By Babatunde Jose
“It is not righteousness that you turn your faces towards East or West. But the righteousness is to believe in Allah and the Last Day, and the Angels, and the Book, and the Prophets, and to give of your wealth out of love for Him, to your kin and orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and those who ask, and for the ransom of slaves…” (Quran, 2:177)
Islam calls upon its followers to reach out with open hands and give in charity as a way of life. In the Quran, charity is often mentioned along with prayer, as one of the factors that identify true believers. In addition, the Quran frequently uses the words “regular charity,” so charity is best as an ongoing and consistent activity, not just a one-off here and there for a special cause. Charity should be part of the very fiber of your personality as a Muslim. Incidentally, charity is not only a desideratum for Muslims but everyman who is in a position to do so. Charity is a manifestation of concern for one’s fellow man, it engenders empathy and sympathy with the less endowed and needy. It is like mercy whose qualities is not strained,” It dropeth like the gentle rain from heaven; upon the place beneath it is twice blessed. It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.” Like mercy. Charity is a dyadic process that benefits both the giver and taker.
Charity is mentioned dozens of times in the Quran. The passages below are only from the second chapter, Surah Al-Baqarah:
“Be steadfast in prayer, practice regular charity, and bow down your heads with those who bow down (in worship)” (2:43).
“Worship none but Allah. treat with kindness your parents and kindred, and orphans and those in need; speak fair to the people; be steadfast in prayer; and practice regular charity” (2:83).
“Be steadfast in prayer and regular in charity. Whatever good you send forth for your souls before you, you shall find it with Allah. For Allah sees well all that you do” (2:110).
“They ask thee what they should spend in charity. Say: Whatever you spend that is good, is for parents and kindred and orphans and those in want and for wayfarers. And whatever you do that is good, Allah knows it well” (2:215).
“Charity is for those in need, who, in Allah’s cause are restricted (from travel), and cannot move about in the land, seeking (For trade or work)” (2:273).
“Those who in charity spend of their goods by night and by day, in secret and in public, have their reward with their Lord: on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve” (2:274).
“Allah will deprive usury of all blessing, but will give increase for deeds of charity. For He loves not creatures ungrateful and wicked” (2:276).
“Those who believe, and do deeds of righteousness, and establish regular prayers and regular charity, will have their reward with their Lord. On them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve” (2:277).
“If the debtor is in a difficulty, grant him time until it is easy for him to repay. But if you remit it by way of charity, that is best for you if you only knew” (2:280).
The Quran also reminds that we should be humble about our offerings of charity, not embarrassing or injuring the recipients.
“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” (2:263).
“O you who believe! Do not cancel your charity by reminders of your generosity or by injury, like those who spend their substance to be seen of men, but believe neither in Allah nor in the Last Day (Quran 2:264).
“If you disclose acts of charity, even so it is well, but if you conceal them, and make them reach those really in need, that is best for you. It will remove from you some of your (stains of) evil” (Quran 2:271).
Kahlil Gibran in his epic work “The Prophet” shed much light on the concept of giving when he wrote: That “we give little when we give of our possessions. It is when we give of ourselves that we truly give”. And this is true. “For what are your possessions but things you keep and guard for fear you may need them tomorrow? And tomorrow, what shall tomorrow bring to the over-prudent dog burying bones in the trackless sand as he follows the pilgrims to the holy city? And what is fear of need but need itself?”
“There are those who give little of the much which they have – and they give it for recognition and their hidden desire makes their gifts unwholesome. And there are those who have little and give it all. These are the believers in life and the bounty of life, and their coffer is never empty.”
“There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward. And there are those who give with pain, and that pain is their baptism. And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue. They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space. Through the hands of such as these God speaks, and from behind their eyes He smiles upon the earth.”
“IT is well to give when asked, but it is better to give unasked, through understanding; And to the open-handed the search for one who shall receive is joy greater than giving.”
And is there aught you would withhold? All you have shall someday be given; yes, the day will come when all you have will no more be yours. They will be distributed to your children and if you do not have heirs, they will go to relations and charity. Those houses in London and Dubai and in those exclusive Islands will no longer be yours. All your exotic cars and priceless possessions will be left behind. Even your name will be gone, and you will be referred to as the body, deceased or the corpse. “Therefore, give now, that the season of giving may be yours and not your inheritors’.”
You often say, “I would give, but only to the deserving. The trees in your orchard say not so, nor the flocks in your pasture. They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish. Surely, he who is worthy to receive his days and his nights is worthy of all else from you. And he who has deserved to drink from the ocean of life deserves to fill his cup from your little stream. And what desert greater shall there be, than that which lies in the courage and the confidence, nay the charity, of receiving? And who are you that men should rend their bosom and unveil their pride, that you may see their worth naked and their pride unabashed?” See first that you yourself deserve to be a giver, and an instrument of giving. “For in truth, it is life that gives unto life-while you, who deem yourself a giver, are but a witness.”
If you do deeds of charity openly, it is well; but if you bestow it upon the needy in secret, it will be even better for you, and it will atone for some of your bad deeds. And God is aware of all that you do. (Quran 2271)
May God bless the hands that give; Amen.
Barka Juma’at and a happy weekend