Generosity During Ramadan

A Muslim should be generous most especially during the holy month of Ramadan. There are different dimensions to generosity. It can be in sharing knowledge, giving financial assistance to those that are genuinely in need, using one’s position of authority or even physical strength to help within others, and generally having good attitude. All these and many others are acts of generosity.

 

The prophet (PBUH) was quoted to have said “in paradise, there are rooms whose outside can be seen from the inside and the inside can be seen from the outside. Allah has prepared them for those who feed the poor, who are gently in speech, who fast regularly and who pray at night when people are sleep.” The Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) used to be most generous during this month. It is during this month that the obligatory charity, called Zakat, is distributed to the poor and needy. It enables them to spend the fasting month in some peace and comfort. Charity towards man, in its widest sense, is laid down in the Holy Qur'an as the second great pillar on which the structure of Islam stands. Spending out of whatever has been given to man stands for charity in a broad sense that is for acts of benevolence to humanity in general. For what Allah has given to man is not only the wealth, which he possesses but all the faculties and power with which he has in his possession. The most frequently recurring words for charity in the Holy Qur'an are ‘Infaq’, which means spending benevolently, ‘Ihsan’, which means the doing good, Zakat which means growth or purification, and ‘Sadaqah’ which is derived from the root ‘Sidq’, meaning truth, and comes to signify a charitable deed.

 

The Holy Qur'an not only lays stress on such great deeds of charity as the emancipation of slaves, the feeding of the poor, taking care of orphans and doing good to fellow humans in general, but gives equal emphasis to smaller acts of benevolence. And in a similar strain, the speaking of kind words to parents is referred to as ‘Ihsan’, and generally the use of kind words is recommended as in itself a charitable deed in many places in the Holy Qur'an. The Holy Qur'an also speaks of extending charity not only to all men, including believers and non-believers, but also to animals. Charity, in the sense of giving away one’s wealth, is of two kinds, voluntary and obligatory. Voluntary charity is generally mentioned in the Qur'an as ‘Infaq’ or ‘Ihsan’ or ‘Sadaqah’, and though the Holy Book is full of injunctions on this subject, and hardly a leaf is turned which does not bring to mind the grand object of the service of humanity as the goal of man’s life. A charitable deed must be done as a duty which man owes to man, so that it conveys no idea of the superiority of the giver or the inferiority of the receiver. Love of Allah should be the motive of all charitable deeds, so that the every doing of them fosters the feeling that all mankind is but a single family. Only good things and well-earned money should be given in charity.

 

Charity has value only if something good and valuable is given, which has been honourably earned or acquired by the giver or which is produced in nature and can be referred to as bounty of Allah. These may include such things as are of use and value to others though they may be of less use to us or superfluous to us on account of our having acquired something more suitable for our station in life, for example discarded clothes, or a used car. But if the car engine is far gone that it is dangerous to use, then the gift is worse than useless; it is positively harmful, and the giver is a wrongdoer. Charity in Islam should be from legal, legitimately and morally earned money. Charitable deeds may be done openly or secretly, although the latter form is better. Those who do not beg should be the first to receive charity.

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