by Arthur Richards
Charity, Charity, Charity. A word that seems to echo throughout the masjid halls during this auspicious month of Ramadan. Words that seem to be snuck into the Friday sermon in an effort to get you when you least expect it, and jolt you into giving (if you’re not already sleeping). During this month it seems as though the charity card is being pulled at every moment. Your inbox reminds you of organizations that you had long forgotten about, dinners where your young girl raised her hand and it ended with you writing a check. You’ve been receiving messages telling you to text a certain number to make a donation of your choice. And just about every night when you are exhausted, and wanting to go home in an effort to prepare for your 9-5, someone stands up at the halfway mark of your taraweeh to remind you that God calls on you to give to those in need.
It’s easy to understand the frustration and how overwhelming it can be. For others it might even be embarrassing and depressing that one is unable to give freely without fearing the repercussions on their finances. There has been a growing disdain for such practices as many feel that they are wrong, or could be done in a better way. I’ve seen far too many upset uncles stand up in the middle of a fundraiser only to tell the organization to speed it up because they want to pray witr. Some organizations like ICNA Relief have set up campaigns (Be the Ansar) for the month of Ramadan for people to donate online to make the process easier, and organizations like LaunchGood continue to set the standard high in the realm of Islamic crowdfunding.
No doubt there are always better ways to facilitate the giving of charity but there are many among us that find it difficult to give, they might be well off but won’t find themselves visiting a website to donate towards a cause, instead someone must come to them, plead to them and remind them of the virtues of giving in this blessed month. Others might be on the verge of poverty themselves and questioning where they will receive the money to give, but because of the words and the reminders of the people of God they find it within themselves to reach deep into their pockets and give whatever they can. “And remind, for indeed, the reminder benefits the believers” (Quran 51:55).
As someone who has spent their life in charitable work both within and outside of the Muslim community, I have seen the power that the Muslim community has, especially during the month of Ramadan. The capacity to change the world, to build homes for the homeless, to give food to the hungry, to take away the worry of the widow, to give a future to children, God opens the doors of opportunity through many of His servants, through you. Meanwhile He rewards you for doing so. “The example of those who spend their wealth in the way of God is like a seed [of grain] which grows seven spikes; in each spike is a hundred grains. And God multiplies [His reward] for whom He wills. And God is all-Encompassing and Knowing” (Quran, 2: 261)
Abu Hurairah (God be pleased with him) narrated that The Messenger of God (May God’s peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Seven people will be shaded by God under His shade on the day when there will be no shade except His ….[one of them will be] a [person] who gives charity so secretly that their left hand does not know what their right hand has given.” (i.e. nobody knows how much they have given in charity). Agreed upon. (Bulugh Al-Maram)
We are told that the sun will be brought near to the people on the Day of Resurrection, when the unbearable heat is penetrating and the people will be clambering for the Judgement to begin. These select people of charity will be of those under a shade that God will provide for His beloved servants.
“Give charity without delay, for it stands in the way of calamity.” (At-Tirmidhi).
How many of us wish that we could find ways to avoid large trials and afflictions that will come to us in the future? We all do, so then why not heed the words of the Prophet (May God’s peace and blessings be upon him) that tell the believer to do exactly that. To give and to give freely so that one has a barrier between themselves and these calamities.
It was narrated from Abu Hurairah that the Messenger of God said:
“When a [person] dies all their good deeds come to an end except three: Ongoing charity [Sadaqah Jariyah], beneficial knowledge and a righteous son who prays for them” (Sunan an-Nasa’i).
This is probably one of the greatest reasons for giving charity, as we are people who are always looking for high results. What if someone were to tell you that you could give a single dollar today and in 10-20 years receive a million, there is no doubt that you would give, and you wouldn’t take a moment to hesitate. Causes such as building a masjid, sponsoring a student of knowledge, building a well and so many other examples are exactly how you get those results for the hereafter. And for that don’t care about such results, God reminds us, “[A person on the day of judgement] will say, “Oh, I wish I had sent ahead [some good] for my life” (Quran 89:24). This is the good that you are able to send ahead and there remains no better opportunity than in this month!
There are people around you right now, who have more right to the wealth that God has given you than even you yourself. These people, the poor, the destitute, the widowed, the sick, the hungry are all praying this Ramadan for an opening. Their “ameen” at the end of every supplication during the witr may not be noticeably louder to the ears of worshippers near to them, but the Divine will hear them, and He will respond. And in responding, He may give you the opportunity to be the conduit of that supplication. Those whose hands are wide open and calling upon Him might be have their du’as answered just because of the charity they give in this month. He is working through you this Ramadan, and He is calling you to enter His paradise as a reward for what you have done in this world. So answer the call, receive His mercy and forgiveness and remember, “Those who spend their wealth [in God ‘s way] by night and by day, secretly and publicly – they will have their reward with their Lord. And no fear will there be concerning them, nor will they grieve” (2:274).
May this Ramadan be a month of purification of your soul, and your wealth. Ameen!