In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Tafseer Al-Baqarah Ayah 245 (Part 1)
In the previous ayaat too, we noticed that there was a mention of spending in the way of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala right after qitaal was mentioned. All of us are busy spending on ourselves and our families, who is looking after the Deen of Allah? We want victory for the Muslims. We want Muslim countries to flourish and poverty and chaos to end. We want air-conditioned Masajid and religious institutes, but who is spending in these causes? How many times do we think about spending on a Masjid and for how long? How many times do we think about spending on ourselves and for how long? We see an advertisement or a dress in the shop and we are enticed to buy it. But when it comes to spending in the way of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala we keep bringing up this-expense-and-that-expense.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says,
“Who is it that would loan Allah a goodly loan so He may multiply it for him many times over? And it is Allah who withholds and grants abundance, and to Him you will be returned.” [al-Baqarah 2: 245]
The word qard [loan] is from the root qaf-ra-daad which means to cut or sever something. When you give a loan to someone, you cut out some of your belonging or savings to give it to the other person.
What does: Who is it that would loan Allah a goodly loan, mean?
Who needs to borrow money? Someone who does not have enough to fulfill his needs. Is Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala needy? Not at all. He is Rich and Independent, He is in no need of our help. Everything belongs to Him – the wealth that we enjoy, the food that we eat and the clothes that we wear are all His blessings.
If a successful businessman comes to you and asks you to invest in their business, what will you do? Having seen their success that whatever they touch turns to gold, you will perhaps not even think for a second and readily accept the offer to invest in their business. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is Powerful than a businessman, He asks His servants to invest His path with a promise of multiplied return, “Who is it that would loan Allah a goodly loan so He may multiply it for him many times over?”
This ayah has been mentioned in several other parts of the Qur’an. The hadeeth that mentions that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala descends (every night down on the nearest heaven to us when the last third of the night remains) states that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says,
مَنْ يُقْرِضُ غَيْرَ عَدِيمٍ وَلَا ظَلُوم
“Who would give a loan to He Who is neither poor nor unjust?”
Do we respond to this question? We cry before Him for our needs but do not think about or plan spending in His Way. How selfish we are! And if you do spend in His cause, for the promotion of His Deen, please do not advertise it. If you have done a good deed, seeking solely the pleasure of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, keep it between yourself and Him.
When we spend on ourselves, do we get a return for it? No! Once money leaves our wallet it does not come back. We come home with stuff that we might not even like after one or two uses. But when we spend in the cause of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala He multiples it many times over. Is there a better investment than this?
When you deposit money in your bank account, how much return do you get? Banks while charging a high-interest rate for loans give back a petty return to the depositors whereas Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala asks for only little but multiplies it many times when returning. SubhanAllah! Banking is a system based on injustice and hence impermissible earning whereas Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is not only Just but also Generous.
One of the Pakistani religious teachers says, “Withdraw your money from the limited banks of the dunya, and deposit it in the Unlimited Bank of Allah.” Nothing could be truer than this.
In another ayah of Surah al-Baqarah, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says,
مَّثَلُ الَّذِينَ يُنفِقُونَ أَمْوَلَهُمْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ كَمَثَلِ حَبَّةٍ أَنبَتَتْ سَبْعَ سَنَابِلَ فِي كُلِّ سُنبُلَةٍ مِّاْئَةُ حَبَّةٍ وَاللَّهُ يُضَـعِفُ لِمَن يَشَآءُ
“The likeness of those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah, is as the likeness of a grain (of corn); it grows seven ears, and each ear has a hundred grains. Allah gives manifold increase to whom He wills.” (2:261)
But we are so selfish, we cannot think beyond our needs. We believe our annual zakat is enough or giving a beggar our spare change is all that we are required to do. We can spend thousands on worldly adornments and paraphernalia but when it comes to spending on masajid or paying the salary of the religious teachers and staff, we become stingy. We badmouth religious teachers, when they charge a fee as if they don’t have families to feed and administrative costs to pay for.
We need to adopt our mosques and look after their maintenance so that the people are encouraged to attend them. Similarly, we need to take the charge of paying the salaries of religious teacher so that they can completely dedicate themselves to teaching and do not have to worry about earning a livelihood as well as spreading the Word of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. (Remember, this does not mean earning money on religion that is completely prohibited. You cannot become a Qur’an teacher to earn money. This cannot be a profession. You can, however, associate with an institute and agree to whatever they pay you for your service. Then it will be a contract between you and your employer.)
By using the word qard [loan], it is emphasized that whatever you will give, will be returned to you. Do not be a miser.
A goodly loan is money spent for the promotion of Allah’s Deen such as printing of Islamic literature, development and production of Islamic material, construction of mosques and Islamic institutes, and all other approved purposes.
The loan given to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala should be good – we cannot give charity from money earned through unlawful way such as stealing or bank’s earning. Likewise, we cannot give away our broken appliances, rotten food and torn clothes in the way of Allah. If we are picky about what we eat and wear, then we should be selective about what we give in Allah’s way. Give Him the best to receive the best. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is Tayab [Pure] and only accepts pure.
A loan to be hasan it must fulfill certain conditions: it should be sincerely for the pleasure of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala not for people’s praises or for showing off; it should be spent in the right causes (one cannot spend on himself and say, I am fulfilling one’s right upon himself); and give it with eagerness and do not consider it a burden.
When Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala asks for a loan, it is not to burden us. It is for our own good. How does Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala return the loan? Remember that you can receive the multiplied return either in this world or it would be delayed for the Hereafter. In this world, a person can witness an increase in His wealth when his salary is increased, a distant relative leaves him money, a loan that he had almost written-off was paid back to him, and so on.
We all want an increase in our wealth, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is showing us the permissible and beautiful way of multiplying our wealth. Will we not answer His call to give a goodly loan?
People work hard to have an easy retirement, what are we doing for our Hereafter? Who doesn’t want a comfortable life in the Hereafter?
Spending in the way of Allah also means spending one’s time and skills in the way of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala – but again the condition is that it should be good. It should not be that you volunteer for a task and then consider it a burden; do not show up or underperform.
It also teaches us that if someone is in need and we can meet their needs, then we should do so. In a hadeeth it appears: For every Muslim, who gives loan to another Muslim, it will be equal to having given sadaqah. It is because if you don’t fulfill their need, they will be bound to take a commercial loan and pay interest on it. We cannot help haram businesses to flourish.