Offering unconditional kindness and love to others is charity; it is a conscious act, but the choice is made from the heart, without looking for recognition or compensation. When charity is performed sincerely, it is a one-way action in which the giver does not expect anything in return.
Some believe charity should start at home, while others think it should start from the heart. But generosity begins from the heart when you feel the impulse to help others; it starts at home and then spreads to others in society. The first step in practicing charity is to acknowledge internally the need to care for others, whether unconsciously or consciously. Everyone faces difficulties and sorrows in life, but charity begins with those who try to minimize their issues to come up with kindness, compassion, and love for others. Thus, some people put aside their suffering to ease that of others.
“Those who in charity spend of their goods by night and by day, in secret and in public, have their reward with their Lord: on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve” (Qur’an – 2:274).
In Islam, charity or Sadaqah is considered the third important pillar of Islam after Tawakal (Belief) and Salaah (Prayer). I believe there is no better way to show concern for humanity than charity. It is the best way by which we can uplift our society. Not only helping others or showing courtesy to one another, but Sadaqah also protects us from calamity and being miserly. It is promised that Sadaqah will save us from Hellfire. Charity is a never-ending good deed that not only elevates your status but also will be a shade to the believer on the day of judgement or resurrection. In Islam Charity is of two forms, Sadaqah and Sadaqah e Jariyah. Sadaqah e Jariyah benefits the person on earth and adds to the person’s rewards after he has left for the heavenly abode. When I gave some pennies to poor people in my childhood, my father told me that this was getting deposited in my account and I would receive it back manifold and also used to say that I should learn the difference between donation and Sadaqah. Sadaqah should be given without expecting any reward or appreciation in return. If we offer anything in charity with the expectation of rewards in return, it will not be considered as Sadaqah but a donation. It should not be like doing good and expecting good in return but be discrete with your kindness. If we are giving anything in charity, we should not speak about it to anyone with exaggeration. My father has taught me that if you give charity with one of your hands, even your other hand should not come to know about it.
According to a Hadith, the first three people entering the jahanum (Hellfire) will be an Islamic scholar, a martyr, and a wealthy man. The Hadith is that a martyr will be brought to Allah, and he will say; I fought for you until I died a martyr. But Allah will say yes, you died but fought for people to recognize you as a martyr, and it was done. Then he will be ordered to be dragged and cast into Hellfire.
Then another man will be called who will be an Islamic scholar, who has read and taught the Qur’an. He will say: I studied religion, taught it, and recited the Qur’an for Your sake. Allah will reply: You have lied – you did so but for people to recognize you as a learner, a scholar, and so it was said. Then he will also be ordered to be dragged and cast into Hellfire.
The following person to be called will be a man whom Allah had made rich and given all kinds of wealth, and Allah will say: And what did you do about them? He will say: I left no path in which you like money to be spent without spending it for your sake. Allah will say: You have lied – you did, but so that people will say about you that he is open-handed. And so it was said. In order to throw him into Hellfire, he will then be commanded to be pulled along on his face thrown into Hellfire.” [Sahi Muslim]
But what is this generation up to? No one should have been in poverty, given how much we donate to charity these days. So are we really giving charity to uplift people or we are just flaunting? We have charity events almost every hour but still poor people all around. The marketing cost for those events is enough to uplift the people around. We should consider if the charity we are giving qualifies to be called as Sadaqah. We nowadays give out charity to get recognized in society and expect the promotion of status or fame in return. Even the people who are actually in need of that charity do not come to the forefront because they feel they are being used as a centre of gratification. Islam puts a lot of value and reward on secret charitable contributions. It safeguards the honor of people who receive the generosity and stops the provider from bragging or seeking attention. Islam teaches Muslims that concealing one’s charity giving is preferable to make it known and that making charitable giving public is undesirable. Giving charity in secret is preferable when it is voluntary (Sadaqah). People can provide charity in secret if they are concerned that they would be tempted or show off when doing so or that they may humiliate or disgrace the needy. Giving selflessly, however, sets a positive example for the community as long as the donor can do so modestly and is aware that his objectives are not to brag or show off. It inspires others to donate to charity in the same way the contributor has.
– The writer is an Assistant professor in the Civil Engineering Department at SSM College of Engineering. She can be reached at email@example.com