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Generosity, a Desirable Attribute

“As for him who gives and is God wary, and confirms the best promise, We shall surely make smooth the path to bliss for him”. (92:5-7)
Ibn Abbas has reported that:
In the days of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.), there lived a poor man with a large family. This man could not afford to feed his family but he had a neighbor who had a palm tree in his house that was leaning towards house of the poor man. As a result, the dates, which fell on his side, were sometimes collected and eaten by his children. The neighbor, who was the owner of the palm tree, was a very niggardly and miserly person. Often he would rush to the house of the poor man and snatched the fallen dates from the hands of the children and sometimes even from their mouths.
The poor man came to the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) and sought his advice. The Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) called the owner and asked if he could give him the tree in exchange for a tree in Paradise. The owner did not accept the offer. So a companion, by the name of Abu Huddah rose and said, “Yaa Rasoolallah! If you promise the same for me, I will buy the tree and give it to you”. The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) agreed. Abu Huddah purchased the tree and presented it to the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) who gave it to the poor man.
Hence the following verse was revealed: “As for him who gives and is God wary, and confirms the best promise, We shall surely make smooth the path to bliss for him”. (92:5-7)] (Asbaab al-Nuzool)
The learning point from this incident and verse is that: He who gives with firm belief that the return of what he is giving shall be the best in the Hereafter – shall have a comfortable time in the Hereafter.
One of the attributes, which Islam desires to see in the believers, is that of As-Sakhaa, meaning ‘Generosity’.
The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) has said, “Generosity is the greatest attribute of Allah”. (Kanzul-‘Ummaal)
He (S.A.W.) has also said, “Most surely generosity is a tree from among the trees of Paradise. Its branches extend into this world. Therefore, he who is generous holds onto one of the branches of that tree that will lead him to Paradise”. (Bihar al-Anwaar)
Allah (SWT) loves those who are generous from among the believers and He (SWT) has high regards for those who are generous from among the non-believers too! It is reported that:
Once, a delegation arrived from Yemen in the presence of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.). Among them was a person who was eloquent in speech but he spoke very harshly and impolitely with the Prophet (S.A.W.).
Eventually, the Prophet (S.A.W.) became enraged and this was evident from his face. At that moment, Jibrael (A.S.) descended and said, “By nature, this man is generous and he feeds the people”. As soon as the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) heard this, his anger subsided and he (S.A.W.) said, “If Jibrael would not have informed me on behalf of Allah (SWT) that you are generous and feed the people, I would have expelled you from my presence and this would have served as an example for others too!”
The man was shocked. He asked, “Does your Allah love generosity?” The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) replied in the affirmative, the man from Yemen declared: “I bear witness that there is no god but Allah and indeed you are His messenger”. Then, the man added and said: “By Allah – Who has sent you in truth, I have never turned away anyone from my wealth”.] (Jawame’ al-Hikaayaat)

Benefits of Generosity
The reason why Islam encourages generosity is because of the many benefits that lie in this attribute. One of those benefits is the wellbeing of Islam and the Muslims.
The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) has said, “Nothing will ensure the welfare (and interests) of your religion except generosity and good disposition”. (Jame’ al-Sa’adaat)
Imam Jafar ibn Muhammad as-Sadiq (A.S.) has said, “Indeed Allah has chosen the religion of submission for you. “Therefore, follow it in the best possible manner by way of generosity and good disposition”. (Bihar al-Anwaar)
It eases poverty and motivates others to do good. Every Mumin person strives to do good in this life. However, there are many, who, because of poverty and financial constraints, are not only limited in performing good deeds but many a time, due to difficulties of life are compelled into wrong doings. Generosity plays a significant role in helping such Mumineen. The best example of this is found in one of the incidents in the life of Imam Ali (A.S.).
Ibn Abbas has reported that:
[Once, 300 gold coins were gifted to the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.), which he (S.A.W.) in turn gifted to his cousin and son-in-law, the commander of the faithful, Ali bin Abi Talib (A.S.). Imam (A.S.) took them and declared, “By Allah! I shall surely spend this amount in charity such that it is accepted by Allah”.
That night, after ‘Isha prayer, Imam (A.S.) picked 100 gold coins and came out of the mosque. He (A.S.) saw a woman and handed over the money to her. In the morning, the people were found talking among themselves, “Last night Ali gave a 100 gold coins in charity to an adulteress”.
Imam (A.S.) was distressed by this but he (A.S.) did not react. The following night, again after ‘Isha prayer, he (A.S.) took another 100 gold coins and left the mosque. This time he (A.S.) came face to face with a man whom he (A.S.) handed over the money. At daybreak, he (A.S.) heard the people say, “Ali has given a 100 gold coins in charity to a thief”.
Once again the Imam (A.S.) was distressed but did not say anything. Finally, on the third night, he (A.S.) took the remaining 100 gold coins and left the mosque after ‘Isha prayer. He (A.S.) ran into a man and handed him the money. In the morning, the people of Madinah were heard saying, “Last night Ali (A.S.) gave a 100 gold coins to a rich and wealthy person”.
Imam (A.S.) was upset, so he (A.S.) came to the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) and informed him about everything that had happened. The Prophet (S.A.W.) said, “O Ali! Jibrael has informed me that Allah has accepted your charities and considers them as pure. The adulteress you gave 100 gold coins went home and repented to Allah (SWT) for her misdeeds. She has set aside the coins as her capital and is now in search for a husband. The thief you gave 100 gold coins also went home and repented for his misdeeds. He is now utilizing the amount to engage in trade. As for the rich man whom you gave the remaining 100 gold coins – he was niggardly and was not paying Zakat for years. Having reached home, he began to censure himself saying, ‘How lowly and base can you be? While you have been blessed with enormous wealth, you avoided paying Zakat and Ali, despite not possessing anything has given you a 100 gold coins’. The man rebuked himself. He then calculated the Zakat for all those years and disbursed them”.] (Anecdotes for Reflection – Part 3)
It was after this incident that the following verse was revealed in praise of Ali (A.S.), “Men whom neither merchandise nor selling diverts from the remembrance of Allah…” (24:37) So ‘Generosity’ helps to ease poverty and motivates others to reform and do good deeds.
It helps in spiritual upkeep and guidance of others
It also contributes towards the spiritual upkeep and guidance of the Muslim Ummah towards the right path. The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) has said,
“Islam has spread due to two things: Wealth of Khadeeja and the sword of Ali (in defense of Islam)”.
And whatever we spend in the cause of Allah (SWT), we shall be repaid in full. Allah (SWT) says: “And whatever you spend in the way of Allah will be repaid to you in full and you will not be wronged”. (8:60)
Among the charities, the most important one is Sadaqatun Jaariyah meaning ‘the charity whose reward is continuous’. The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) has said, “When son of Adam dies, his actions are cut off from him except from three things: A pious son who remembers him; Knowledge which is beneficial and charity whose reward is continuous”. (Manazil al-Aakhirah)
“As for him who gives and is God wary, and confirms the best promise, We shall surely make smooth the path to bliss for him”. (92:5-7)

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