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IOk Ramadan Reflections Series: #5

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IOK Ramadan Reflections Series Night 5: Sūrah Āl ʿImrān

Allah ﷻ says in Sūrah Āl ʿImrān, “You will never achieve righteousness until you donate some of what you cherish. And whatever you give is certainly well known to Allah.” Righteousness, al-birr, is a very important concept within the framework of Islam. It is a very comprehensive concept that includes all types of goodness a person can think of. It includes performing ritual acts of worship and devotion; praying, fasting, giving charity, reciting Quran, supplicating, and dhikr. It also includes good character; being a person of morality and ethics and one who deals, speaks, and behaves with others in the best way possible. A person can’t be considered to be righteous if they don’t have good character. Ibn ʿUmar (ra) said that righteousness is a simple affair; it is a smiling face and a soft tongue. Ibn Ḥajar (r) mentions that good character is to be fair in one’s dealings, to be soft and pleasant in one’s speech, to e just in judgment, and to strive hard to do good deeds. Birr leads one to Paradise.

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In this verse, Allah ﷻ is telling us that we will never achieve the reality of birr until we spend from that which we love.” An essential aspect of birr is generosity and selflessness. In order to achieve the rank of righteousness, we have to sacrifice something that we love. There’s actually a very beautiful story related to this verse. Abū Ṭalḥah (ra) was one of the wealthiest Companions of the Prophet ﷺ among the Anṣār. He owned several gardens and date palm groves throughout Madinah. One of them was a date palm garden named Bayru Ḥā located outside the masjid of the Prophet ﷺ. This particular garden was extremely fertile and valuable. The Prophet ﷺ would sometimes visit it and drink water from it well. When this particular verse was revealed, “You will never achieve righteousness until you donate some of what you cherish. And whatever you give is certainly well known to Allah,” Abū Ṭalḥah (ra) immediately came to the Prophet ﷻ. He said, “O Messenger of Allah! Allah ﷻ says, ‘You will never achieve righteousness until you donate some of what you cherish.’ My most beloved property is Bayru Ḥā and I am giving it as charity for the sake of Allah ﷻ. I hope to receive its reward and blessings from Allah ﷻ, so give it O Messenger of Allah, wherever Allah ﷻ instructs you to do so.” The Prophet ﷻ responded, “Well done/Amazing/Excellent! Well done/Amazing/Excellent! That is profitable wealth. That is profitable wealth. I have heard what you said and I advise you to distribute it among your relatives.” Abū Ṭalḥah (ra) responded, “That’s what I will do,” and he distributed among some of his relatives.

That is the impact the Quran had upon the hearts of the Companions of the Prophet ﷺ. When they heard a verse, it penetrated their hearts, illuminated their chests, and resulted in immediate action. The Quran was a lived reality for them. They did not hesitate whatsoever to act upon the guidance, instructions, and commands of Allah ﷻ. All of us should aspire to have that type of relationship with the Quran.

In order for us to reach the rank and level of true righteousness, we have to be willing to give and sacrifice that which we love. Generosity is one of the defining qualities of a believer. Throughout the Quran, whenever Allah ﷻ describes the believers, one the qualities that is always mentioned is generosity. Generosity is the willingness to to give and share some of what Allah ﷻ has blessed us with. It has nothing to do with how much we give; rather; it is the willingness to give and sacrifice.

The Prophet ﷺ was a physical manifestation of generosity. He was the most generous human being to walk on the face of this earth. Whenever someone came to him asking for help and assistance, he would give them whatever he could. He would not turn people away and would not say no. A poet praised the Prophet ﷺ saying, “If it wasn’t for the “lā” in lā ilāha illa Allah, the Prophet ﷺ would have never said no!” The Prophet ﷻ encouraged us to be generous through his words and actions. He reminded us, “Wealth does not decrease from charity.” That seems counterintuitive, but it is the absolute truth. As Allah ﷻ reminds us, “Whatever you spend [for the sake of Allah], He will replace it. He is the best of Providers.”

Ramaḍān is a month of giving. The Prophet ﷺ himself would become more generous in the month of Ramaḍān. Let’s all make an effort to give a little more during this blessed month. And I know that sometimes it’s hard to give. It’s hard to give when you’re budgeting, paying the mortgage, car payments, bills, and trying to save for the future. It’s hard to give when you think about paying for your children’s education and securing their future. But Allah ﷻ is the best of Providers and He will definitely give us back far more than what we give. And that sacrifice, that hurt we may feel when giving away our excess wealth, is a means to attaining righteousness. May Allah ﷻ make us among the Righteous!

Tonight’s Ramadan Reflections Series talk was brought to you by the IOK Seminary Faculty. Catch up on previous videos or catch the next videos on the IOK Ramadan Reflections Series page.

Keep supporting MuslimMatters for the sake of Allah

Alhamdulillah, we're at over 850 supporters. Help us get to 900 supporters this month. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

IOK Seminary Faculty train highly motivated and dedicated Muslim men and women in classical Islam and contemporary scholarship, giving them the tools to grow as individuals, effectively serve those around them, and preserve the Islamic tradition in the West.

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