THE UPPER HAND!
By Mira El-Deeb
Since we are in the blessed month of Ramadhan and Allah (i.e. God), The Exalted, has promised the hardworkers in this month to multiply the rewards of their good deeds, Muslims are challenged by this overwhelming opportunity and are striving to do as much good as they can. Therefore, it would be important to highlight the virtues of one of the hot topics of this month: ‘The Charity’.. as well as some of the Islamic Etiquettes and Manners of giving a charity.
Islam encourages the Muslim to spend from his money for Allah’s Sake whenever he is capable of doing so, and it stresses on the great virtues of giving a charity. The prophet (PBUH) said, ‘The Upper Hand is better than the Lower Hand. The upper hand is the one that gives, and the lower hand is the one that takes’. Allah SWT said in the Holy Book, ‘The likeness of those who spend their money for Allah’s sake, is as the likeness of a grain (of corn), it grows seven ears, every single ear has a hundred grains, and Allah multiplies (increases the reward) for whom He wills, and Allah is All-Sufficient for His creatures needs, All Knower’ (2: 261). And He SWT said, ‘Whoever works righteousness, whether a male or a female, while he (or she) is a true believer, verily to him We will give a good life (in this world with respect, contentment and lawful provision), and We shall pay them certainly a reward in proportion to the best of what they used to do.’ (16: 97)
In this life, the charity enlarges the blessing in one’s fortune. Unlike what most people think; money gets practically bigger so long the person is giving charities. As the prophet (PBUH) stated, ‘The Charity does not lessen one’s money’. As we know, the number of the money we have is not what counts, but it is the value of the money and the things you can get with this money is what counts. When the believer keeps on feeding his money with charity, this enlarges the blessing in his money. With a certain amount of money he would be able to do more than what he used to do before, not to mention the harm that would be pushed a way from his money, so that the money wont be wasted by some way or another (e.g. car accident, health problems, …etc.). Besides, the charity has an amazing effect in pushing away the calamities and harm that is afflicting the Muslim. The prophet (PBUH) said, ‘Cure your sick people with Sadaqa (i.e. charity)!’ That’s why the righteous Muslims used to cure themselves in time of sickness with giving charities! One of the early righteous Muslims whose name is Ar-Rabe’e has been afflicted by Al-Faalig (i.e. Hemiplegia) and was suffering from that disease for sometime. One day his wife grilled him a chicken and baked some fresh bread, which he used to love so much… Resisting the temptation of his favorite dish, he asked her to give the food to one of the poor as a charity, saying ‘I would like to give the poor what I love most, that may Allah accept my charity and reward me with what is better than that’. His wife suggested that she would keep the food for him, and instead give some money to the poor which equals the same price of the food. Ar-Rabe’e asked her to bring the money, and when she did, he asked her to put them all together (the money, the grilled chicken and the fresh bread) and give them all to the poor!! This was the attitude of Muslims towards giving charities, while lots of people nowadays spend enormous amounts of money on the doctors and medications neglecting the importance of a charity that might not even make a noticeable difference in their wealth.
In the Hereafter, the charity could be the reason for protecting oneself from Hell-Fire even if it was as small as a piece of date! The prophet (PBUH) said, ‘There will be none among you but will be talked to by Allah on the Day of Resurrection, without there being an interpreter between him and Allah. He will look and see nothing ahead of him, and then he will look (again) in front of him, and (only) the Hell Fire will confront him. So, whoever among you can save himself from the Fire, should do so even with one half of a date (means: even if all what you can give as charity is one half of a date)’. Allah SWT has praised those who make a constant right in their wealth for the poor and has promised them multiplied rewards for their charity. He SWT said, ‘Who is he that will loan to Allah a beautiful loan which Allah will double unto his credit and multiply it many times?’ (2: 245). The prophet (PBUH) also said: ‘If one gives in charity that equals one date-fruit from money that is earned in lawful way, and Allah only accepts what is lawful, Allah shall take it in His right (hand) and then enlarges it’s reward for that person (who has given it), just like any of you who brings up his baby horse, so much so that it (i.e. the charity) becomes as big as a mountain’. What we now spend as a charity for Allah’s sake is what remains with us after death, however, what we spend for our worldly pleasures vanishes and goes away. A’isha (the prophet’s wife, may Allah be pleased with her) reported that they once slaughtered a sheep, and then distributed all parts of the sheep as a charity except for the shoulder which she kept for them. When the prophet (PBUH) asked her about what remained from the sheep (after distributing it), she said ‘Nothing remained except for the shoulder’, so the prophet (PBUH) commented ‘Everything remained except for the shoulder!!’
However, for the charity to be accepted and to achieve it’s goals, the Believer must consider some essential manners when giving the charity. First of all, the charity must be given from money that is earned in a lawful way. Allah SWT says, ‘O ye who believe, spend from what you (lawfully) earned’ (2: 267). And the prophet (PBUH) said: ‘God is Tayyib, and He only accepts what is Tayyib’, (the word Tayyib means lawful, pure, good, ..etc.).
Second, when giving a charity, the believer must purify his intention and make his purpose just for the sake of gaining Allah’s pleasure and reward with this charity, not anything else (such as worldly benefits, fame, good reputation, ..etc.). The prophet (PBUH) said, ‘All deeds are based on the intention and everyone will be rewarded according to what he intended (from his action)’ And he (PBUH) said, ‘Nothing that you spend for Allah’s sake but you will be rewarded for it, even the food that you raise up to your wife’s mouth’. God SWT praised those who give for His sake without expecting any benefit from the people who receive the charity, He SWT said, ‘And they give food (in spite of their love for it) to the poor, the orphan and the captive. Saying; we feed you seeking Allah’s countenance only, we wish for no reward nor thanks from you’ (76: 8 & 9). Any of our daily actions could be turned into a worshipping activity if it is done purely for Allah’s sake, and vice versa: any worshipping activity could be rejected by Allah if it is done for any other purpose rather than pleasing Him.
Third, the believer should hurry up with giving the charity and should not delay it without a specific reason. It is also much better for the Muslim to give charities during his life when in need of money, than to wait until death comes to him, then he commands his inheritors to give the charity on his behalf. The prophet (PBUH) was once asked about the best of all charities, so he said; ‘The best charity is what you give during your life while you are in need of it.’
Fourth, it is more fitting for the Muslim to give the charity from his best possessions that which he loves most. This actually is the opposite of what many people nowadays do, as they only give their old rusty possessions as if they are trying to get rid of them! Allah SWT says in the Holy Book, ‘By no means shall you attain righteousness unless you give (freely as a charity) from that which you love; and whatever you spend Allah knows it well.’ (3: 92). However, this does not mean that one should lessen the value of his charity if he only has little to give. The prophet (PBUH) once said to his companions, ‘One Dirhem could be better in reward than one hundred thousand Dirhems!’ a man asked, ‘And how is that, messenger of Allah?!’ He (PBUH) replied, ‘a wealthy man takes one hundred thousand Dirhems which is one part of his wealth and gives it as a charity, while a poor man who only has two Dirhems pays one of them as a charity.’ And it was reported that A’isha (may Allah be pleased with her) once gave a piece of date as a charity when this was all what she had. Whatever that you do, big or small, will be put in your account, even if it was as tiny as the weight of an atom. Allah SWT says, ‘Whoever does an atom weight of good he shall see it (in his book), and whoever does an atom weight of evil he shall see it’ (99: 7 & 8).
Fifth: The believer must hide his charity and do his best not to let anyone know about it to avoid falling into Riya’a (i.e. showing up one’s good deeds to others and doing the good deeds for other than Allah’s Sake). The prophet (PBUH) said: ‘Seven (types of) people will be covered with Allah’s shade on a day when there is no shade but His Shade, (from among them) a man who gives a charity hiding it, that (even) his left hand does not know what his right hand has spent’. Saying that your left hand does not know what your right hand has spent is a form of expression that indicates how careful you should be when giving a charity not letting anyone notice what you’re doing. It would even be better to hide your identity from the one who is receiving the charity, when possible, so as to protect the receiver’s dignity and save him from feeling shameful or humiliated. One of the righteous successors used to give a constant charity to the scholars who were known to be poor at his time, and in order to hide his identity and protect them from the embarrassment he used to wait until they enter the mosque for one of the daily prayers, then put the money inside their slippers! The scholars never knew his true identity until only when he died and they found out that the charity they used to receive on a constant basis all of a sudden stopped!!
Sixth: The believer must not follow his charity by harming the one who is receiving it, nor should he keep on reminding him of his generosity. Hurting the one who receives a charity by any mean would only nullify (i.e. cancel) the reward of the charity, as Allah SWT indicated in His Holy Book, ‘O you who believe, cancel not your charities by reminders of your generosity, or by harm’ (2: 264).
Seventh: When one can not (or do not want to) give a charity to a person who is asking for it, he then should only say a kind word to him, and should not by any mean hurt his feelings. Allah SWT said, ‘Kind words and forgiveness are better than a charity followed by injury’ (2: 263).
May Allah SWT lighten our way and help us get use of the golden opportunities of this holy month.. ameen.