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Saturday, December 26, 2009

The little that you give in the way of God will bring great returns to you...

Dear brothers and sisters in Islam,
Assalam Alaikum WaRehmatAllah Wabarakatuh

Today we will try to remind ourselves about importance of charity in Islam, INSHALLAH.

Charity, preached by every religion of the world, is a way of bringing justice to society. And justice is the essence of religion, Islam has therefore made charity that is Zakah, obligatory and binding upon all those who embrace the faith; it has been made into an institution in order to give in permanence and regularity. Charity should be lawfully earned or acquired by the giver. It should include such things as are of use and value to others.

"Charity is for those in need." This is general principle which enjoins us to help people in need, be they good or bad, on the right path or not, Muslims or non-Muslims.

There are two forms of charity in Islam - obligatory and voluntary, called Zakah and Sadaqah respectively.

Zakah

Zakah, is derived from the verb zaka, (which signifies "to thrive," "to be wholesome," "to be pure") means purification. Giving up of a portion of the wealth one may possess in excess of what is needed for sustenance is to "purify" or legalize it so that the remainder may lawfully be used by the alms giver. The law of Zakah is to take from those who have wealth and give it away to those who do not. This rotation of wealth is a way to balance social inequality.

The test of charity lies not in giving away something we have discarded but the things that we value greatly, something that we love. It is unselfishness that God demands. It may be in any form - one's personal efforts, talents, skill, learning, property or possessions.

Zakah is the type of Muslim charity that is obligatory, as decreed by the Glorious Qur'an. This basic law is seen as a solution to poverty and suffering. The Muslim community is obliged to donate a certain portion of their yearly earnings in the name of Allah, so that the needy and the sick can have a brighter future.

The Qur'an states: 'Of their wealth take alms to purify and sanctify them' (Tauba 9:103). Thus Zakah is looked upon as a means of spiritual purification; therefore, it is an obligation whether or not there are needy members of the community. Zakah acts to remind the Muslim of Allah's gift of wealth bestowed upon them, and of those others not so fortunate.

Zakat forms a part of the whole for a Muslim, in terms of religious observance. Along with prayer and faith, Zakat enables the Muslim to be true in his/her belief of Allah. The law states that 2.5% of a wealthy Muslim's savings must be donated to the cause.

The Qur'an stipulates the specific uses of Zakah within the community: 'The alms are only for the poor and the needy, and for those employed in connection therewith, and for those whose hearts are to be reconciled, and for the freeing of slaves, and for those in debt, and for the cause of Allah, and for the wayfarer' (Al-Tauba 9:60). Above all, Zakah is given in the name of Allah to further His ways amongst the Muslims.

Zakah is a form of worship, rather than a levy. Zakah (welfare contribution) is obligatory on every Muslim who is sahib-e-nisab. That is, wealth equivalent to the value of three ounces of gold or 21 ounces of silver - at present this value in the USA $1,000. It is a pillar of Islam and the Qur'an has emphasized it equally as Salah (prayer). The Prophet (SAS) of Allah said: 'If they accept Islam, then inform them that Allah enjoined on them Zakah to be taken from their rich, and given to the poor among them.'


Sadaqah
Sadaqah is also a means of moral learning. Sadaqah (Charity) is an Ibadah (worship). According to Hadith, Sadaqah is prescribed for every person every day the sun rises. Hadith is much more explicit. To remove from the road anything, which may cause hurt is called Sadaqah or a charitable deed. According to another Hadith "there is a Sadaqah (charity) on every limb with every new sun, and to do justice among people is also a charity". Sadaqah is a very wide term and is used in the Quran to cover all kinds of charity. Examples of other charitable deeds are; "your salutation to people," "your enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong", "refraining from doing evil to any one", of a smile or a glass of water to a thirsty person, or they may even just utter a kindly word and so on.

The Qur'an lays stress on the believers to care for the needy, the orphans, the destitute and the unfortunate members of the society. 'The believers ... are steadfast in prayers, and in whose wealth there is a right acknowledged, for the poor and the destitute. (Qur'an 70:22-24).

Sadaqah should start at home
'When one of you is poor, he starts with himself. If anything is left, he spends it on his dependants. If anything is (still left) then on his relatives, and then, if more is left, he spends it here and there.' (Prophet of Allah (SAS) related from Jabir.)

The very words used to denote charitable deeds are an indication of the broadness of its conception. The Glorious Qur'an not only lays stress on such great deeds of charity as the emancipation of slaves (90:13; 2:177), the feeding of the poor (69:34; 90:11-16; 107:1-3), taking care of orphans (17:34; 76:8; 89:17; 90:15; 93:9, 107:2) and doing good to humanity in general, but gives equal emphasis to smaller acts of generosity. And in a similar vein, the speaking of a kind word to parents is referred to as Ihsan (doing good) in 17:23, and generally the use of the words is recommended as in itself a charitable deed in 2:83, 4:8 and other places.

1. The Verses from Quran Regarding Charity:

--Attitude of the giver of charity:

Believers! Do not nullify your acts of charity by stressing your benevolence and causing hurt as does he who spends his wealth only to be seen by men and does not believe in Allah and the Last Day. The example of his spending is that of a rock with a thin coating of earth upon it: when a heavy rain smites it, the earth is washed away, leaving the rock bare; such people derive no gain from their acts of charity. Allah does not set the deniers of the Truth on the right way. (2:262 - 264)

--The needy who do not do beg:

Those needy ones who are wholly wrapped up in the cause of Allah, and who are hindered from moving about the earth in search of their livelihood especially deserve help. He who is unaware of their circumstances supposes them to be wealthy because of their dignified bearing, but you will know them by their countenance, although they do not go about begging of people with importunity. And whatever wealth you will spend on helping them, Allah will know of it. (2:273)

--Economic exploitation:

And do not become like the woman who, after having painstakingly spun her yarn, caused it to disintegrate into pieces. You resort to oaths as instruments of mutual deceit so that one people might take greater advantage than another although Allah puts you to the test through this. Surely on the Day of Resurrection He will make clear the truth concerning the matters over which you differed. (16:92)

--Food and the needy:

Have you seen him who belies the rewards and punishments of the Hereafter? He it is who drives away the orphan and does not urge giving away the food of the poor. (107:1 - 3)

--Greed:

Look, you are being called upon to expend in Allah's Way, yet some of you are being niggardly, whereas the one who is niggardly is, in fact, being niggardly only to himself. Allah is Self-Sufficient: it is you who are the needy. If you turn away, Allah will replace you by another people, and they will not be like you. (47:38)

--Zakat-what you owe from your money:

The people who where given the Book before this did not divide into sects until after the clear statement (of the Right Way) had come to them, and the only Command they were given was to worship Allah, making their religion sincerely His, turning all their attention towards Him, and to establish the Salat and to pay the Zakat: for this alone is the most true and right religion. (98:4 - 5)


2. The Hadiths related to charity

--Clothing:

Ibn Abbas related that the Prophet said: Any Muslim who gives a Muslim a garment to wear will be in Allah's safekeeping as long as a shred of it remains on him. (Ahmad, Tirmidhi)

--Debt: Relieving the person in debt

Abu Qatadah related that the Prophet said: If anyone would like Allah to save him from the hardships of the Day of Resurrection, he should give more time to his debtor who is short of money, or remit his debt altogether. (Muslim)

--Food and the needy:

Safwan ibn Salim related that the Prophet said: Anyone who looks after and works for a widow and a poor person is like a warrior fighting for AllahÕs cause, or like a person who fasts during the day and prays all night. (Bukhari)

Anas related that the Prophet said: If any Muslim plants something or sows seed from which a man, a bird or an animal eats, it counts as a charity for him. (Bukhari, Muslim)

--Stinginess:

Jabir reported that the Prophet said: Avoid doing injustice to others, for on the Day of Judgment, it will turn into manifold darkness, and safeguard yourself against miserliness, for it ruined those who were before you. It incited them to murder and treating the unlawful as lawful. (Muslim)


"You cannot attain to righteousness unless you spend (in charity) out of what you love." (The Holy Quran 3:92)

O Allah! Guide us among those You guide, grant us health and pardon among those You grant health and pardon, look after us among all the others whom You look after, grant us grace in what You have given us, and protect us from the evil of what You have ordained; for You decree and none can decree against You, and none is abased whom You have befriended and none is exalted except You.
Our Lord, shower us with Your mercy, and bless our affairs with Your guidance.

Ameen..


JazakumAllah Khayran,

-Mohammad Ahmed


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