Categories
Ethics & Values New Muslims

Generosity in Islam

Generosity in Islam

Generosity in Islam

As human beings, we have an innate sense of morality. No matter what religion, race or color we are, certain qualities serve as the moral standard.

We admire justice, bravery, honesty and compassion. We also abhor those who demonstrate treachery, cruelty or corruption. Moral standards are universal, and one of the most important aspects of Islam is adherence to high moral standards and good manners in society.

Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) taught Muslims to have the best manners and distinguished characteristics. The Prophet’s own high standard of morals and manners made him the best example for Muslims to follow. Almighty Allah said in the Qur’an:

And verily you, O Muhammad, are on an exalted standard of character. (Al-Qalam 68: 4)

Generosity was among the countless good qualities of Prophet Muhammad. He was the most generous of people and he used to be most generous in Ramadan. 

One day Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) offered Prayer in the mosque and then hurriedly went to his house and returned immediately. A companion asked why he left and he replied: “I left a piece of gold at home which was given for charity and I disliked letting it remain a night in my house, so I brought it to the mosque to distribute.” (Al-Bukhari)

Our worldly possessions are bounties from Allah, who is the Most Generous. Muslims believe that everything originates from Allah and everything will return to Him. Thus, it is logical to behave as if that which we possess is merely a loan, something we are obligated to preserve, protect and ultimately share.

Whenever Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) met a miserly person, he advised him to be more generous and charitable. Ibn `Abbas said that he heard Prophet Muhammad saying: “The believer is not the one who eats when his neighbor beside him is hungry.” (Al-Bayhaqi)

Another companion heard the Prophet saying: “The believer is simple and generous, but the wicked person is deceitful and ignoble.” (Abu-Dawud)

Definition of Generosity

Princeton University WordNet defines generosity as the willingness to give freely. Islam encourages this concept of generosity so much so that it is embedded in one of the five pillars of Islam, the obligatory charity known as Zakah. In Arabic, the term Zakah literally means purification of the heart; however, it is also the payment, from surplus money, of an obligatory charity designed by Allah to provide for all the needy members of the community. It is a fixed calculable amount.

There is also another form of generosity in Islam called Sadaqah (optional charity). Anything given generously – freely to others – with the intention of pleasing Allah is Sadaqah. Sadaqah can be as simple as a smile, helping an elderly person with their groceries or removing objects from the road or path.

Generosity can be viewed as a wise investment in the future. Generosity or Sadaqah may pave the way to Paradise because with every generous act comes great reward from Allah. However, being generous does not only mean giving freely from what you have in abundance. Generosity does not lie in giving away something that is no longer useful but in giving freely from the things we love or need.

`A’ishah (the wife of the Prophet) said: “A lady, along with her two daughters came to me asking for some alms, but she found nothing with me except one date which I gave to her and she divided it between her two daughters.” (Al-Bukhari)

Allah tells us in the Qur’an that whatever we give away generously, with the intention of pleasing Him, He will replace and multiply. Allah knows what is in the hearts of men. Allah says:

Say: Truly, my Lord enlarges the provision for whom He wills of His slaves, and also restricts it) for him, and whatsoever you spend of anything (in Allah’s Cause), He will replace it.And He is the Best of providers.(Saba’ 34: 39)

The Value of Generosity

The Companions understood the value of being generous. `Abdullah ibn `Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) was seen in the market buying fodder for his camel on credit. One of the men queried this knowing that `Abdullah had received 4,000 dirhams and a blanket the previous day. It was explained that before nightfall `Abdullah had distributed the money amongst the needy. He then took the blanket, threw it over his shoulder and headed home, but by the time he arrived even the blanket was gone, he had given it to a needy person.

After the death of the Prophet, the people faced great hardship due to drought. They came to Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) asking him to provide them with enough to sustain them, but he was unable to help, the treasury was empty. Just at that time, the camel caravan belonging to `Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him) arrived from Damascus. It was filled with foodstuffs and other goods. The merchants gathered at `Uthman’s house offering him large amounts of money for the goods; however, he turned them down saying he was prepared only to give the goods to the one from whom he would receive the greatest reward. `Uthman gave all the goods to the starving people of Madinah and did not charge them. He knew that Allah would reward him with something far greater than money.

Even in the direst of circumstances, a true believer is the one who gives generously.

The people came to Prophet Muhammad and asked: “If someone has nothing to give, what should 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)

And Allah says in the Qur’an that He will repay the generosity of a believer.

And whatever you spend in good, it will be repaid to you in full, and you shall not be wronged. (Al-Baqarah 2:272)

Allah is the one who provides for us and He expects us to share generously. We are encouraged to be benevolent and unselfish with our possessions, with our time and with our exemplary behavior towards others.

_________________________

Source: Article by author titled (Generosity) published at The Religion of Islam web site islamreligion.com. Here taken form onislam.net.

 

[ica_orginalurl]

Categories
New Muslims Zakah

The Third Pillar of Islam: Compulsory Charity (Zakah)

us dollars

The true owner of things is not man, but God.

Charity is not just recommended by Islam, it is required of every financially stable Muslim. Giving charity to those who deserve it is part of Muslim character and one of the Five Pillars of Islamic practice. Zakah is viewed as “compulsory charity”; it is an obligation for those who have received their wealth from God to respond to those members of the community in need.

Devoid of sentiments of universal love, some people know only to hoard wealth and to add to it by lending it out on interest. Islam’s teachings are the very antithesis of this attitude. Islam encourages the sharing of wealth with others and helps people to stand on their own and become productive members of the society.

In Arabic it is known as Zakah which literally means “purification”, because Zakah is considered to purify one’s heart of greed. Love of wealth is natural and it takes firm belief in God for a person to part with some of his wealth. Zakah must be paid on different categories of property — gold, silver, money; livestock; agricultural produce; and business commodities — and is payable each year after one year’s possession. It requires an annual contribution of 2.5 percent of an individual’s wealth and assets.

Like Prayer, which is both an individual and communal responsibility, Zakah expresses a Muslim’s worship of and thanksgiving to God by supporting those in need. In Islam, the true owner of things is not man, but God. Acquisition of wealth for its own sake, or so that it may increase a man’s worth, is condemned.

Mere acquisition of wealth counts for nothing in the sight of God. It does not give man any merit in this life or in the Hereafter. Islam teaches that people should acquire wealth with the intention of spending it on their own needs and the needs of others.

“‘Man’, said the Prophet, ‘says: My wealth! My wealth!’ Have you not any wealth except that which you give as alms and thus preserve, wear and tatter, eat and use up?”

The whole concept of wealth is considered in Islam as a gift from God. God, who provided it to the person, made a portion of it for the poor, so the poor have a right over one’s wealth. Zakah reminds Muslims that everything they have belongs to God. People are given their wealth as a trust from God, and Zakah is intended to free Muslims from the love of money. The money paid in Zakah is not something God needs or receives. He is above any type of dependency. God, in His boundless mercy, promises rewards for helping those in need with one basic condition that Zakah be paid in the name of God; one should not expect or demand any worldly gains from the beneficiaries nor aim at making one’s names as a philanthropist. The feelings of a beneficiary should not be hurt by making him feel inferior or reminding him of the assistance.

Money given as Zakah can only be used for certain specific things. Islamic Law stipulates that alms are to be used to support the poor and the needy, to free slaves and debtors, as specifically mentioned in the Qur’an (9:60). Zakah, which developed fourteen hundred years ago, functions as a form of social security in a Muslim society.

Neither Jewish nor Christian scriptures praise slave manumission by raising it to worship. Indeed, Islam is unique in world religions in requiring the faithful to financially help slaves win their freedom and has raised the manumission of a slave to an act of worship – if it is done to please God.

Under the caliphates, the collection and expenditure of Zakah was a function of the state. In the contemporary Muslim world, it has been left up to the individual, except in some countries in which the state fulfills that role to some degree. Most Muslims in the West disperse Zakah through Islamic charities, mosques, or directly giving to the poor. Money is not collected during religious services or via collection plates, but some mosques keep a drop box for those who wish it to distribute Zakah on their behalf. Unlike the Zakah, Giving other forms of charity in private, even in secret, is considered better, in order to keep one’s intention purely for God.

Apart from Zakah, the Qur’an and Hadith (sayings and actions of the Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him) also stress Sadaqah, or voluntary almsgiving, which is intended for the needy. The Qur’an emphasizes feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, helping those who are in need, and the more one helps, the more God helps the person, and the more one gives, the more God gives the person. One feels he is taking care of others and God is taking care of him.

___________________

Taken with slight modifications from: Islamreligion.com.

[ica_orginalurl]