CHAPTER FIVE: Spending in the Way of Allah
WHATEVER you give or spend in the way of Allah will be returned to you in manifold increase. Allah, the most Bountiful and the most Loving, commends:
Be generous, therefore, for whatever you spend on yourself is only for your temporary sustenance while whatever you spend in the way of Allah is an investment in your future for which will provide everlasting sustenance. Seek to invest in others for your own benefit with whatever Allah has endowed you.
Sadaqa or charity, of course, is not compulsory. What is obligatory, however, is Zakat, a fixed percentage of your halal or lawful savings which is meant to purify your wealth by recognising that the needy has a right over a portion of it. Indeed, the very meaning of the term Zakat signifies purification. Allah says: Of their wealth take alms to purify and sanctify them. [at-Tawba 9:103.] Furthermore: He that spends his possessions [on others] so that he might grow in purity. [al-Layl 92: 18.]
Love for worldly possessions is primarily a disease of the heart while the purpose of sadaqa is to act as its antidote or cure. Sadaqa serves as a form of dhikr to remind us that all forms of wealth come from Allah and what we possess is .simply a short term loan for which we will be held accountable when our contract expires. This loan is meant to cater for our personal needs and family needs and those of the wider society.
Spending on those in need is a highly commendable form of ibada or worship. The Prophet Muhammad declared:
We should not, of course, expect any favours from those who receive our sadaqa. Neither should we expect that they will be grateful and kind to us and give something to us in return, nor should we be motivated by a desire for any other worldly reward. Concerning our attitude to giving Allah reminds us: O you who believe, make not your charity worthless by reminders of your generosity, and by causing vexation. [at-Baqara 2: 264.] Our sadaqa should be qard hasan, a loan given for the sake of Allah without expectation of profit. The Quran describes the attitude of those who give to the needy as follows:
Their reward is sought from Allah rather than mortals. And whose gratitude and return can be greater for us than Allah's, given out of love and mercy for us?
Instead of hoping for some worldly benefit from our sadaqa, we should be grateful to those who accept our sadaqa, for they have given us an opportunity to invest our wealth in a `business venture' with Allah who has promised in return a reward `seven hundred times greater'. The parable of those who spend their wealth in the array of Allah is that of a grain, out of which grow seven ears, in every ear hundred grains. [al-Baqara 2: 261.]
Just imagine if such an investment was offered to you by a company- you would rush to put every penny you possess into it when you consider the magnitude of profit to be made. To invest in Allah's `business venture' requires the certainty of faith, which affirms that there is a `real' reward available for you to receive. Of this reward, the Quran declares: Allah has purchased of the believers their persons and their goods; for theirs [in return] is the Garden. [at Tawba 9:111.]
When a Believer attains the certainty and faith that his real reward lies in the Life to Come, his heart becomes enlarged with generosity and love for his fellow men and his giving knows no bounds. In return, Allah promises ease for him in all his efforts until he reaches eternal bliss.
The Prophet, upon whom be peace, was the most generous person in his community. It was his unique sense of generosity and affection which captivated the hearts of the people and brought them into the fold of Islam. His example was the most important form of dawa. Imam Bukhari has recorded that the close Companion of the Prophet, Jabir, testified that he never observed the Prophet refusing anyone who requested something from him. The Prophet, upon whom be peace, has himself testified: `If I had a mountain of gold, I would not like to save any of it for more than three days, except something I put aside to pay debts' (Bukhari). The magnanimity of the blessed Prophet is the example we must strive to follow.
Spending on fellow human beings -family, relatives, the needy, the orphan, the destitute - is one aspect of infaq fi sabilillah or spending in the way of God. There is also another - that is, spending for the cause of Islam. When you spend for the cause of Islam, Allah adopts another manner of asking for it: Who is there who will give a loan to Me? [al-Hadid 57: 11.] Just imagine His generosity. It is His wealth, it belongs to Him. Even if He asks us for it without offering any reward, He will be justified in doing so but yet He is prepared to buy back His own property so that you may again reap its benefits and gain a noble reward.
Consider our attitude when we are asked to contribute for the cause of Islam. We are miserly. We will spend one-hundredth of what we spend on our homes, our children, our clothes and food for the cause of Islam. Sura al-Hadid goes on to invite those who clams to be Muslims to become true Believers and to give their lives and their possessions and belongings in the way of Allah. Finally, it invites Muslims to give a good loan to Allah which he will multiply many times and return with a noble reward:
The above verses describe a vivid and graphic scene concerning the Last Day, Yawm al-Qiyama. It concerns two groups of people, those who are true Believers and those who are shaky, hesitant and doubtful in their commitment to their faith and to our Creator.
The first verse describes the group of believing men and women. They will have a Nur or Light which will be in front of them and on their right. With that Light they will journey to their destination and they will be greeted with glad tidings of beautiful gardens in which they will live forever- that will be the highest possible achievement for which they can hope.
The first point we may note is that both men and women are mentioned in the verse separately. This means that as far as the demands and duties of this world and eligibility for the rewards in the Life to Come are concerned, there is no difference between men and women. Both men and women will possess the Light for their journey.
Then, the Quran focuses the narrative on the second group, the hypocrites and miserly ones - both men and women -who will not possess the Light. Those who were niggardly and did not believe in the promises made by Allah will cry out to the true Believers for their bounty - but, it will be too late to benefit from the generosity of others. A wall will arise separating the generous ones from the miserly. The generous ones will find shelter in Allah's rahma, while the miserly ones and the hypocrites will be on the side of Allah's wrath. A dialogue will then commence between the two groups. Ibn Kathir elaborates the conversation in a very vivid manner. The miserly and the hypocrites will be saying:
If we reflect on the whole scene, we will find that there is mention of a gate in the wall. If we believe that all that is going to happen in the Akhira is a result of what happens today, it means that although there is a wall which separates the sincere from the insincere, and the true Believers from the hypocrites-there is always a door between the two groups that can be opened.
If, today, someone makes a decision to step inside that door it requires two things: a will and a step, and then you are inside, near the mercy of Allah. The time to walk through that door is today and not tomorrow, because tomorrow that door may not be open. But today, despite all the walls that may separate the sincere from the insincere and the generous from the miserly, the door for istighfar and tawba is open. The door for turning back is open and the door to make a decision and so become sincere to your commitment is also open.
Now is the time to commit yourself to Islam and to become sincere. You must ensure that your whole life is based on spending for the cause of Islam by giving your time, attention, heart and mind - utilising the faculties of speaking, writing, reasoning and intelligence that Allah has bestowed on you for the establishment of His Din or way of life. Only then will you attain the highest station of faith:
We should never consider any charity too small or not worth doing or giving. Even meeting your Muslim brother or sister with a smiling face or giving a good word of encouragement and praise are acts of sadaqa. Adi bin Hatim has related that the Prophet Muhammad said:
Some people have so narrow a view that they cannot bring themselves round to even utter a kind and pleasant word. The Messenger of Allah has said: `Do not belittle even the smallest act of kindness, even if it were no more than meeting your brother with a smiling and cheerful face.' (Muslim.)
It will not cost a penny to say a good word, but so miserly we have may become that we are not even prepared to utter a word of kindness, praise and encouragement. It will make a lot of difference to our spouses, siblings, and neighbours - be they Muslim or non-Muslim- if we were to be loving and kind in all our inter-personal relationships.
Your din or way of life can be one of two types: one way of life is to look after your own self interests and the other way is to seek to improve the welfare of others, even at your own expense, in order to earn the pleasure of Allah. These are two diametrically opposed ways of thinking, behaving and living. Now the way to Allah is the way of giving. The Prophet made a comparison of the two different personalities as follows:
Wealth and possessions are a baraka or blessing from Allah when used in a productive way to earn the pleasure of Allah. Otherwise, it can be our worst enemy, a curse. As soon as we realise that everything belongs to Allah and that the things that we are going to receive in the Akhira depend on how much we spend in the Dunya, it will become easier to give freely from our pockets. Giving and sacrificing will become a pleasure rather than a burden.
For most of our life, we work hard to earn money in order to build bank balances and to buy houses. These are all commendable acquisitions - in moderation. Remember that you may have a house with one hundred rooms, but you can sleep in only one room. You may have one hundred dresses in your wardrobe, but at any one time you can wear only a single dress. You may have one hundred dishes laid on the table, but you cannot eat more than will fill your one stomach. Even that may be difficult for you to digest. Always remember the hadith: `Self-sufficiency does not mean plenty of provisions; it means self sufficiency of the spirit.' (Bukhari.) All those extravagant things that deceive you are not worth pursuing or living for.
I am not saying that you should not enjoy the `good things of this world'. Rather, we must work hard for them because nothing good comes without genuine effort. Abu Bakr as-Siddiq said: `Your religion is your future and your money is your livelihood: there is no good in a man with no money in his name.' We should therefore live this life fully. We should be interested in it. As Allah encourages us:
In addition, the Prophet informed us that wealth can also serve to increase our taqwa: `What a good helper is wealth in maintaining God-consciousness.' (Kanz al-Ummal.) He also said: `Anyone who acquires it [wealth] lawfully and spends it lawfully, for him it is the best helper.' (Muslim.)
Thus, all the good things in life must be pursued, but not the love of this world. There is no true enjoyment of the good of this world if we do not adequately prepare our home in the Next world. Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz used to repeat the following verse unceasingly: 'There is no good in the life of a man for whom Allah has appointed no share in the everlasting abode.'
The love that we should desire is the love of the Akhira: For this to be achieved, the love of Allah and His Messenger must be dearer to you than all else [al-Baqara 2: 165]. This will earn you the pleasures of this world and of the next. When the Prophet was requested by one Companion to tell him of some deeds which will make him earn the love of Allah, as well as that of other people, he replied, `Do not covet this world, and Allah will love you; do not covet what people possess, and people will love you'.(Bukhari.)
It is not the amount of money that you possess which matters in the eyes of Allah. Rather, He wants you to rid yourself of the love for that money. If a person has one pound only, but his heart is in that one pound, then he is a man of this world. On the contrary, if he has 100,000 pounds and his heart is not in those pounds and he is prepared to part with it whenever it is required, then he is not a man of this world; he is a highly spiritual man. Similarly, if you earn £10 and give £5 in charity, this is much more precious in the eyes of Allah than someone who earns £100,000 and gives £1,000. The first person has given half of his wealth while the second has given one-hundredth of what he has earned.
In the time of the Prophet, those who possessed firm conviction in Allah’s promises would bring everything they had in their homes and put it at the feet of the Prophet. It is of the Sahaba and their selfless sacrifices that the Quran says: They give preference over their own selves, even when they themselves are destitute. [al-Hashr 59: 9.]
If you truly seek the pleasures and rewards of the Hereafter, spend, infaq fi sabilillah! This is one of the most effective ways of ridding ourselves of the love for the Dunya and acquiring a love for the Hereafter. It is indeed an important instrument of tazkiya as the Quran declares:
While spending in the way of Allah, you must give as much as you can give, but do so with moderation. The Quran exhorts us to be like those who are neither extravagant nor niggardly in spending but keep a balance between the two. [al-Furqan 25: 67.]
There are also two important things you must take care to avoid when giving to those in need. One is that of kibr or pride and the other is riya or show. Giving with pride in your heart and actions will only consume your good deeds while spending to seek the attention of others will corrupt your pure intentions and make your actions worthless in the eyes of Allah.
The battle to part with what you possess is one that you will experience each day until your meeting with your Lord. It is an ongoing war between the temptations of this world and our conviction in the rewards of the Akhira.
This world is filled with beauty and attractions but the Akhira is filled with beauty unimaginable. The Quran has made a comparison between both worlds.
Sadaqa also has no value without love and sympathy. The Quran states: Kind words and the covering of faults are better than charity followed by injury. [al-Baqara 2:263] Those who are generous forgive people for their mistakes. The Prophet reminded us: 'If one gives charity it does not diminish his wealth; if one forgives others, Allah bestows more honour on him; and if one humbles himself for Allah's sake, He exalts him higher.' (Muslim.) The Quran also mentions both giving and forgiving together: And compete with one another for your Lord's forgiveness and a Paradise as vast as the heavens and earth prepared for the God-fearing, who give generously whether in times of plenty or in times of hardship, and hold in check their anger, and pardon their fellow human beings; Allah loves such doers of good. [Ali Imran 3:133-134]
Spending in the way of Allah is closely related to controlling anger and forgiving people. All come from a big heart. The Prophet said: `Two of the qualities which Allah loves are gentleness and endurance.'(Bukhari.) When your heart becomes big enough to forgive the faults of others, Allah has promised for you the reward of Janna.
Whatever you can give, spend. Spend on your family and those in need. but be even more generous in spending for the cause of Islam. Remember that the time to commit yourself to Islam is now. Utilise all the resources at your disposal: time, attention, heart and mind, faculties of speaking, writing, reasoning and intelligence that Allah has bestowed on you for the establishment of His Din. Do not let the love of this world beguile you. Be forgiving and accommodating to your fellow human beings if you want to earn the forgiveness and mercy of Allah.
May Allah enable us to detach ourselves not from this world, but from the love of this world. May He help us to spend of that which He has bestowed on us for out own benefit.