The Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) says:
If a man were to have a whole valley full of gold, he would want to have a second valley full of gold, but at the end, only dust will fill his mouth. (Al-Bukhari)
One of our deep problems, as human beings, is love of wealth. It’s no coincidence that some of the very first verses of the Holy Quran to be revealed were condemnations of this human acquisition of stuff.
A futile exercise because the more we have, the more we tend to want.
Rivalry in worldly increase has distracted you until you go to the graves. (Quran 102:1-3)
There are three important lessons in those two words: Not just the problematic nature of wanting the worldly increase, but the fact that we compete with each other.
Some people, at the very last moment of their lives, are still checking the Dow Jones just to see what’s happening to their fortune. They can’t see the dark mouth of death yawning in front of them waiting to swallow them whole.
But this is how we are!
Give Charity to Get Increase
The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) says:
A servant says, My wealth, my wealth, but out of his wealth three things are only his: whatever he eats and makes use of or by means of which he dresses himself and it wears out or he gives as charity, and this is what he stored for himself (as a reward for the Hereafter), and what is beyond this (it is of no use to you) because you are to depart and leave it for other people. (Muslim)
This is the irony: We think, “if I give ten pounds to the Cambridge Muslim College, I’ll be ten pounds poorer!”
Actually you’re poorer if you hold on to it because it’s not going to go with you into the grave. But the charity (sadaqah) is the investment deposit in the eternal bank. This transaction which never diminishes; it’s the account of the hereafter.
Save in Your Eternal Account
The believer knows this and with an expression of pain perhaps he produces his zakat when he can, as much as he can… but there’s an element of pain, which is foolish! Because he’s actually liable to lose these things, he may not even enjoy them himself.
If he walks around his life with all of these coins jingling in his pocket, what should he do? Put them in the bank. But not the bank of this corporation or that corporation, instead the only bank which once the deposit has been made, he will keep it for eternity and will yield dividends eternally.
That’s intelligence. That’s wisdom.
But, unfortunately, even though our world is of overflowing wealth, so much money and yet so much poverty, so many rich people, so many poor people, the polarization of wealth between rich and poor gets greater and greater. And we know that this brings the divine anger because it’s an injustice.
The poor get poorer, the rich get richer, and the world is kind of shaking as a result. There’s one of the major imbalances of our time.
Giving Charity is the Core Part of Islam
Wealth distraction was from the very beginning of Revelation, but it’s absolutely appropriate to our time now.
And Islam is the religion that encourages the obligatory and the optional forms of giving charity again and again.
A child is born, there’s the aqiqah; somebody dies, there is the inheritance, which gets distributed out.
We are a people who give and sadaqah is related to sidq, a word which means sincerity, truthfulness, being real.
The Holy Prophet’s Generosity
This is the nature of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) who is the most generous of people, and was at his most generous in the month of Ramadan. He (peace be upon him) was more generous and swift in giving and doing good than the wind let loose.
There’s no calculation, he just gives and gives and gives because he’s not afraid of poverty. He (peace be upon him) prayed to be in the company of the destitute.
He prayed to be with the poor, the asylum seekers, the refugees, the homeless, and the brokenhearted…
This is challenging because we like to have those coins jingling in our pockets. There’s a story that says that when the first gold and silver coins were created, iblis raised them and put them to his eyes and kissed them and said:
“Whoever loves you is in reality my servant.”
The wealth that the believer has can be a blessing; it has to be on the basis of the lack of the heart attachment. Your wealth is for sadaqah, it’s for supporting the family, it’s for supporting neighbors, it’s for giving iftar to people who can’t afford it, and it’s for hospitality.
This is the quality of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) who was more generous in giving what is good than the winds let loose.
This is an extraordinary state because there is peace in the heart and there is no fear of poverty.
So, this is the month of giving, this is the month of solidarity, this is the month of remembering neighbors, of connecting family ties:
Fear God concerning whom you question each other and the ties of kinship. (Quran 4:1)
We are the Ummah of solidarity and we are to be an exemplary community to show how human beings can and should be together in solidarity, in cooperation, in sharing, in giving.
When we have fewer worldly temptations to distract us, and when perhaps we are thinking of higher things, and we have tasted in worship and in the Quran something that is sweeter and truer and more nourishing to our hearts than any physical pleasure or experience of status could ever be.
When we have been shown an alternative, reminded of what we truly are and of our homeland to which we are called, may He make us people of generosity, of people who are softhearted towards the poor people, who do not just pay lip service to the Sunnah, but actually walk in the footsteps of the chosen one (peace be upon him) by loving the poor, by supporting the poor, by seeking them out, and by being people of generosity in this blessed month.
May Allah open our hearts to this and grant us the blessings of Ramadan.