The formula for success. Reflections on Surat Ar Rum
So give your relative his right, as well as the needy and the traveller. That is best for those who desire the face [i.e., approval] of Allah, and it is they who will be the successful. (30:38)
Success lies in being good to your family
Here Allah Almighty is giving us a formula for success. Success comes from giving our relatives their rights. Our relatives (dhul qurba) are our immediate family and extended family. The rights might be financial obligations, or silatul Rahim, which means maintaining good relations with them.
We cannot underestimate this, as we know from the famous hadith qudsi, Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
“Verily, the womb (rahim) derives its name from the Most Merciful. Allah said: I will keep good relations with one who keeps good relations with your relatives, and I will sever relations with one who severs relations with your relatives.” (Bukhari)
Rahim is the womb and Allah promises to connect those who maintain their family ties in a good way.
Relationships are a two-way street
You should fulfil your responsibilities towards your family to the best of your ability and ensure that they receive their rights from you. At the same time, they should fulfil their responsibilities and give you your rights.
However you are responsible for your side. You are not responsible for their side. You do not fall short of your responsibilities because they fell short of theirs. You should not neglect to call them because they neglect to call you.
Allah Almighty commanded us to look after the needy in our communities – to help and support them and to spend on them from your surplus wealth. Allah Almighty says in Surat Dhariyat those who are asking and those who are deprived of wealth have a right to our money – which is the 2.5% of zakat:
And in their properties there was the right of the beggar, and the Mahrum (the poor who does not ask the others) (51:19)
The one who is passing by but has lost his money and wants to return home is also entitled to our help and support.
Our purpose is not to accumulate and hoard wealth. The dunya is merely a bridge to the akhirah.
The ayah ends by reminding us that if we follow this guidance we will be successful.
Do not charge interest
In the next ayah, Allah Almighty contrasts the profit from giving zakat to the loss we incur when we charge interest (riba).
And whatever you give for interest [i.e., advantage] to increase within the wealth of people will not increase with Allah. But what you give in zakah, desiring the face [i.e., approval] of Allah – those are the multipliers. (30:39)
This ayah was revealed when riba had not yet been prohibited. It was shifting the mindset and preparing the community for the command that was to come. It is making you aware that if you want to increase the return on your investment, you should spend it on those in need. However if you charge interest when you lend money, your money will not grow in the akhirah and will be punishable. The rewards for giving in charity are multiplied to the extent that even the tiniest amounts will grow into mountains.
The smallest zakat will grow on the Day of Judgment to the size of the mountain of Uhud.
Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:
“Verily, Allah will raise up a date or a morsel in charity, just as one of you raises his mare or his young, until it becomes like the mountain of Uhud.” (Ibn Hibban)
Give gifts without attaching strings
Another opinion is that this ayah is not about riba, but about giving gifts without expecting any return from the recipient. When you give, give freely without expecting to receive more from them in return. Rather, expect your reward from Allah Almighty and you will not be disappointed.
If you want Allah to be pleased with you and to multiply your reward, then do things for His sake.
We ask Allah to make our intentions for His sake and to enable us to fulfil our obligations and give everyone their rights. Ameen.
Shaykh Haytham Tamim
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