Hurrying in Giving Charity

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Why should we be hasty in giving charity? What is charity in islam?

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) would not store wealth; he would give the excess amount, after he met his obligatory needs. He recommended his followers to give the excess amount of their needs to the poor in order to be rich in the Hereafter. He also advised that those who think about the afterlife and who would like to face an easy Judgment Day that they be the giving hand in his following saying:

“Abu Umama reported Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) as saying: O son of Adam, it is better for you if you spend your surplus wealth, but if you withhold it, it is evil for you. There is, however, no reproach for you if you withhold means necessary for a living. And begin charity with your dependants; and the upper hand is better than the lower hand.” (Muslim, Zakāt, 97) Because there is no better preparation for the Hereafter more blessed than charity. The expert Arabic man of letters Harirī addresses to those who would like to get ready for the Hereafter by giving charity to others saying:

“O the wealthy who walk in fur! Whoever is blessed by wealth should donate it to the needy, and those who have the means should help the others, for the world is brutal and the time is disloyal. Power and ability are like a dream; and opportunity looks like a summer cloud. By Allah I would spend the winter for getting ready.” (Maqamāt, p. 188)

Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) personally lived according to what he taught and was a living manifestation of the Qur’an. Our Prophet (pbuh) would hurry in all kinds of good deeds especially charity. He did not like to quit in completing a good deed because of an obstacle. One of the nice examples in this regard is narrated by ‘Uqbah b. Ḥārith:

“I performed the afternoon prayer with the Prophet and after we finished the prayer he got up quickly and went to one of his wives’ room. When he came out, he noticed the signs of astonishment on the faces of the people that was caused by his rush. He then explained it saying:

“I remembered while I was in my prayer that a piece of gold was lying in my house and I disliked that it should remain with us throughout the night, and so I have ordered it to be distributed.” (Bukhari, Adhān, 158)

The significance of charity increases in a society where there are too many people in need. Being merciful, which is an attribute that all believers must have, does not let a believer to be oblivious of the pains of the poor. This is why the Prophet (pbuh) would prefer the needy over himself and gave them whatever he had. Especially when he saw someone who was clearly in need, he would feel his/her hardship and try to take care of his/her needs. Mundhir b. Jarir reported on the authority of his father:

“While we were in the company of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) in the early hours of the morning, some people came there who were barefooted, naked, wearing ripped woolen clothes, or cloaks, with their swords hung around their necks. Most of them, nay, all of them, belonged to the tribe of Mudar. The color of the face of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) underwent a change when he saw them in poverty. He then entered his house and came out. He then asked Bilal to pronounce adhan. Bilal pronounced adhan and iqama, and the Prophet (pbuh) observed prayer along with his companion and then addressed them reciting verses of the Holy Qur’an:

“O mankind! Be careful of your duty to your Lord Who created you from a single soul and from it created its mate and from them twain hath spread abroad a multitude of men and women. Be careful of your duty toward Allah in Whom you claim (your rights) of one another, and toward the wombs (that bare you). Lo! Allah hath been a Watcher over you.” (al-Nisa 4; 1)

He then recited a verse from surat al-Hashr:

“O you who believe! Observe your duty to Allah. And let every soul look to that which it has sent on before for the morrow. And observe your duty to Allah! Lo! Allah is informed of what you do.” (al-Hashr 59; 18).

Then the audience began to vie with one another in giving charity. Some donated a dinar, others a dirham, still others clothes, some donated a sa’ of wheat, some a sa’ of dates; till the Holy Prophet (pbuh) said:

“Bring even if it is half a date.”

Then a person from among the Ansar came there with a bag of food which his hands could scarcely lift; in fact, they could not lift. Then the people followed continuously, till I saw two heaps of eatables and clothes, and I saw the face of the Messenger (pbuh) glistening like gold on account of joy. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said:

“He who sets a good precedent in Islam, there is a reward for him for this (act of goodness) and reward of that also who acted according to it subsequently, without any deduction from their rewards; and he who sets in Islam an evil precedent, there is upon him the burden of that, and the burden of him also who acted upon it subsequently, without any deduction from their burden.” (Muslim, Zakāt, 69)

On the day that our beloved Prophet (pbuh) passed away, Aisha (r.a.) had six or seven dinars. Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) had ordered her to distribute them to the poor. Because Aisha (r.a) had been busy with the health of the Prophet (pbuh), she had not had the chance to fulfill that order. When the Prophet (pbuh) woke up, he asked Aisha (r.a.):

“What have you done with the dinars? Did you distribute them?” Aisha (r.a.) replied:

“No, I did not, because I was busy with taking care of you.” The Prophet (pbuh) asked that the dinars to be brought to him. Then he held them in his hands and said:

“What would be the state of Muhammad the Messenger of Allah, if he meets his Lord while having these dinars?” Then he distributed them among five families from Anṣar and said:

“Now I feel relieved,” and began to sleep. (Ibn Hanbal, VI, 104; Ibn Sa’d, II, 237-238)

In this respect, Imam Qastallanī says that:

“If the Messenger of Allah (pbuh), who is the most beloved Apostle of Allah, who is the greatest of all prophets, and whose all mistakes, past and future, are already forgiven, thinks like this, than you should think about what the state of those who violated others rights and committed many sins would be when they meet Allah the Almighty!” (Qastallanī, II, 480-81)

Source: An Excellent Exemplar, Osman Nuri Topbaş,  Erkam Publications

The Human Reality

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