Issue 145 » November 23, 2001 -
Chapter 2: Verses 262, 263
"Those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah and do not follow up their gifts with the reminders of their generosity and with harm, will find their reward secure in their Lord. They have no cause for fear and grief. To speak a kind word (qawlan ma'rufah) and to forgive people's faults (maghfirah) is better than charity followed by hurt. (And know that) Allah is All-Sufficient, All-Forbearing."
In these verses, Allah outlines the basic etiquettes and purpose of charity. A very high standard is set for charity in Islam:
- It must be for gaining Allah's Pleasure, before anything else
- The giver him- or herself must expect no reward in this world, as the ultimate reward lies in the hereafter
- It must not be followed by references to or reminders of this favor
- Still more care should be taken by others to avoid any annoyance or injury to the recipient, for instance, by boasting that the giver relieved the person in the hour of need.
Indeed, as Allah reminds us in these verses, the kindness and spirit with which one turns a blind eye to the faults and shortcomings of others is the essence of charity. In fact, these things are better than charity itself, if charity is spoilt by the taunts and tricks to harm people later. In Islam, unlike contemporary practices, we don't do people a favour to win their votes, or to publicize our business or name.
Unfortunately, many friends and relatives lend money or present gifts to each other only to trample upon the recipient's dignity and to harass the recipient later. No wonder, it has been stated in Hadiths that God will have nothing to do with those who continually remind those who they had been kind and generous to. [Related by Muslim, at-Tirmidhi, an-Nasaa'i and others]
Chairty is spent to help others and to win their hearts, keeping in mind that every single blessing we have in this life is a trust from Allah, Who tests us in it. Charity is also the best expression of mercy towards humanity, on the part of Muslims.
At the same time, while no reward is to be expected in this life, there is abundant reward from Allah in the next life and peace of mind in this life!
[compiled from "Holy Quran: Text, Translation and Commentary"
by Allamah Abdullah Yusuf Ali]
THOSE WHO WERE PROMISED PARADISE ...
When Abu Bakr as-Siddique (radhi Allahu 'anh) was elected by the early Muslim community in Madinah as their leader and Khalifah (Islamic head of state) who would represent the authority of the Prophet to them, he rose and delivered the following historic address that would lay the foundation of leadership and statesmanship for all future generations:
"I have been chosen as your leader although I am not the best of you. Therefore, if I do act rightly, then it is incumbent on you to extend your help and support to me; and if I go wrong, it is your duty to put me on the right path. Truth and righteousness are a trust and untruth and dishonesty is a breach of this trust. The weak among you are strong in my sight until I give them their just dues, and the strong among you are weak in my sight unless I receive what is justly due from them. Abandon not Jihad (struggle), as when the people hold back from Jihad, they are put to disgrace. Obey me as long as I obey Allah and His Messenger; renounce me when I disobey Allah and His Messenger; for obedience to me is not incumbent on you then!"
That was the day when 33,000 of the Prophet's closest Companions (radhi Allahu 'anhum) pledged their allegiance to Abu Bakr (radhi Allahu 'anh). All disputes between the Muhajirin (migrants from Makkah) and the Ansar (indigenous of Madinah) were solved leaving no hard feelings. It was only because the Companions of the Prophet (may Allah be pleased with them all) had thoroughly learned to prefer Faith to temporal affairs, and due to this quality, no other segment of humanity ever attained the level of excellence and refined spiritual, intellectual and moral development that they had gracefully reached!
[from "The History of Islam" Vol. 1 by Akbar Shah Najeebabadi, page 276]
22 SYMPTOMS OF WEAK FAITH
Series continued from YMFN Issue #144
Following are some of the signs and symptoms of weak faith that one can use to assess whether he or she suffers from spiritual death or disease:
13) Stinginess and miserliness: The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) explained that the successful are those who avoid miserliness, and that weakness of faith generates stinginess: "Stinginess and faith can never exist together in the heart of the believer."[Reported by al-Nisaa’i]
The Prophet (peace be upon him) also described the serious nature of stinginess and its consequences: "Beware of stinginess, for those who came before you were destroyed because of stinginess. It commanded them to be miserly, so they were miserly; it commanded them to cut family ties, so they cut them; and it commanded them to be immoral, so they were immoral."[Reported by Abu Dawood]
When it comes to miserliness, the person whose faith is weak can hardly give anything to the poor and oppressed for the sake of Allah, even when there is an honest appeal and it is quite obvious that his brothers and sisters are suffering the impact of poverty and are stricken by disaster.
There is no more eloquent statement on the matter of miserliness than the words of Allah: "Behold! You are those who are called to spend in the Cause of Allah, yet among you are some who are miserly. And whoever is miserly, it is only at the expense of his own self. But Allah is al-Ghaniyy (The Rich free of all wants), and you (mankind) are fuqaraa (poor). And if you turn away, He will replace you with some other people, and they will not be your likes."[Muhammad 47:38]
...to be continued...
[A Moment of Pain]
When we fast, we feel the pain of deprivation and hunger and learn to endure it patiently. This experience should make us realize the severe effects of such hardships on others, who might be deprived of essential commodities such as food, shelter, and security for months or probably years altogether! It should make us much quicker than anybody else in sympathizing with the oppressed and needy around the world, and responding to their needs.
"It is the month to visit the poor, the sick, and the needy to share their sorrows. It is the month where the food, sustenance and the earnings of a believing Muslim increases and they are blessed," proclaimed the Messenger of God (peace be upon him).
[A Time for Hearts to Melt]
It is said when you love someone, you would want to learn about him or her and would remember every little thing he or she says. How can we claim to love Allah, yet know very little about His message and gift to us? Ramadan perhaps offers the rare opportunity for an intense reflection on the message of the Quran. It is the source of a constant revolution in the lives of millions of those who possess a living heart, as Allah says, "Indeed in this (Quran) there is remembrance for those who have a living heart, listen attentively and are awake to taking heed."[Surah Qaf : 37]
THE SPIRITUAL MEANING OF FASTING IN RAMADANFasting is yet another unique moral and spiritual characteristic of Islam. Literally defined, fasting means to abstain "completely" from foods, drinks, intimate intercourse and smoking, before the break of the dawn till sunset, during the entire month of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic year. But if we restrict the meaning of the Islamic Fasting to this literal sense, we would be sadly mistaken.
When Islam introduced this matchless institution, it planted an ever-growing tree of infinite virtue and invaluable products. Here is an explanation of the spiritual meaning of the Islamic Fasting:
- It teaches man the principle of sincere Love: because when he observes Fasting he does it out of deep love for God. And the man who loves God truly is a man who really knows what love is.
- It equips man with a creative sense of hope and an optimistic outlook on life; because when he fasts he is hoping to please God and is seeking His Grace.
- It imbues in man the genuine virtue of effective devotion, honest dedication and closeness to God; because when he fasts he does so for God and for His sake alone.
- It cultivates in man a vigilant and sound conscience; because the fasting person keeps his fast in secret as well as in public. In fasting, especially, there is no mundane authority to check man's behavior or compel him to observe fasting. He keeps it to please God and satisfy his own conscience by being faithful in secret and in public. There is no better way to cultivate a sound conscience in man.
- It indoctrinates man in patience and selflessness, as through fasting, he feels the pains of deprivation but he endures them patiently.
- It is an effective lesson in applied moderation and willpower.
- Fasting also provides man with a transparent soul, a clear mind and a light body.
- It shows man a new way of wise savings and sound budgeting.
- It enables man to master the art of mature adaptability. We can easily understand the point once we realize that fasting makes man change the entire course of his daily life.
- It grounds man in discipline and healthy survival.
- It originates in man the real spirit of social belonging, unity and brotherhood, of equality before God as well as before the law.
- It is a Godly prescription for self-reassurance and self-control.