Ramadan: A Month of Charity

One does not become the recipient of paradise by merely observing the fast and going through Ramadan. Instead, it is essential for a person to fulfil its requisites and conditions and focus on good deeds.

Qurratul Ain Maryam

The holy month of Ramadan is at our doorstep. Fortunate will be those who will benefit from this blessed month. The blessings are attained by a real understanding of fasting and by making the most of it. The Holy Prophetsa said,

 “When Ramadan arrives, the doors of heaven are opened, and the doors of hell are closed, and Satans are chained up.”[1]

However, one does not become the recipient of paradise by merely observing the fast and going through Ramadan. Instead, it is essential for a person to fulfil its requisites and conditions and focus on good deeds.

True Purpose of Fasting

The Quranic verses which prescribe fasting stipulates three objectives for it.[2] Firstly, that he/she may become righteous. Secondly, that he/she may exalt Allah for His guidance. Thirdly, that he/she may become grateful.

Here, the foremost mentioned objective of fasting is Taqwa (righteousness) which is its true purpose. One should strive to achieve this purpose during the blessed month of Ramadan. Along with being a significant component for the acceptance of prayers, righteousness enables man to get spiritually closer to God Almighty. As the Promised Messiahas says,

“One can only gain the nearness of God and come under His protection when one adopts true Taqwa (righteousness) and carries out virtuous deeds.”

Charity: A requisite for righteousness

As for attaining righteousness, it is interesting to note that Allah has correlated it with financial sacrifice as He says,

“You cannot attain to righteousness unless you spend out of that which you love; and whatever you spend, Allah surely knows it well.”[3]

Thus, charity is one of the important attributes of Ramadan. This fact is reflected in the life of no less an authority than the Holy Prophetsa himself. Hazrat Ibn Abbasra relates that the Holy Prophetsa was the most generous of all people. However, he used to become even more generous in Ramadan that his generosity has been analogized to a fast, fierce wind.[4]

Mankind has witnessed the concept of sacrificing for the sake of God since time immemorial. But what is this sacrifice? It varies depending on the circumstances of every age. The Promised Messiahas rightfully declared that the age to sacrifice one’s life by means of Jihad has been replaced by the age to sacrifice by means of one’s wealth[5]. So, what we are looking at is the age of financial sacrifices. Abundant blessings and rewards are promised to those who make financial sacrifices in the way of God. The Holy Quran promisingly states,

“The similitude of those who spend their wealth for the cause of Allah is like the similitude of a grain of corn which grows seven ears, in each ear a hundred grains. And Allah multiplies it further for whomsoever He pleases; Allah is Bountiful, All-Knowing.”[6]

Where financial sacrifice and charity are encouraged and are seen as a part of faith, miserliness is disliked in God’s view. Faith and miserliness cannot coexist. The Promised Messiahas went on to say, 

“Doomed are the people who spend hundreds for show and display, but when it comes to spending in the way of Allah, they find all sorts of excuses. It is shameful indeed that a person should enter this Jamaat and not leave behind his miserliness and meanness.”[7]

True Spirit of Sacrifice

But in all of this, one must understand the spirit behind these material contributions and sacrifices. The Holy Quran has explained this rule about sacrifice saying that neither the flesh nor the blood of sacrificial animals reach Allah, instead it is righteousness that reaches Him.[8] In essence, only such sacrifices are accepted by God that are sincere and free from any impurity of selfish motives and are done only for the sake of God’s pleasure.

Charity is a cornerstone of the Islamic society and a constant theme in the Quranic teachings. The Holy Prophetsa  said, “The best charity is the one that is offered during the month of Ramadan.”[9]

Learning from this, one must try to increase the degree of generosity, charity, and financial sacrifice during the blessed month of Ramadan to seek nearness to God Almighty.

Two Kinds of Charities

In Islam, there are two kinds of charities: obligatory and voluntary. The obligatory charity is called Zakat, while the voluntary charity is called Sadaqah.

Zakat, while on the one hand, is the backbone of Islamic social and economic structure, has also been counted as a part of worship, which a Muslim is obligated to do for his Creator.  The Promised Messiahas says,

“What is Zakat? It is taken from the rich and given to the poor. It teaches the highest level of human sympathy. Thus, by coming together of the rich and the poor, the Muslims gain strength. It is a must for the rich to help the poor, and even if it were not so, it is a demand of human sympathy to do so. But nowadays, I see that people care the least even if their neighbour is starving to death, so engrossed are they with their own comfort and enjoyment. I can’t hold back what Allah has told me. Sympathy is a very precious gem that a man has….. There are many who give to the poor rotten crumbs which are of no use to anyone, and they imagine that they have given charity. Allah does not accept such things, nor is such charity acceptable. He clearly says that you cannot achieve virtue until you spend out of that which you love. Virtue cannot be called virtue until you spend for the propagation of the faith and the sympathy for mankind out of your possessions which you love.”

Special Charities in Ramadan

Apart from these, there are two other charities specific only to Ramadan; Fitrana and Eid fund.

Fitrana or Sadaqatul Fitr is defined as the obligatory charity to be paid at the end of Ramadan, and the payment of which was made incumbent by the Holy Prophetsa on every Muslim. Hazrat Ibn Abbasra relates, “The Holy Prophetsa deemed Sadaqat-ul-Fitr obligatory upon Muslims. It is a means of purifying the fasting person from idle talk and foul language and also to feed the poor.”[10]

Fitrana must be offered before Eid. At times it is observed that it is provided right before or after the Eid prayer. However, it is better to provide Fitrana well before Eid so that the poor and needy can be provided with the means to celebrate Eid in time.

Whereas the practice of offering Eid fund exists since the time of the Promised Messiahas, the purpose of providing this fund is for a person to bear in mind the requirements of faith and religion as he spends money for his worldly needs. Ahmadis should pay a sum on both Eids keeping in view the spirit of this fund according to their financial position.

In the days of Ramadan, one should try to fulfill the aforementioned requirements which are essential for gaining bounties from this blessed month. How fortunate, therefore, is the person who offers a small portion of his belongings for the sake of Allah and inherits everlasting life.

As the Promised Messiahas said, “What a blessed time this is! No one is asked to lay down their life. This is not the time for offering the ultimate sacrifice, but rather it is the time to spend out of one’s possessions, according to one’s means.[13]


The Author is a member of AMWSA, Kolkata & a Member of Noorul Islam Committee Lajna, Kolkata.

References

[1] Sahih Bukhari Kitab Bad’ al Khalq

[2] Holy Quran 2: 184-185

[3] Holy Quran 3: 93

[4] Sahih Bukhari Kitab al Saum

[5] Al Hakam 7 October 1903, Malfoozat p. 359-360

[6] Holy Quran 2: 262

[7] Majmua-e-Ishtiharat vol. 3 p. 156

[8] Holy Quran 22: 38

[9] Sunan Tirmidhi Kitab al Zakat

[10] Sunan Dawud Kitab al Zakat

[11] Al Hakam 10 July 1903

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