“Two more people to give $5,000.”
His gaze sweeps across the audience searching for a raised hand or finger. As he holds the mic up to his mouth, the people in the room shuffle and whisper. You turn to the left and then the right looking for the next donor. “Allahu Akbar!” You quickly look in the direction the speaker is faced, and catch a young man in the back of the room lowering his hand. “Just one more pers…”
“Allahu Akbar!” A woman two tables down nods her head.
“That’s 50,000. Now I need to get just ten people to give $1,000!”
We’re all way too familiar with this scene: you are at a fundraising dinner and the speaker is using every related hadith and verse of the Qur’an to encourage, convince and literally beg you to donate to the cause. You eventually raise your hand when he mentions the donation amount you decided on before you left the house.
“Allahu Akbar! May Allah (swt) bless you and your family, say ameen!” The crowd echoes “Ameen.”
Feels amazing, doesn’t it?
But…is it right?
Why does your mosque, Islamic center, or local Islamic organization have to book a hotel ballroom, get a speaker from out of state, and feed and entertain you in order for you to give for the sake of Allah?
Giving in the way of Allah is for our own safety and not giving is the real danger. We have to look out for the poor and support our local institutions, and we should do so without a second thought. In fact, Allah promises us a time when it will be the first thing on our minds. Surah Al-Munafiqoon says:
“And spend [in the way of Allah] from what We have provided you before death approaches one of you and he says, “My Lord, if only You would delay me for a brief term so I would give charity and be among the righteous.” (Qur’an, 63:10)
The verse doesn’t say we will beg for just a little more time for prayer, or fasting, but instead for the opportunity to give charity, as though this will be the dearest thing to us at that time. We will be pleading for more time before our souls are taken so that we can give more charity.
When working with the Muslim Students Association (MSA) at my university, we would go around to Muslim-owned restaurants requesting donations for Iftar (the evening meal to break fast), which was served on campus daily in Ramadan, except for Fridays. Some restaurants offered a tray of rice, some chicken, and others salad. We always accepted whatever they might give us because at the end of the day, something was always better than nothing. However, some shopkeepers and owners sent us off empty-handed. Why? Because they felt they had already done their bit of charity over Ramadan – “We already donated food to the kids at the college.”
As though there is some cap on giving to charity.
Allah (subhanahu wa ta`ala - exalted is He) describes those that give for His sake in Surah Al-Insan:
“And they feed, for the love of Allah, the indigent, the orphan, and the captive,- (Saying),’We feed you for the sake of Allah alone: no reward do we desire from you, nor thanks. – We only fear a Day of distressful Wrath from the side of our Lord.’” (Qur’an 76: 8-10)
This verse adds a second crucial point on the importance of adopting, sponsoring and taking care of orphans. It reminds to us ask: What about those kids without moms or dads? The ones whose parents left them there because they couldn’t afford to take care of them? What about the kids who get all these donated clothes and toys but can’t find a single person do give them the love and attention they really need?
The Prophet (s) was an orphan. Have we forgotten?
A few years ago, in Cairo, we went to visit an orphanage as a tarbiyah (self-development) exercise and to see how the orphans were. Of course, they were adorable and fairly well-kept; I don’t assume this to be the case in most orphanages. We had been there for about 20 minutes when a young man came in and the kids started screaming!
“Ammu Sherif! Ammu Sherif!” They all flocked towards him, almost knocking him over. He greeted them warmly and was smiling from ear to ear. He stayed there for at least the two more hours we did, probably longer, and played with them, giving each their own time.
Subhan Allah (Glory be to God)! All he does is take out the time to visit them, obviously in a consistent manner, and it doesn’t cost him anything. You cannot begin to understand how happy this simple kindness made them.
How great is his reward with Allah (swt)?
May Allah (swt) bless him and everyone that tries to work with the unfortunate among us, and alleviate their suffering.
We worry about giving our own children enough attention. We agonize over being bad parents and try to find ways to be better to our children. We think back over our actions and hope they won’t affect them negatively as adults. Well then, what about the orphans? Have we given them a second thought?
The Prophet (s) said, “Me and the one that takes care of Orphans are like this in Jannah,” and he demonstrated by putting his index and middle finger together.
Enough said. Now for the doing part: Everyone that reads this needs to do one of two things, or both.
- Pick an Islamic charity and sign up to give a monthly amount from your income. You won’t regret it. For example, Islamic Relief has an option to donate to ‘where it’s needed the most,’ which I think is an easy way of making up your mind on what you want done with your money.
- Sign up to sponsor an orphan, and pledge a monthly amount that is probably much less than your cable and internet bill.
When we have the means we do as Muslims, there is no excuse to not be looking out for our orphans and poor. We have to answer for being blessed with wealth and safety and will be asked why we haven’t tried to establish the same for others.
In Surah At-Takathur we are reminded of just that:
“Then you will surely be asked that Day about pleasure.” (Quran 102:8)
May Allah (swt) bless us all with good deeds that bring us closer to Him. Ameen.