[Ibaadur Rehman (Allah’s bondsmen) series]
Charity and Moderation in Spending
by Shaykh Ahmed Abdul Mujeeb Qasmi Nadvi (translated by Muhammad Owais Jafrey)
We pick up the theme of Ibaad-ur-Rahman, Allah’s bondsmen again. One of their characteristics mentioned in Aayah 67 of Surah Al-Furqaan is that:
“They are those who are neither wasteful nor niggardly when they spend, but [they] keep to a just balance…”
Islam gives great importance to the struggle of earning a livelihood. It emphasizes utilization of Allah’s given physical skill and mental capability to make a living. One should earn with his own hands. Self-help is the key to a Muslim’s life.
Once a laborer came to see Prophet (SAW); the skin of his hands was rough, horny and thickened with corns due to excessive manual labor. Prophet (SAW) kissed his hands out of appreciation. Let me tell you that this was the only time that he (SAW) ever kissed someone’s hands.
Antra-ibn Shaddad was a pre-Islamic poet. Prophet (SAW) was highly pleased to hear his couplet, which meant:
The couplet means: “I worked very hard the whole nights, without going to bed so that I may earn an honorable meal.”
Not supporting the self and giving up work without any valid reason is ingratitude towards Allah’s blessings. Surviving on the state treasury or charity is only allowed in exceptional cases. Lethargy and passivity in Allah’s world of action is like living in a dead body. Allah (SWT) has provided abundance of resources, but one should earn them with legitimate means. Aayah 10 of Surah Al-Jumu’a says:
“…then when the prayer has ended, disperse in the land and seek out Allah’s bounty. Remember Allah often so that you may prosper.”
In addition, Islam has also taught us as to where and how we should spend our money. In Aayah 31 of Surah Al-A’raf, we are told:
“Children of Adam, dress well whenever you are at worship, and eat and drink [as We have permitted] but do not be extravagant: Allah does not like extravagant people.”
At yet another place in Aayah 26-27 of Bani Isra’eel, Allah (SWT) says:
“Give relatives their due, and the needy, and travelers – do not squander your wealth wastefully: those who squander are the brothers of Shaitan, and Shaitan is the most ungrateful to his Lord.”
Both of these Aayahs command neither to be extravagant nor spend thrift, but keep a healthy balance between the two. Haafiz Ibn-e-Kathir says in the sight of the Holy Qur’an an extravagant person equals Shaitan. Abdullah bin Masood (RA), and Abdullah Ibn-e-Abbas say that every expense except the one made for the right and necessary cause is extravagance. Mujahid (RehmA) opines that if a person has spent all his money, it is not extravagance, but if he spends even a little bit of it for an unfair cause, then it certainly is. Qatadah (RA) said that extravagance means spending money in the unfair and wrong causes, which is disobedience to Allah (SWT). Imaam Ahmad (RehmA) has quoted this from Imaam bin Maalik (RehmA) that a person from the tribe of Banu Tamim came to Prophet (SAW) and submitted:
“Ya Rasul Allah, I am a wealthy person, have a family and dependents, and I host feasts every now and then for guests. Please advise me as to how should I spend my money?” Prophet (SAW) advised: “Give Zakah from your wealth if it is due, because Zakah purifies the wealth from malignancy, be financially helpful to relatives, and then take care of the rights of the needy, indigent and the wayfarer.” The person submitted: “Ya Rasul Allah: please make it compact and brief for me so that I may make it a code to live by.” Prophet (SAW) recited Aayah 26 of Bani Isra’eel for him, which says:
“Give relatives their due, and the needy, and travelers…”
The person submitted: “Yaa Rasul Allah: This is sufficient for me.”
This should be remembered that Islam does not regard wealth as something bad which is mistakenly believed by some. Wealth is a blessing which warrants thanks to Allah (SWT). There is this tradition commending the rich, who are thankful:
Ibn-e-Umar (RA) reported that Prophet (SAW) said: “Envy is justified only with regard to two types of individuals: a man whom Allah has given knowledge of the Qur’an, and he recites it during the night and during the day; and a man whom Allah has given wealth and he spends from it during the night and during the day.” [Bukhari & Muslim]
Wealth in fact is a trust of Allah entrusted to the wealthy. The real owner is Allah and the trustee has to do justice with the trust by obeying Him, Who has entrusted wealth to the trustee. That is why Allah (SWT) says in Aayah 7 of Surah Al-Hadeed:
“Believe in Allah and His Messenger, and give out of what He has made pass down to you: those of you who believe and give will have a great reward.”
It is obvious that when Allah (SWT) is the real owner and man is simply the custodian and trustee, he is bound to obey the One who has trusted him with the trust. A Muslim by the dictates of his faith will obey the command, but will be fervently enthusiastic to please Allah (SWT) by doing things which are commanded.
In addition to the above referred Aayah of Surah Al-Furqaan, Allah (SWT) has mentioned this subject in Aayah 29 of Bani Isra’eel also.
“Do not be tight-fisted, or so open-handed that you end up blamed and overwhelmed with regret.”
Spending wealth the way Allah (SWT) wants us to spend is defined as moderation. This is a part of Islamic teaching. Prophet (SAW) used to supplicate thus:
“Yaa Allah, I seek your fear from you in the hidden as well as the non-hidden issues.” [Ghaib-o-Shahadah]. Ya Allah, I seek that in being happy or unhappy, I should say things with love and sincerity, and Yaa Allah, I seek moderation in both poverty and prosperity.” [Nisa’ee]
This moderation is also required in acts of worship. [Majmu’a’aey Zawa’id]
Hazrat Imaam Ahmad (RehmA) quotes Abu Derda (RA), who relates that Prophet (SAW) said: “Kind heartedness and moderation in financial matters is a sign of the wise man.”
He (SAW) also said: “That person would never be dependent, who observed moderation in spending.”
Kanzul Aamaal records the tradition of Prophet (SAW) related by Ibn-e-Umar (RA) in which Prophet (SAW) said: “Moderation in spending is one half of the successful/pleasant financial life.”
This is a fact that no other religion has commanded and encouraged “Infaaq” spending as Islam. In addition Islam regards this attribute of moderately spending as compassion in the path of Allah. Aayahs 2-4 of Surah Baqarah say:
“The is the Scripture in which there is no doubt, containing guidance for those who are mindful of Allah, who believe in the unseen, keep up the prayer, and give out of what We have provided for them…”
It should be noted that this Aayah doesn’t command to spend one’s entire wealth. Percentage in Zakah varies from situation to situation. It is 2 ½ %, 5 % and 7 % on case to case basis. Sahih Bukhari quotes a dialogue between Ka’ab (RA) and Prophet (SAW):
Hazrat Ka’ab submitted: “Yaa Rasul Allah, I want to give my entire wealth in Sadaqah (charity).
Prophet (SAW) replied: “Save some from it as it will be good for you.”
Hazrat Ka’ab: “I save the share from my Khaiber property.”
Zakah has been made obligatory to purify the heart from its undue love and attachment. Prophet (SAW) once said:
“The person, who gives Zakah, extends hospitality towards the guests and provides help to fellow Muslims in their hour of need and calamity is free from miserliness.” [Ibn-e-Kathir].
Aayahs 16-17 of Surah Al-Taghaabun says:
“…Be mindful of Allah as much as you can; hear and obey; be charitable – it is for your own good. Those who are saved from their own meanness will be the prosperous ones: if you make a generous loan to Allah, He will multiply it for you and forgive you.”
Once a wealthy person came to see Prophet (SAW) and submitted:
“I want to give my entire wealth in the cause of Allah.”
Prophet (SAW) advised him: “It is better to leave your dependents with resources rather than without and leaving them helpless looking up to others for financial assistance.” [Bukhari]
If some one wants to spend all his assets in the path of Allah, he will be rewarded in full. Allah (SWT) mentions about such people in Aayahs 7-9 of Surah Al-Dahr:
“They fulfill their vows; they fear a day of widespread woes; they give food to the poor, the orphan, and the captive, though they love it themselves, saying: “We feed you for the sake of Allah alone: We seek neither recompense nor thanks from you.”
A person came to see Prophet (SAW) in wretched condition. Prophet (SAW) asked him:
“Do you have means of livelihood?” The man responded: “Yes, I do.”
Prophet (SAW) asked him to elaborate. The man submitted:
“I have all types of wealth: like agricultural land, orchards, and cattle.” Prophet (SAW) advised him and said: “It pleases Allah (SWT) to see His blessings reflected on your person.” [Tirmidhi]
What Prophet (SAW) meant was that the person’s attire, dress and appearance should give proof of the blessings which Allah (SWT) has given him, and he should enjoy using them.
History is full of glowing examples of sacrifices made by the companions of Prophet (SAW) and their spending in the path of Allah. Imaam Lei’s bin Salad was one of the wealthiest person of his time and his annual income was about 80 thousand Dinar, but he did never had the opportunity to pay Zakah because he used to spend it before it could be due for payment. Once a woman came to him and asked for some honey. He gave her a big jar full of honey. His friends questioned his giving more than her one time need. La’is replied: “She asked according to her need, and I gave have according to the blessings of Allah (SWT).
History presents innumerable instances of generosity and magnanimity of Prophet (SAW)’s companions as mentioned in Maulana Yusuf Kandhalvi’s book “Hayaat-us-Sahaabah. Let me share with you the incident when in the cause to meet the expenses of a battle Sayyidina Omar (RA) brought half of his wealth and presented it to Prophet (SAW). No one has excelled him in donating half of his wealth at that time. In the mean time Sayyidina Abu Bakr (RA) brought to donate all that he had. Prophet (SAW) asked him: “Have you left some behind for your family and dependents?”
Sayyidina Abu Bakr (RA) submitted: “I have left the name of Allah and His Messenger.” [Abu Dawood]
People like him had complete and total faith in whatever Prophet (SAW) said. He (SAW) once said: “Salaam does not decrease wealth.” [Tirmidhi]. On the contrary, Sadaqah multiplies wealth beyond imagination as mentioned in Aayah 39 of Surah Saba:
“Say, My Lord gives in abundance to whichever of His servants He will, and sparingly to whichever He will; He will replace whatever you give in alms/charity; He is the best provider.”
We Muslims these days are the victims of extremes. Either we draw pleasure in stinginess and miserliness, or enjoy reckless spending. We are totally devoid of moderation. On weddings and similar celebrations, we spend to show off. The intention is to attune to the false social values of pomp and show. It is mistakenly believed that extravagance will attest to our pretended standard of living. This waste is considered necessary to prove one’s worth and status. Wealth is Allah’s blessing, which should be spent in His cause to better the lot of fellow Muslims and mankind in general. It should be spent for the betterment of the indigent, needy, the poor, widows, orphans, the handicaps, homeless and the sick, and if done so, its reward is guaranteed by Allah (SWT) and His Messenger.
Let us resolve in this New Year that we will as we must thank Allah (SWT) for whatever He has entrusted us with and will deliver His given wealth to those who deserve it most. We are custodians and ameen of His amanah (trust). Let us prove that we are trust worthy custodians and honest trustees in the sight of Allah, His Messenger and the rest of the world.
SWT = Subhanahu Wa Ta'Ala
SAW = Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam
AS = AlehisSalam
RA = Radhiyallaho anhu
RAnha= Radhiyallaho anha
The Friday Khutbahs are published to enhance your knowledge of Islam. The references of Quran and Hadith are the approximate translation of the Arabic text. The editors have not verified the accuracy of the the English translation. The scholarly reader is encouraged to refer to the original Arabic script if there is any doubt. Kindly notify us if the translation can be enhanced.