Mar 31, 2009

Posted by in Charity | 1 Comment

Thinking of Others Before Yourself

A Muslim Woman's Reflections on Charity

By Zabrina Abu Bakar

When I was young, my father used to repeatedly tell me a story of an uncle of mine who was one of the most generous persons my father had ever met. He was a man who didn't seem to know the existence of the word "selfish." He would help others out, even though he wasn't in a good position to do so at that time.

It was said that once my uncle gave away 50 cents to help another person who was in dire need. You may scoff, right? 50 cents? So what? Well, 50 cents was a whole lot of money back then in the 1940s. But that's not even the point. There is something more significant here. He gave away 50 cents when he only had a dollar with him!

I did ponder on the beautiful and kind heart he seemed to possess. What made him give away half of what he had in his pocket at that time, knowing very much that he might need the money later?

What triggered him to do such a kind act? Wasn't he afraid that he wouldn't be able to replace what he had given away?

Don't you think it is simply great to receive twofold and more of what you gave away?

If we are hungry and only have a piece of cake, do we divide the cake into two and share it with the next person? If we are in the desert and only have a glass of water, do we share half of it with someone else?

Do we give away half of our clothes to someone who needs them? Half of our food? Our shoes? Our books? Our money?

American comedian Peter Marshall once said, "The measure of life is not its duration, but its donation" (Brainyquote.com)

No wonder so many people remembered my uncle as a wonderful man long after he passed away.

Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings And also God said in the Qur'an what means:

{If you lend unto Allah a goodly loan, He will double it for you and will forgive you, for Allah is Responsive and Clement.} At-Taghabun64:17)

Don't you think it is simply great to receive twofold and more of what you gave away? If we live by that principle, we won't have any fear of not having enough, of not being adequate, of losing what we have, of doing charity, of serving the needy, of extending a helping hand.

Have you ever heard the quote "Give and you shall receive"? The principle is pretty clear: If we want to receive, we should give first. The saying doesn't say receive and then give. It doesn't tell us to become the recipient and then only when we get richer we can donate.

How many times have we postponed our good intention to give away charity by giving excuses like "If I am a millionaire, I will donate to the charity" or "If I am paid more, I will donate some money"?

Do you think it's a wonder why we are not millionaires still? If there is no giving, there is no receiving.

A man asked Prophet Muhammad, "O Allah's Messenger! What kind of charity is the best?" Prophet Muhammad replied, "To give in charity when you are healthy and greedy, hoping to be wealthy and afraid of becoming poor. Don't delay giving in charity till the time when you are on the deathbed,when you say, 'Give so much to so-and-so and so much to so-and so,' and at that time the property is not (really) yours,but it belongs to so-and-so ((that is, your inheritors)."  (Al-Bukhari)

Prophet Muhammad's Generosity

Prophet Muhammad's generosity attracted people to him. For example, a man requested a large flock of sheep from Prophet Muhammad and the Prophet gave him what he asked for. Then the man went back to his tribe announcing how charitable Prophet Muhammad was to the point that he didn't seem to care if he had enough for himself, and that made the man embrace Islam (Muslim).

Prophet Muhammad's generosity covered a lot of aspects. He always gave away gifts and paid the debts of the dead. He asked to be informed if anyone died in debt. He always gave charity; he always helped others. If he couldn't help them at a point, he would promise to help them later.

If he received gifts, he would give them away. He never turned away anyone from his house empty-handed, and he always gave preference to the needy over his own needs.

Prophet Muhammad was also very generous to his neighbors. In fact he said that a believer is not a person who eats while his neighbor is hungry. He taught us to always be aware of the state of our surroundings and offer a helping hand to those in need.

Many stories of the early Muslims demonstrate how ingrained generosity was in their lives.

It is said that during war a bottle of water was passed around the Muslim army until it finally returned to its owner, who at the beginning had refused to drink before the others did, and so did everyone else in the army, until the bottle reached him still full. All of these people demonstrated the act of generosity and thinking of others' needs before themselves.

The Persian poet Saadi once said, "To give pleasure to a single heart by a single kind act is better than a thousand rak`ahs in prayer."

Indeed, there is truth in that.

Zabrina Abu Bakar is a life storyteller and author of a motivational book entitled Life is An Open Secret. She has a degree in accountancy and an MBA, and is completing her doctorate in business administration. She maintains an active blog at http://wisdomthruwords.blogspot.com.

Source: www.readingislam.com

  1. subhan allah,may allah widen our hearts so we help the needy without thinking of ourselves.ameen.

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