Generosity as an Islamic Virtue
In the Name of Allaah, the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful.
"And give not a thing in order to have more." Q74:6
Undoubtedly, in every society those who give are held in high esteem more than those who receive..
The system of the world is such that there are givers and there are receivers. If the haves suppress their covetousness and are selfless then the have nots will have no cause to perish in their impoverishment.
The Islamic social system is epitomized by generosity both in cash and in kind, this great virtue was greatly emphasised in various places in the Glorious Qur'an and traditions of the Prophet (Pbuh).
Conversely, Islam frowns at begging and strongly discourages people from engaging in that unless there are genuine, legitimate reasons for that.
In an authentic hadith recorded by Al-Bukhari on the strength of Hakim bin Hizam (RA) The Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: "The upper hand is better than the lower hand (i.e he who gives in charity is better than him who takes it)."
Generosity is not a virtue that is found ONLY in the wealthy but ALSO in the poor. It is a thing of the heart and has nothing to do with money.
In Saheeh Muslim the Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was reported to have said that: "It is better for one among you to bring a load of firewood on his back and give in charity out of it and be independent of people than to beg of people, whether they give him anything or refuse him."
Today beggars ask of men on the streets and in houses in the name of poverty hiding under the pretext of Islam when in reality Islam never encourages that, nay it frowns at it.
However, there are those for whom begging is allowed: They are: the poor person who is destitute, the man who owes a debt, and the one who has been stricken by financial calamity and lost all his wealth. In these cases it is not permissible to ask for more than one needs, on condition that he does not have enough to meet his needs and is not able to earn enough for his livelihood.
For these people, it is enjoined upon mankind to be generous and not to deny them if one is in a position to help.
"He [Muhammad (may the peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) ] never said 'NO' except when he made Tashahud, Had it not been for the Tashahud, his 'NO' would have been 'YES'. -An Arab poet
Today most men always say 'NO' when asked and only say 'YES' when expecting something in return from the one being aided.
A few example in the life of the Prophet of Islam will paint the image of what generosity really means.
The Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) once gave an entire flock of sheep that were so numerous that they filled the valley separated by two mountains.
Once a man asked the Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) for the very shirt he had on his back; in response to the strange request, the Prophet removed his shirt and handed it over to the man.
The most generous man, Prophet Muhammad ( may the peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) never showed generosity in anticipation of something in return.
To be generous does not equate seeking for people's respect, admiration, love and loyalty but rather it is an inner virtue deeply rooted in the love for Allaah and genuine zeal to help those in need.
The Jews, the Bedouins, the enemies, and the hypocrites all ate with the Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) as his guests. What has become far fetched in the world today.
To be generous means when the giver is happier than the person that receives. This was the attitude of the Prophet of Islam (may the peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him).
On the strength of 'Uqbah ibn 'Amir (RA); The Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: "Every person will be under the shade of his own charity (on Qiyamat), until judgement is rendered among people"
And on the strength of Abu Hurayrah (RA) as narrated by Imam Muslim; The Prophet (pbuh) said: "Charity never causes one's level of wealth to decrease."
In the words of Shaykh Ai'dh al-Qarni: "His (may the peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) table-spread was like a complementary food stand-any and all comers were welcome to it."
Give when you have abundance of wealth and even when your provision is restricted.
If only the world can shift away from hypocritical slogans of charity and put the spotlight on the generosity of Muhammad (may the peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) humanity will be better off in giving out charity to those that really deserve it.
A person's charity is not accepted until he or she is convinced that they need the reward more than the beggar needs the money.
A shaykh once said: "The pious never believed they gave money, but rather they tell the poor that we are giving you your money which Allaah has kept with us"
Be generous and surely your reward is with Allaah. Every good action triggers a positive reaction.
To give is to be blessed.
May Allaah infuse and imbibe within our bosoms the great virtue of generosity.
twitter: @Penabdull Instagram: @penabdul