Al-Baqarah · Juz 3 · Qur'an Tafseer

Who Deserves Charity in the Light of the Qur’an

bismillah

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

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Tafseer Al-Baqarah Ayaat 273 – 274

While it is permissible to give charity to anyone, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala guides us to what is better. He says,

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The word uhsiru [أُحْصِرُوا] is from the root Ha-saad-ra and it means, “to be strait, restricted or hindered.” From the same root we have the word muhasira. For example, enemy encircles the opponent leaving no outlet to move out.

The word yasatati’oona [يَسْتَطِيعُونَ] is from the root ta-wau-ayn and it means, “to obey, permit, to do voluntarily or to do an act with effort.”

The word darban [ضَرْبًا] is from the root dadh-ra-ba and it means, “to heal, strike, going from place to place or affliction.”

Ibn Katheer explains that these are migrants who migrated to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and His Messenger salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, resided in Madinah and did not have resources that sufficiently provided for their needs. They were engaged in the work of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala (teaching the Qur’an to other people or engaged in Qitaal), therefore, could not travel in the land to earn a livelihood. Both teaching religion to others and striving in the way of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala are the needs of religion. If everyone only thinks of himself and his family, then humanity will be deprived of religious knowledge. Therefore, some people need to dedicate their lives to the work of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala (this is not a part-time job. It deserves attention as many other things in life do), and there is a need for others to support them.

Who are they? Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, “An ignorant [person] would think them self-sufficient because of their restraint.” These are the people who appear well dressed and people of good standing. They are in need, but out of their self-respect and modesty, they do not ask of people.

The word yahsabuhumu [يَحْسَبُهُمُ] is from the root Ha-seen-ba and it means, “to think, consider, suppose or imagine.” The word l-ta’afufi [التَّعَفُّفِ] is from the root ayn-fa-fa and it means, “to abstain from what is unlawful, be abstinent or restrain.” It also means being self-sufficient and not asking people out of shyness or modesty.

Describing the needy the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said,  

لَيْسَ الْمِسْكِينُ بِهذَا الطَّوَّافِ الَّذِي تَرُدُّهُ التَّمْرَةُ وَالتَّمْرَتَانِ، وَاللُّقْمَةُ وَاللُّقْمَتَانِ، وَالْأُكْلَةُ وَالْأُكْلَتَانِ، وَلكِنِ الْمِسْكِينُ الَّذِي لَا يَجِدُ غِنىً يُغْنِيهِ، وَلَا يُفْطَنُ لَهُ فَيُتَصَدَّقَ عَلَيْهِ، وَلَا يَسْأَلُ النَّاسَ شَيْئًا

“The Miskeen [needy] is not he who wanders about and whose need is sufficed by a date or two, a bite or two or a meal or two. Rather, the Miskeen is he who neither has enough resources to sustain him, all the while people are unaware of his need so they do not give to him, nor does he ask people for anything.”

“But you know them by their [characteristic] sign. They do not ask people persistently [or at all],” they do not beg and, thus, do not require people to provide them with more than what they actually need. Indeed, those who ask people for help, while having what suffices for their needs, have begged.

The word biseemahum [بِسِيمَاهُمْ] is from the root seen-wau-meem and it means “to go to pasture, afflict, impose a hard task or punishment.” It also means mark or face. The word ilhafan [إِلْحَافًا] is from the root lam-Ha-fa and it means, “to cover with cloak or a sheet, wrap in garment, single lining garment.” In the ayah, it means wrapping around people, begging them for money.

Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Sa’eed radhiAllahu ‘anhu said, “My mother sent me to the Messenger of Allah salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam to ask him for help, but when I came to him I sat down. The Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam faced me and said,

مَنِ اسْتَغْنَى أَغْنَاهُ اللهُ، وَمَنِ اسْتَعَفَّ أَعَفَّهُ اللهُ، وَمَنِ اسْتَكَفَّ كَفَاهُ اللهُ، وَمَنْ سَأَلَ وَلَهُ قِيمَةُ أُوقِيَّةٍ فَقَدْ أَلْحَف

“Whoever felt satisfied, then Allah will enrich him. Whoever is modest, Allah will make him decent. Whoever is content, then Allah will suffice for him. Whoever asks people, while having a small amount, he will have begged the people.”

Abu Sa’eed said, “I said to myself, ‘I have a camel, Al-Yaqutah, and indeed, it is worth more than a small amount.’ And I went back without asking the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam for anything.” This is the same wording for this hadeeth collected by Abu Daw’oud and An-Nasa’i.

And whatever you spend of good – indeed, Allah is Knowing of it,” indicates that no charity escapes His knowledge. He will reward it the people fully and perfectly according to one’s intention, on the Day of Resurrection, when it is most needed.

Lessons:

-We learn there are two ways in which we can support the religion of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. One is by directly engaging in this work and dedicating one’s full attention and time to it. And other is by means of monetary help. People who cannot leave their businesses can have a share in the da’wah work by means of their material support. This is how the Ansar and emigrants worked together in Madinah.

-There is another greater level where people strive in the Path of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala with their souls as well as by their wealth. This is the most admirable status, and in this we have the example of ‘Abdur Rahman bin Awf radhiAllahu ‘anhu. May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala allow us to strive both by our wealth and lives, aameen.

-We learn that while it is not forbidden to ask, a more virtuous thing is to not beg of people. One must only ask from Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and rely on Him alone. A beautiful du’a that we learn from Prophet Musa [Moses] is:

رَبِّ إِنِّي لِمَا أَنزَلْتَ إِلَيَّ مِنْ خَيْرٍ فَقِيرٌ

“My Lord, indeed I am, for whatever good You would send down to me, in need.” [al-Qasas 28: 24]

-We need to cut down our wants and desires, and look around us toward the people who have dire necessity. If we start limiting our wants, we will have more to give to others and truly make a difference in someone’s life.

-We also learn that while there are many areas where one can contribute the best is to spend on those who are striving in the way of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.

We ask Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala to make us of those who strive in His with their time, skills and wealth, ameen.

Ayah 274 – Praise for those who spend in Charity

In the previous ayaat we learned ‘who’ deserve our charity, in ayah 274 Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala tells us how we should spend in His way.

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Charity is not a one-off-thing like the obligatory Zakat. Rather, one should look for avenues of spending in the way of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and donate generously. The ones who give in the way of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala do not look at the time of the day and whether or not media presence is available to capture their good deed. They do so selflessly seeking His pleasure.

When a person’s only intention is the pleasure of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala he becomes independent of what people think or do. He is only concerned about pleasing Him. About such deeds, the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said,

وَإِنَّكَ لَنْ تُنْفِقَ نَفَقَةً تَبْتَغِي بِهَا وَجْهَ اللهِ إِلَّا ازْدَدْتَ بِهَا دَرَجَةً وَرِفْعَةً، حَتَّى مَا تَجْعَلُ فِي فِي امْرَأَتِك

“You will not spend charity with which you seek Allah’s Face, but you will ascend a higher degree and status because of it, including what you put in your wife’s mouth.”

[Spending on One’s Family]

Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Mas’oud radhiAllahu ‘anhu said that the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said,

إِنَّ الْمُسْلِمَ إِذَا أَنْفَقَ عَلَى أَهْلِهِ نَفَقَةً يَحْتَسِبُهَا، كَانَتْ لَهُ صَدَقَة

“When the Muslim spends on his family while awaiting the reward for it from Allah, it will be written as charity for him.”

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala praises such people and says that they will have no fear or grief for they spending their wealth in acts of obedience.

Lessons:

-We learn two more adaab of giving in the way of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala: (1) one should give in the day and night, (2) one should do so publicly and in secret (though giving in secret is more preferable).

-The acceptance of our deeds depends on our intentions. If a good deed is done for the sake of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala then it will be accepted. But if it was corrupted by some other intention such as seeking fame or attention, then we have wasted our deed. May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala protect us, ameen.

-The key to not having any fear or grief in this world and on the Day of Judgment is to do acts of obedience. If we fix this principle in our minds how many of our worries will just go away?

May He grant us such fear after which it is impossible to sin or disobey, ameen.

DOWNLOAD PDF: Tafseer Al-Baqarah Ayaat 273-274

رَبَّنَا تَقَبَّلْ مِنَّا ۖ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيم                
“Our Lord, accept [this] from us. Indeed You are the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing.” [Al-Baqarah 2: 127]
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