This issue focuses on charity. We know how very important charity (including the obligatory charity, Zakat) is in God’s system.
[3:92] You cannot attain righteousness until you give to charity from the possessions you love. Whatever you give to charity, GOD is fully aware thereof.
[7:156] …. He said, “My retribution befalls whomever I will. But My mercy encompasses all things. However, I will specify it for those who (1) lead a righteous life, (2) give the obligatory charity (Zakat), (3) believe in our revelations…”
If humans were to follow the system that God has laid out for us, there would be no hunger and no poverty. Everyone would be taking care of one another. But we get waylaid and misled by Satan and all his temptations of worldly pleasures. People wrongly feel that hoarding material possessions is good for them (3:180), or think that helping others is not their problem (36:47). [17:100] Proclaim, “If you possessed my Lord's treasures of mercy, you would have withheld them, fearing that you might exhaust them. The human being is stingy.”
While giving to charity is a blessing, there is such a thing as a wrong way to engage in charity. This month of December, especially in western cultures, can bring out those tendencies of extravagance more strongly than any other time. Giving is wonderful; it’s strongly encouraged throughout the Quran, but the motivation behind it is as important to keep in mind. Some people have a need to outdo one another, to be “better” than their neighbor. Often a seemingly generous gift is nothing more than showing off (4:36-38). They want everyone to know that they can afford to give extravagantly. [17:26-7] You shall give the due alms to the relatives, the needy, the poor, and the traveling alien, but do not be excessive, extravagant. The extravagant are brethren of the devils, and the devil is unappreciative of his Lord.
[25:67] When they give, they are neither extravagant, nor stingy; they give in moderation.
God also does not approve of those who spend their energy unfairly criticizing or ridiculing others’ charitable works (9:79).
We know that our gifts must be only toward pleasing God, not with the expectation even of a thank you (76:9). We’re told it’s better to give anonymously, if possible (2:271). We know that when we give, we do so with no strings attached, no condemnation or derision for the person receiving our charity (93:10, 51:19).
So, in this time of year, which has been touted as a time of peace and giving but which for some has been turned into a commercial nightmare, we, as submitters, need to always remember to be thankful to God (2:152) for all He has given us: [93:11] You shall proclaim the blessing your Lord has bestowed upon you.
We need to be generous and kind all year long, giving charity as a means of pleasing God and growing our souls. Let us always strive to follow the description of righteousness in the Quran:
[2:177] Righteousness is not turning your faces towards the east or the west. Righteous are those who believe in GOD, the Last Day, the angels, the scripture, and the prophets; and they give the money, cheerfully, to the relatives, the orphans, the needy, the traveling alien, the beggars, and to free the slaves; and they observe the Contact Prayers (Salat) and give the obligatory charity (Zakat); and they keep their word whenever they make a promise; and they steadfastly persevere in the face of persecution, hardship, and war. These are the truthful; these are the righteous.
And as we give, we pray we may be accepted by God among those He loves in this world and the Hereafter.
[3:133-4] You should eagerly race towards forgiveness from your Lord and a Paradise whose width encompasses the heavens and the earth; it awaits the righteous, who give to charity during the good times, as well as the bad times. They are suppressors of anger, and pardoners of the people. GOD loves the charitable.
[2:274] Those who give to charity night and day, secretly and publicly, receive their recompense from their Lord; they will have nothing to fear, nor will they grieve.
* * * * *
Just a Note
To all the submitters, both local and around the world, who have made the Masjid Tucson food pantry program a success, we say May God bless you. Your food, clothes, money, and other donations have been very helpful to so many people by God’s leave. This is a project God has permitted us to do, and we’re thankful to be doing God’s work. May He keep us always striving to do the things that please Him, especially to be charitable, as He has been charitable towards us.
[76:8-11] They donate their favorite food to the poor, the orphan, and the captive. “We feed you for the sake of GOD; we expect no reward from you, nor thanks. We fear from our Lord a day that is full of misery and trouble.” Consequently, GOD protects them from the evils of that day, and rewards them with joy and contentment.
* * * * *
[57:7] Believe in GOD and His messenger, and give from what He has bestowed upon you. Those among you who believe and give (to charity) have deserved a great recompense.
[16:128] GOD is with those who lead a righteous life, and those who are charitable.
[92:5-7] As for him who gives to charity and maintains righteousness. And upholds the scripture. We will direct him towards happiness.