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.

Servitude to Allah the Almighty

Servitude to Allah the Almighty is first of all an act of consciousness. Servitude means to be able to see our weak state before the Divine Kingdom and to know our place. When a person properly recognizes his place, there would be no strength left in him to claim arrogance, egoism and even his very own existence.

The real modesty makes the servant confess his nothingness and nonexistence before the Divine Majesty and bow his head, like in the following supplication of Mawlānā Jalal al-Dīn Rumī (Alaihi Al Rahma):

“I have become a servant, I have become a servant, I have become a servant. I, humble servant, have ashamed of not fulfilling my servitude properly and bowed my head down (in shame). Every slave becomes happy when he is emancipated. Dear Lord! I have become happy for being Your slave.”

As a matter of fact, Holy Prophet’s (peace and blessings be upon him) grandson Hazrat Hasan’s (May Allah be pleased with him) supplication after circumambulating the Kaaba and performing two rak’ahs of prayer at the quarter of Ibrāhīm (Upon him be prayer and peace) is one of the best examples of manners of servitude:

“Dear Lord! Your little and weak servant came to Your door. O Allah! Your weak servant came to your door. Dear Lord! Your beggar came to your door, Your poor came to Your door…”

After this touching supplication, Hasan (May Allah be pleased with him) met on his way with some poor people, who were sharing a dry piece of bread. He greeted them, and they invited him to their modest table. Prophet’s grandson Hasan (May Allah be pleased with him) sat with them and said:

“If I knew that this bread did not come from charity, I would eat with you.” Then he said:

“Let’s go to my home.” After serving them a nice meal, he clothed the poor people with nice clothes and gave them considerable amount of money and then sent them back in a very happy state.” (Abshihī, Al-Mustatraf, Beirut, 1986, I, 31)

This is the state of real modesty and an eminent manner of servitude, which makes a believer live in deep sensitivity towards his Lord and Creation. Those who adorn their souls with this exclusive manners act prudently in their acts and behaviors. This manner manifests itself in their sitting, standing, walking, choosing their clothes, speaking, walking, and, in short, in all of their actions.

Allah the Almighty states:

“And the servants of the Beneficent Allah are they who walk on the earth in humbleness, and when the ignorant address them, they say: Peace.” (25; 63)

“And do not go about in the land exultingly, for you cannot cut through the earth nor reach the mountains in height.” (17; 37)

“And do not turn your face away from people in contempt, nor go about in the land exulting over much; surely Allah does not love any self-conceited boaster;” (31; 18)

In these verses, walking arrogantly and swaggering is clearly prohibited. The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) always walked fast and his eyes fixed on the ground like going down a hill. This was a manifestation of his humility. In fact, this good behavior has become one of the principles of the Sufis, in which they referred to as “nazar ber qadem – one’s eyes fixed on his feet.”

Sincerity is a jewel so hard to attain and preserve that no one other than Allah can truly evaluate its worth, because through it the windows of the heart are opened to Allah. Sincerity is a sublime quality that raises a servant to high ranks both in this world and the next and that brings one closer to Allah. Allah Most High does not accept deeds that are done devoid of sincerity. On the Day of Judgement, deeds done with self-satisfaction and for show, both of which indicate diseases of the heart, will be thrown at the faces of the ones who perform them. Sincerity on the other hand makes what is little great, through the bounty of Allah most High. It also makes one’s life long and its abundance and prosperity continual.

During the first years in the history of Islam an unknown person used to leave a sack of provisions every morning at the door of various poor people in Madina. It so happened that one morning the poor people woke up to find that there was no sack at their door. While they were wondering the reason they heard a poignant proclamation of the death of the grandson of Ali (Alaihi Salaam), Zayn-al-abideen (Alaihi Salaam). The city of Madina was shaken up with this news and its people were deeply grieved.

The last duties began to be meticulously carried out for this heir of the Prophet (SalAllahu Alaihi Waa Aalihi Wassallam). When it came time to wash his body, the person who performed the task saw some large boils on the back of the dead man. He was surprised and could not understand the reason. Somebody from the ahl’ul bayt  who knew his secret explained:

“Every morning Zayn-al-abideen would carry sacks of provisions that he had prepared and take them to the doors of the poor. He would return without anyone seeing him. Nobody ever knew who it was that kept bringing these provisions. These wounds that you see on his back are what developed as a result of carrying them”. (Ibn-i Kathir, al-Bidaya, IX, 112,133; Abu Nuaym, Hilye, III, 136)

This is the manifestation of sincerity in the heart of a believer full of compassion. This is a sensitivity observed for a lifetime that refused to tarnish the reward for goodness with the compliments of mere mortals.


 

One time a great fire broke out in the copper markets of Baghdad. Two children were trapped in one of the burning shops. Despite their cries for help, the flames were so intense that nobody was brave enough to try and save them. Their foreman was crying out outside in desperation:

“I will give 1000 pieces of gold to whoever saves my children”.

At that point Abu’l Hussain Nuri who happened to be passing by, immediately threw himself into the fire. The fire became like a rose garden for him. With the help of almighty Allah, this saint was able to save the children from those flames, to the amazement of everyone watching. Happily the foreman presented the gold pieces to Abu’l Hussain Nuri, who suddenly grimaced and said:

“Take your gold and be grateful to Allah Most High! If I had done what I did not for Allah but for the hope of some material reward, I would never have been able to rescue those children from that fire”.


 

The following is another beautiful example of sincerity displayed by Sultan Alparslan whose heart was ever together with his Lord.

Before entering the Battle of Malazgirt in 1071, Alparlsan donned pure white clothes and remarked:

“This is my shroud”. In other words, he had prepared himself not for worldly fame but for martyrdom with the ecstasy resulting from pure faith. Before he went to battle he gave this short speech to his soldiers:

“Either I become victorious and reach my aim; or I become a martyr and go to heaven. Those of you who choose to follow me, let them do so. Those who choose to leave, let them go. There are no commanding sultans giving orders here, nor are there any soldiers needing to obey. Today I am one of you. I am a soldier going to war alongside you. Those who follow me and become martyrs having devoted their souls to almighty Allah – to heaven you go; those left alive will be war heroes. As for those who desert us, it is the fire of the hereafter and disgrace in this world that await them”.

As a result of the sincerity of Sultan Alparslan, almighty Allah made him victorious against the Roman Diyogen, whose army was five times the size of his own.

As mentioned before only those people who possess sincerity will attain to true salvation. However the possessors of sincerity are in great danger constantly and face a risky trial.

The distinguished friends of Allah have advised people to forget two things:

  • The good deeds that you have done so that they do not boost your ego and make you vain and proud;
  • The bad things that have been done to you so that ill-will and rage do not germinate within your heart.

 

For Allah’s sake…..

One of the friends of Allah was once asked if he had ever experienced any event concerning sincerity that had left an impression on him. He replied:

“Indeed I have” and he explained:

One time I lost my purse at Mecca and was left penniless. I was expecting money from Basra but it had somehow failed to arrive. My hair and beard had grown somewhat. I went to a barber and asked him:

“I have no money. Would you cut my hair for the sake of Allah?” At that point the barber was shaving a man. Indicating the seat next to him he said: “Sit here” and leaving him he began to shave me. The man objected. The barber turned to him and said:

“I am sorry sir. I was shaving you for a fee but this person here asked me to shave him for the sake of Allah. Duties done for Allah always have priority and they have no fee. The servants can never know the price of those things done for Allah and never can they pay them”. After he shaved me, the barber slipped a few pieces of gold into my pocket: “You can attend to your immediate needs with this. This is all I have, I am sorry”.

A few days passed. The money I was waiting for from Basra arrived. I took a small pouch of gold to the barber but he objected:

“I will never take it! None of the slaves of Allah can ever have the ability to pay the price for a task done for Allah’s sake. Be on your way. May Allah give you peace”.

I made amends and parted from him but for forty years now I have been waking up in the middle of the night and praying for him”.

And so almighty Allah will reward those righteous deeds and all acts of goodness with goodness that is worthy of His glory as long as they are done in such a sincere manner, that is purely for the sake of Allah.

Sincerity of Imam Zayn-al-abideen (RadiAllahu Anhu)

During the first years in the history of Islam an unknown person used to leave a sack of provisions every morning at the door of various poor people in Madina. It so happened that one morning the poor people woke up to find that there was no sack at their door. While they were wondering the reason they heard a poignant proclamation of the death of the grandson of Imam Ali (RadiAllahu Anhu) , Imam Zayn-al-abideen (RadiAllahu Anhu). The city of Madina was shaken up with this news and its people were deeply grieved.

The last duties began to be meticulously carried out for this heir of the Prophet (SalAllahu Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wassallam). When it came time to wash his body, the person who performed the task saw some large boils on the back of the Imam. He was surprised and could not understand the reason. Somebody from the ahl’ul bayt who knew his secret explained:

“Every morning Zayn-al-abideen would carry sacks of provisions that he had prepared and take them to the doors of the poor. He would return without anyone seeing him. Nobody ever knew who it was that kept bringing these provisions. These wounds that you see on his back are what developed as a result of carrying them”.

(Ibn-i Kathir, al-Bidaya, IX, 112,133; Abu Nuaym, Hilye, III, 136)

Subhan Allah !!! This is the manifestation of sincerity in the heart. This is a sensitivity observed for a lifetime that refused to tarnish the reward for goodness with the compliments of mere mortals.