As humans, we have an
innate sense of morality. No matter what religion, race or colour we are,
certain qualities serve as the moral standard. We admire justice, bravery,
honesty and compassion. We abhor those who demonstrate treachery, cruelty or
corruption. Moral standards are universal, and one of the most important
aspects of Islam is adherence to high moral standards and good manners. Prophet
Muhammad. May the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, taught Muslims to
have the best manners and personal characteristics. The Prophet’s own high
standard of morals and manners made him the best example for Muslims to follow.
God said in the Quran:
“And verily you, O Muhammad, are on an exalted standard of
character.” (Quran 68:4)
Generosity was among the countless good qualities of the
Prophet Muhammad. He was the most generous of people and he used to be most
generous in Ramadan.
One day the Prophet Muhammad offered the prayer in the
mosque and then hurriedly went to his house and returned immediately. A
companion asked why he left and he replied,
“I left a piece of gold at home which was given for
charity and I disliked letting it remain a night in my house, so I bought it to
the mosque to distribute.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari)
Our worldly possessions are bounties from God, who is Al
Kareem, the Most Generous. Muslims believe that everything originates from God
and everything will return to Him, thus, it is logical to behave as if that
which we possess is merely a loan, something we are obligated to preserve,
protect and ultimately share.
Whenever Prophet Muhammad met a miserly person, he
advised him to be more generous and charitable. Ibn `Abbas said that he heard
Prophet Muhammad say, “The believer is not the one who eats when his
neighbour beside him is hungry,” another companion heard the Prophet say, “The
believer is simple and generous, but the wicked person is deceitful and
Princeton University wordnet defines generosity as the
willingness to give freely. Islam encourages this concept of generosity so
much so that it is embedded in one of the five pillars of Islam, the obligatory
charity known as Zakaat. In Arabic, the term zakaat literally means
purification of the heart however; it is also the payment, from surplus money,
of an obligatory charity designed by God to provide for all the needy members
of the community. It is a fixed calculable amount.
There is also another form of generosity in Islam called
sadaqa. Linguistically, sadaqa means truthfulness, and some
scholars have described it as the heart being truthful to its Creator. Anything
given generously - freely to others - with the intention of pleasing God is sadaqa.
Sadaqa can be as simple as a smile, helping an elderly person with their
groceries or removing objects from the road or path.
Generosity can be viewed as a wise investment in the future.
Generosity or sadaqa may pave the way to Paradise because with every
generous act comes great reward from God. However, being generous does not only
mean giving freely from what you have in abundance. Generosity does not lie in
giving away something that is no longer useful but in giving freely from the
things we love or need.
Aisha (the wife of the Prophet) said, “A lady,
along with her two daughters came to me asking for some alms, but she found
nothing with me except one date which I gave to her and she divided it between
her two daughters.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari)
God tells us in the Quran that whatever we give away
generously, with the intention of pleasing Him, He will replace it. God knows
what is in the hearts of men.
Say: “Truly, my Lord enlarges the provision for whom He wills
of His slaves, and also restricts it) for him, and whatsoever you spend of
anything (in God’s Cause), He will replace it. And He is the Best of
providers.” (Quran 34:39)
The Value of Generosity
The companions of Prophet Muhammad understood the value
of being generous. Abdullah ibn Omar was seen in the market buying fodder for
his camel on credit. One of the men queried this knowing that Abdullah had
received 4000 dirhams and a blanket the previous day. It was explained that before
nightfall Abdullah had distributed the money amongst the needy. He then took
the blanket, threw it over his shoulder and headed home, but by the time he arrived
even the blanket was gone, he had given it to a needy person.
After the death of the Prophet, the people faced great
hardship due to drought. They came to Abu Bakr asking him to provide them with
enough to sustain them, but he was unable to help, the treasury was empty. Just
at that time, the camel caravan belonging to Uthman arrived from Damascus. It was filled with foodstuffs and other goods. The merchants gathered at Uthman’s
house offering him large amounts of money for the goods; however, he turned
them down saying he was prepared only to give the goods to the One from whom he
would receive the greatest reward. Uthman gave all the goods to the starving
people of Madinah and did not charge them. He knew that God would reward him
with something far greater than money.
Even in the direst of circumstances, person who is a
true believer in Almighty God is able to be generous.
The people came to the Prophet Muhammad and asked, “If
someone has nothing to give, what will he do?” He said, “He should work with
his hands and benefit himself and also give in charity (from what he earns).” The
people further asked, “If he cannot find even that?” He replied, “He should
help the needy who appeal for help.” Then the people asked, “If he cannot do
that?” He replied, “Then he should perform good deeds and keep away from evil
deeds and this will be regarded as charitable deeds.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari)
And God says in the Quran that He will repay the generosity
of a believer.
“And whatever you spend in good, it will be repaid to you in
full, and you shall not be wronged.” (Quran 2:272)
God is the One who provides for us and He expects us to
share generously. We are encouraged to be benevolent and unselfish with our
possessions, with our time and with our exemplary behaviour towards others.