In order to describe the purpose of creation as well as the outcome of Man's acts, the holy Quran describes man as a passenger moving in the path of Divine Visage:
یَا أَیُّهَا الْانسَانُ إِنَّکَ کاَدِحٌ إِلىَ رَبِّکَ کَدْحًا فَمُلَاقِیه
“O thou man! Verily thou art ever toiling on towards thy Lord- painfully
toiling,- but thou shalt meet Him.”
The holy Quran illustrates Man's creation, his appearance in this world and his evolution with the literature of plantation and growth of seeds, plants and trees. At the time of birth, Man is similar to seeds which are cultivated in the ground who are able to grow with proper care, have the potential to boom and achieve the desired status.
On the other hand, the seed is likely not to grow and rot yet losing its initial value. The Quran's usage of concepts such as Fallah and Tadhkiyah shall be studied in this regard.
The word Fallah is synonymous with the word "farmer" and Fallahat roots to "farming" and have conceptual proportionality. Furthermore, the word in Persian is translated as salvation. One who reaches the level of Fallah is similar to a seed which has "grown" and sprouted out of the dark dirt: the seeds which haven't been buried in the dirt are to rot:
قَدْ أَفْلَحَ مَنْ زَکَّاها * وَ قَدْ خابَ مَنْ دَسَّاها
Truly he succeeds that purifies it,
And he fails that corrupts it!
Dhakaha roots to the word "Tadhliyah" which originally means bringing up; thus, purification could be derived from the word as well probably because cleansing from all contaminations leads to the growth. Salvation and growth is owned by the one who trains his ego and brings it up yet cleans it from satanic moods, sins, disobedience and disbelief. In fact, "refinement" is the main subject in Man's divine life whose realization leads to happiness whereas non-realization causes misery in people's lives.
The word Khab roots from Kheybeh, i.e. abdication. Additionally, Dosaha roots from the word Dos which is originally thrusting with pressure disdainfully yet the word "Dasiseh" means a secret and harmful act. Various interpretations are quoted which are related to the suitability of the meaning with the verse: some believe that such an interpretation is an irony of sin and debauchery since the pious show themselves while the corrupted hides himself or retreats his human self in the sinful layers or else he hides his sin in his self.
Hence, the verse is an irony of sins and satanic temperaments which stand against Refinement; through this, the winners and losers of the world are recognized. The criterion to evaluate the two groups is nothing but self-purification and growth of piety and obedience of Allah or corruption with various sins.
Therefore, Man is similar to a seed whose growth or corruption is in his own hands after the Creator plants him in the earth. Provided that Man wills and takes advantage of the situation, he grows his potentials to boom and reaches the peak of perfection in the light of the divine life. On the other hand, if he wastes his authority in the wrong pass and doesn't take advantage of his innate opportunities, not only does he lose his initial value but also he becomes inferior to animals:
وَ لَقَدْ ذَرَأْنا لِجَهَنَّمَ کَثیراً مِنَ الْجِنِّ وَ الْإِنْسِ لَهُمْ قُلُوبٌ لا یَفْقَهُونَ بِها وَ لَهُمْ أَعْیُنٌ لا یُبْصِرُونَ بِها وَ لَهُمْ آذانٌ لا یَسْمَعُونَ بِها أُولئِکَ کَالْأَنْعامِ بَلْ هُمْ أَضَلُّ أُولئِکَ هُمُ الْغافِلُون؛
“Many are the Jinns and men we have made for Hell: They have hearts wherewith they understand not, eyes wherewith they see not, and ears wherewith they hear not. They are like cattle,- nay more misguided: for they are heedless [of warning]”
Divine life comes with branches and components which are necessary for humans to recognize and act based on so as to reach and enjoy them.
Once among the children of Israel, drought and severe famine arose two years in a row, so that all were in need of a morsel of bread. One day, a woman had a piece of bread and was about to have it so that she satisfies her hunger. Suddenly in need cried out, "O' thee servant of the Lord, I am hungry." Upon hearing the words, the woman was astonished what to do at the time of famine. Should she soothe her hunger through swallowing the bread or prefer the one in need's demand over her own and pass it over to him? In the struggle between her ego and love of generosity, love won, and she devoted it to the one in need. Not long after, the woman went to the wilderness to collect firewood with her child. She was looking for firewood and the child was lost in his childish games. In a flash of an eye, a hungry wolf attacked the child and grabbed him in its mouth. Crying and chasing the wolf, the mother was asking for help. At that moment, the Lord ordered Gabriel to save the child from the mouth of the wolf and bring him back to her mother's arms. After saving the child from the wolf, Gabriel talked to the woman as the following:
"O servant of God! Are you happy? A morsel in return for a morsel"
Constantly, Man seeks to improve beauties in his life and achieve a higher level of forgiveness and perfection. One of the best ways to achieve that goal is generosity and forgiveness. Generosity gives meaning to Man's life and creates a sense of worldly satisfaction in him. If prosperity is considered to be in having abundant blessings in life, the way to achieve it is not to collect and being stingy yet it means forgiving and donation.
Forgiveness is a natural trait with various uses in religious sources. One of the uses of the word is forgiveness which is used with keywords such as amnesty and benevolence in religious texts. Religious leaders have had various recommendations about this important ethical characteristic. Forgiveness is recommended in all dimensions of individual and social life, including the spiritual, worldly, economic, social and political ones. Once Imam Reza (A.S.) was present in a gathering, and a man was brought to Ma'mun. Ma'mun was to behead him. However, he asked Imam's opinion on the matter. Imam said, “The Lord would honor you with forgiveness,” and Ma'mun forgave him.
Another use of this term includes financial donations. In verses and narrations, words such as charity, generosity, munificence and altruism represent this form of forgiveness. Possibly, we may think that good life means my wife and children to be happy and comfortable and we set our house as the place of diligence for happiness and joy yet the story is different from religious point of view:
"In terms of religion, good life is the one where others get some share out of our lives as well as joy and comfort from the way we live."
Ali bin Shuaib visited Imam Reza (A.S.). Imam asked him, “Who do you find with the best life?" He said, “You know better than I do.” Imam said, “Someone on whom others' good life depend” Imam asked another question, “Who lives the worst?” Again he sought an answer from Imam. Imam said, “Someone who others have no share of his life.” In the end, Imam Reza (A.S.) advised him as follows:
"O' Ali! Appreciate the proximity to the blessings as they are wild and non-familiar, and if they are distant from a group, they never return."
"O' Ali! The worst kind of people is the one who is not generous, and just eats and hurts his servants."
Two) Importance and Status
Forgiveness has a special status in religious insight and attitude. Examining some parts of the words of Imam Reza (A.S.) reveals some aspects of the truth:
A) The best appreciation
The world is filled with infinite blessings of the Lord. The Creator of the universe has paid attention to all physical, emotional, mental, social, and individual needs of Man and has given him everything so that he can be guided to his great high and humane perfection. Saadi has a sweet piece of writing on this matter:
"He has ordered the janitor of zephyr to spread emerald carpet and the commander of spring clouds to nurture vegetation blockson the cradle of the earth. He has covered trees in spring robe, green sheets and the the spurts and shoots of the trees has put on blossom cap on the heads of them. His boundless mercy rain has reached everyone and his kindness cloths has spread everywhere. He never disgraces his creatures with bad sins and does not cut the servants sustenance with serious sins.
Almighty God has filled the universe and human existence so full of his gifts that man cannot count:
وَ ءَاتَاکُم مِّن کُلِّ مَا سَأَلْتُمُوهُ وَ إِن تَعُدُّواْ نِعْمَتَ اللهِ لَا تُحْصُوهَا إِنَّ الْانسَانَ لَظَلُومٌ کَفَّار؛
“And He giveth you of all that ye ask for. But if ye count the favors of
Allah, never will ye be able to number them. Verily, man is given up to”
Thus, He deserves to have gratitude in return for all the blessings, and we humans should show gratitude to the Almighty and thank him for his endless blessings since thanking him brings about proximity and his gratitude brings more blessings.
Thanksgiving is the smallest task in return for God's infinite blessings although humans are so much in blessing that negligence has covered their eyes and except a few, others are not thankful for the Lord's blessings:
وَ قَلِیلٌ مِّنْ عِبَادِىَ الشَّکُور
“But few of my servants are grateful!”
Thanking the Lord has some steps: Thanking from heart which is the impression of grace and satisfaction from it; thanking through words which is praising the blessing giver; and practical thanking which is thanking with other methods. Imam Reza (A.S.) names the steps of thanksgiving beautifully as follows:
"Thanking includes faith in God, acknowledging the right of saints of God of the family of Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.) as well as helping your brothers in faith."
In this quotation, Imam Reza (A.S.) has paid special attention to this point that after faith in the Lord and acknowledging the rights of the Lord's saints, helping people in their worldly matters is the best example of thanking God. Thus, it could be concluded that from Imam's viewpoint the best practical way of thanking is generosity and material assistance to the people of the Lord.
B. Fulfilling the Believers' Rights
According to the guidelines of Islam religion, members of a community resemble a single unit, each having special rights, duties and tasks. In a culture rooted in religious trainings, observing the rights of brothers in faith is so important that the fulfilment of this duty is introduced as the best prayer. The last Messenger of Allah said,
مَثَلُ الْمُؤْمِنِینَ فِی تَوَادِّهِمْ وَ تَرَاحُمِهِمْ کَمَثَلِ الْجَسَدِ إذَا اشْتَکَى بَعْضُهُمْ تَدَاعَى سَائِرُهُمْ بِالسَّهَرِ وَ الْحُمَّى
“The faithful people are like different organs of a body; whenever an organ is afflicted with pain other organs show their sympathy towards it with fever and lack of sleep.”
Only through paying attention to the individuals' rights and feeling responsible towards all the members of the community can we claim the religious community has reached integrity:
“Human beings are members of a whole
In creation of one essence and soul;
If one member is afflicted with pain
Other members uneasy will remain;
If you have no sympathy for human pain
The name of human you cannot retain.”
In a beautiful statement, Imam Sadiq (A.S.) has directed Muslims' attention to the worshiping aspect of fulfilling the rights of brothers in faith:
مَا عُبِدَ اللهُ بِشَیءٍ أَفْضَلَ مِنْ أَدَاءِ حَقِّ الْمُؤْمِن
"In no way is Allah worshipped better than by fulfilling the right of a believer."
Now this question will arise as to how we can fulfill the rights of brothers in faith. To answer this question, Imam Reza (A.S) has counted some of the rights of brothers, as follows:
"Be in friendship with your brother heartily; use your property to give him a hand; help him against the cruel; in his absence, keep his share of booty; visit his tomb after his death; do not be cruel to him; do not betray him in his right; do not gossip about him; be well-behaved toward him; do not traduce him."
The eighth star in the sky of Imamate continues by saying several other rights and also explains their values by saying, " He who feeds a believer to satiate him, his job is better than freeing a slave; he who quenches the thirst of a believer, Allah will give him drink of paradise; he who dresses him to cover his nakedness, Allah will give him clothing of paradise; he who lends him something for Allah's satisfaction, it is like he is donating to charities until he is paid off; he who helps a believer in his troubles, Allah will help him in his troubles in the Hereafter; he who satisfies a believer's need (Hajat), his job is better than praying and Itikaf in Masjid al- Haram."
Most of the instances used in the said tradition about fulfilling the rights of brothers are of generosity and financial aids’ types. On the other side, this kind of aid and generosity is superior to recommended (Mustahabbi) actions like praying and Itikaf in Masjid al- Haram, showing the importance and special position of generosity and helping Allah's servants.
C. The Best Assets and Wealth
Human beings have two positions regarding money and are divided into two categories:
The first category includes the ones who earn money and keep it for themselves. They accumulate money, pile properties and get involved in avarice. This situation leads them into perishing:
أَلْهَاکُمُ التَّکاَثُرُ حَتىَ زُرْتُمُ الْمَقَابِرَ کَلَّا سَوْفَ تَعْلَمُونَ ثُمَّ کَلَّا سَوْفَ تَعْلَمُونَ
“The mutual rivalry for piling up [the good things of this world] diverts you
[from the more serious things], Until ye visit the graves. But nay, ye soon shall know [the reality]. Again, ye soon shall know!”
We have to put what we possess into circulation, without being dependent on them. So in this way, there is no need for us to store or hoard them up in the storage or our houses.
Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.) said, “He who devotes himself to avarice and prefers this action to whatever else will be perished."
The second category includes people who put their money into circulation and do not induce recession. Such people consider their assets as 'flowing water'. Putting money into circulation, also, is of two kinds:
Sometimes, it is put into circulation but not for generosity matters; like all cases of trading. What happens in the market is that money is put into circulation, but no one accepts to be generous and not to get it back.
Its second type is when money is put into circulation but we receive nothing in return. This action is only referred to as 'generosity'. A generous person does different good deeds:
First, he is hard working and utilizes all his power for productive works. Second, his attempt leads into earning money. Third, he does not prevent circulation of money but he obtains money and wealth by one hand and gives them to others by the other one, generously. Fourth, his benevolence is without expectation and he does not get anything in return.
To put it simply, generosity means we should not prevent circulation of money and induce recession. We should not store or hoard up money. We should let money to be earned from one way and let it go to the other way with generosity. Imam Reza (A.S) said:
خَیْرُ مَالِ الْمَرْءِ وَ ذَخَائِرِهِ الصَّدَقَةُ
"The best property, wealth and storage for a person is donation to charities."
D. Agent of Divine Help
Allah, the Great, has assigned many of powers of universe to help and give service to the creatures. In a beautiful Hadith, imam Reza (A.S) mentions one example of this fact:
“Once, an old woman who had fallen down from the housetop because of Wind blow, came to Prophet Solomon and complained about Wind. Then, Solomon called Wind and asked, ‘Why did you hurt her?’ Wind replied, ‘Allah ordered me to save a ship from sinking. I was heading off to perform Allah's order. I passed by the old woman, blowing, and she fell down and her arm broke.’ ”
We can conclude from this tradition that powers of universe like wind are assigned by God to help all creatures, including human beings. Considering the previous and the following quotes by Imam Reza (A.S), we can come to an interesting conclusion: "Verily, God has some servants on the earth who attempt to satisfy the demands of other servants."
If we put these two quotes next to each other, this conclusion will be reached: People who are constantly trying to solve problems of other people and put their assets and lives on the line are assigned by God and they are counted as the special agents of Him.
E) Imam Reza's (A.S.) Lifestyle
Turning the pages of Imam Reza's (A.S.) life, it can be greatly seen that he paid special attention towards generosity and benefitting others. Ibrahim-bin-Abbas narrates some of imam's characteristics nicely as follows:
"He never persecuted nor irritated others with his words, he never rejected others' needs; he never turned down a request he could fulfill; he would give hidden alms and would benefit others a lot ."
Imam Reza (A.S.) is narrated to have divided all his properties among the poor in Khorasan. Fazl-Bin-Sahl said to imam, "This would result in loss," yet imam said:
"No, it makes a profit. You shall never consider an act which results in rewards as a loss ."
3) The Conditions of Granting
It could be consulted through the religious sources that granting has conditions and not any granting is desirable. One who does not observe the conditions of donations his deed is void as if no granting has happened. The conditions of granting are as follows:
A) No Favor Asked in Return
One of the most important conditions of granting is that it should not be for a favor to return. The one who gives charity and put others under obligation, the reward for his granting becomes void and his act becomes useless. Such an important condition is clearly stated in the holy Quran:
«یَا أَیُّهَا الَّذِینَ ءَامَنُواْ لَا تُبْطِلُواْ صَدَقَاتِکُم بِالْمَنِّ وَ الْأَذَى کاَلَّذِى یُنفِقُ مَالَهُ رِئَاءَ النَّاسِ وَ لَا یُؤْمِنُ بِاللهِ وَ الْیَوْمِ الْأَخِرِ فَمَثَلُهُ کَمَثَلِ صَفْوَانٍ عَلَیْهِ تُرَابٌ فَأَصَابَهُ وَابِلٌ فَتَرَکَهُ صَلْداً لَّا یَقْدِرُونَ عَلىَ شَیْءٍ مِّمَّا کَسَبُواْ وَ اللهُ لَا یَهْدِى الْقَوْمَ الْکَافِرِین»
"O ye who believe! Cancel not your charity by reminders of your generosity or by injury, like those who spend their substance to be seen of men, but believe neither in Allah nor in the Last Day. They are in parable like a hard, barren rock, on which is a little soil: on it falls heavy rain, which leaves it [Just] a bare stone. They will be able to do nothing with aught they have earned. And Allah guideth not those who reject faith. "
Granting grows and doubles in case it is without any favor asked for. Provided this feature is accompanied through donation, a position is given to the donator in which no fear or grief has a place:
«الَّذِینَ یُنفِقُونَ أَمْوَالَهُمْ فىِ سَبِیلِ اللهِ ثُمَّ لَا یُتْبِعُونَ مَا أَنفَقُواْ مَنّاً وَ لَا أَذًى لَّهُمْ أَجْرُهُمْ عِندَ رَبِّهِمْ وَ لَا خَوْفٌ عَلَیْهِمْ وَ لَا هُمْ یَحْزَنُون»
"Those who spend their substance in the cause of Allah, and follow not up their gifts with reminders of their generosity or with injury,-for them their reward is with their Lord: on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve."
In nice words, Imam Ali (A.S.) described the outcome of indebted acts as causing the reward of the alms lost both in this world and in the hereafter:
«وِزْرُ صَدَقَةِ الْمَنَّانِ یَغْلِبُ أَجْرَهُ»
"The sin of the charity given by the one who puts obligation is greater than its reward."
In another saying, Imam Ali (A.S.) considers such alms incompatible with dignity:
«لَیْسَ مِنَ الْکَرَمِ تَنْکِیدُ الْمِنَنِ بِالْمَنِّ»
"It is not from munificence to spoil the favors [one does to others] by [putting them under] obligation."
Once a group of Christians appeared before Imam Reza (A.S.) while confessing to his leadership, they said, "There are affluent people among us. Can we give our Zakat to those in need as a sign of social connectedness and as an act for their right?" The questioner narrates, "Imam became very angry hearing these words with a sense of putting obligation on the beneficiary in a manner that the ground beneath us was like shaking and we had nothing to tell him. Then, Imam told us:
"In case, one carries something to his brother while wondering that he is doing something good for him and has a virtue for his deed, the Lord punishes him in a manner that hasn't been punished anyone else like that. So that person will be deprived of God's mercy."
When the leader of the group heard the words from Imam Reza (A.S.) tears began to roll down his face and said, "How does this happen?" Imam explained the reason of the horrible torment as: "Don’t you know that the Almighty makes no difference between them in their lives and properties? So the one who acts gracefully is not happy by the order of the Lord, rejects the divine decree and associates them with the Lord's action. However, if granting is done truthfully, the Lord takes pride in him before angels and grants him the heaven ."
Therefore, putting others under obligation destroys all the traces of granting, erodes the spiritual status, burdens hardship on the shoulders of the grantor, leads to God's dissatisfaction and destroys the human dignity. In return, the person who avoids putting an obligation on others and does the charity without putting others under obligation, he will be rewarded with meeting the God.
Putting the beneficiary under obligation comes with different instances including boasting about our charity to the poor, compelling the poor to thank us, asking a reward in exchange for our kindness, granting while humiliating the poor; in other words, being as such towards others is nothing but humiliation or asking for a favor in return.
B) Should be Done in Secrecy
Granting is done in two ways: overtly and covertly. Charity is good in either ways; however, doing the charity in secrecy is preferable:
«إِن تُبْدُواْ الصَّدَقَاتِ فَنِعِمَّا هِىَ وَ إِن تُخْفُوهَا وَ تُؤْتُوهَا الْفُقَرَاءَ فَهُوَ خَیْرٌ لَّکُمْ وَ یُکَفِّرُ عَنکُم مِّن سَیِّئَاتِکُمْ وَ اللهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِیر»
"If ye disclose [acts of] charity, even so it is well, but if ye conceal them, and make them reach those [really] in need, that is best for you: It will remove from you some of your [stains of] evil. And Allah is well acquainted with what ye do."
- First: Granting Overtly
If granting is done overtly, it will have effects as follows:
• Charity is a good deed and if a good deed is revealed, it will set an example for others.
• Granting overtly encourages others to do so; it becomes public and results in willingness of the society to help others and doing the charitable act as well.
• Through seeing the ones who try to help and give service to those in need, the poor are encouraged, pacified and free from disappointments.
- Second: Granting Covertly and At Night
Giving alms and charity covertly has more benefits; therefore, granting secretly and at night is preferred to overt granting. Some of the effects of covert charity are as follows:
• Generally, doing the recommended acts (Mustahabb) and additional prayers (Nawafil) in secret is more desirable. Imam Sadiq (A.S.) says:
"Indeed, doing the Nawafil secretly is higher in rank."
• Granting covertly is away from hypocrisy and leads the grantor to the devotion and purity.
• Provided the charity is done secretly, the dignity of the poor will be preserved and his honor and social prestige maintained.
• One of the characteristics of human beings is fame-seeking and profiteering. In case helping the poor is done covertly, the instinct of fame-seeking becomes suppressed and the inner purity of the grantor will be guaranteed.
God has preferred the covert and at night charity to overt granting:
«الَّذِینَ یُنفِقُونَ أَمْوَالَهُم بِالَّیْلِ وَ النَّهَارِ سِرًّا وَ عَلَانِیَةً فَلَهُمْ أَجْرُهُمْ عِندَ رَبِّهِمْ وَ لَا خَوْفٌ عَلَیْهِمْ وَ لَا هُمْ یَحْزَنُون»
"Those who [in charity] spend of their goods by night and by day, in secret and in public, have their reward with their Lord: on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve."
Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.) notes:
"Seven groups of people will be placed under the shadow of God in the day where there are no shadows; one is a person who does the charity while his left hand is not aware of what his right hand has done."
Imam Ali (A.S.) says:
"Giving alms in secret removes the sins."
It has been narrated from Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.) that:
"Give alms in secret since covert charity extinguishes God's wrath."
Imam Reza (A.S.) describes the value of secret good deeds to be seventy times more than the overt ones:
«الْمُسْتَتِرُ بِالْحَسَنَةِ یَعْدِلُ سَبْعِینَ حَسَنَةً»
"He who conceals a good deed he has done will be given seventy rewards."
In the old times, those who were willing to do the charity secretly used to go through different ways: for instance, they would place the alms on the way of the poor who were passing, they would give the alms mostly to those in need who were blind, they would place the alms near the poor so he could not see the grantor, they would place the charity behind the door of the house of the poor, they would pay the poor a visit at the time they were sleeping or gave their alms to those in need indirectly. The important thing is that the grantor leaves no traces behind. It is narrated about Imam Sajjad (A.S.) that:
"There were several families who were living in Medina whose food and all their needs were provided yet they did not know who the supplier was. After the martyrdom of Imam Sajjad (A.S.) no one brought anything for them. At that time, they realized who did all that charity and they cried and mourned."
One of the characteristics of Imam Reza (A.S.) is stated as follows:
«وَ کَانَ کَثِیرَ الْمَعْرُوفِ وَ الصَّدَقَةِ فِی السِّرِّ»
"He would give so much alms and charity covertly"
C) Without request
The best kind of generosity is the one which is done before the request. If a poor person utters his need, he has revealed his poverty and thus has humiliated himself in front of the rich person. The generous person can meet the needs of the mendicant before he downgrades and humiliates himself. In other words, the appropriate kindness shall not be accompanied by humiliation and abasement. Imam Ali (A.S.) said:
أَفْضَلُ الْعَطِیَّةِ مَا کَانَ قَبْلَ مَذَلَّةِ السُّؤَالِ
The most virtuous generosity is the one which takes place prior to the humiliation of request.
Imam Ali (A.S) depicts the perfect virtue as follows:
The perfect virtue is giving before one utters his need.
From Imam Ali’s (A.S) point of view, the generous man is the one who meets the mendicant’s need before he states it:
“Whoever gives gifts to the poor before he asks for it is generous and cherished.”
An interesting story told about Imam Reza (A.S) reveals the fact that the infallible Imams (S.A) used to give the poor what they needed before they asked for it. Rian Ibn Selat, one of the disciples of Imam Reza (A.S), said: “I came to visit Imam Reza (A.S) to bid farewell and told myself, ‘I’ll ask him to give me a shirt of his own so that I’ll have it as a shroud after my death. Besides, I’ll ask for some money in order to buy rings for my daughters as gifts. The sorrow and tears at the time of farewell made me forget my request so I did not ask Imam Reza (A.S) what I needed. When I was about to go, he said, “Rian, come back. Do you want to have shirt of mine as a shroud after you die? Do you want me to give you some money so that you can buy rings for your daughters? Then, he took out a shirt underneath a pillow and gave it to me besides some money that he gave me. I counted the money; there were thirty Dirhams.”
If the condition for generosity is to be bountiful before the request, it means that we should be aware of others’ needs. If we neglect the needs of others, they inevitably have to utter their needs. Given that, generosity without the request will not be realized.
We can put it in another way: generosity had better precede the request; however, the mendicant should avoid stating his needs as much as possible; because stating the needs debases and downgrades him. The believer had better not humiliate himself. In the words of Imam Ali (A.S):
“The humiliation and debasement lie in asking people for help. ”
On the other hand, requesting has a developmental effect and prepares the ground for more poverty in man. The Last Prophet (P.B.U.H.) depicts the relationship between request and poverty as follows:
“Whoever opens the door of request (revealing the need), God will open the door of poverty for him.”
Imam Ali (S.A) had his own ways so that the mendicant would not feel humiliated. Whenever someone demanded for something, he would ask him to write it down on the ground or he would dim the light because he did not want to see the humiliation of the beggar on his face.
Therefore, we can conclude:
• To avoid causing humiliation, generosity should precede the mendicant’s request.
• Revealing the need and request causes poverty; therefore, whoever reveals more about his needs will be inflicted with more poverty.
• Whoever conceals his needs and asks God the almighty for help, God will in return fulfill his needs and make him prosperous.
If generosity is accompanied by lack of enthusiasm and energy and a sad face, it will be devalued. Quran states one of the qualities of generosity: it shall not be accompanied by reluctance and disinclination:
وَ مَا مَنَعَهُمْ أَن تُقْبَلَ مِنْهُمْ نَفَقَاتُهُمْ إِلَّا أَنَّهُمْ کَفَرُواْ بِاللهِ وَ بِرَسُولِهِ وَ لَا یَأْتُونَ الصَّلَوةَ إِلَّا وَ هُمْ کُسَالىَ وَ لَا یُنفِقُونَ إِلَّا وَ هُمْ کَارِهُون
“The only reasons why their contributions are not accepted are: that they reject Allah and His Messenger; that they come to prayer without earnestness; and that they offer contributions unwillingly. ”
On the other side, there are people who are willing to offer but they do not have anything to give. They offer their tears and have brought generosity to its ultimate level because their hearts are filled with enthusiasm in sacrifice, dedication and generosity:
وَ لَا عَلىَ الَّذِینَ إِذَا مَا أَتَوْکَ لِتَحْمِلَهُمْ قُلْتَ لَا أَجِدُ مَا أَحْمِلُکُمْ عَلَیْهِ تَوَلَّواْ وَّ أَعْیُنُهُمْ تَفِیضُ مِنَ الدَّمْعِ حَزَنًا أَلَّا یَجِدُواْ مَا یُنفِقُون؛
“Nor [is there blame] on those who came to thee to be provided with mounts, and when thou saidst, "I can find no mounts for you," they turned back, their eyes streaming with tears of grief that they had no resources wherewith to provide the expenses. ”
Imam Reza (A.S) advises some tips on how to meet the needs: one is to go after the needs early in the morning. Another way is to ask the hospitable people for help:
اُطْلُبُوا الْخَیْرَ عِنْدَ حِسَانِ الْوُجُوهِ
“Seek goodness around people who are amiable. ”
Imam reveals the reasons behind this issue as follows:
“Because the expectation to receive goodness is higher among those who are amiable than those who are morose and ill-tempered. ”
E) Equality for all
The question may arise whether we should make a difference between good and bad people or between the younger and the elderly. Should we make sure whether the person whom we are offering the help is good? Should we make certain that the mendicant has faith and believes in Islam? Is it necessary to find out the ins and outs of their lives? Is there any difference whether the mendicant is a man or a woman or whether he is a child or an adult?
In Quran (1:272) two issues are mentioned: first, that the burden of guidance is upon the Prophet; second, the issue of charity is underscored. In interpretations, the reason behind this revelation is mentioned. Muslims had doubts as whether to give charity to non-Muslims. In this regard, they asked the Prophet of God. Then this verse was revealed:
لَّیْسَ عَلَیْکَ هُدَاهُمْ وَ لَکِنَّ اللهَ یَهْدِى مَن یَشَاءُ وَ مَا تُنفِقُواْ مِنْ خَیْرٍ فَلِأَنفُسِکُمْ وَ مَا تُنفِقُونَ إِلَّا ابْتِغَاءَ وَجْهِ اللهِ وَ مَا تُنفِقُواْ مِنْ خَیْرٍ یُوَفَّ إِلَیْکُمْ وَ أَنتُمْ لَا تُظْلَمُون
“It is not required of thee [O Messenger], to set them on the right path, but Allah sets on the right path whom He pleaseth. Whatever of good ye give benefits your own souls, and ye shall only do so seeking the "Face" of Allah. Whatever good ye give, shall be rendered back to you, and ye shall not be dealt with unjustly. ”
Therefore, giving charity to non-Muslims is permissible and there is no need to investigate about the faith of the poor and the mendicants. One day Abu Hamza Al Thumali went to visit Imam Sajjad (S.A). He saw Imam calling his servant and telling him, “Give food to any mendicant who passes by my house.” The servant asked, “Is it possible that the mendicant does not deserve it?” Imam replied:
“I’m afraid that some of the mendicants who deserve it pass by without receiving anything from me. ”
Imam Reza (A.S) quoted the Last Prophet as saying in a beautiful Hadith that:
اِصْطَنِعِ الْخَیْرَ إِلَى مَنْ هُوَ أَهْلُهُ وَ إِلَى مَنْ هُوَ غَیْرُ أَهْلِهِ
“Do the good deeds for those who do or do not deserve them. ”
In this quote, deserving is not regarded as a criterion for doing good deeds such as generosity. Imam goes on explaining in the rest of the Hadith that it is important that you yourself deserve doing such good deeds:
فَإِنْ لَمْ تُصِبْ مَنْ هُوَ أَهْلُهُ فَأَنْتَ أَهْلُهُ
“Even though that man may not deserve receiving the good deed, you deserve doing that good deed. ”
Imam Reza (A.S) quoted the Last Prophet as saying that after believing in God, he [the Last Prophet] regarded befriending with people and doing good deeds to good and bad people as a sign of wisdom:
“The ultimate level of wisdom after believing in God is to befriend people and to do beneficial deeds to both good and bad people. ”
In another quotation by Imam Reza (A.S) he was asked, “Is there any difference between a child and an adult or a man and a woman in paying Kafaare [religious atonement]? Imam said in response:
“They are all equal. ”
F) Of the bests
The philosophy behind generosity is dedication and forgiveness because humans are deeply dependent on their best and wealthiest properties and offering them seems to be a difficult task for them. If one is to acquire the quality of generosity, he or she should offer the best of what they have so that in return they receive the best. God has shown this fact as follows:
لَن تَنَالُواْ الْبِرَّ حَتىَ تُنفِقُواْ مِمَّا تُحِبُّونَ وَ مَا تُنفِقُواْ مِن شَیْءٍ فَإِنَّ اللهَ بِهِ عَلِیم؛
“By no means shall ye attain righteousness unless ye give [freely] of which ye love; and whatever ye give, of a truth Allah knoweth it well. ”
Abu Talha Al-Ansari had a garden across from the mosque. The garden had plenty of palm trees and running water; when this verse was revealed, he came to the Prophet and said:
“O Prophet of God! I have no property except this garden and God says, “Offer from what you like the most.” I have now offered this garden in the path of God and I hope to receive from God the almighty in another world. The Prophet (P.B.U.H.) said, “It’s a good omen. This property will be lucrative for you. ”
It’s been narrated that a guest went to visit Abuzar Al-Ghaffari. Abuzar told the guest: due to an excuse, I cannot go outside the home. Go where there are my camels and choose the best and fattest one so that we can use its meat. The guest went and chose the skinniest one. Abuzar said, “Why didn’t you obey? You chose the skinniest one.” He said, “I didn’t because you might need it in a rainy day.” Abuzar said:
“My rainy day is when I am in the grave and my important day is when I’m dead. ”
Here exists a secret. Humans usually love their precious belongings. If somebody offers his best properties, it’s a sign that he loves the other person more than them.
In fact, at the heart of a generous man, the love of God is more than the love of objects. Imam Sadeq (S.A) said:
“At the time of Jahilliah [Ignorance], there was a tribe that offered their inferior properties. God prohibited them and said, ‘Offer the best and cleanest of your belongings.”