Jul 17, 2013

Be like the wind - charity in Ramadan

By Amatullah Aminah

Be charitable before wealth makes thee covetous. - Thomas Browne

It was a scorching 45 degrees Celsius day, as I sat in an air conditioned car, complaining on the heat. We stopped at a crossing, and a girl of 9-10 years tapped at my window. What I confronted virtually slapped me in the face; my eyes welled up and I shook my head in mortification. She was dishevelled, her hair in a tangled mess, her lips parched, imploring eyes, torn clothes and, to add to all the misery, she carried a baby (her brother, I am assuming) looking unconscious as she clutched him close!! And I was worried about dehydration, sun burn and getting sick!!!! What a shame. 

Why did Allah choose to bless us, over so many others, in terms of health, intellect, fortune, time and knowledge? Have we ever pondered over this seriously? While we relish these blessings and smugly think we are the fortunate ones, take a moment to adopt another view point. Are these really blessings; or a test, camouflaged? The flashy cars we drive and labels we wear, time we spend hanging out with friends, intellect and analytical skills we use to debate and play angry birds - what will these fetch us in return? What do we gain at the end of the day?

That girl told me in words unspoken that we will be held accountable for every one of our bounties and blessings. Allah strains sustenance for whomever He wills in order to try him, and enlarges it in abundance for whomever He wills in order to test him. We should not mistake ourselves as the owner of the wealth and fortune we possess. We are but custodians, responsible to dispense it to the less privileged. While we indulge in extravagance there are those who combat hunger, fear, and misery every day. At the dawn of Ramadan - the month of sharing, lets resolve to be like the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam in generosity and in giving. Be like the wind!

Significance of Charity in Ramadan
Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas: The Prophet was the most generous amongst the people, and he used to be more so in the month of Ramadan when Gabriel visited him, and Gabriel used to meet him on every night of Ramadan till the end of the month. The Prophet used to recite the Holy Qur’an to Gabriel, and when Gabriel met him, he used to be more generous than a fast wind (which causes rain and welfare). [Sahih Bukhari :: Book# 31 :: Hadith# 126]

The wind, in all its splendour, is a powerful agent to dole out Allah’s blessing. The hadith states that the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam was more generous than a strong wind, we can only imagine the ardour and zeal he must have employed while indulging in charity. SubhanAllah!

And why was he specifically most generous in Ramadan? Yes! You got it right. In Ramadan, the reward for each good deed in multiplied. You get rewarded magnanimously for a trivial deed.

Shaytaan Will Deter You!
'Satan threatens you with poverty and orders you to immorality, while Allah promises you forgiveness from Him and bounty. And Allah is all-Encompassing and Knowing.' [Surah Baqarah 2:268]

A logical equation in today’s economic climate: giving charity equates to decrease in monetary wealth. Wrong. Faith beats logic, Allah’s promise beats logic, and our steadfastness beats logic. Every good intention is shadowed by a lurking devil and his whispers. He scares us and clouds our minds with fear that sharing wealth will just make us poorer. He reasons with us, feeds on our doubts and preys upon a weak mind. Go beyond the whispers and derive strength to give, from the promise of Allah. Charity will not make you poorer; it will enlarge your provision. 

Let’s see how the circle of giving and receiving works. Allah subhanahu wa ta'aala says in the Quran:

'Who is it that would loan Allah a goodly loan so He may multiply it for him many times over? And it is Allah who withholds and grants abundance, and to Him you will be returned.' [Surah Baqarah 2:245] 

noun \ˈlōn\
Definition of LOAN
a : money lent at interest
b : something lent usually for the borrower's temporary use

Two very important points are highlighted here: a) loan is temporary, which means you will get the principal amount back and b) you get interest on loan. Further simplifying it: you get more than what you gave. No loss here … Shaytaan needs to revise his economics!

As the verse states, charity is like giving a good loan to Allah (there are loans which are never paid back and go in the books as ‘bad debts’), He will multiply it over and over and give it back to you in some form or the other. When you will stand in your hour of need, Allah will fulfil your needs as you fulfilled of those who were struggling in their hour of need!

So don’t let the whispers of Shaytaan deter you from sharing and giving. Do it for Allah’s sake.

Abu Hurayrah reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) as saying that Allah, the Most Blessed and High, said: O son of Adam, spend. I will spend on you. The right hand of Allah is full and overflowing and in nothing would diminish it, by overspending day and night.  [Sahih Muslim :: Book #5, Hadith #2178]

The Ajar of Giving Charity
  • It increases your wealth and puts barakah in it. If you give for Allah’s sake, Allah will give you more.
    '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 Subhanahu wa Ta'ala multiplies (increases the reward) for whom He wills, and Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala is All-Sufficient for His creatures needs, All Knower[Surah Baqarah 2: 261] 
  • It dispels diseases and cures illness. The Prophet sal Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam said:
    “Cure your sick people with sadaqa” [Al-Bayhaqi :: Book #2 :: Hadith #282; Abu Dawood in al-Marasil, Hadith #210]
  • One who gives charity will be amongst the seven types of people who will be in Allah’s shade on the day of judgement.
    …a person who practices charity so secretly that his left hand does not know what his right hand has given (i.e. nobody knows how much he has given in charity)…” [Sahih Bukhari :: Book #24 :: Hadith #504] 
  • As narrated in a hadith, charity acts as a means of deliverance form the Hell Fire. Even something as meagre as few dry dates. SubhanAllah!! You don’t have to be very rich to give charity, a small amount, with the pure intentions is sufficient in the eyes of Allah subhanahu wa ta'aala.
    "Save yourself from the (Hell) Fire even with half a date (to be given in charity); and if you do not find a half date, then with a good pleasant word.[Sahih Bukhari :: Book #56 :: Hadith #793]
  • Charity obliterates sins and diverts calamities. Allah subhanahu wa ta'aala says:
    'Those who spend of their goods (in charity) by night and by day in secret and in public shall have their reward with their Lord: on them shall be no fear nor shall they grieve.[Surah Baqrah 2:274] 
Reminiscences From My Journal

December 2002
Something astounding happened today. Beautiful and astounding. We were basking in the warm sun, enjoying the fuzzy warmth after a long bout of gloomy and grey weather. An old woman, in dirty and torn abaaya came in the courtyard (a tradition at my place is that people in need are never stopped at the door and can always walk in). She was feeble and dragged her feet as she walked. Some people made faces and went inside. I strolled over to her as she started mourning and complaining of her dire circumstances. I reached for my pocket and gave her all the money I had, without counting. I don’t know how much I gave her. 

The day passed…in the evening abba gave me 5000 rupees!! What!! I never got so much money. Why today? Ohhh I can buy a camera I had been eyeing for so long. Abba simply said he was giving me money so I can start practicing to manage my funds and learn how to save. An ayah is ringing in my mind:

"...And whoever fears Allah - He will make for him a way out. And will provide for him from where he does not expect..." [ Surah At-Talaq 65:2-3]

Ramadan 2005
We almost lost abba. His recovery is a miracle as the doctors say. I keep thinking how things would have been different if two things were missing from our lives- sadaqa and salaah. I have never donated as much as I did in these past few months, I have nothing left to donate now, and I have neither prayed this much and this hard. I am a believer - charity and duas can change your days. AllahuAkbar AllahAkbar!!

Set the ball rolling as you share your personal experiences how charity changed things for you. I am sure we all have a tale to tell…


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