Adopting Al Birr – Part 2
Dear sisters and brothers, Assalamu Alaikum.
Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem. This is part 2 on ‘Adopting al Birr, the right Righteousness’. If you haven’t read Part 1, then it is advisable that you read it from here first and then proceed further.
Dear sisters and brothers, in Part 1 we were discussing on different beliefs that we must have in us if we want to adopt the right kind of righteousness in our lives.
After Imaan, comes ‘amal – ‘amilus salihaat’, good and righteous deeds. In fact, in Part 1 we were discussing that even our belief is a part of righteousness.
What follows further in ayah no. 177 of Surah al Baqarah is the extension of the sum total of righteousness, al Birr. Let us once again read the interpretation of this beautiful verse:
“Righteousness is not that you turn your faces toward the east or the west, but [true] righteousness is [in] one who believes in Allah, the Last Day, the angels, the Book, and the prophets and gives wealth, in spite of love for it, to relatives, orphans, the needy, the traveler, those who ask [for help], and for freeing slaves; [and who] establishes prayer and gives zakah; [those who] fulfill their promise when they promise; and [those who] are patient in poverty and hardship and during battle. Those are the ones who have been true, and it is those who are the muttaqoon – the righteous, the virtuous, the God-conscious”. (2:177)
6. Sharing one’s wealth with:
a) One’s relatives:
Kith and kin, near and dear ones do have greater right on your wealth than others. A Muslim must not forget his poor relatives. There is no righteousness in giving huge charity to jamaats and organisations without first taking care of one’s own relatives!
b) the orphans:
Islam has been caring towards orphans. Allah goes to the extent of declaring those who deny the orphans of any help as the people who deny the religion itself! Refer the tafseer of Surah al Ma’ooun.
There is great virtue and reward in serving the orphans.
Sahl bin Sa’d (May Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (sal-lal-laahu-alaihi-wa-sallam) said:
“I will be like this in Jannah with the person who takes care of an orphan”. Messenger of Allah (ٍsal-lal-laahu-alaihi-wa-sallam) raised his forefinger and middle finger by way of illustration. (Al Bukhari)
c) the needy:
Needy are those people who are poor but then they are shy to ask. Their self-respect restrains them from asking and begging. They are the ones who do not have sufficient means to survive. Islam cares about them.
So a Muslim who has the means must always extend a helping hand to those who are really in need of our help. This caring and sharing attitude is the hallmark of Islam and a Muslim who wants to be righteous must never neglect the needy and the less fortunate sections of the society.
d) the travelers:
The travellers who get stranded due to circumstances deserve all help and support. A Muslim cannot ignore them.
A traveler might have become a victim of theft, for example. He may have been rich but now he has lost his money and all his belongings. He is a stranger in a land. He deserves help.
e) Those who ask (for help):
The word used in the ayah is ‘as-saa’eleen’, ‘those who ask’. Ask what? Help!
He may be a beggar. He can be given help so that he gives up begging and tries to stand on his own leg and becomes independent. (This I am saying because Islam abhors begging)
He or she may be a student wanting money to continue his studies. We can help him by providing scholarships and taking care of his educational expenses.
In short, righteousness is in helping others!
f) Using wealth for freeing the slaves:
Slavery may not be in existence today. As cruelty has many ugly faces, ‘slavery’ exists in other forms. The one who wants to adopt righteousness in him or her need to recognise these different forms of cruelty and use their wealth to come to the rescue of innocent people.
For example: Freeing the victims languishing in jails. Guantanamo Bay, for example. On mere suspicion in some cases and on the identity of one being a Muslim in most cases, people are being caught and harrassed in the most cruelest of manners in the most notorious prison cell of the world! Rich Muslims must use their wealth to take care of the legal expenses of such innocent victims.
(And, by the way, Mr. President, there was no righteousness in giving a speech before you got elected to your office. Righteousness is in fulfilling your promise to close Guantanamo Bay!)
Before we proceed with the other elements of righteous nature, I would like to emphasis that a Muslim is encouraged to part with his wealth in spite of his love for wealth.
“gives wealth, in spite of love for it, to relatives, orphans, the needy, the traveler, those who ask [for help], and for freeing slaves”. I would like to quote the explanation from Tafseer by Sayyid Qutb:
“The significance of this commendable act of charity and sacrifice is that it liberates man from stinginess, selfishness, greed and excessive love of wealth, which cripple one’s ability to give and help those who are in need. It is a highly spiritual act of altruism when someone of means has the courage and the generosity to give away his dearest and most precious possessions. It is an act of liberation for the human soul when man rises above worldly desires and materialistic instincts. It is an admirable achievement, which Islam commends and values very highly.
It is characteristic of the Islamic approach that it aims, first and foremost, at liberating man from his own internal prejudices, weaknesses and desires before going on to liberate him from the pressures and influences of the society around him. Unless one overcomes one’s own egotism, one is not likely to stand up to evil and temptation in the world outside.” (In the shade of the Qur’an, Vol 1, page 194)
7. Establishing Salah:
‘ aqaamas salah’ – Establishing Salah means offering Salah properly and regularly according to the rules and regulations as stipulated in the Shariah of Islam, following in the footsteps of Muhammadur Rasoolullah, Sal-lal-laahu-alahihi-wa-sallam.
Salah is a continuous process of worship until a person breathes his last and meets his Lord.
There is no righteousness in praying one day, that is Friday, and forgetting the masajid for the rest of the week! Or going to masjid on a special night called Laylatul Qadr in Ramadhan and then waiting for another night to dawn upon next year! Muslims must stop fooling around and get serious with Salah, which in fact is an important Pillar of Islam. ‘One who gives up Salah, has no share of Islam’. So said the great Caliph, Umar ibn al Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him)
8. Giving Zakah:
Please note that Zakah is mentioned after mentioning this:
“gives wealth, in spite of love for it, to relatives, orphans, the needy, the traveler, those who ask [for help], and for freeing slaves”.
So it is clear that the previous form of giving money is sadaqah while Zakah is an institution and a compulsory act of giving by those who can afford.
It is natural I feel that the one who parts his money voluntarily even though he loves wealth, will not feel the pinch in taking out Zakah if it becomes compulsory on him. He would in fact love to carry out his duty of giving Zakah. The one who is used to giving sadaqah, can easily obey the command of giving Zakah.
In other words, just giving Zakah is not sufficient. One need to spend his Allah-given wealth for charitable causes in the way of Allah. And Zakah is not charity! It is a duty!
9. Fulfilling one’s Promise:
If you are making a promise, then you must fulfil your promise. It is a mark of righteousness in Islam. The Prophet Muhammad, Sal-lal-laahu-alaihi-wa-sallam, said:
Laa eemaana limal laa amaanata lahu, wa la deena limal la ‘ahda lahu”.
It means: There is no true faith in the one who is not trustworthy, and there is no religion in the one who doesn’t fulfil his promises”.
Dear brothers and sisters, Inshaa’Allah this post will be continued as Part 3.