Ramadan: The month of Charity

Ramadan is the month of charity. Although it is not obligatory to pay Zakat in the month of Ramadan, most Muslims pay their Zakat in Ramadan. Besides Zakat, there is obligatory Fitra to be paid to the poor before the Eid Prayer. Besides these two obligatory charities, lot of Sadaqa (Voluntary Charity) is paid during Ramadan. It is not that one is not encouraged to do charity throughout the year and do it only in the month of Ramadan. However, it was the Sunnah of the Prophet to do more charity in the month of Ramadan. It is reported that during the month of Ramadan the prophet used to do so much charity that he was likened to fast blowing wind.

It is narrated by Ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) “The Prophet (peace be upon him) was the most generous amongst the people, and he used to be more so in the month of Ramadan when Gabriel visited him, and Gabriel used to meet him on every night of Ramadan till the end of the month. The Prophet used to recite the Holy Qur’an to Gabriel, and when Gabriel met him, he used to be more generous than a fast wind” (Sahih Al Bukhari: Book No. 31: Hadith No. 126).

Qur’an exhorts the believers to do charity and equals it to load given to Allah which will be returned in multiples on the day of Judgement.

“Who is it that would loan Allah a goodly loan so He may multiply it for him many times over? And it is Allah who withholds and grants abundance, and to Him you will be returned” (Surah Al Baqarah 2:245).

At another place Qur’an explains the benefit of charity by giving the example of grain of corn. According to Quran:

The likeness of those who spend their money for Allah’s sake, is as the likeness of a grain (of corn), it grows seven ears, every single ear has a hundred grains, and Allah multiplies (increases the reward) for whom He wills, and Allah is All-Sufficient for His creatures needs, All Knower(Surah Al Baqarah 2: 261)

Those who spend of their goods (in charity) by night and by day in secret and in public shall have their reward with their Lord: on them shall be no fear nor shall they grieve” (Surah Al Baqarah 2:274)

The literal meaning of Zakat is purification and growth. It is a specific amount of money due to be spent on specific accounts after the passage of specific time. There are numerous spiritual, psychological as well as economic benefits of charity, especially zakat.

Spiritually it brings the giver closer to the Creator. There is no denying the fact that physical ibadah (worship) does not affect a person as deeply and does not put as much burden on him or his resources as parting with hard earned money. It is also a form of informal social insurance system which takes care of the basic needs of the poorer sections of the society by the wealthier section. In this way it bridges the gap between the rich and the poor which may lead to many unwanted situations. It creates a feeling of love and brotherhood between the rich and the poor and thus reduces social tensions also.

It has a psychological dimension as well. It has a positive affect of the giver, the receiver, and the society at large. It purifies the property and assets of the giver, restraints his lust for wealth and material goods and creates in him the virtue and urge to share with less fortunate ones. It uplifts the giver from a life of materialism and self-gratification to a life endowed with a higher moral purpose.

Sadaqa and Zakat prepares one to spend in the way of Allah willingly and largeheartedly. It drives away greed and pride from the wealthy and does away with glaring income inequality and at the same time imperceptibly effects a gradual redistribution of wealth from the rich to the poor.

Economically it prevents concentration of wealth by circulating it in the society by transferring wealth from the rich to the poor. It redistributes real income among the members of the society by redistributing a part of purchasing power from the rich to the poor. It is well known economic fact that poor tend to spend most of their income on basic necessities of life as compared to the rich who spend less proportion of their wealth on basic necessities. A major part of the wealth of the rich is spent on luxuries of life. When charity is paid by the rich to the poor it helps in the circulation of money in the economy by creating demand for basic necessities of life.

It also discourages hoarding and accumulation of idle wealth. It ensures to put the waiting resources back into economic activity by pushing every bit of idle wealth into production activity by increasing the cost of waiting.

Let us pay our Zakat and give Sadaqa to reap the spiritual rewards in the holy month of Ramadan. Let us reach out to the less fortunate and make a difference in somebodies’ life. Let us make this Ramadan more fulfilling and satisfying.

Lets celebrate Eid 2020 with true spirit

Somebody forwarded me the news from Hyderabad and Lucknow that Muslims are planning to scale down on Eid festivities and related buying this year and rather spend the money on helping the poor and the needy. It is reported in newspapers that the Muslims in Hyderabad are preparing to celebrate this year’s Eid without new clothes. This is to show solidarity with the poor affected by the Corona Virus. The money thus saved will be used to help the poor and the needy and to save for future. There is a WhatsApp message circulating in Hyderabad “I am not buying clothes this Eid. Will you?”. In an open appeal to the Muslims of Hyderabad, Nawab Najaf Ali Khan (descendant of Last Nizam Mir Osman Ali Khan) has requested them not to buy new clothes even if lock down in lifted and shops are open. His appeal says “Let us pledge to exclude our materialism and gloating and be mindful of the underprivileged around us. Let’s say no to excessive and unnecessary shopping for Eid. Keeping in mind the current situation due to the ongoing lock down for Covid-19, most of us are at home, but the poor and needy are left to fend for themselves without a job as everything is shut down”. This is indeed sane advice.

Similarly, there is a call given in Lucknow to use best clothes instead of new clothes. The appeal from Lucknow is as follows:

“Let’s wear the best clothes not new clothes this Eid

Say No to Eid Shopping this year. Instead

Feed a Family

Pay someone’s school fees

Help someone restart business

Pay someone’s rent

Let’s celebrate the true spirit of Ramzan”

Maulana Khalid Rasheed Firangi Mahal has appealed to the people of Lucknow to spend half of saved amount on the poor and the needy. This is a good advice as it creates a balance between the personal needs and the needs of the society. One can spend half the amount saved on helping others while can save the other half for future.

These are good initiatives. They need to be followed everywhere. Let us celebrate Eid without new clothes and shoes. And why only clothes and shoes, let us celebrate this year’s Eid with less food also. Usually a minimum of four to five dishes are prepared on the occasion of Eid. Let us do with two dishes and instead help others. Let us celebrate Eid this year in the true spirit by sharing with others. Let us go back to the Sunnah. Eid Mubarak in advance.

References:

 

 

 

Ramadan: The month of the Qur’an

Finally Ramadan 2020 is here. Ramadan is the holiest month among the 12 months of the Islamic Calendar. Muslims all over the world eagerly wait for this month. The month is characterized by Fasting from dawn to dusk, charity, humility, caring for the poor, contemplation on one’s life, reading of the Qur’an and special night prayers popularly called Taraweeh.

Qur'an photo

Photo Credit & © Mohsin Aziz

 

Qur'an

Photo Credit & © Mohsin Aziz

 

The month of Ramadan is characterized by reading of the Qur’an. Even those who don’t usually read Qur’an try to read some portion every day. And why not? Ramadan has special connect with Qur’an. It was during this month that Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him). As the Qur’an itself declares:

‘Verily! We have sent it (this Qur’an) down in the night of the Decree. And what will make you know what the night of the Decree is? The night of Decree is better than a thousand months” (Al Qur’an, 97:1-3)

Night of Decree is one of the blessed night in the last ten days of the Ramadan. Today Qur’an is the most sold book in the world. It is also the most read book in the world. There are innumerable benefits of reading the Qur’an. However, it was not revealed to be just read, decorated in fancy clothes and kept on the shelf to be taken out every Ramadan, read and kept back for next one year. Rather it was revealed to be understood and followed. Qur’an itself challenges and motivates humanity to understand it by contemplating (tadabbur) on its verses and to find guidance for this world and for hereafter. As Allah says in the Qur’an:

“Will they not then ponder the Qur’an or are there locks upon their hearts?” (Al Qur’an,, 47:24)

“This is a blessed book which We have revealed to you, (O Muhammad), that they might reflect upon its verses and those of understanding would be reminded” (Al Qur’an, 38:29)

“Indeed in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of the night and the day are signs for those of understanding. Who remember Allah while standing or sitting or (lying) on their sides and give thought to the creation of the heavens and the earth, (saying), “Our Lord you did not create this aimlessly; Exalted are You (above such a thing); then protect us from the punishment of the fire” (Al Qur’an, 3:190-191)

In fact, the Qur’an condemns those who do not ponder over it. It declares:

“Do they not look into the dominion of the heavens and the earth and all things that Allah has created, and that it may be that the end of their lives is near. In what message after this will they then believe” (Al Qur’an, 7:185)

Yes, everybody does not know Arabic, the language of the Qur’an. All of us should make an effort to at least know the basic terms used in the Qur’an. But not knowing Arabic can not be an excuse. There are lots of translations of the meaning of the Qur’an available in every major language of the world. One can start reading the translation of the meaning from them. It is true that Qur’an has deep and multiple meaning for every word in it. It requires to have a thorough knowledge of not only Classical Arabic language but history, classical Arabic poetry, sociology etc. to understand the meaning of each verse. Humankind will keep contemplating till the day of Judgement and will still be surprised to find something new at every turn. However, basic message of the Qur’an can be understood by any body and everybody. The basic concepts which are dealt with in the Qur’an are Universal and can be understood, appreciated and applied by anybody regardless of the time and the place. Concepts such as justice, equality of human beings regardless of colour of the skin or gender, taking care of the parents, helping the poor and the needy, humility, truthfulness, forbearance etc. are all universal themes which appeal to everybody.

Let us resolve that this Ramadan, we will not only recite Qur’an but will try to read it with understanding. Let us contemplate and ponder on Qur’an and get benefit as the Qur’an declares:

So when the Qur’an is recited, then listen to it and pay attention that you may receive Mercy” (Al Qur’an, 7:204)

Let us recite and read it with understanding so as to benefit from it in this world and let Qur’an be our proof and intercession on the Day of Judgement. Happy Reading, Happy Pondering.

Wo zamaney main muazzez thay musalman hokar

Aur tum khwaar hua tarik e Qur’an hokar

 

 

Ramazan, Corona Virus and the Indian Muslim Leadership

Ramazan is round the corner. It is a special month for Muslims all over the world. The moment one Ramazan finishes, they start waiting for the next one. Even kids eagerly wait for Ramzan. There is something special which one can feel immediately upon confirming the news that Ramazan is starting tomorrow. From maghrib itself, the environment changes. Suddenly, the whole environment becomes spiritual. Everybody start preparing for Isha prayer and males especially look forward to praying special congregational prayers what are commonly called as Taraweeh (The real name by the way is Qayamul Lail) and prayed in the Mosque after Isha.

When the corona virus was in early stages the countries of Middle East decided to close Mosques. Even the Haram Makki as well as Haram Madni were closed. Regarding these decisions there has been lot self-congratulatory talk at the popular level in India . When Saudi Arabia decided to close the Harmain Sharifain and other mosques it was received with not only disbelief but also disdain in the Indian Subcontinent. Not only Saudi Arabia, all the GCC countries i.e. United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Sultanate of Oman, Qatar, and Bahrain also closed all the Mosques not only for daily five obligatory prayers but also for Friday prayers. The general response in the Indian Subcontinent was that it is a sign of weakness of Iman. This was basically indirectly saying that Muslims in India have more Iman than Middle Eastern Muslims. However, time has proved that it was absolutely correct decision and there are historical precedents available in early Islamic history that this has been done before. Even for Ramzan, all the GCC countries have decided to continue with the earlier decision of keeping the Mosques closed throughout the month.

In this regard I am looking at two different advices which have come for Indian Muslims as guidelines to be followed during coming Ramazan. One is a copy of a Fatwa from Darul Ifta of Darul Ulum Deoband and other from a group of prominent Indian Muslims. Both of them have advised Indian Muslims to follow the law of the land and not to do anything which may spread the Virus. Both the advisories contain some great advice which are quite practical. It is a welcome sign. However, in both of them there are points which at least to me don’t make any sense at all.

The advisory from Darul Ifta of Darul Ulum suggests that not more than 4 or 5 people should pray in the Mosque, either the five obligatory prayers Friday prayers (point three) or Taraweeh (point four). The same point is contained in the advisory given by the group of prominent citizens (point one). I fail to understand as to how this will help in containment of the virus. If only those who live in the Mosque pray, it does make some sense but to suggest that some from the neighborhood should join them to make it 4 or 5 does defeat the very purpose of social distancing. It even goes on to suggest that in case of non-agreement as to who will join from the neighborhood, there should be a chit based random selection to avoid controversy. However, it is another point in the advisory of Darul Ulum Deoband really baffles me. It asks people to make announcement from the Mosque for the time of Suhoor (early morning meal before sunrise to start the fast) as well as Iftar (meal taken to break the fast at sunset. Point fourteen). What is the point of creating a situation which can lead to unnecessary controversy? Those who fast can find out the time anyway. Everybody has got either a watch or a mobile. One can easily see time and break the fast. Where in the world was the need for this advisory? For me it certainly defies logic. Coming to the first point, is it so important to open Mosques as to put people in danger.

There can be only two plausible explanations for this. Either those giving these advices are not competent to really comprehend what is staring at them. They are unable to really put things in historical perspective and come up with a suitable response. This is quite possible as this is what religious leadership in India has done quite a few times in the past with disastrous results. It does not mean that they have never taken correct decisions and positions. Mostly that is the case. But it must be remembered in today’s world of prevalence of social media and instant decision making, there is hardly any margin of error. We have just witnessed the drama that was played on television channels with regards to Tablighi Jamaat. The time at which the congregation took place at Markaz, there was no government advisory against any such gathering. Still, those responsible at the Markaz are now being blamed left right and center.

The other explanation is that they understand the reality and know very well as to what needs to be done but are afraid to speak so. They are afraid that if they speak the truth and advice people correctly, they may loose their followership and popularity. Both the scenarios are quite scary. If this is the quality of leadership than only Allah can save us. In such a situation it is better to err on the side of caution rather then regret later.

With due respect to  Sir Allama Mohammad Iqbal, I would like to rephrase a couplet from Shikwa and say that:

Jurrat Amoz Meri Taabe Sukhan hai mujhko

Shikwa Ulema Se khakam badahan hai mujhko

The strength of my talk (poetry) is encouraging me

May dust be in my mouth, I have complaint against Ulema