the other hand, if you throw away what is useless, there is no charity in it. Or if you give something with a harmful intent, it is no charity but a gift of damnation. To whom should you give? It may be tempting to earn the world’s praise by a gift that will be talked about, as some have been doing recently but are you meeting the needs of those who have the first claim on you? If you are not, you are like a person who defrauds creditors: it is no charity. Every gift is judged by its unselfish character.
To fight in the cause of Truth is one of the highest forms of charity. What can you offer that is more precious than your own life? But here again the limitations come in. If you are a mere brawler, or a selfish aggressive person, or a vainglorious bully, you deserve the highest censure; this is where the terrorist masquerading as Jihadists come it. They are candidates of Hell Fire! Allah knows the value of things better than we do.
O ye who believe! Spend out of (the bounties) we have provided for you, before the Day comes when no bargaining (will avail), nor friendship, nor intercession. Those who reject Faith–they are the wrongdoers.(Quran 2:254)
Give away in charity, or employ in good works: Good works would include everything that advances the good of one that is in need whether a neighbor or a stranger or that advances the good of the community or even the good of the person himself to whom Allah has given the bounty. But it must be real good and there should be no admixture of baser motives, such as vainglory, or false indulgence, or encouragement of idleness, or playing off one person against another, or playing to the gallery. The bounties include mental and spiritual gifts as well as wealth and material gifts. Cf. Sura 2:123 and Sura 2:48.
Kind words and the covering of faults are better than charity followed by injury. Allah is Free of all wants and He is most Forbearing. (Quran 2:263) This ayat sets a very high standard for charity. It must be in the way of Allah. It must expect no reward in this world. It must not be followed by references or reminders to the act of charity. Still less should any annoyance or injury be caused to the recipient. Indeed, the kindness and the spirit which turns a blind eye to other people’s faults or short-comings is the essence of charity. At the same time, while no reward is to be expected, there is abundant reward from Allah material, moral, and spiritual-according to His own good pleasure and plan. If we spend in the way of Allah, it is not as if Allah was in need of our charity. On the contrary our short-comings are so great that we require His utmost forbearance before any good that we can do can merit His praise or reward. Our motives are so mixed that our best may really be very poor if judged by a very strict standard. See Quran 2:264
False charity or ‘karini’ “to be seen of men,” is really no charity. See Sura 2:265.
True charity is like a field with good soil on a high situation. It catches good showers of rain, the moisture penetrates the soil, and yet its elevated situation keeps it well-drained, and healthy favorable conditions increase its output enormously. See Quran 2:265
Charity has a bearing on our whole life. It is the insurance against the ‘whirlwind of life’. We may work hard, we may save, we may have good luck; we may make ourselves a goodly pleasance, and have ample means of support for ourselves and our children. But a great whirlwind charged with lightning and fire comes and burns up the whole show. Our chance is lost, because we did not provide against such a contingency. The whirlwind is the “wrath to come”; the provision against it is a life of true charity and righteousness, which is the only source of true and lasting happiness in this world and the next. Without it we are subject to all the vicissitudes of this uncertain life. To this end therefore, ‘There is a tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures’. William Shakespeare
May our perceived acts of charity not be in vain.
Barka Juma’at and a happy weekend
Three Other Things:
1. Our son, Barrister Haroun Jose was called to the bar yesterday in Abuja. Congratulations to the proud parents Alhaji Hamza Babajide and Justice Kudirat Abike Jose for a job well done. Alhamdulillah.
2. Our daughter Folake Fajemirokun was married yesterday; she will now be addressed as Mrs. Folake Edun. May God Bless the union! Another blessing of God for Baba Oba Oladele and Edith Fajemirokun and our brother and friend, now our In-Law Wale Edun.
3. Finally, its 21 days to the Unveiling of our book: Reflections on Juma’at Greetings; December 19, 2019 at 11 AM at the Sir Adetokunbo Ademola Hall, Law School, Victoria Island, Lagos. May Allah preserve us.