Giving to charity? Family comes first
Allah Almighty Almighty mentioned in numerous verses in the Quran that we are tested. In one of these verses He said:
We have created death and life to test which of you is best in his conduct. (67:2)
The challenging nature of life
Without doubt our tests, tribulations and calamities from Allah Almighty are ongoing till we meet Him. This earth is a dunya of test. So never ever imagine that life can be entirely hassle-free. The akhirah is. But not dunya. Allah Almighty is preparing us to live in the dunya without depression. You have aspirations but with the right understanding you will not be disappointed.
We will be tested in different ways in our life from exams, driving and job interviews to harder ones. Between us and Allah Almighty we have different levels of tests. It might be social, financial, or related to ikhlas (sincerity).
Allah Almighty wants us to pass them. Why? In order for us to become better people – better citizens, children, spouses, Muslims… . They are for our self-improvement.
One of the tests which Allah Almighty mentioned in the Quran Surah Al Imran, says:
You won’t be able to maintain the level of goodness until you give from what you like. And whatever you give Allah Almighty is fully aware of it. (3:92)
Tested in wealth
Again the core of this ayah is that we are being tested. Allah Almighty is testing us financially. We love money and wealth. Gold and silver are very dear to our hearts. Allah Almighty wants to know which we are prepared to compromise. Our love for Allah Almighty or our love of the dunya and wealth? Or is it the other way round. When this was revealed, the owner of the best garden in Madinah, Abu Talha rushed to the Prophet (peace be on him) and said:
‘Ya Rasul Allah, indeed Allah revealed ‘You will never attain righteousness until you spend from what you love.’ Be witness that for me the most favourite thing is Bairuha, -which everyone in Madinah knows. The jewel of Madinah, – so I give it (as a charitable gift) in Allah’s Cause and hope to receive good out of it, and to have it stored for me with Allah. So, O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)! Dispose it of (i.e. utilize it) in the way Allah orders you (to dispose it of).” Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “Bravo! That is a fruitful property! That is a fruitful property! I have heard what you have said and I think that you should distribute that (garden) amongst your relatives.” The Abu Talha distributed that garden amongst his relatives and his cousins.(Bukhari).
The Prophet (peace be on him) envisaged there would be a dispute among his relatives, so he averted that by making Abu Talha give the charity among his relatives. Abu Talha distributed it accordingly.
Charity should be given to family first
There are many people who are only charitable outside their family. They are extremely charitable to others, but when it comes to their family, they are very stingy. Charity starts at home. This is the core of the Islamic concept of charity. Abu Talha distributed his garden among his relatives and his cousins in shares.
Double reward of giving to family
From a psychological point of view, the Prophet (peace be on him) wanted the garden to remain within the family, so they would not regret Abu Talha’s donation. He was confirming what he always repeated – charity to your family earns double reward. Firstly, it’s charity secondly it connects blood ties. The Prophet (peace be on him) confirmed this concept through the example.
It was narrated from Salman bin ‘Amir that the Prophet said:
“Giving charity to a poor person is charity, and (giving) to a relative is two things, charity and upholding the ties of kinship.” (Nasa’i).
Giving charity with ease
Abu Talha exhibited ease in giving. He was not hesitant to do that for the pleasure of Allah Almighty. Imam Qushayri in his tafsir commented that if you spend what you love, you will receive what you wish for in akhirah.
So don’t let what you love be an obstacle in gaining closeness to Allah Almighty.
In a hadith Haritha had the best horse in Madinah, called Subul. He was very speedy and expensive like a McLaren in our time. He went to Prophet (peace be on him) and said, ‘Be witness the horse is for Allah’s sake.’ There was no hesitation.
And again Umar ibn al-Khattab reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be on him), ordered us to give charity and at the time I had some wealth. I said to myself, ‘Today I will outdo Abu Bakr, if ever there were a day to outdo him.’ I went with half of my wealth to the Prophet and he said, ‘What have you left for your family?’ I said, ‘The same amount’ Then, Abu Bakr came with everything he had. The Prophet said, ‘O Abu Bakr, what have you left for your family?’ Abu Bakr said, Allah and His Messenger.’ I said, ‘By Allah, I will never do better than Abu Bakr.’ (Tirmidhi)
Abu Bakr was on a different level – the highest level of deep trust, conviction and ikhlas. Not all people can be on this level. As Imam Ghazali in Ihya Ulum Uddin in the chapter on Tawakkul commented there are conditions to follow. But nevertheless there is a reflection of dedication and commitment to Allah Almighty. He gained not just Bir (goodness) but al Bārr.
Giving what you love
Although the test is financial, a Christian priest was describing that at Lent they give up things they love, for instance if someone is addicted to his gadgets, his fasting will be not to use them. Their fasting is from the things they love, which they give up for God’s sake.
If it’s a distraction from Allah, give it up in accordance of the sunnah from the Prophet (peace be on him) without crossing boundaries.
Allah The Almighty said :(give of what you love ) for the sake of Allah. Not what you want to throw away. This is a test of imaan. It’s a very profitable trade. The big question is can we do that? The answer is to test yourself. Are you able to give what you love? Not necessarily with your money. But also your knowledge, time and dedication. So the aya is about improving ourselves and our relationships. If we want closeness let’s not make our wealth a barrier but a bridge to the akhirah and benefit our community.
Throughout history, our community has been sustained by endowments (waqf). The Prophet (peace be on him) began this concept where we keep the asset but donate the profit from it for Allah’s sake. Makkah, Madinah, Bait al Maqdis were sustained by projects where the assets were safeguarded, no one could sell them, but their profits were invested in the community and dedicated to knowledge seekers. We need to revive this sunnah and develop it further.
May Allah Almighty make us of those who can give from what we love, give without hesitation and gain closeness to Him. Ameen.
Khutbah delivered by Shaykh Haytham Tamim
Transcribed by Hasan Khan
November 28, 2021
November 19, 2021