In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Tafseer Al-Baqarah Ayaat 267 – 268
Throughout the Qur’an, people have been encouraged to spend in the way of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. Pertaining this duty, one can have many questions in the mind such as what to spend, how much to spend, and where to spend. Some of these questions have been answered in these ayaat. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says,
The ayah begins with the words, “O you who believe!” It indicates that the command that follows is critical for our emaan [faith]. It is part of our faith to look after the needs of others and spend in the way of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.
ACTIVITY: Go through all the ayaat in the Qur’an that begin with ‘O you who believe,’ and make a note of all the commands. These ayaat will tell us what is expected of us.
He commands His believing servants to spend in charity from the pure and honest money and prohibits spending from evil and dishonest money. It is because Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is pure and good, and accepts only that which is pure and good.
Under the circumstances in which this ayah was revealed, the word tayyab [طَيِّب] has been interpreted to mean “good.” Some commentators have interpreted the word, tayyab to mean halal [lawful, permissible] relying on the generality of the word since something is perfectly good only when it is halal [lawful] as well. So, according to this interpretation, the ayah emphasizes that the thing given in charity must be from one’s lawful income.
He says, “…and do not aim at that which is bad to spend from it (though) you would not accept it.” It means that if we were given what we are offering in the way of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala we would not have accepted it except that our eyes were closed. When giving something in the way of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala we should not look at the person or the cause we are helping but for Whose sake are we giving. Does it befit Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala to accept the expired, rotten food that we give to our house servants? Or the tattered clothing and rags that we donate in the name of charity? If we were offered this kind of food or clothing, would we have accepted it? Nobody would unless their eyes were closed or they were really needy.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has more right to be given the best of whatever we own whether it is the material wealth, our time or our skills, yet when it comes to the matters of Deen, we give Him what is leftover. We wear the best clothing to an interview or social event, but for the prayers we will come to the prayer mat wearing our sleeping pajamas. We exhaust ourselves in earning the Dunya, but when it is time to learn the matters of religion we don’t have any time.
Whenever one is asked to give money in the way of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala one should check both his intention and the source of his earning. Is it for the sake of Allah or for gathering the praises of people? Is it from a permissible source of earning or is it from haram? If I was given what I am offering others, would I have accepted it? What kinds of things do we give in charity?
Al-Bara’ bin ‘Azib commented that this ayah was revealed about the Ansar [the residents of Madinah]. When the season for harvesting date trees would start, the Ansar would collect ripe date branches from their gardens and hang them on a rope erected between two pillars in the Masjid of the Messenger of Allah salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. The poor emigrant Companions would eat from these dates. However, some of them (i.e. Ansar) would also add the lesser type of dates in between ripe date branches, thinking they are allowed to do so.
“…you would not accept it save if you close your eyes and tolerate therein…” on this part of the ayah, Ibn ‘Abbas radhiAllahu ‘anhu commented that it means if we had a right on someone who would pay us less than what we gave them, we would not agree until we require more from them to make up the difference. Yet, when it comes to giving Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala we give Him much less than what is His due right.
In Surah An-Nisa, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says,
“By no means shall you attain Al-Birr, unless you spend of that which you love.” [4: 92]
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, “And know that Allah is Rich (free from all needs), and worthy of all praise,” meaning although He commanded us to give away the purest of our money in charity, He has no need of it. When one gives in the way of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala one does not do Him a favor. By giving in His Cause or for His sake, we are only doing a favoring to ourselves:
- One is not attached to their wealth when they have a generous soul
- One is sensitive to the needs of others and does not flaunt his possessions
- One is saved from the covetousness of his own soul
- One is protected from afflictions and sudden punishments
We learn in another ayah that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says,
“It is neither their meat nor their blood that reaches Allah, but it is piety from you that reaches Him.” [Al-Hajj 22: 37]
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is Rich and Free of needing anything from any of His creatures, while all of His creatures stand in need of Him. Allah’s bounty is encompassing, and what He has never ends. Therefore, whoever gives away good and pure things in charity let him know that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is the Most Rich, His favor is enormous and He is the Most Generous, Most Compassionate; and He shall reward him for his charity and multiply it many times. So who would lend to He Who is neither poor nor unjust, Who is worthy of all praise in all His actions, statements, and decisions, of Whom there is neither a deity worthy of worship except Him, nor a Lord other than Him?
We should see how much we spend on ourselves, and how much do we give in the way of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. What is the condition of our hearts when giving for the sake of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala?
Shaytanic Doubts concerning giving in Charity
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala then addresses the “real reason” due to which people hold back from spending in His Cause or giving the best.
He says, “Shaytan threatens you with poverty and orders you to commit Fahsha’ whereas Allah promises you forgiveness from Himself and bounty, and Allah is All-Sufficient for His creatures’ needs, All-Knower.”
‘Abdullah bin Mas’oud radhiAllahu ‘anhu said that the Messenger of Allah salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said,
إِنَّ لِلشَّيْطَانِ لَمَّةً بِابْنِ آدَمَ، وَلِلْمَلَكِ لَمَّةً، فَأَمَّا لَمَّةُ الشَّيطَانِ فَإِيعَادٌ بِالشَّرِّ، وَتَكْذِيبٌ بِالْحَقِّ، وَ أَمَّا لَمَّةُ الْمَلَكِ فَإِيعَادٌ بِالْخَيْرِ، وَتَصْدِيقٌ بِالْحَقِّ، فَمَنْ وَجَدَ ذَلِكَ فَلْيَعْلَمْ أَنَّهُ مِنَ اللهِ، فَلْيَحْمَدِ اللهَ، وَمَنْ وَجَدَ الْأُخْرَى فَلْيَتَعَوَّذْ مِنَ الشَّيْطَان
“Shaytan has an effect on the son of Adam, and the angel also has an effect. As for the effect of Shaytan, it is by his threatening with evil repercussions and rejecting the truth. As for the effect of the angel, it is by his promise of a good end and believing in the truth. Whoever finds the latter, let him know that it is coming from Allah and let him thank Allah for it. Whoever finds the former, let him seek refuge – with Allah – from Shaytan.” [at-Tirmidhi, An-Nasa’i]
Notice the wording of the ayah, Shaytan threatens us whereas Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala promises us. Then who should we listen to? Of course, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala! We should let go of the negative thoughts and do as the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam taught us, that is, seek refuge in Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala from the treacherous whisperings of Shaytan.
Shaytan threatens humankind to hold back from giving in the way of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. He puts the fear in the heart of people that if they give they will have to part with their money and then will not be able to spend on their needs. We should remember that this parting is only temporary. Ask anyone who has given generously in the way of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala without seeking any return and how he was rewarded by the Ash-Shakoor [the Most Appreciative]. They will tell you that their wealth only increased. Such is the law of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala! If you give in His Cause, in the manner that He has commanded from lawful provision you have made the best bargain. Even if we do not see immediate results, we should remain content with the promises of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala in the Hereafter.
Not only does Shaytan stop mankind from doing a good deed but also encourages them to do fahsha. The word fahsha [ْفَحْشَا] means all kind of sins and indulging in that which is immoral and prohibited. What an evil enemy he is!
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala reminds us of His forgiveness and bounty that we should never get discouraged by Shaytan’s tricks. If we have committed an immoral act there is a chance of repentance until our last breath. Whenever one realizes their mistake, they should return and ask Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala for His forgiveness. Likewise, whenever one’s heart feels constricted and they are unable to spend in the Cause of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala then one should not be disappointed about the bounty of Allah. His treasures have no limit. Ask Him and He will fulfill your needs.
The ayah ends the words, “And Allah is All-Sufficient for His creatures’ needs, All-Knower.”
We ask Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala for His forgiveness and bounty, and seek refuge in Him from the covetousness of our souls. Allahumma ameen.
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