Charity; preparation for Ramadan
In our second reminder for Ramadan, we aim to look at whom can benefit from our charity, how much we should give, what if we feel we cannot give and how charity affects us in this life and beyond.
Start with Yourself
When we wake every morning, with the permission of Allah, we should be thankful for another chance to please our Creator. One way to do this is to perform Salat-ul Subh and another is to perform Dhikr or remembrance with the tongue.
Abu Dharr (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "In the morning, charity is due on every joint bone of the body of everyone of you. Every utterance of Allah's Glorification (i.e., saying SubhanAllah) is an act of charity, and every utterance of His Praise (i.e., saying Alhamdulillah) is an act of charity and every utterance of declaration of His Greatness (i.e., saying La ilaha illAllah) is an act of charity; and enjoining M'aruf (good) is an act of charity, and forbidding Munkar (evil) is an act of charity, and two Rak'ah Duha prayers which one performs in the forenoon is equal to all this (in reward)" (Muslim).
Remembering Allah brings contentment to the heart, making our striving easier to achieve. It can often clear the mind and allow us to focus on the day ahead, and to crystallise that focus as being based within seeking the pleasure of Allah in every act that we undertake.
Abu Hurayra reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said:
"Wealth does not mean having a lot of property. Wealth means having self-contentment." (Al-Bukhari).
This self-contentment is an all important factor within the materialist world that many of us reading this may live within, with the race to accumulate new technology, new cars, new clothes, all displayed on social media; rather the self-contentment with that which we possess will allow us to look at those less fortunate than ourselves, and prepare us for the task of looking after their needs with whatever we have.
We must recognise Allah as the owner of wealth, and give that which is pure
When we look at the stories from the Qur’an, one that is pertinent is mentioned in Surah Al-Kahf; the story of the two gardens. The narration revolves around two men who both became rich, but one was lofty and arrogant and dismissed that his blessings were from Allah. The other was pious and God-fearing, content in the knowledge that which he has been given both from the gardens and in his children were the bounties and blessings of Allah. He was indeed the successful one, both in this life and the next, as he gave his earnings in charity consistently. The other, who gave nothing away, had his garden and all that brought him his wealth destroyed.
“'Would that I had ascribed no partners to my Lord!'" (Surah al Kahf, v.42)
So when thinking about racing forward for the good deed of charity, we should remember the bounties we have are from Allah and that all our charity should come from halal earnings, otherwise it will not be accepted.
Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) as saying:
“If anyone gives as Sadaqa the equivalent of a date from that (earning) earned honestly, for Allah accepts that which is lawful, the Lord would accept it with His Right Hand, and even if it is a date, it would foster in the Hand of the lord, as one of you fosters his colt, till it becomes bigger than a mountain” (Muslim).
It was narrated that Abu Hurairah said:
"The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: 'There will come a time when a man will not care where his wealth comes from, whether (the source is) Halal or Haram." (Sunan al-Nasa’i)
It was narrated that Anas said: "When this Verse was revealed -'By no means shall you attain Al Birr (piety, righteousness--here it means Allah's reward, i.e. Paradise), unless you spend (in Allah's cause) of that which you love'- (Surah Imran, v.93)... so give that which is pure, and that which is dear to you.
Give charity to your family
If you have family who are in need, turn to them first with your charitable donations, for there is a lot of reward in doing so.
Abu Talha said: 'Our Lord will ask us about our wealth. I adjure you, O Messenger of Allah! I am giving my land to Allah.' The Messenger of Allah said: 'Make it for your relatives, Hassan bin Thabit and Ubayy bin Ka'b.'" (Sunan An-Nasa’i)
Zainab, the wife of 'Abdullah (b. Mas'ud), reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, ‘0 women, give sadaqa even though it be some of your jewellery.’ She returned to 'Abdullah and said: You are a person with empty hands, whereas the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) has commanded us to give sadaqa, so better go to him and ask and if this will suffice for me; otherwise I shall give it to someone else. 'Abdullah said to me (his wife): You better go yourself. So I went and there was another woman of the Ansar at the door of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) having the same purpose as I had... Bilal came out and we said to him: Go to the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) and inform him that there are two women at the door asking him whether it will serve them to give sadaqa to their spouses and to orphans who are under their charge... Bilal went to the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) and asked him (what these women had instructed him to ask)... The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: There are two rewards for them, the reward of kinship and the reward of sadaqa (Muslim).
Give charity to your neighbours
Ibn 'Umar said: "There was a time when no one was more entitled to a person's money than his Muslim brother. Now people love their dirhams and dinars more than their Muslim brother. I heard the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, say, 'How many a neighbour will be brought together with his neighbour on the Day of Rising! He will say, "Lord, this man closed his door to me and refused to show me common kindness!"' (Adab Al Mufrad).
Where we were once kind, open and generous to our neighbours, we are now finding ourselves more insular, and connected to virtual friends and neighbours. It is sad to note that many only know their immediate neighbours and do not socialise like before, let alone give help and charity.
Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported, that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “O Muslim women, none of you should belittle the gift send by her she-neighbour even if it is the hoof of a sheep” (Muslim).
Abu Hurairah narrated that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: "Whoever relieves a Muslim of a burden from the burdens of the world, Allah will relieve him of a burden from the burdens on the Day of Judgement. And whoever helps ease a difficulty in the world, Allah will grant him ease from a difficulty in the world and in the Hereafter. And whoever covers (the faults of) a Muslim, Allah will cover (his faults) for him in the world and the Hereafter. And Allah is engaged in helping the worshipper as long as the worshipper is engaged in helping his brother" (Al-Tirmidhi).
So with Ramadan approaching, we should think about how we can make relations once more with our neighbours, even with a simple Eid gift. If you know you have more needy neighbours, or the elderly, whether Muslim or not, drop by and see if you can give your time, effort, or indeed financial support to them.
What if I don't have enough to give?
Narrated Abu Burda from his father from his grandfather that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "Every Muslim has to give in charity." The people asked, "O Allah's Prophet! If someone has nothing to give, what will he do?" He said, "He should work with his hands and benefit himself and also give in charity (from what he earns)." The people further asked, "If he cannot find even that?" He replied, "He should help the needy who appeal for help." Then the people asked, "If he cannot do that?" He replied, "Then he should perform good deeds and keep away from evil deeds and this will be regarded as charitable deeds" (Al-Bukhari).
In a world where even the richest of countries have food banks, it is now understandable that many don’t have enough money for food. Children all too often go to school hungry. We should remember the lady who came to Aiesha (may Allah be pleased with her). Anas ibn Malik said,
"A woman came to 'A'isha and 'A'isha gave her three dates. She gave each of her two children a date and kept one date for herself. The children ate the two dates and then looked at their mother. She took her date and split it into two and gave each child a half of it. The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, came and 'A'isha told him about it. He said, 'Are you surprised at that? Allah will show her mercy because of her mercy towards her child.'" (Al Adab Al Mufrad).
It was narrated from Abu Hurairah that the Messenger of Allah said:
"A Dirham surpassed a hundred thousand Dirhams." They said: "How?" He said: "A man had two Dirhams and gave one in charity, and another man went part of his wealth and took out a hundred thousand Dirhams and gave them in charity" (Sunan an Nasa’i).
In the hadeeth above, the one who gave just one dirham did so giving away half of his wealth, whilst the other gave just a small percentage, reminding us that it is not the amount that we give, rather the challenges we ourselves may endure in giving the charity that Allah will recompense us for.
The rewards of charity
It was narrated from 'Adiyy bin Hatim that the prophet (peace be upon him) said:
"Protect yourselves from the Fire, even with half a date" (Sunan an Nasa’i).
At the beginning of the month of Ramadan, the gates of heaven are open for us, and the gates of hell are closed. We should strive to give in charity, and strive to give to those who are in greater need than us, or indeed in need with us. We should try our utmost to share, even if it’s only with half of a date, and as illustrated from the hadith above, just half a date may be sufficient to protect us from the fire of hell.
We must remember the angels who have been instructed to tell Allah of our charity. What a beautiful dua the angel makes for those who give willingly to others; Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, "Everyday two angels descend and one of them says, 'O Allah! Compensate (more) to the person who gives (in charity)'; while the other one says, 'O Allah! Destroy the one who withholds...” (Al Bukhari). It is of certainty that every act of charity is a blessing and an increase for us, with angels supplicating for our increase.
And on the day when we will stand before Allah, our charity will be a shade for us, when there will be no shade apart from those whom Allah wishes to shade.
Narrated Abu Huraira narrated that the prophet (peace be upon him) said: "Seven people will be shaded by Allah under His shade on the day when there will be no shade except His. They are: (1) a just ruler; (2) a young man who has been brought up in the worship of Allah... (3) a man whose heart is attached to the mosque... (4) two persons who love each other only for Allah's sake and they meet and part in Allah's cause only; (5) a man who refuses the [immoral] call of a charming woman... (6) 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) and (7) a person who remembers Allah in seclusion and his eyes get flooded with tears" (Al Bukhari).
Anas bin Malik narrated that the prophet (peace be upon him) said: “When Allah created the earth, it started shaking. So He created the mountains, and said to them: ‘Upon it’ so it began to settle. The angels were amazed at the strength of the mountains, so they said: ‘O Lord! Is there among your creatures one who is more severe than the mountains?’ He said: ‘Yes. Iron.’ They said: ‘O Lord! Then is there anything among your creatures that is more severe than that iron?’ He said: ‘Yes. Fire.’ So they said: ‘O Lord! Is there anything among your creatures that is more severe than fire?’ He said: ‘Yes. Water.’ They said: ‘O Lord! Is there anything among your creatures that is more severe than water?’ He said: ‘Yes. Wind.’ They said: ‘O Lord! Is there anything among your creatures more severe than wind?’ He said: ‘Yes. The son of Adam. He gives charity with his right hands, while hiding it from his left’” (Al Tirmidhi).
As a summary, it is obligatory in this age of consumption to take stock of that which we have, the blessings that we have been given, and to consider those that will benefit from the smallest of amounts - be they our family, our neighbours, or our community. As Ramadan rapidly approaches, now is the time to start the act of charity, so that it can become a habit for us during the blessed month where the reward for each good deed is multiplied.