What is the almsgiving? What is the charity?
“And nothing do you spend in the least (in His Cause) but He replaces it: for He is the Best of those who grant Sustenance.”
Sebe’ 34; 39
Regulating the social order and balancing the harmony of the society from the point of wealth and poverty widely depends on giving charity in society. Just like the existence of the wealthy, there also exist weak and destitute people in the society. Those who have the means should look for those who are in need, feel the pain of the poor, and help them as much as he/she can just for the sake of Allah.
Because of its significance, charity is among the most encouraged acts of worship in the Qur’an and in the sayings of the Prophet (pbuh). As a blessing to His servants Allah the Almighty showed many ways of charity and made them easy. In this respect, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, “If a man spends on his family (with the intention of having a reward from Allah) sincerely for Allah’s sake then it is a kind of alms-giving in reward for him.” (Bukhari, Iman, 41) Here is another prophetic saying in this regard, “Never a Muslim plants a tree, but he has the reward of charity for him, for what is eaten out of that is charity; what is stolen out of that, what the beasts eat out of that, what the birds eat out of that is charity for him. (In short) none incurs a loss to him but it becomes a charity on his part.” (Muslim, Musaqāt, 7)
The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) became an example for his ummah and lived a generous life. His companions imitated him and narrated his blessed life to us. The Prophet’s disposal of his property is based on the principle of charity. His view to worldly property was also from the perspective of giving in charity. As a matter of fact, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) considered the things that he gave in charity as his real possession. His happiness for helping others was greater than the happiness of the receiver of his charity.
The Prophet (pbuh) considered the life in this world as a field to get ready for the life of the Hereafter; because the return for the actions done in this world will certainly be seen in the Hereafter. This is why we should try to increase our capital for the afterlife in the extent of the Lord’s blessings bestowed upon us. Abu Dhar’s (r.a.) following experience shows clearly how the Prophet (pbuh) viewed the life in this world and worldly possessions:
I was walking with the Prophet (pbuh) in Harra district of Medina. We saw the Uhud Mountain on our way. Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) told me:
“O Abu Dhar!” I replied:
“Yes, O Messenger of Allah! What is it?”
The Prophet (pbuh) said:
“Nothing is more delighting to me than this that Uhud should be of gold for me, and no dinar is left with me out of it before three nights pass except a dinar which I would set aside for the repayment of debt upon me.” (Muslim, Zakāt, 3) Then he continued:
“Those who are rich in this world would have little reward in the Hereafter except those who spend their money here and there (in Allah’s Cause), and they are few in number.” (Muslim, Zakat, 32; Bukhari, Istiqraḍ, 3)
The Prophet (pbuh) got many properties and lands from the war booty, but he endowed some of them for the benefit of the believers (Ibn Sa’d, I, 501-503), gave some in charity to the needy, and spent a part of it for the expenses of the Muslim army. The Prophet’s fearless donations were the result of his endless trust and confidence in the Lord Almighty. In fact once the Prophet (pbuh) said:
“Allah said, ‘Spend (O man), and I shall spend on you.” He also said, “Allah’s Hand is full, and (its fullness) is not affected by the continuous spending night and day.” He also said, “Do you see what He has spent since He created the Heavens and the Earth? Nevertheless, what is in His Hand is not decreased, and His Throne was over the water; and in His Hand there is the balance (of justice) whereby He raises and lowers (people).” (Bukhari, Tafsir, 11: 2; Tawhid, 22) In this way, the Prophet (pbuh) informed us not to fear from giving charity.
Allah’s Messenger (pbuh), who never attached too much importance to worldly possessions, was the most generous of the people. In this respect, Musa b. Anas reported on the authority of his father:
It never happened that when Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) was asked for something for the sake of Islam that he did not give it. A person came to him and he gave him a large flock (of sheep and goats) and he went back to his people and said:
“My people, embrace Islam, for Muhammad gives so much charity as if he has no fear of want.” (Muslim, Faḍail, 57-58)
Another report about this lofty characteristic of the Prophet (pbuh) is below:
“Some Ansari people asked for something from Allah’s Apostle (pbuh) and he gave it to them. They again asked him for something and he again gave it to them. And then they asked from him and he gave it to them again till all that was with him finished. And then he said,
“If I had anything else, I would not keep it away from you. Remember whoever abstains from asking others, Allah will make him contented, and whoever tries to make himself self-sufficient, Allah will make him self-sufficient. And whoever remains patient, Allah will make him patient. Nobody can be given a blessing better and greater than patience.” (Bukhari, Zakāt, 50; Muslim, Zakāt, 124)
We need to comprehend the meaning of the verse “Allah receives their gifts of Charity” (al-Tawba 9; 104), to observe the dignity of the receiver of our charity, and to treat them kindly. In our society there are both those who are in need but cannot openly tell their needs because of their modesty and those who can easily speak about their needs. We should not hurt their feelings and we should deal with them kindly. As it was stated in his saying, “I am not stingy” (Muslim, Zakāt, 127), the Prophet (pbuh) was distinguished by his generosity. He would never like to send anybody empty handed. If he had something to give, he would give it; if he did not have anything, he would treat the needy people kindly and promise that he would help them as soon as he got something. Allah the Almighty asks the believers to act similarly in the following verse:
“And even if you have to turn away from them pursuit of the mercy from your Lord which you do expect, yet speak to them a word of easy kindness.” (al-Isra 17; 28)
Imam Buṣiri elegantly expresses this attribute of the Prophet (pbuh) in the following lines from Qasidah Burdah:
“Our Prophet (pbuh) is the one who commands the right and forbids the wrong. There is nobody who says “no” or “yes” nicer than him.”
Source: An Excellent Exemplar, Osman Nuri Topbaş, Erkam Publications