Qurratul Ain Maryam
With the grace of Allah, the holy month of Ramadan is going to begin soon. Fortunate will be those who would benefit from this blessed month. The blessings are attained by a real understanding of fasting and by making the most of it. Undoubtedly, the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said,
“When Ramadan arrives, the doors of Heaven are opened, and the doors of Hell are closed, and Satans are chained up.”(Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab as-Saum)
However, one does not become the recipient of Paradise by merely keeping fast and going through Ramadan. It is essential to fulfill its requisites and its conditions and to focus on good works. The Quranic verse of Surah Al-Baqarah, Ch.2: 184-186, and 188 stipulates three objectives for fasting:
- “So that you may become righteous.”
- “That you may exalt Allah for He has guided you.”
- “That you may be grateful.”
Taqwa (God-fearing righteousness) is the key objective of the fasting, and one should strive to achieve it 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. And as the Promised Messiah (as) says,
“One can only gain the nearness of God and come under His protection when one adopts true taqwa (God-fearing righteousness) and carries out virtuous deeds. (Arabic) Each day, God Almighty records the deeds of an individual.”
It is interesting to note that Allah the Almighty says, “You cannot attain to righteousness unless you spend out of that which you love; and whatever you spend, Allah surely knows it well.” ( Al-e-‘Imran 3:93),
Thus, making charity one of the important attributes of Ramadan. This is reflected in the life of no less an authority than the Holy Prophet himself, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. Hazrat Ibn Abbas(ra) relates, The Holy Prophet(saw) was the most generous of all people, and he used to become more generous in Ramadan when Gabriel would meet him. Gabriel used to meet him every night during Ramadan to revise the Quran with him. Allah’s Messenger(saw) then used to be more generous than a fast, fierce wind.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab al-Manaqib)
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 The Promised Messiah (as) rightfully declared that the age to sacrifice one’s life by means of Jihad has been replaced by the age to sacrifice by means of one’s wealth (Al Hakam, 7/10/1903, Malfoozat, pp. 359-360). So, what we are looking at is the age of financial sacrifices. For those who make financial sacrifices in the way of God Almighty, abundant blessings and rewards are promised to them. 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.”(Surah al-Baqarah, Ch.2: V.262)
Where financial sacrifice and charity is encouraged and is seen as a part of faith, miserliness is disliked in the God Almighty’s path. Faith and miserliness cannot coexist. The Promised Messiah (as) 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.”(Majmua-e-Ishtiharat, Vol. 3, p. 156)
But in all of this, one must realize the spirit behind these material contributions and sacrifices. The Holy Quran has explained this rule about sacrifice in the following words, their [sacrificial animals] flesh reaches not Allah, nor does their blood, but it is your righteousness that reaches Him. Thus, has He subjected them to you, that you may glorify Allah for His guiding you. And give glad tidings to those who do good. (The Holy Quran 22:38)
In essence, only such sacrifices are accepted by Allah that are sincere and free from any impurity and are done only for the sake of Allah’s pleasure. Charity towards man is a cornerstone of the Islamic society and a constant theme in the Quranic teachings. And as narrated by Hazrat Anas(ra) that the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said, “The best charity is the one that is offered during the month of Ramadan.” (Tirmidhi, Kitab az-Zakat)
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.
In Islam, there are two kinds of charities: obligatory and voluntary. The obligatory charity is called Zakat, while the voluntary charity is called Sadaqah. “If they repent, and observe the prayer and pay the Zakat, then they are your brethren in faith” (The Holy Quran 9: 11)
Zakat, while on the one hand, is the backbone of Islamic social and economic structure, has also been counted as part of worship, which a Muslim is obligated to do for his Creator. The Promised Messiah a.s. 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 neighbor 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. Allah Almighty says: “You cannot achieve virtue until you spend out of that which you love.” This is not the way to please God, for instance, a Hindu’s cow becomes ill, and he presents it as Mans. 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.” (Mauta Imam Malik, Kitabul Zakat, Babul Zakat)
Apart from these, there are two others 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 Ramadhan, and the payment of which was made incumbent by the Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, on every Muslim. Hazrat Ibn Abbas(ra) relates, “The Holy Prophet(saw) 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.” (Sunan Abu Dawood, Kitab az-Zakat)
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 with 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 Promised Messiah(as), the purpose of providing this fund is so that as a person spends money on clothes, food, gatherings and gifts, etc., on all happy occasions like Eid, one should bear in mind the requirements of faith and religion. Ahmadis should pay a sum on both Eids keeping in view the spirit of this fund according to their financial position.
Today the call of the Messenger can be heard through Hadrat Khalifatul Masih, who invites us to offer sacrifices in the form of Zakat, Hissa Amad, Chanda ‘Am and in the form of other charities such as:
- Tahrik-e-Jadid, such that Allah’s message could be delivered to the corners of the earth.
- Waqf-e-Jadid, to provide education and training to rural Jamaats, as well as to take the message of Allah’s oneness to polytheists.
- Membership funds of the auxiliary wings, namely, Ansarullah, Khuddamul Ahmadiyya, and Lajna Imaillah.
- Syedna Bilal fund, for the welfare of the families of shuhada.
- Yatama Fund for widows, orphans, and those deprived of their rights.
- Maryam Shadi Fund, to help deserving and less fortunate parents concerning the marriage of their daughters.
- The fund dedicated to Muslim Television Ahmadiyya
- Humanity First, a charity organization that provides relief to calamity-stricken people on a global scale.
In the days of Ramadan, one should try to fulfill their promises towards these schemes. How fortunate, therefore, is the person who offers a small portion of his belongings for the sake of Allah and inherits everlasting life.
And as the Promised Messiah(as) 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.” (AL HAKAM, 10 JULY 1903)
The Author is a member of AMWSA, Kolkata & a Member of Noorul Islam Committee Lajna, Kolkata.