The quality of charity

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The above 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 pretense, show and insincerity, must be shunned. In the holy Quran, Allah sets a very high standard for charity for believing souls.
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 pretense, 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, as he 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 Nissa: 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 Muhammad (PBUH) 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 practiced by the Holy Prophet, we can build a society that will be devoid of pretense 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 Umer used to go to her every morning to help her in the domestic work. After a few days Hazrat Umer realised that someone else was coming much earlier to help the blind lady. One day Hazrat Umer 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 Aysha, the most beloved of the Prophet’s (PBUH) wives, was known for her generosity and benevolence. She would go to any length to help others.
If she had noting 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 behold it”.
She once gave away hundred thousand dirhams in charity, given to her from Baitul Mal for her provisions.
Once Hazrat Umar-bin-Abdul Aziz was distributing apples from the Baitul Mal. His youngest son, who was with him, picked up an apple and started eating it.
Hazrat Umar snatched the apple from his son, who then began to weep.
The boy went home and complained to his mother, who bought a few apples from the market for her son.
Later, when Hazrat Umar returned home, he could smell the fragrance of apples and asked his wife if these were from Baitul Mal. The wife told the whole story. Hazrat Umar said, “By Allah it pained me to snatch the apple from his hand. But even a little but that belongs to Baitul Mal cannot be used by the caliph and his family”.
Funds available in Baitul Mal are, therefore, to be used for the needy alone. Today, we are unsure, about the judicious utilisation of Zakat that is arbitrarily deducted each year, and is made available to government functionaries.
There is no let up in poverty or in the increasing number of beggars, on our streets.
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 until tomorrow. 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.

1 COMMENT

  1. It matters not whether one gives 2.5 percent or more as charity to any organization or distributes himself/herself? Its how that charity is put to proper use in greater interest of
    the community. Today two most important factors where charity should be used in both
    urban and rural areas is to give the poor Education and Health benefits which we have
    deprived them of with our self-centered ego, nepotism and corruption.

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