Sunday 2 January 2022

The Test of Charity in Islam

Charity is defined as the voluntary giving of help, typically in the form of money, to those in need. But the real test of charity in Islam is to part with something that is very dear to one and yet he gives away to please Allah and with a hope that Allah will reward him much more than what he has given in charity.

Parting with something that one loves the most and giving it to mothers so that their needs and wants are fulfilled is in fact an act of extreme charity if given to please Allah and not as a gesture of showing one's magnanimity to others. It is easier to give someone something that is lying spare to your needs, like old clothes. But is far difficult to give in charity your best shirt or shoe to someone in urgent need. Such act is the test of charity as explained in the 92nd verse from Surah 3. Al-i'Imran

لَن تَنَالُوا۟ ٱلْبِرَّ حَتَّىٰ تُنفِقُوا۟ مِمَّا تُحِبُّونَ ۚ وَمَا تُنفِقُوا۟ مِن شَىْءٍ فَإِنَّ ٱللَّهَ بِهِۦ عَلِيمٌ
By no means shall you attain Al-Birr, unless you spend of that which you love; and whatever of good you spend, Allah knows it well.
The purpose of this verse is to remove the misconception of the Jews concerning 'righteousness'. The Jews had inherited an elaborate legal code which had accumulated as a result of the casuistry and hair-splitting legalism of their jurists. Their notion of 'righteousness' consisted of outward, formal conformity to that code and they evaluated all day-to-day actions, especially the trivial ones, in terms of conformity to that code. Narrow-mindedness, greed, covetousness, meanness, concealment of the Truth and readiness to barter with it lay beneath this veneer of formal piety. They were, nevertheless, considered pious in the minds of the people; Jewish public opinion condoned their conduct because it conformed to its concept of 'righteousness'.

In order to remove this misconception they are told that the things they considered fundamental to righteous conduct are of little consequence. The real spirit of righteousness consists in the love of God - a love which makes man value the good pleasure of God above all worldly acquisitions. If the love of anything seizes a man's mind to such an extent that he is unable to sacrifice it for the sake of the love of God, then that thing has virtually become an idol, and until he smashes it the door to righteousness will remain closed to him. If a man lacks this spirit, then his excessively formal and legalistic approach in religious matters can be considered no more than glossy paint over a piece of hollow, worm-eaten wood. It may be possible to deceive human beings by the sheer lustre of the outer paint, but not God.

Ibn Kathir Explanation: Al-Birr " ٱلْبِرَّ  " is Spending from the Best of One's Wealth:
In his Tafsir, Waki` reported, that `Amr bin Maymun said that (" لَن تَنَالُواْ الْبِرَّ " By no means shall you attain Al-Birr) is in reference to attaining Paradise.

Imam Ahmad reported that Anas bin Malik said, "Abu Talhah had more property than any other among the Ansar in Al-Madinah, and the most beloved of his property to him was Bayruha' garden, which was in front of the (Messenger's) Masjid. Sometimes, Allah's Messenger used to go to the garden and drink its fresh water.'' Anas added, "When these verses were revealed,

Abu Talhah said, `O Allah's Messenger! Allah says, (" لَن تَنَالُواْ الْبِرَّ حَتَّى تُنفِقُواْ مِمَّا تُحِبُّونَ " By no means shall you attain Al-Birr, unless you spend of that which you love;) No doubt, Bayruha' garden is the most beloved of all my property to me. So I want to give it in charity in Allah's cause, and I expect its reward and compensation from Allah. O Allah's Messenger! Spend it where Allah makes you think is feasible. ' 
On that, Allah's Messenger said, (Well-done! It is profitable property, it is profitable property. I have heard what you have said, and I think it would be proper if you gave it to your kith and kin.). Abu Talhah said, `I will do so, O Allah's Messenger.' Then Abu Talhah distributed that garden among his relatives and cousins.''

Yusuf Ali Translation:
The test of charity is: do you give something that you value greatly, something that you love? If you give your life in a Cause, that is the greatest gift you can give. If you give yourself, that is, your personal efforts, your talents, your skill, your learning, that comes next in degree. If you give your earnings, your property, your possessions, that is also a great gift; for many people love them even more than other things. And there are less tangible things, such as position, reputation, the well-being of those we love, the regard of those who can help us, etc. It is unselfishness that Allah demands, and there is no act of unselfishness, however small or intangible, but is well within the knowledge of Allah.

Qur'an Wiki
Since spending for causes other than that of God is mentioned as well as the offering of a ransom when none may be accepted, God explains the sort of spending which earns His pleasure: “You will never attain to true piety unless you spend on others out of what you dearly cherish. God has full knowledge of what you spend.” The Muslims at the time understood this Divine directive perfectly well. They were keen to achieve that standard of true piety, which means the culmination of everything that is good, by offering what they cherished most dearly. They came forward with such offerings in the hope of receiving a much greater reward in the hereafter.
Many of them have followed this line in fulfilment of God’s instruction, Who has outlined for us the way to true piety when He has guided us to Islam. In this way, we attain our freedom from being enslaved by wealth and self-aggrandisement. We can aspire to attain a more sublime level, free of all shackles, undeterred by any impediments.

Please listen to explanation of the ayat by eminent Muslim scholar Nouman Ali Khan:
May Allah help us understand Qur'ān and help us to act upon the commandments of Allah contained therein. Aameen.

For more Selected Verses, please refer to our reference page: Selected Verses from the Qur'anYou may also refer to our Reference Pages for knowing more about Islam and Qur'ān.
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Reading the Qur'ān should be a daily obligation of a Muslim - Reading it with translation will make it meaningful. But reading its Exegesis / Tafsir will make you understand it fully.

An effort has been made to gather explanation / exegesis of the surahs of the Qur'ān from authentic sources and then present a least possible condensed explanation of the surah. In that the exegesis of the chapters of the Quran is mainly based on the "Tafhim al-Qur'an - The Meaning of the Qur'an" by one of the most enlightened scholars of the Muslim World Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi.  
In order to augment and add more explanation as already provided, additional input has been interjected from following sources: 
  • Towards Understanding the Quran
  • Tafsir Ibn Khatir
  • Muhammad Asad Translation
  • Javed Ahmad Ghamidi / Al Mawrid
  • Al-Quran, Yusuf Ali Translation
  • Verse by Verse Qur'an Study Circle
In addition the references of other sources which have been explored have also been given above. Those desirous of detailed explanations and tafsir (exegesis), may refer to these sites.

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Superbly explained an essential part of our life. Enlightening my understanding as a Muslim.JazakAllah khaira.

Many thanks for your encouragement

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