How the Quran Encourages us to give Charity

Quranic Commentary

How the Quran encourages us to give charity

Mufti Muhammad Qasim Attari

Continued – second and final instalment

The fifth style of encouragement

There is always some form of obstacle in us performing a good deed. Said obstacle can be internal or external. Allah has taught us what can become hindrances in spending in His way. Refuting external impediments and encouraging us to spend in His way, He declares:

اَلشَّیۡطٰنُ یَعِدُکُمُ الۡفَقۡرَ وَ یَاۡمُرُکُمۡ بِالۡفَحۡشَآءِ ۚ وَ اللّٰہُ یَعِدُکُمۡ مَّغۡفِرَۃً مِّنۡہُ  وَ فَضۡلًا ؕ وَ اللّٰہُ وَاسِعٌ عَلِیۡمٌ (۲۶۸)ۙ

Satan makes you fear poverty and commands indecency, and Allah promises you forgiveness from Him and grace; and Allah is Most-Bestowing, All-Knowing.[1]

The external obstacle to spending in the way of Allah is Satan. His Satanic whispers are to the tune of, “If you give charity, you will become poor yourself. Don’t spend a penny.” Allah warns us that Satan calls them towards miserliness, and He promises that if we spend in His way, He will bestow His grace and forgiveness upon us. We should also be aware He is endlessly generous. He will not let our wealth diminish due to our charity, but instead bring about even more blessing in it.

The sixth style

The same way that Allah refutes the external obstacle in spending in His way, (the misgivings of Satan), He also mentions the internal causes and guides us in how to avoid it. The greed and miserliness of the carnal self (nafs) are these internal causes. Allah alerts to this blameworthy trait and announces glad tidings upon attaining salvation from it.

وَ اُحۡضِرَتِ الۡاَنۡفُسُ الشُّحَّ ؕ

Humans are inclined to selfishness

As for whoever frees himself from this greed:

وَ مَنۡ یُّوۡقَ شُحَّ نَفۡسِہٖ  فَاُولٰٓئِکَ ہُمُ  الۡمُفۡلِحُوۡنَ ۚ(۹)

And whosoever was saved from the greed of his soul, then it is they who are successful.[2]

The final Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم states about this blameworthy trait, “Avoid شُحّ (greed), as this certaintly destroyed those before you. It incited them to kill unlawfully and commit arām actions.”[3]

Miserliness is a huge obstacle in a person’s path when they set out to give charity to please Allah.

ہٰۤاَنۡتُمۡ ہٰۤؤُلَآءِ  تُدۡعَوۡنَ لِتُنۡفِقُوۡا فِیۡ سَبِیۡلِ اللّٰہِ ۚ فَمِنۡکُمۡ  مَّنۡ یَّبۡخَلُ ۚ وَ مَنۡ یَّبۡخَلۡ  فَاِنَّمَا یَبۡخَلُ عَنۡ نَّفۡسِہٖ ؕ

Yes, it is you who are called upon to spend in the way of Allah. So, some among you are miserly and whosoever is miserly is only miserly, against himself.[4]

Miserly people deprive themselves of the reward that comes with spending in charity; they deprive themselves of being prayed for by the poor, being loved by them, being recorded amongst the pious and generous, gaining closeness to Allah and residing in lofty stations of Paradise. They will also have to bear the harms that come with miserliness.

The seventh style

There is also a cause behind the greediness and miserliness of the carnal self, which prevents a person spending in the way of Allah, and that is love of wealth. This is the root of many evils, and if removed from the heart, a person finds spending in the way of Allah becoming easy. For this reason, Allah condemns love of wealth and people’s succumbing to this lowly characteristic in a manner befitting His divine wisdom, stating:

وَّ  تُحِبُّوۡنَ الۡمَالَ حُبًّا جَمًّا (ؕ۲۰)

And you love wealth excessively.[5]

In accordance with the context of the verse, a characteristic of the disbelievers is being explained, in that they love wealth so intensely they do not wish to spend it. For this reason they do not respect orphans, feed the poor, or encourage others to give in charity. On the contrary, they take the wealth of others and usurp their lands, inheritance, and ownership; they even kill others for this purpose. Due to love of wealth, which is the root of corruption, they give rise to all types of discord.

Mentioning the heedlessness that comes due to chasing wealth, the latter’s fleeting nature, as well as making us reflect upon the grave and Hereafter, Allah states:

اَلۡہٰکُمُ  التَّکَاثُرُ ۙ(۱)  حَتّٰی زُرۡتُمُ  الۡمَقَابِرَ ؕ(۲)  کَلَّا  سَوۡفَ تَعۡلَمُوۡنَ ۙ(۳)  ثُمَّ  کَلَّا سَوۡفَ تَعۡلَمُوۡنَ ؕ(۴)

 The desire of amassing wealth has made you heedless. Until you saw the graves.  Certainly, soon you will come to know. Then certainly, soon you will come to know[6]

سُبْحَانَ اللہ الْعَظِيم سُبْحَانَ اللہ وَ بِحَمْدِهٖ - Look at the benevolence, mercy, and grace of Allah! He explains the same ruling in differing ways for the rectification, success, and betterment of creation. This is that Quranic style regarding which Allah declares:

وَ لَقَدۡ صَرَّفۡنَا فِیۡ ہٰذَا  الۡقُرۡاٰنِ  لِیَذَّکَّرُوۡا ؕ

And we have certainly stated matters in this Quran in various ways that they may understand.[7]

Allah mentions words of counsel in differing styles in the Quran. At some places they come with proofs, at others with examples; sometimes with wisdom, sometimes with admonition. The foundational purpose of explaining in these varied styles is so mankind can find guidance and understand the truth.

This Quranic style is in concordance with the human psyche, as it speaks to people according to their understandings. Some people accept through evidence, some out of fear, and other by way of similitudes. Sometimes, the same person experiences different states, so it is beneficial to explain to him by causing him to become fearful at times and being gentle at other.

At the end of the verse cited in the opening, Allah declares:

وَ اللّٰہُ یَقۡبِضُ وَ یَبۡصُۜطُ  ۪

And Allah lessens and makes abundant;[8]

This is because whisperings arise about the depletion of wealth through spending in the way of Allah, so to dispel this doubt, Allah mentions that He constricts provision for whomever He wills and expands it for whomever He wills. Increase and decrease are  controlled by His power, and He has promised expanse for whoever spends in His way, so do not fear doing so. The One in whose path you are spending is benevolent as befits His glory and His treasures are endless.

The Companion Abū Hurayra رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ narrates that the final Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم stated:

The treasures of Al-Ramān (Allah) are replete. He gives limitless mercies and bounties, such that ˹giving throughout the˺ day and night has not reduced them in the slightest. Observe how much He has given since the beginning of the skies and earth. Yet, His treasures have not decreased.[9]

May Allah remove greed, miserliness, and the love of wealth from our hearts! May He grant us His love, motivation for preparing for the Hereafter, and the ability to spend in His way. اٰمِيۡن بِجَاهِ خَاتَمِ النَّبِیّٖن صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم

[1] Kanz al-ʿIrfān, part 3, Al-Baqarah, verse 268

[2] Kanz al-ʿIrfān, part 28, Al-ashr, verse 9

[3] Saḥīḥ Muslim, p. 1069, hadith 6576

[4] Kanz al-ʿIrfān, part 26, Muammad, verse 38

[5] Kanz al-ʿIrfān, part 30, Al-Fajr, verse 20

[6] Ibid, Al-Takāthur, verses 1-4

[7] Ibid, part 15, Banī Isrāʾīl, verse 41

[8] Kanz al-ʿIrfān, part 2, Al-Baqarah, verse 245

[9] Sunan Tirmidhi, vol. 5, p. 34, hadith 3056




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