Sincerity in Charity

Sincerity shows its effect in everything. As long as it is given out with a sincere intention, the one who gives charity will be rewarded to the degree of their sincerity, even if the charity goes to one who is unworthy of it. According to the degree of one’s sin- cerity there arise positive tendencies towards goodness in those who are given the charity. The Messenger of Allah  has indicated this truth as follows:

“One time a man said: “I am going to give charity”.

That night he left his home with his charity and placed it in the hands of a thief without realising who it was. The next day the people of the town started to talk:

“What an amazing thing! Last night someone gave charity to a thief !”

The man said:

“O Allah! Praise be to you. I am going to give charity today as well”.

Again he left his home with his money and this time without realising it, he placed it in the hands of a prostitute. The next day the people of the town began to talk once more:

“It cannot be! Last night somebody gave charity to a prostitute”.

The man said again:

“O Allah! Praise be to you even if I have given charity to a pros- titute. I am going to give charity again”.

Again that night, the man took what he had set aside for chari- ty and left his house, this time placing it in the hands of a rich man. The next day the people of the town began to chatter again in amazement:

“What is this! Last night charity was given to a rich man!”.

The man said:

“O Allah! I am grateful to you for being able to give charity whether it be to a thief, a prostitute or a rich man.

As a result of the sincerity of this man, he saw someone in his dream say to him:

“Perhaps the charity you gave to the thief will embarrass him and stop him from stealing. And perchance the prostitute will regret what she had been doing and become a chaste woman. And maybe the rich man will take heed and give out to the needy from the wealth that Allah has given him”. (Bukhari, Zekat, 14)

And so these are the blessings of sincerity and true devotion… What is indicated in this hadith is the necessary sincerity and devotion that needs to be within the heart of the person who is giving charity. It also expresses the idea that intentions are better than deeds. However, let it not be assumed from this that it is a virtuous act to give out charity carelessly. On the contrary, when giving out charity and alms-giving, the believer should give it to those who are truly in need, and must search out the most worthy person if possible and give it to them.

Improving oneself

One day, one of the disciples of Bayazid (Alaihi Rahma) asked him:

– Will you give a piece of your coat so that I can carry it with me to gain blessing?

Bayazid responded:

– O my son, if you do not improve yourself until you become a perfect person, it is not going to help you even if you cover your entire body with my skin.

The above story about Bayazid Bistami is well known for illustrating that one cannot reach high levels of spiritual attainment only by virtue of externally improving oneself.

“This shall too pass”

The expression, “This shall too pass,” articulates the following: “O human! The sorrows and joys that come to you are but guests. Do not think that they are permanent!” Do not be disturbed by life’s sorrows, because they will go. Do not be too happy with the joys of life, because they too will not last forever. That is, you are a guesthouse and your guests for but a few days are alternatively sorrows and joys.

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The subjects of your guesthouse, that make you upset, do not belong only to you. They also belong to those who will follow you. They are like transferable property. Therefore, they are not worthy of the fixed attention that can lead to drowning yourself in a sea of sorrow.

Maulana Rumi, quddisa sirruh, said:

“O seeker of the Truth! Be happy if you have sorrows! They are the tricks of reunion that the Beloved has set for you since one remembers Allah and seeks refuge in Him when one is overcome by sorrow.”

“Sorrow is a treasure. Your illnesses and the other troubles you face are all treasures.”

“Likewise, sorrow is as a blessed wind that blows on the mirror of the heart to clear the dust from it; never compare it with harmful winds.”

“In this path of love, no one but grief remembers me, thousands of thanks to it.”

Another poet who has understood this secret strove to explain it in the couplet below. The poem expresses that everything that comes from the Beloved is a blessing; even sorrows exist for thousands of good reasons. They are prepared by the Beloved to distinguish between false lovers whose only capital is their pretension and talk, and real lovers who are lost in Him:

“The unkindness of the Beloved is but an expression of loyalty, not cruelty; The one who blames his Beloved with unkindness is not a true lover!”

This is because the sorrows and pains common people perceive as punishment are in fact divine gifts in the eye of the lover of Allah. Sad hearts remember Allah more. They gain nourishment from the fountain of submission. And Allah blesses their hearts with lasting happiness by granting them exceptional gifts because of this spiritual dependence and intimacy.

Physical Descriptions of the Four Great Imams of Fiqh

By Imam Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Ahmad al-Dhahabi (rah)

 

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1. Imam Abu Hanifah an-Nu’man bin Thabit (rah):

Abu Yusuf said: “Abu Hanifah was well-formed, was from the best of people in appearance, the most eloquent of them in speech, the sweetest in tone, and the clearest of them in expressing what he felt.”

Hamad bin Abi Hanifah said: “My father was very handsome, dark, had good posture, would wear a lot of perfume, was tall, would not speak except in reply to what someone else had said, and he – may Allah have Mercy upon him – would not involve himself in what did not concern him.”

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2. Imam Abu ‘Abdillah Muhammad bin Idris ash-Shafi’i (rah):

Ibrahim bin Buranah said: “ash-Shafi’i was serious, tall, and noble.”

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az-Za’farani said: “ash-Shafi’i visited us in Baghdad in the year 95. He stayed with us for a few months, then left. He would dye his hair with henna, and he had thin cheeks.”

Ahmad bin Sinan said: “I saw him with a red beard and hair – i.e. he used to dye them.”

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3. Imam Abu ‘Abdillah Ahmad bin Hambal (rah):

Ibn Dharih al-’Ukbari said: “I requested to see Ahmad bin Hambal. So, I greeted him, and he was an old man who dyed his hair. He was tall and extremely dark.”

Muhammad bin ‘Abbas an-Nahwi said: “I saw Ahmad bin Hambal with a handsome face, well-formed, and dyeing his hair with henna that was not too dark. He had black hairs in his beard, and I saw his clothes extremely white. When I saw him, he was wearing a turban and an izar.”

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‘Abd al-Malik al-Maymuni said: “I do not know that I have ever seen anyone who wore cleaner clothes, was more attentive to trimming his moustache and grooming the hair on his head and body, or wore purer and whiter garments than Ahmad bin Hambal.”

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One man said: “In Khurasan, they did not think that Ahmad resembled a human being. They thought that he resembled the Angels.”

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al-Fadl bin Ziyad said: “I saw Abi ‘Abdillah in the winter, and he was wearing two shirts with a colored vest between them, and maybe he was wearing a shirt with a heavy sweater. And I saw him with a turban over a hood and heavy outer garment. So, I heard Aba ‘Imran al-Warkani saying to him: “O Aba ‘Abdillah! All of these clothes?” So, he laughed and said: “I cannot stand the cold,” and he would also wear the hood without a turban.”

al-Fadl bin Ziyad said: “I saw Abi ‘Abdillah in the summer wearing a shirt, trousers, and robe.”

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4. Imam Abu ‘Abdillah Malik bin Anas (rah):

‘Isa bin ‘Umar said: “I never saw anything white or red that was more beautiful than the face of Malik, or any clothes whiter than Malik’s.”

And a number of people relate that he was tall, firm, serious, blond, had a white beard and hair, had a large beard, was balding, and would not shave his moustache, as he considered this to be a form of mutilation.

It is said that he had blue eyes, and some of this was narrated by Ibn Sa’d from Mutarraf bin ‘Abdillah.

Muhammad bin ad-Dahhak al-Hizami said: “Malik’s clothes were clean and soft, and he would constantly wear different clothes.”

al-Walid bin Muslim said: “Malik would wear white clothes, and I saw he and al-Awza’i wearing black and green caps.”

Ashhab said: “When Malik would wear a turban, he would wrap part of it under his chin and would leave the ends of it hanging between his shoulders.”

Khalid bin Khidash said: “I saw Malik wearing a cap, and I saw him wearing woven clothes.”

Ashhab said: “If Malik would wear kohl for a necessity, he would remain in his house.”

Mus’ab said: “Malik would wear ‘Adani clothes, and he would wear perfume.”

Abu ‘Asim said: “I never saw a Muhaddith with a more handsome face than Malik’s.”

It is said: “He was so light colored that he was blond. He had wide eyes, a raised, pointed nose, and he would let his moustache grow long based on ‘Umar’s curling of his moustache.”

Ibn Wahb said: “I saw Malik dying his hair with henna once.”

Abu Mus’ab said: “Malik had the most handsome face of the people, the widest of eyes, the whitest skin, and was the greatest of them in height – all in the strongest body.”

al-Waqidi said: “He was well-formed, would not dye his hair, and would not enter the public baths.”

Bishr bin al-Harith said: “I entered upon Malik and saw him wearing a cap that was worth about 500 dirhams.”

Ashhab said: “When Malik would wear a turban, he would wrap part of it under his chin and would leave the ends of it behind his back, and he would scent himself with musk and other scents.”

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Collected from Siyar A’lām al-Nubalā

Mercy and Compassion

Usually our good deeds, sacrifice and donations appear to be substantial to us. This mistaken impression deceives us and engages our mind. It fills us with contentment. A mere urn of water appears to be an ocean to us.

Our mundane desires never cease. We presume that what we own is our natural birthright. When we are asked to make a sacrifice our behavior changes as if we have been asked for something from our own personal possessions. Consequently, the bright, crystal clear and delicate mirror of trustworthiness and generosity becomes stained.

However, as Almighty Allah has revealed in the Qur’an: “As to the orphan do not oppress him. Nor refuse the one who asks for help” (Duha, 9-10).

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Mawlana Rumi, quddisa sirruh, said:

Just as physically beautiful people search for bright and clear mirrors, for generosity to be seen poor and powerless people are required. As a beautiful person’s face may be reflected in a mirror, so too the beauty of those who help the needy through their generosity is reflected in the poor and the miserable.

Mawlana Rumi, quddisa sirruh, said: “Thus, the poor are the mirror of divine mercy and generosity. Those who are with Allah or lost in the existence of Allah are in a state of continuous generosity.”

*

Tafsir-i Hazin, a commentary on the Qur’an, reports the following from the great companion Jabir (RadiAllahu Anhu):

A small child came to the Prophet Muhammadﷺ . He told him that his mother had asked for a shirt. At that time the Prophet Muhammadﷺ owned only the shirt that he was wearing. He told the child to come back another time. The child returned to his home. But, soon he came back and told the Prophetﷺ  that his mother wanted the shirt he was wearing. The Messenger of Allahﷺ went to his room, took off his shirt and gave it to the child.

At that moment, Bilal (RadiAllahu Anhu), the muadhdhin of the Prophetﷺ  began reciting the Adhan, or the call to prayer. The Messenger of Allahﷺ  could not come out of his room to lead the communal prayer because he did not have a shirt. Some of the companions came to his room since they were worried about him and they discovered that the Prophet  no longer had a shirt to wear.

*

Wealth is a trust of Allah given to our care. The only way to enjoy it and feel happy about it is by sympathizing with the suffering of the needy by opening a window of mercy and compassion from our heart to them.

 

The great Rumi, quddisa sirruh, said:

Act like the sun in mercy and compassion!

Act like the night in covering the mistakes of others!

Act like a river in generosity and sacrifice!

Act like a dead one in anger and fury!

Act like the soil in humility and selflessness!

Act in accordance with the way you look!

Look in accordance with the way you act!

We should keep in mind that regardless how one presents oneself, what will come out of him is what he has in the urn of his heart. It is true that many urns that have claimed to be full of love have only produced eventually the water of indiscretion and heedlessness. Likewise, many people who have spoken about the elixir, or the water of life, could not drink a drop of it nor could they offer any to others. On the other hand, many people who hide themselves in humility and externally look like empty urns are special servants of Allah and carry endless oceans in their hearts. And they unhesitatingly offer water to burning lovers like the water of al-Kawthar, a river in Paradise.

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May Allah raise all of us to be of His sincere and pure- hearted servants, so that we may too offer to all of humanity drops from the water of al-Kawthar and Tasnim(*) while still in this world.

Amen!

(*) al-Kawthar (literally, ‘The Abundant’) is a river of Jannah and Tasnim (literally, ‘Nectar’) is a spring of Jannah.

-An excerpt from the book, “Tears of the Heart’

They were Peaks of Humbleness

The higher the Companions rose through Islamic morals, the more amazingly humble they became. Below is typical example:

Salman Farisi -Allah be well-pleased with himwas the governor of Madain when a man, from the Taym Clan, arrived from Damascus with a sack of figs. He saw Salman -Allah be well-pleased with him-, whom he was unable to recognize, in great part due to the modest woolen cloak he was wearing at the time.

“Come, help me carry this load”, he called out to Salman -Allah be well-pleased with him-, thinking he was a slave.

Salman -Allah be well-pleased with him- went next to him, putting the sack over his shoulders without protest. It was not long before the Damascene was told who he really was.

“That man is the governor of Madain”, they said.

“Please, forgive me”, then said the man apologetically. “I could not recognize you”.

“No harm done”, replied Salman -Allah be wellpleased with him-, modestly as ever. “I will carry the load to wherever it is that you want me to take it.” (Ibn Saad, IV, 88)

The Almighty praises His modest servants, like Salman Farisi -Allah be well-pleased with him-, in the Quran as follows:

“The (faithful) servants of the Beneficent are they who walk upon the earth modestly, and when the foolish ones address them answer: Peace…” (al-Furqan, 63)