By Aliya Vaughan
Allah is Al-Wahab, the Giving, Al-Kareem, the Most Generous. When we know this and mentally internalise this fact, it should encourage us to reach out and be more charitable to other people, regardless of who they are or how grateful they may be. Never will our acts of kindness go to waste and neither will they go unrewarded. Allah is Ash-Shakoor (The Most Appreciative).
Allah says (which means):
“And whatever you spend of good – it will be fully repaid to you, and you will not be wronged.”
Surah Al-Baqarah 2:272
Years ago, when my children were small and times were much harder, my car died and it had to be scrapped. I spent a few weeks walking and travelling on the bus and tube to get to all of my destinations and as anyone in this position knows, it’s not easy when you have three or four children in tow and shopping bags to carry. A sister heard of my plight and told me she was upgrading her car and very kindly gave me her old one. The day I held those keys in my hand and saw the car outside our flat, my whole body shivered with gratitude. There are no words to describe how I felt being on the receiving end of such a grand donation. It wasn’t just the car I was grateful for; it was the ease this car would provide me when shopping, going to medical appointments and other important engagements. It was also a way of escape from a flat with no garden to take my children to the park and recreation centres. As a home educator who was home based most of the time, this was liberating.
In some cultures, there is stigma and shame attached to taking charity and the rich look down on the poor. Yet in other cultures and religious traditions, it is an honour to give to those in need and a blessing to receive the duaas of the recipient in return. I learned this first hand years ago, when I visited the grave of my husband’s late mother and sister in Algeria. As we were leaving the graveyard, I saw a woman who was the caretaker, so I stopped to give her some loose change. She immediately raised her hands in dua and although I had no idea what she was saying, I sensed the sincerity within her words and it moved me to tears. My husband later translated what she had said and I realised her dua was worth far more than the money I had given her. In fact, you couldn’t put a price on it.
I had a similar experience a few weeks ago in the town where I live. An asylum seeker asked me for money to buy food. His plight was so pitiful I couldn’t just offer him money, so I made a few Google searches and phone calls to find him practical support. I wrote down the names, addresses and telephone numbers of forums and food banks and as I handed him the paper, he raised his hands in dua for me. I was so overcome; I was torn between wanting to leave to save me the embarrassment of crying in public and wanting to stay to hear more of his beautiful dua. He was grateful for the money but even more appreciative that I had taken time out of my day to offer the practical support he needed.
Charity is a way for the recipient and the giver to get closer to Allah. All our provision is from Him (The Most Generous) as a test to see how we use/spend/share it. And for those who haven’t got any means, they can turn to Allah who is able to provide from sources they never imagined (Surah at-Talaq 65:3). Charity is also a way to bring us closer together with others in faith and humanity.
There is no doubt money is a great assistance for alleviating the suffering of those in need. But all too often we neglect the greatest charity of all which is our time and effort. We lead such busy lives that we overlook the many opportunities around us to show care and concern to our family, friends, neighbours and even strangers. When someone stops to listen to another person’s story, that in itself shows compassion. But when they offer help and support, they can sometimes forge a friendship that can last a lifetime. When I was moving house, a dear sister who I barely knew offered her time to look after my children while we loaded up the van with our belongings. She even went the extra mile and accompanied us to the coach station to wave us off when we travelled to another city to live. I have stayed in touch with her ever since and to this day I always remind her of her selfless act and how much of a Godsend she was. She didn’t think it was a big deal, but I did. Sometimes we don’t know how great actions can be unless we’re on the receiving end.
When I had to go to hospital for a second eye operation for a detached retina, a sister very kindly took time out of her busy schedule to accompany me. My husband had to take care of my children and I didn’t want to go on my own. She calmed my nerves while I waited for my procedure and she was still there waiting for me on the ward when I came back from surgery. These special moments make a huge impact and never leave you. I remember my best Eid was spent with a revert sister who had given birth and her baby needed lifesaving heart surgery. She was so stressed and had been in hospital so long that she didn’t even know it was Eid until I visited her that day. She told me she was grateful for my support and being reminded of Allah and the huge test she was going through.
There is a ‘feel good’ factor when you give to others. By giving, you are also receiving and in some cases the giver receives far more than the recipient. When we take time out of our busy lives, we not only earn Allah’s pleasure and reward from our act of kindness, but from it we derive our own happiness and create precious memories that can last a lifetime.
We often think of charity in monetary terms whereby the rich help the poor and destitute, but charity involves so much more than that. If it was only limited to finance, the poor would be unable to gain Allah’s reward and pleasure in this regard. Charity is incumbent upon every Muslim daily and can be offered by way of spending time, effort and personal sacrifice to benefit others. Greeting someone with a smile, a kind word, giving food and even removing something harmful from walkways are considered charity. Sharing knowledge, advice, skills or expertise is also a charitable deed that extends far beyond the monetary value it holds. It can expand someone’s mind, liberate them from oppression and even change their whole outlook and outcome in this life as well as the Next.
Allah provides us with so many blessings that if we are truly appreciative, we should at least spend or share some of it with those in need. Not only will we benefit them but we will also benefit ourselves in this life and the life in the Hereafter.
“O you who believe! Spend of that with which We have provided for you, before a Day comes when there will be no bargaining, nor friendship, nor intercession.”
Surah al-Baqarah 2:254
About the author
Aliya Vaughan has been a Muslim for 24 years. She lives in the UK with her husband and six children. She is a qualified life coach and author. She has recently published her award-winning children’s story ‘A Race to Prayer’ with Kube Publishing.