Fruits for the Week

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When Sa’ad ibn Abi Waqqas was severely ill and almost at the point of death, the Prophet (saw) visited him and Sa’ad asked him: “O Messenger of Allah, I have much wealth, and I only have two daughters to inherit from me. Should I give two-thirds of my wealth in charity? The Prophet (saw) said: “No.” He said: “Should I give half?” He said: “No.” He said: “A third?” He said: “Give a third, but it is still a lot.” Then the Prophet (saw) commented: “If you leave your children rich, it is better than if you leave them poor and begging from people. You will not spend anything (in charity) without being rewarded for it, even if it is the mouthful you raise to your wife’s mouth.” (Bukhari)

The Prophet (saw) was the embodiment of that genuine, pure generosity. He was never known to withhold from giving or to refuse anyone who came to ask of him. The Sahaabi Jabir (ra) tells us of this: “The Messenger (saw) was never asked for anything and he said ‘NO,’” (Bukhari and Muslim)

The Prophet (saw) understood the effect of wealth on people, so he used it as a means of softening hearts and bringing people to Islam. He did not think it excessive to spend large amount in order to win new converts to Islam, because he knew that a person whose main concern is initially wealth, will become a sincere Muslim once he enters Islam, and this will make him one of the strongest in faith. This is what the great Sahababi Anas Ibn Malik (ra) tells us:

“The Prophet was never asked for anything that could advance the cause of Islam, but he gave it. A man came to him and he gave him a large flock of sheep. The man went back to his people and said, ‘O my people, enter Islam, for Muhammad gives like one who does not fear poverty.’ If a man enters Islam solely for some worldly interest, it will not be long before Islam becomes dearer to him than the whole world and everything in it.” (Muslim)

The Prophet (saw) used to spend whatever wealth came to him; he would distribute it among the people and not keep anything back for himself of his family. It was sufficient for him to give to those who deserved it, and thus open the hardest of hearts and instill the characteristic of generosity in them by setting the highest example.

Jubair ibn Mut’im (ra) said that while he was walking with the Prophet (saw) on the way back from Hunayn, the Bedouin followed him and asked him to give them something, until they cornered him by a tree. One of them snatched his cloak, so the Prophet (saw) stood up and said: “Give me my cloak, for it I had livestock equal in number to these ‘idah (fair-sized thorny shrubs), I would divide them among you, then you would not find me a miser, liar or coward.” (Bukhari)

Thus the Prophet (saw) set the highest example of that sincere generosity that is free from all self-interest and doubt. He achieved this in real life, so as to set an example for humanity to strive to reach this high level and he proved man’s potential to do so. Thus man increases in generosity every time he draws closer to Allah. Every time he senses the reward that Allah has prepared for those who generously spend for His sake, he will become more generous. Every time he feels closer to Allah, his awareness of the reward for generosity will deepen, so he will give more freely. This is how the Prophet (saw) was when Jibreel (as) used to meet him in Ramadhan. His level of generosity used to increase during the blessed month as a result of his ongoing contact with the Archangel, because Jibreel used to meet him on every night of Ramadhan, and this further increased the virtue, tolerance and generosity in his noble heart.

Ibn Abbas (ra) said: “The Messenger of Allah (saw) was the most generous of people, and he was the most genenous in Ramadhan when Jibreel used to meet him. Jebreel used to meet him on every night of Ramadhan and the Prophet (saw) would recite the Qur’an to him. When Jibreel met him, the Prophet would be more generous that the wind.” (Bukhari and Muslim).

Not surprisingly, we find many in the first generation who came close to this high level of generosity, those who spent all of their wealth for the sake of Allah, like Abu Bakr (ra), or half of it, like ‘Umar (ra), or who equipped and supplied an entire army, like ‘Uthman (ra), or who gave the most precious things they owned, like Abu ad-Dahdah, who gave the best garden he possessed in charity for the sake of Allah. When his wife learnt of what he had done, she said happily, “What a good deal you have got, O’ Abu ad-Dahdah!” There were so many of these generous people who preferred the Hereafter to this world, so they gave up their wealth and their own interests for the sake of Allah.

These people were sincere towards Allah and were in constant contact with Him, so they put these things into effect and made them into a reality. They were not content merely to repeat them and feel moved by them, as most rich people do nowadays.

(To be continued)

by Muhammad Ali Al-Hashimi