Fruits for the Week

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The Prophet (saw) said: “The upper hand is better than the lower hand. One should start giving first to his dependents, and the best object of charity is what is given by a wealthy person. Whoever seeks chastity (by not begging), Allah will keep him chaste, and whoever seeks independence, Allah will grant him independence.” (Bukhari and Muslim).

The above hadith tells us that the upper hand refers to those who can comfortably support themselves as well as their dependents and needy relatives. It is mandatory for a Muslim to take care of and support his own parents when he grows up and they reach old age. He cannot give zakat to them because a son is already obligated to support his parents. When a man once complained that his father was taking his wealth, the Prophet (saw) told him: “You and your wealth belong to your father.” (Ibn Majah).

The priority should be supporting, feeding and spending on one’s family. A husband cannot give his wife and children zakat since he is responsible for taking good care of them; on the other hand, if the husband is in need, the wife may give her charity to him. 

Zaynab (the wife of Abdullah ibn Mas’ud) went to the Prophet (saw) and said: “O Prophet of Allah, today you ordered people to give alms. I had some jewelry and intended to give it as alms, but Ibn Mas’ud said that he and his children deserved it more than anyone else.” The Prophet (saw) replied: “Ibn Mas’ud has spoken the truth. Your husband and you children have more right to it than anyone else.” (Bukhari)

When Abdur-Rahman ibn Auf came to Madinah, the Prophet (saw) established a bond of brotherhood between him and Sa’ad ibn Rabi’ al-Ansari. Sa’ad was a rich man, so he said to Abdur Rahman: “I will give you half of my wealth and will help you marry.” Abdur Rahman said to him: “May Allah bless you in your family and property – but show me the market.” He was directed to the market of Qoynuqa’. After some days of going to the market, Abdur Rahman came, scented with yellowish perfume. The Prophet (saw) asked him: “What is this?” He replied: “I got married to an Ansari woman.” The Prophet (saw) asked: “What did you pay her as the bridal gift? A gold stone or gold equal to a date stone.” The Prophet (saw) said to him: “Give a wedding banquet even if with only one sheep.” (Bukhari).

So it is apparent that within a number of days after migrating to Madinah, Abdur Rahman Ibn Auf (ra) managed to accumulate wealth on his own accord, without assistance from his companion; a short time later, he married a local woman. He is as an example of someone who did not depend on others and was able to earn his own livelihood and marry. He became a Muslim in Makkah, at the beginning of the message, and he is one of the ten to whom the Prophet (saw) promised paradise. He amassed a great deal of wealth during his lifetime, spent well in the cause of Allah, and was generous towards the needy.

It is known that Abu Bakr (ra) was a wealthy and intelligent man. No other companion accompanied the Prophet (saw) more often than Abu Bakr, yet he continued to be a successful businessman. He supported the community with his wealth, spent in the cause of Allah, freed Muslim slaves from their non-Muslim masters, and worked for his livelihood. When Abu Bakr became a Caliph, Umar (ra) noticed that he was leading the nation and also conducting business to support his family. Umar advised him that the Caliph should take wealth from the state treasury of the Muslims to support his family, so that he could concentrate on the affairs of the community.

Aishah (ra) narrates that when Abu Bakr as-Siddiq (ra) was chosen as a Caliph, he said: “My people know that my profession was capable of providing sustenance to my family. Since I will be busy serving the Muslim nation, my family will eat from the national treasury of the Muslims, and I will practice the profession of serving the Muslim.” (Bukhari). He had to free from other responsibilities because the ummah required his full-time attention.

As for being self-sufficient, there were many companions who took the Prophet’s words to heart and never again asked anyone for anything; they could not even ask someone to pick up a whip if it fell from their hands while riding their horses.

Even for those in a position where they handle their own affairs, abstain from asking of others, and ask only Allah for their needs.

(Prepared by Abdul Muhaemin Karim)