One day, a wealthy rider came across a peasant. He saw not his face, only the ragged clothes he was wearing. He passed him by, and then came across another man, a wealthy man. The rider thought to himself," Shame, for this wealthy man to be walking on the same path as such a destitute man. I will offer him a ride." He stopped his horse, and offered his services. The wealthy man asked the rider to describe the poor man. After the rider described him, the wealthy man said," You are the poor one, my rider." He walked on. The rider, curious, follwed him. Upon seeing the poor man, the wealthy man embraced him. He gave him all of his material wealth, and sat and laughed with the poor man.
The Wealthy Rider
The poor man was now wealthy, and the wealthy now poor.
The rider asked the now-poor man, "Why do you give him your wealth?"
"It was not my wealth, nor is it now his. It all belongs to God. He has greater need of it, and so I give it to him."
"Does he now owe it to you?" the rider asked.
"No. I relieve him of such an obligation. Instead, he will give his wealth to someone in greater need when they need it."
The rider asked them both, "Why do you both treat each other as such? Do you even know each other's name?"
"No." They replied.
"Have you met before?"
"No." They replied again.
"For we are both Muslims."
"What difference does that make?"
They both replied, "For he believes in one and only God. For he knows that it is to Him that we shall return, and that He has created all. For he knows that all mankind is but one family, and that we are brothers in it."
Upon hearing this, the rider dismounted and gave his horse to them both, asking for their forgiveness for his behaviour.
26 December 1997
[When this article was written] Hisham Zoubeir is at the University of Sheffield undertaking a multi-disciplinary degree in law. He has lived in Abu Dhabi, Cairo and London. His main interests delves into peace, equality, righteousness and spirituality.
Since we are in the blessed month of Ramadhan and Allah (i.e. God), The Exalted, has promised the hardworkers in this month to multiply the rewards of their good deeds, Muslims are challenged by this overwhelming opportunity and are striving to do as much good as they can. Therefore, it would be important to highlight the virtues of one of the hot topics of this month: "The Charity", as well as some of the Islamic Etiquettes and Manners of giving a charity.
THE UPPER HAND!
By Mira El-Deeb, Taken from the website of
Muslim Students Organization - University of Miami
Islam encourages the Muslim to spend from his money for Allah's Sake whenever he is capable of doing so, and it stresses on the great virtues of giving a charity.
The prophet (PBUH) said, "The Upper Hand is better than the Lower Hand. The upper hand is the one that gives, and the lower hand is the one that takes".
Allah SWT said in the Holy Book, "The likeness of those who spend their money for Allah's sake, is as the likeness of a grain (of corn), it grows seven ears, every single ear has a hundred grains, and Allah multiplies (increases the reward) for whom He wills, and Allah is All-Sufficient for His creatures needs, All Knower" (2: 261).
And He SWT said, "Whoever works righteousness, whether a male or a female, while he (or she) is a true believer, verily to him We will give a good life (in this world with respect, contentment and lawful provision), and We shall pay them certainly a reward in proportion to the best of what they used to do." (16: 97)
In this life, the charity enlarges the blessing in one's fortune. Unlike what most people think; money gets practically bigger so long the person is giving charities. As the prophet (PBUH) stated, "The Charity does not lessen one's money".
As we know, the number of the money we have is not what counts, but it is the value of the money and the things you can get with this money is what counts. When the believer keeps on feeding his money with charity, this enlarges the blessing in his money. With a certain amount of money he would be able to do more than what he used to do before, not to mention the harm that would be pushed a way from his money, so that the money wont be wasted by some way or another (e.g. car accident, health problems, ...etc.).
Besides, the charity has an amazing effect in pushing away the calamities and harm that is afflicting the Muslim. The prophet (PBUH) said, "Cure your sick people with Sadaqa (i.e. charity)!"
That's why the righteous Muslims used to cure themselves in time of sickness with giving charities! One of the early righteous Muslims whose name is Ar-Rabe'e has been afflicted by Al-Faalig (i.e. Hemiplegia) and was suffering from that disease for sometime. One day his wife grilled him a chicken and baked some fresh bread, which he used to love so much... Resisting the temptation of his favorite dish, he asked her to give the food to one of the poor as a charity, saying "I would like to give the poor what I love most, that may Allah accept my charity and reward me with what is better than that".
His wife suggested that she would keep the food for him, and instead give some money to the poor which equals the same price of the food. Ar-Rabe'e asked her to bring the money, and when she did, he asked her to put them all together (the money, the grilled chicken and the fresh bread) and give them all to the poor!!
This was the attitude of Muslims towards giving charities, while lots of people nowadays spend enormous amounts of money on the doctors and medications neglecting the importance of a charity that might not even make a noticeable difference in their wealth.
In the Hereafter, the charity could be the reason for protecting oneself from Hell-Fire even if it was as small as a piece of date! The prophet (PBUH) said, "There will be none among you but will be talked to by Allah on the Day of Resurrection, without there being an interpreter between him and Allah. He will look and see nothing ahead of him, and then he will look (again) in front of him, and (only) the Hell Fire will confront him. So, whoever among you can save himself from the Fire, should do so even with one half of a date (means: even if all what you can give as charity is one half of a date)".
Allah SWT has praised those who make a constant right in their wealth for the poor and has promised them multiplied rewards for their charity. He SWT said, "Who is he that will loan to Allah a beautiful loan which Allah will double unto his credit and multiply it many times?" (2: 245).
The prophet (PBUH) also said: "If one gives in charity that equals one date-fruit from money that is earned in lawful way, and Allah only accepts what is lawful, Allah shall take it in His right (hand) and then enlarges it's reward for that person (who has given it), just like any of you who brings up his baby horse, so much so that it (i.e. the charity) becomes as big as a mountain".
What we now spend as a charity for Allah's sake is what remains with us after death, however, what we spend for our worldly pleasures vanishes and goes away. A'isha (the prophet's wife, may Allah be pleased with her) reported that they once slaughtered a sheep, and then distributed all parts of the sheep as a charity except for the shoulder which she kept for them. When the prophet (PBUH) asked her about what remained from the sheep (after distributing it), she said "Nothing remained except for the shoulder", so the prophet (PBUH) commented "Everything remained except for the shoulder!!"
However, for the charity to be accepted and to achieve it's goals, the Believer must consider some essential manners when giving the charity. First of all, the charity must be given from money that is earned in a lawful way. Allah SWT says, "O' ye who believe, spend from what you (lawfully) earned" (2: 267). And the prophet (PBUH) said: "God is Tayyib, and He only accepts what is Tayyib", (the word Tayyib means lawful, pure, good, ..etc.).
Second, when giving a charity, the believer must purify his intention and make his purpose just for the sake of gaining Allah's pleasure and reward with this charity, not anything else (such as worldly benefits, fame, good reputation, ..etc.). The prophet (PBUH) said, "All deeds are based on the intention and everyone will be rewarded according to what he intended (from his action)"
And he (PBUH) said, "Nothing that you spend for Allah's sake but you will be rewarded for it, even the food that you raise up to your wife's mouth".
God SWT praised those who give for His sake without expecting any benefit from the people who receive the charity, He SWT said, "And they give food (in spite of their love for it) to the poor, the orphan and the captive. Saying; we feed you seeking Allah's countenance only, we wish for no reward nor thanks from you" (76: 8 & 9).
Any of our daily actions could be turned into a worshipping activity if it is done purely for Allah's sake, and vice versa: any worshipping activity could be rejected by Allah if it is done for any other purpose rather than pleasing Him.
Third, the believer should hurry up with giving the charity and should not delay it without a specific reason. It is also much better for the Muslim to give charities during his life when in need of money, than to wait until death comes to him, then he commands his inheritors to give the charity on his behalf. The prophet (PBUH) was once asked about the best of all charities, so he said; "The best charity is what you give during your life while you are in need of it."
Fourth, it is more fitting for the Muslim to give the charity from his best possessions that which he loves most. This actually is the opposite of what many people nowadays do, as they only give their old rusty possessions as if they are trying to get rid of them! Allah SWT says in the Holy Book, "By no means shall you attain righteousness unless you give (freely as a charity) from that which you love; and whatever you spend Allah knows it well." (3: 92).
However, this does not mean that one should lessen the value of his charity if he only has little to give.
The prophet (PBUH) once said to his companions, "One Dirhem could be better in reward than one hundred thousand Dirhems!"
A man asked, "And how is that, messenger of Allah?!"
He (PBUH) replied, "a wealthy man takes one hundred thousand Dirhems which is one part of his wealth and gives it as a charity, while a poor man who only has two Dirhems pays one of them as a charity."
And it was reported that A'isha (may Allah be pleased with her) once gave a piece of date as a charity when this was all what she had. Whatever that you do, big or small, will be put in your account, even if it was as tiny as the weight of an atom. Allah SWT says, "Whoever does an atom weight of good he shall see it (in his book), and whoever does an atom weight of evil he shall see it" (99: 7 & 8).
Fifth: The believer must hide his charity and do his best not to let anyone know about it to avoid falling into Riya'a (i.e. showing up one's good deeds to others and doing the good deeds for other than Allah's Sake). The prophet (PBUH) said: "Seven (types of) people will be covered with Allah's shade on a day when there is no shade but His Shade, (from among them) a man who gives a charity hiding it, that (even) his left hand does not know what his right hand has spent".
Saying that your left hand does not know what your right hand has spent is a form of expression that indicates how careful you should be when giving a charity not letting anyone notice what you're doing. It would even be better to hide your identity from the one who is receiving the charity, when possible, so as to protect the receiver's dignity and save him from feeling shameful or humiliated. One of the righteous successors used to give a constant charity to the scholars who were known to be poor at his time, and in order to hide his identity and protect them from the embarrassment he used to wait until they enter the mosque for one of the daily prayers, then put the money inside their slippers! The scholars never knew his true identity until only when he died and they found out that the charity they used to receive on a constant basis all of a sudden stopped!!
Sixth: The believer must not follow his charity by harming the one who is receiving it, nor should he keep on reminding him of his generosity. Hurting the one who receives a charity by any mean would only nullify (i.e. cancel) the reward of the charity, as Allah SWT indicated in His Holy Book, "O you who believe, cancel not your charities by reminders of your generosity, or by harm" (2: 264).
Seventh: When one can not (or do not want to) give a charity to a person who is asking for it, he then should only say a kind word to him, and should not by any mean hurt his feelings. Allah SWT said, "Kind words and forgiveness are better than a charity followed by injury" (2: 263).
May Allah SWT lighten our way and help us get use of the golden opportunities of this holy month.. ameen.
The Beggar called "Auntie"
By Shasel, Aug 26, 1998
Zainal and I have just stepped out from the compound of Makruf Mosque. "Assalamualaikum". As usual, the middle-aged woman is standing at the gate to greet us. "Waalaikumussalam." We reply in chorus as we pass her by.
Other visitors are coming out by the same gate one by one. Like us, they also acknowledge the woman's greeting. The generous ones would donate one or two dollars to her. But most of them do not pay any attention to her.
Every Friday, when the afternoon prayer is over, the woman (henceforth I call Auntie) would hang around there except when it rains. She would greet everyone and would be hopeful of donations from the congregation.
I have never donated any money to her. I would only reply to her greeting and give her a smile. That is also a form of charity. Auntie probably regards me as stingy. Let it be. What is most important is that I regularly donate to the mosque's fund.
Zainal also has never donated to Auntie. We both agree that we should not give any donation to her because by doing so, it is as good as encouraging the act of begging, and advocating indolence indirectly.
We are not mean, but we feel that begging is not the proper way to obtain financial aid. If Auntie really needed aid, she could get it from the numerous welfare bodies in this country.
We could not determine whether Auntie is really poor or whether she is merely taking advantage of other people's sympathy. In this age, it is very hard to differentiate between an impostor and a bona fide beggar. It is better to be cautious than sorry.
For sure we do not feel pity for Auntie. In fact, we are suspicious of her presence. Auntie does not look unkempt like other beggars. Moreover, we had seen her selling curry puffs at Kallang Stadium when the Malaysian Cup fever hit soccer enthusiasts here two years ago.
We can surely recognise her figure and face. It's verified! We have not identified the wrong person. Her dark-brown complexion and the prominent mole on her chin enhanced our confidence that the Auntie we just met at the mosque is the same person whom we saw at Kallang Stadium.
We notice that Auntie is still healthy as we last saw her two years ago. The proof is Auntie can still walk without the aid of a walking stick. But why she needs to beg? Why can't she continue to sell kuihs or curry puffs as she used to do? She can even work as a cleaner or support herself by selling used cardboard boxes as what many poor nyonyas normally do.
"Auntie stopped selling curry puffs because business was bad since the Lions withdrew themselves from the Malaysian Cup." Zainal tries to joke when I asked him those questions.
"That's not right. Auntie changed her profession because beggars don't need to pay income tax," I reply.
"That's not right too. Auntie begs because nobody has asked her to stop begging," adds Zainal.
"Are you sure? What proof do you have to say that no one has asked her to stop begging?" I try to trap him. Zainal grins widely. He knows his statement is not convincing.
"Maybe someone has asked her to stop begging but she refused," I continue.
Just after I said that, service 51 reaches the bus stop where we had been waiting. We flag and board it. Luckily there are empty seats for us. We quickly take our seats and continue our conversation.
"The correct answer is that Auntie begs because the authorities have never caught her. If she had been caught, surely she won't dare to continue begging," I say confidently.
"Not necessarily so. Some people are recalcitrant and incorrigible," Zainal refutes. That reminds me of thousands of drug addicts who keep getting in and out of DRCs as if they love those rehabilitation centres.
"You're right, Zai. If a person is incorrigible, no matter how harsh we punish him, it will not have any effect on him."
"Maybe it will be effective if we changed secular laws with Islamic laws" Zainal suggests.
"But Zai, I think as long as there are people who continue to donate to beggars like Auntie, they will always hang around our mosques."
Our conversation stops at this point because the bus has reached my destination.
When I settle down in my office, I still keep thinking about the lady at the mosque. Her face seems to appear on my computer screen until it affects my concentration. I don't know why but I can't forget her. In the end, I cannot complete my job for the rest of the day.
Why does Auntie have to beg? Doesn't she have any relatives? Is she an illegal immigrant? Is she suffering from a serious illness until she can't take up other jobs? Could she be a member of a beggar syndicate? Where does she stay? Questions after questions keep coming up in my mind.
I know that all these questions would be answered if I could spend some time to approach and interview Auntie. However, I still haven't got the opportunity to do it. God willing, if I have the time, next week I will talk to her.
Yes, I will try to dig up Auntie's background. Perhaps I could expose her plight and experiences for society's benefit.
From her profile, I surmise that Auntie is at least 60 years old. This means that she survived the hardships of living through the Japanese Occupation. She can surely tell me some interesting histories.
I want to know what she did for a living during those painful years. Was she involved in the struggle for independence from colonial rule?
Why does she end up as a beggar now? Why did she stop selling curry puffs? Why it seems that no welfare bodies are aware of her plight? Is it appropriate to just ignore her and let her continue begging? And many other questions?
If Auntie is really poor and needs aid, I will help her in my own way. I will expose her hardship in the local newspapers so that she will get some attention from the public. Many people have received financial aid through this method. I believe the authorities will also take the necessary action to help her.
Meanwhile, I feel grateful that I'm still able to work without having to beg on the streets. Although my salary as a clerical officer is very little compared to those of ministers or professional footballers, I'm still contented because at least I still have a secure job.
Let the higher classes look down on the kind of job I'm doing, the main thing is, I'm happy. And what is important is that I'm not begging or involved in corruption or criminal breach of trust like what some honourable people often commit.
"Hey, Taufik. Why are you still around? Are you doing today?" Dilla, my colleague, wakes me up from dreaming. All because of thinking about Auntie, I cannot complete my job this evening.
It's already past maghrib when I reach home. I feel very restless soon after performing my maghrib and isya' prayers. I don't know why Auntie's face suddenly appears again in my mind.
I feel that something is amiss. Suddenly, I get the urge to read The Meaning of The Holy Quran by Abdullah Yusuf Ali, that I've not touched for quite some time. I begin by reading surah al-Fatihah and move on to surah al-Baqarah.
For a while I manage to forget Auntie who's been haunting me since this afternoon. I continue reading line by line until I reach line 271. Suddenly I feel ashamed of myself.
According to verse 2:271: "If ye disclose (acts of charity), even so, it is well, but if ye conceal them, and make them reach those (really) in need, that is best for you: It will remove from you some of your (stains of) evil. And Allah is well-acquainted with what ye do."
I feel very unkind because I have never donated to Auntie. Maybe she really needs help. I start to regret. And then I remember my conversation with Zainal not long ago.
"In this age, there are so many professional liars. Be they politicians, businessmen, spiritual leaders, stock brokers, professional footballers, writers and beggars. I don't trust them all."
"You cannot think that way about everyone Zai. There may be one or two liars around. But, it's unfair to hold your prejudice against others."
"Actually I am very disappointed because my close friend had conned me. Now it's hard for me to trust anybody."
"Let by gones be by gones Zai. You should not harp on the get-rich-quick scheme. Take it as a lesson. Next time, be careful when handing over your money to someone."
"It's easy for you to say, because it's not your money that is lost."
"I had also been conned like you Zai. But, I don't go to the extent of losing faith in them. I believe that each individual can change if he or she gets the guidance from God."
Suddenly Zainal's voice fades away and Auntie's voice pierces my mind.
"Taufik, I know that you don't like to see me begging. But, I have never forced anybody to donate to me. "I am not a fraud like you thought. I'm actually giving you the opportunity to increase your credits for doing good deeds.
"You yourself are aware that "its better to give than to receive." So, do not hesitate to donate to people like me. "Actually, I ask for donations not for myself but for the sake of others. "I'm not disappointed if you're still unwilling to give alms to me. But I hope that you could fulfil my only request. Please recite the al-Fatiha for me after I leave."
I'm suddenly awakened when I hear the barking of dogs outside my house. I had dozed off for a while just a moment ago. Hence I cannot sleep and remain awake.
It's already morning and I groggily get ready for work. I'm still haunted by yesterday's dream. The more I try to forget it, the clearer Auntie's face appears in my mind. I don't feel like working when I look at the pile of documents that should have been completed yesterday.
"Whether you like it or not, you must finish your job Fik, if you don't want to end up as a beggar like Auntie." My conscience seems to mock me. I was busy handling the documents, when I received a telephone call from Zainal. "Hello Fik, there's a shocking news. You take today's Malay newspaper and look at page two. I cannot talk long, I'll call you back."
I quickly get the paper from Dilla who is incidentally reading it. And straight away I turn to page two: $500,000 for Masjid Makruf's fund. "The late Hajah Saleha Said who lived on her own had donated $500,000 to Masjid Makruf's reconstruction fund. In her lifetime, she also often donated money to welfare bodies like Darul Ihsan. Her doctor has confirmed that she died because of heart attack. Her body will be buried after zuhr prayer."
"Innalillahi wainnailaihi rajiuun."
"Fik, why your face suddenly looks pale?" asks Dilla.
"You know Auntie Saleha?"