In this post and in the subsequent ones I shall mention some of the ahadith from the Book of Obligatory Charity Tax or Zakaat, Sahih Bukhari. Besides the Quranic verses which I have mentioned, in my previous posts, these ahadith also form the base of the Islamic rulings regarding the subject of Compulsory charity or Zakaat.
A man came to Prophet Mohammad (saw) and asked him, ‘O Allah’s Apostle! Which charity is the most superior in reward? Prophet Mohammad (saw) replied, ‘The charity which you give when you are healthy, miserly; afraid of poverty and wish to become wealthy’. Do not delay it so much that death approaches you and you say, ‘Give so much to such and such and so much to such and such. And it has already belonged to so and so (it is too late)’.
We have often witnessed people who are quite apathetic when it comes to giving charity but if they suffer ill-health, they turn quite charitable all of a sudden. Just like remembering and worshipping Allah should be done both in the good times as well as during an ordeal, likewise, one should not wait to suffer from ill-health in order to offer charity to the poor and the needy. In the earlier posts of Quranic rulings on zakaat we have seen that by giving zakaat, a person does not oblige those whom he helps. This is because he is just giving to the poor what is due to them. Allah (swt) has placed a share for the poor in the wealthy man’s assets. So by giving the poor charity the wealthy man is, in fact, giving to them what is rightfully theirs. By avoiding charity throughout his lifetime, a miser snatches the rights of the poor. He clings on to the wealth that Allah (swt) Granted to him and tries to hoard it. When such a person faces death, then he realizes the futility of the wealth which he had so lovingly hoarded during his life. He may then realize his mistake and tell others to distribute his wealth to the poor. However, it would be too late by that time. Just like justice delayed is justice denied similarly withholding what belonged to the poor throughout one’s lifetime and then feeling guilty and ashamed about it at the time of one’s death, is futile.
According to this hadith, the charity given by a miser will get a better reward than the charity given by a generous person. This is due to the fact that by giving charity, a miser man has to go against his nature and therefore, he would be taking more pain to obtain Allah (swt)’s Goodwill. On the other hand, for a bighearted man giving charity will be easier as it will be second nature to him.
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