In the Early Hours (Reflections on Spiritual and Self-Development)

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  • In the Early Hours (Reflections on Spiritual and Self-Development)

  • 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:

    Lend unto God a goodly loan. Whatever good you shall forward on your behalf you shall find it with God, as better and richer in reward. [al-Muzzammil 73: 20.]

    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:

    A generous person is close to Allah, close to Paradise, close to people, and far from Hell. However, a miserly person is far from Allah, far from Paradise, far from people, but close to Hell. Allah loves more an ignorant man who is generous than a worshipper who is miserly. (Tirmidhi.)

    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:

    And they feed, for the love of Allah, the indigent, the orphan, and the captive [saying], 'We feed you for the sake of Allah alone: No reward do we desire of you nor thank,. [ad-Dahr 76: 8-9.]

    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.

    Surely, your striving is to diverse ends. And for him who gives, is God-conscious and believes are the Truth -for him shall We make easy the path towards ease. But, as for him who is niggardly, behaves as if he is self-sufficient and denies the Truth-for him shall We make easy the path towards hardship. [al-Layl 92:4-10.]

    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:

    One day we shall see the believing men and believing women with their Light running before them and on their right A glad tiding for you today, gardens underneath which rivers flow, therein to abide forever. This a the supreme triumph.

    On that day hypocrites, both men and women, shall speak unto those Believers; `Wait for us. Let us have light from your light.' But they will be told: `Turn back and seek a light of your own.' And thereupon a wall will be raised between them with a gate in it. Inside it will be mercy and outside the wall will be suffering and punishment.

    Those who will be outside will call out to those who -would be inside `Were we not with you?' To which the others will answer: Yes, indeed, but you allowed yourself to be tempted and you were hesitant and you were in doubt and your wishful thinking

    deceived you until Allah's command came to pass. For, indeed the deceiver deceived you concerning Allah. And so, no ransom shall be accepted today from you and neither from those who disbelieved Your abode is the fire. It is your only refuge, and how evil a journey's end. '

    Is it not time that the hearts of all those who have believed should feel humbled at the remembrance of Allah and of all the truth that has been given to them, lest they become like those who were granted revelation before and whose hearts have hardened with the passage of time, so that many of them have now become Iniquitous?

    But, know that Allah gives life to the earth after it has been lifeless! We have, indeed, made Our Messages clear unto you, so that you might use your reason.

    Verily, as for men and women who accept the Truth as true, and who offer up unto Allah a goodly loan, they will be amply repaid, and shall have a noble reward [in the Life to Come].[al-Hadid 57: 12-18]

    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:

    `Were we not with you? Did we not go with you to the Friday Prayers? And did we not attend with you the congregations? And did we not do other things with you? Did we not fight side by side with you in the battles? So, why are you now leaving us behind?' The true Believers will reply, `Yes, indeed, you were with us. But you were with us only outwardly, with your bodies, but not with your intentions and with your commitments. And you allowed yourselves to be tempted away by these worldly things which you considered to be dearer, more valuable for you in life. You were more concerned about your families, you were more concerned about amassing wealth, you were more concerned about making life comfortable and you were more concerned about building up a good life in the world. And so, all these worldly things, once they became the medium and vehicle for taking you away from the Right Path, led you to this position. And you waited and you hesitated'.

    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:

    Never will you attain the highest degree of virtue unless you spend [freely] in the cause of Allah out of that which you love; and whatever you spend Allah surely knows it well. [Ali Imran 3: 93.]



    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:

    Every one of you will certainly meet Allah. On the day that he meets Him, there will be no curtain between them, nor any interpreter. He shall then say, `Did I not send you a Messenger who was conveying the Message to you?' He will reply, `Certainly'. He shall then say, `Did I not give you property and show favour on you?' He will reply, "Certainly'. Then he will look to his right and see only Jahannam and he will look to his left and see only Jahannam [Then the Prophet said] Guard against the fire, even though it be with half a date. And, if anyone does not have even that much, he should do so with a good word.(Bukhari.)

    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:

    The case of a miser and a generous one is like that of two people who are clad in steel armour from their breasts up to their collar bones. When the generous one spends, his armour expands until it covers his fingers and his toes. When the miser makes up his mind to spend something every ring of the amour sinks into his flesh. He tries to loosen it but it is not loosened. (Bukhari, Muslim.)

    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.

    Say: if it be that your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your mates, or your kindred; the wealth that you have gained; the commerce in which you fear a decline; or the dwellings in which you delight are dearer to you than Allah, or his Messenger, or the striving in His Cause - then wait until Allah brings about His Decision: and Allah guides not the rebellious.[at Tawba 9: 24.]



    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:

    Seek, by means of what Allah has granted you, the life to come. and forget not your share of the present world; and do good as Allah has done good to you; and seek not to spread corruption on earth. [al-Qasas 28: 77.]

    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:

    And the likeness of those who spend their substance, seeking to please Allah and to strengthen their souls, is as a garden high and fertile: heavy rainfalls on it, but makes it yield a double increase in harvest. [al-Baqara 2: 265.]

    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.

    Alluring has been made for people the love of desires for women, and children, and heaped up treasures of gold and silver, and horses of high ranks, and cattle, and farms. But all that may be enjoyed only in the present life - whereas, the best resort is with Allah. Say: Shall l tell you of better things than these [earthly joys]? For the God-conscious there are with their Lord, gardens through which waters flow, therein to abide for ever, and pure spouses, and Allah's good pleasure. [Ali Imran 3: 14-15.]



    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.

    The wronged one who endures with fortitude and forgiveness indeed achieves a matter of high resolve. [ash-Shura 42:43]



    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.




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