Benevolence and Helping the Needy
It is certain that in any society, the poor and the helpless deserve help. It is the duty of the rich to help the poor and not to trample upon this certain right. The holy religion of Islam has also set out strict rules concerning the observation of this right. It holds the rich responsible to help the weak and the poor.
In the Holy Qur'an, the Almighty Allah has introduced Himself as Benevolent, Beneficent, and Merciful. Allah has encouraged His servants to attain these praiseworthy attributes to the extent that He states: "Allah is with benefactors;" and He also states: "Whatever you spend in the way of Allah is to your own advantage." Elsewhere, He states: "Whatever you spend in the way of Allah will be returned unto you and you will not sustain a loss."
Study and investigation into the social conditions and also in the advantages of benevolence clarify the context of these verses, for, indeed, all forces of the society work for every individual. In a society where a group of helpless people fail to make efforts due to insolvency, the acquisition of income diminishes proportionately and its evil consequences embrace all people. In such a society, a time will come when the rich become the poorest of all. But if the rich help the poor with their benevolence and generosity, they will gain the following outstanding results:
(1) By this action, they gain the affection of others and captivate the hearts of a group of people.
(2) They gain a great deal of respect with an insignificant amount of money.
(3) They attain people's support, because people take sides with the benefactors.
(4) They are safe from the danger of the accumulation of the vengeance and anger of the poor which harm the good and the bad together.
(5) The trivial money that they spend in the way of Allah will increase in amount and return unto them as a result of proper running of the economy.
There are innumerable Qur'anic verses and ahadith regarding the attribute of spending in the way of Allah and also in regard to the encouragement and persuasion for this noble deed.
Benevolence and beneficence, mentioned earlier, are one of the various branches of cooperation which forms the basis of human society, for the society exists when all individuals help one another by means of which all may enjoy good and sound living conditions and will meet their requirements of life. It should not be imagined that the holy religion of Islam has demanded benevolence only in financial matters, rather it is one of the aims of Islam and also one of the demands of man's conscience to offer all kinds of help to every helpless, although he may not be in need of money.
To teach an illiterate, to help a blind, to guide a misled, to assist an oppressed person, and... are all the true acts of benevolence and beneficence and a part of the cooperation whose credibility we have approved and confirmed on the very first day of the establishment of the society. It is self-evident that if man fails to perform a part of minor tasks, he will not perform principal tasks and if he disregards the insignificant minor duties, he will refuse to undertake general and important obligations.
ARRANGING CHARITIES AND RELIEFS
Benevolence is praiseworthy when it renders good results. Of course, the more general and lasting the results, the more praiseworthy and better would be the benevolence. The treatment of a patient is an act of benevolence and beneficence, but construction and management of a hospital which treats hundreds of patients daily cannot be compared with this act. Teaching a student is praiseworthy, but it can never reach the value of setting up an institution which turns out hundreds of graduating scholars annually. This is why general donations, public charities and reliefs are the acts of highest benevolence and beneficence.
In Islamic terminology, this public charity is interpreted as "standing charity". The Holy Prophet (SA) states: "Two things provide man with honour: a righteous child and standing charity." According to the Holy Book and the ahadith, as long as the standing charity exists the Almighty Allah considers its benefactions for the one who has established this charity.
There is no doubt that, in the human conscience, the genuine life and honest living are of equal importance. A life without honour and devoid of man's prosperity is not a life indeed, rather it is a death much bitter and more unpleasant than natural death. A man who maintains value for his honour and prosperity should escape from such a mean life resembling death.
In whatever environment a man lives and to whatever policies he may be inclined, he will understand with his Allah-given nature that death for the cause of sanctification is prosperity itself although this matter is clearer in the logic of religion than in any other logic and is far away from supposition and superstition. This is because whoever defends his religious society and gives his life for this cause, is aware that he has not deprived himself of any privileges and that he will get a sweeter, more valuable, and everlasting life in return for giving his sweet and short-span life for the cause of Allah. Truly, his prosperity is immortal.
The Almighty Allah states in His words: "And reckon not those who are killed in Allah's way as dead,. nay, they are alive (and) are provided sustenance from their Lord (3:169)."
But in non-religious societies which consider human life confined to the short-span life of this world only, it can never be said that man will be again alive in the Hereafter or will attain happiness and prosperity, except that it is inculcated upon the people, through suppositions and superstitions, that if a man is, for example, killed for the cause of his country or for national sanctities, his name will be entered in the list of the devoted and self-sacrificing persons of the nation and will be inscribed in gold in the history book and thus he will remain alive forever.
The praise and sanctification for martyrdom and getting killed in the way of Allah have not been made in Islam so much for any other good deed.
The Holy Prophet (SA) states: "There is always a good deed surpassing other good deeds. But no good deed can surpass martyrdom." Muslims of the early period of Islam asked forgiveness from the Holy Prophet (SA) and, as a result of the prayers of the Holy Prophet (SA), they attained the elevated rank of martyrdom. They never used to cry for those who were martyred, knowing that the martyrs were alive and not dead.
GENEROSITY AND DONATION OF MONEY
The role that wealth plays in regulation of life needs no explanation. Many people consider life the same as wealth and do not believe in any virtue and honour for man except property and wealth. They direct all their activities towards accumulating and saving money. As a result of this fascination and greed, they get entangled in stinginess. Such people deprive others and sometimes degrade themselves further and submit to meanness and miserliness, thus depriving themselves of enjoying their own wealth as well. Neither they enjoy themselves nor they give money to others. They only enjoy accumulating money.
Those who are entangled with the indecent attribute of miserliness (certainly, those who are involved in stinginess are even meaner than them) lose their human nature and become destitute in their lives because:
(1) They only look for their own happiness, prosperity, and comfort and believe in individual life, although human nature advocates social life for us and the individual life, led in any manner, is doomed to destruction.
(2) By showing off their authority to others, they attract towards themselves the poor and the needy due to their humility. Although they d o not relieve the sufferings of the afflicted, they try to make the needy pay respect to them. They take the poor as slaves and foster the spirit of idol-worshipping. Consequently, human courage, bravery, magnanimity, and pride will be eradicated from the society.
(3) Trampling upon the pure feelings of affection, friendship, philanthropy, compassion, and benevolence, they promote all kinds of felony, crime, meanness, and wickedness in the society. This is because the most powerful natural factor of crime and offence such as backbiting, incontinence, theft, banditry, murder, and poverty cannot be found among the needy. These factors are the anger, rancour, and feeling of revenge which are implanted in the hearts of the afflicted and distressed by the wealthy people and which are aggravated by the stingy rich people. That is why a stingy person in a society is, in fact, the first enemy of that society and is always affected by the anger and severe punishment of Allah and the hatred of the inhabitants of the world.
There are many verses in the Holy Qur'an reproaching and blaming the mean quality of stinginess and greed on the one hand, and on praising the attribute of generosity, spending in the way of Allah, and helping the poor and needy on the other.
In His words, the Almighty Allah promises that He will return the property that is donated ten times and, in some instances, seventy and up to seven hundred times and more to the donor.
It has also been proved through experience that the wealth of those who are generous, who help the poor generously, and who cater for the shortcomings of the human society is increased day by day.
Those who resolve the difficulties of others will not face difficulties themselves. No one has ever seen any knot in the comb.
If they occasionally face difficulties, all people will sympathize with them. Whatever help they have extended to others will collectively return unto them.
Furthermore, like honourable men, they have set their conscience at peace by doing good deeds and have responded to the Divine call concerning the wajib and mustahabb obligations. They have used the pure feelings of humanity through kindness, compassion, philanthropy, and benevolence and have acquired popularity and an immaculate respect from the people. Finally, they have gained the satisfaction of the Almighty Allah and the everlasting prosperity at the lowest cost.