Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Islam and Generosity (Sakhawat)

Allah (SWT), the Wise, has said in the Noble Qur'an: "Then as for him who gives away and guards (against evil), and accepts the best, We will facilitate for him the easy end." Suratul Lail (92:5-7)

The Noble Prophet Muhammad (saw) said: "Nothing shall ensure the welfare (and interests) of your religion except generosity and good disposition."
The Noble Prophet Muhammad (saw) said: "The most generous is he who fulfills that which Allah (SWT) has deemed obligatory upon him."
Jabir ibne Abdullah Ansari narrated the Noble Prophet Muhammad (saw) never disappointed anyone who asked for his help.

Whenever the Noble Prophet Muhammad (saw) received anything, he did not sit in peace until it was finished. Umm al-Momineen Umm Salamah, reported that one day the Noble Prophet Muhammad (saw) came home looking disturbed. She asked him what the matter was. The Noble Prophet Muhammad (saw) replied that the seven dinars he had received the day before had remained on the bed until evening and had not been distributed. He did not rest until they were given away.

Hazrat Abu Zar Ghaffari reported that one evening he was walking with the Noble Prophet Muhammad (saw) when he said, "Abu Zar, if the mountain of Uhud were turned into gold for me, I would not like three nights to pass and one dinar still be left with me, excepting what I would leave for paying my debts." He would never rest until all the cash in the house was completely finished.

Imam Ali (as) said: "Overlook and forgive the weakness of generous people, because if they fall down, Allah (SWT) gives his hand in their hands and helps them..."
Imam Ali (as) said: "Generosity is to help a deserving person without his request, and if you help him after his request, then it is either out of self-respect or to avoid rebuke."
Imam Hassan Mujtaba (as) says: The one who does not have wits and intelligence does not have decorum and decency; the one who lacks fortitude does not have generosity and magnanimity; and that one who does not possess shame and modesty does not have religion.

Once a Bedouin asked Imam Hussain (as) what is the best thing to do? Imam Hussain (as) replied, "Belief in God". Bedouin asked again, what is the best means of deliverance from destruction, Imam Hussain (as) said, "Trust in God". Bedouin asked, what man's ornament is, Imam Hussain (as) replied, "knowledge associated with intelligence". Bedouin insisted, if this be not available, what then, Imam Hussain (as) replied, "Wealth accompanied with generosity". What if this be out of reach, Imam Hussain (as) said, "Poverty allied with patience". What if this be not practicable? Imam Hussain (as) smiled and said, let the lightening consume the man to ashes. He then gave whatever money he had with him to fulfill his needs.

Imam Jafar Sadiq (as) related that the Noble Prophet Muhammad (saw) said: "The best men in view of faith is the most openhanded."

Imam Baqir (as) said: "A generous young man who is plunging in sins is favorable, in the sight of Allah (SWT), to a niggardly old man who plunges in worship."
Imam Musa Kadhim (as) said: "Man's dependants are his prisoners. Anyone upon whom Allah (SWT) confers with graces should be generous towards his prisoners. If he does not, he will soon be deprived of these graces."

Imam Hassan Askari (as) says: Generosity has a limit, which when crossed becomes extravagance; caution has a limit, which when crossed becomes cowardice; thriftiness has a limit, which when crossed becomes miserliness; courage has a limit, which when crossed becomes fool-hardiness.

Generosity is one of the ethics of the Prophets, a pillar of faith and a ray of the light of firm faith. The Noble Prophet Muhammad (saw) has said: "The Auliya Allah - Friends of Allah (SWT) are, essentially and inherently, generous." Hence, in order to acquire this attribute, a Mu'min (believer) should endeavour hard to be munificent and generous towards relatives, deserving ones and the like, for the pleasure of Allah (SWT).

It is better that a person's generosity is associated with a thing that is dear to him - eatables, clothes, money etc. - and that no obligation is placed upon the person towards whom generosity has been exhibited; man should only view himself as a trustworthy person, whose responsibility is to pass on Allah's (SWT) things to deserving and needy individuals. As such, he should stay away from frugality and refrain from withholding the Divine trusts; this is because it is not known whether or not they would yield any benefit, if given after his death, and whether or not his inheritors would expend them in a correct and appropriate manner?