Kindness All Around, Two Types of Charity, Female, Male
Issue 765 » November 22, 2013 - Muharram 19, 1435
Kindness All Around
Al-Nisa (Women) - Chapter 4: Verse 36
"Worship God alone and do not associate with Him any partners. Be kind to your parents and near of kin, to orphans, the needy, the neighbour who is related to you and the neighbour who is a stranger, the friend by your side, the wayfarer, and those whom your right hands possess. God does not love those who are arrogant and boastful."
The first commandment is to worship God, which is followed by a prohibition of worshipping anyone other than Him. This is a total and absolute prohibition of all sorts of worship which man has practised in all ages and communities.
This is followed by a commandment to extend kindness to parents in particular and relatives in general. We also note in this verse, as in many others, that Divine directives begin by emphasizing the need to be kind to one's relatives before widening their concern to include all those who need to be looked after in society or in humanity at large. Compassion towards others begins at home, in one's own immediate family. A person who has not shown compassion towards his family, hardly ever shows compassion towards others.
This commandment to extend our kindness to all these groups is followed by a comment which denounces conceit and arrogance, miserliness, suppression of God's favours, boastfulness and showing off. All these are attributes to one basic cause, namely, lack of faith in God and the Day of Judgement.
"In the Shade of The Quran" - Sayyid Qutb, Vol 3, pp. 144-147
Two Types of Charity
Other than the charity of giving part of one's wealth to others, charity, in its broadest Islamic concept, can be divided into two main categories. The first category consists of the acts of goodness and kindness that are done toward other human beings. Acts of goodness that are done directly toward oneself constitutes the second category.
The first category includes acts as mentioned by the Prophet,
"Your smiling at your brother is a charitable act for you. Your ordering good and eradicating evil is a charitable act. Your guiding a man in a land wherein he is lost is a charitable act. Your helping a man with bad eyesight to see is a charitable act. Your removing a stone, thorn or bone from the road is a charitable act. Your emptying your cup into the cup of your brother is a charitable act." [Tirmidhi]
An important act of charity of the second category that is available to everyone, no matter how poor or rich, is the act of refraining from harming others. Abu Dharr once asked the Prophet, peace upon him, what he should do if he does not have the ability to perform some of the good deeds. The Prophet told him,
"Keep your evil away from the people and that will be a charitable act from yourself upon yourself." [Muslim, Bukhari]
"Commentary on the Forty Hadith of an-Nawawi" - Jamaal al-Din Zarabozo, pp. 976, 977
No human society has ever succeeded in promoting complete equality between women and men. We still have a long way to go. Even though the old representations that associated women with the body, seduction and impurity have been done away with - albeit not entirely in certain traditional societies or in some fundamentalist or literalist circles - the fact remains that we have yet to achieve the objectives of justice, the absence of social discrimination and the right to autonomy and equal pay. We find in all societies - without exception - social and cultural behaviours that encourage the ill treatment of women, domestic violence and the stigmatization and marginalization of girls.
And yet neither women nor men can make it on their own. They must walk together along the road of the quest for meaning as they assert the existence of a shared universal and as they demand freedom, dignity, autonomy and justice. They are equal but not the same, and both men and women must allow the other to bring their distinctive outlook towards the resolution of common problems. Within this partnership, both men and women will be able to take a new look at the basic questions of meaning, freedom, masculinity, paternity and authority by coming to terms with what they are. Their beings and their paths may well be distinct, but their destinations and their hopes are surely the same.
"The Quest for Meaning" - Tariq Ramadan, pp. 92-95