“The person who lends to Allah, a good lending will receive many times more”. (Sura al-Baqara, 2:245 )
The Best Form of Charity Given by the Household of the Prophet
The following beautiful verse from the Holy Qu’ran accurately summarises the essence of charity:
You will never attain righteousness until you spend in charity from that what you love.”
Muslims give charity in various forms and quantities all year round. Some will donate money, their old clothes or pay towards feeding the needy or building a well. These are all great acts of charity and may Allah (SWT) abundantly reward us for these.
Any act in Islam has the best version of it. For example, the best salah is one done with full concentration and the best fasting is the one where not only do we withhold food and drink from our bodies but also perfect our behaviour and akhlaq and make sure our organs such as eyes and ears do not commit any sin. Similarly, within the act of charity, there is an ultimate form of it which God alludes to in the above verse. It’s giving charity from the things most dear to you. I want to make the essence of this verse clearer with two acts of charity performed by the household of the Prophet (PBUH).
Lady Fatima (as) and The Wedding Dress
The following story is narrated by Al-Asfouri in his book Nuzhat al-Majalis v.2, p.226, on the authority of Ibn al-Tawous.
The Holy Prophet was busy in wedding preparation for his daughter Fatima (as) who was due to wed Imam Ali (as). She had a really old dress with patches therefore the Prophet made her a new one as a gift from him to her for the wedding.
On the night of the wedding, someone knocked on the door. It was a poor person who asked for an old dress (either to clothe themselves or sell to make money). Fatima was just about to give her old dress but remembered 3:92. She then proceeded to give her brand new wedding dress to this person.
This is an astonishing act of kindness. I hesitate to even lend someone something of mine that is brand new let alone give it away!
In response to this Arch Angel Gabriel went to the Prophet said:
“O Muhammad! Allah sends Him peace upon you; He commanded me to greet Fatima and (give her the gift He sent her) which is a dress from Paradise, made of silk brocade etc.”
The Qur’an describes charity as a loan to God (read more about that here) which God returns at no measure. In response to Fatima’s ‘loan’, God gave her a dress directly made in the purest of places – heaven itself.
A Three Day Fast for Hassanain
The Prophet’s grandchildren, Hasan and Hussain, are known as Hassanain (the two Hasan’s) when anyone wishes to refer to both. Early on in their life, the pair fell sick and, Fatima, Ali and their maid Fizza made a promise to God to fast for 3 days if He restores them to full health. Once they felt better, all 5 (including Hassanain) began their fast. The events of what happened thereafter are narrated by Ibn Abbas, paraphrased and summarised below (from Al‑Qadir vol. 3, p. 107‑111 / Ihqaq‑al‑Haqq vol. 3, p. 157‑171):
On each of the nights, just before they were about to break their fast, someone would knock on the door asking for charity. The first night it was an indigent person, the second an orphan and the third a captive. Fizza would bake enough bread for the household, yet they would give it away to the needy at the door.
For three days and nights, they only broke their fast with water. Their condition worsened. When the Prophet saw them like this he was greatly affected. At that moment Gabriel appeared to the Prophet and revealed verses 5-11 of Surah Al-Insan amongst the revelation is the following verse that summarises their actions:
They fulfil (their) vows and fear a Day, the chastisement of which is widespread.”
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.”
Here, not only did they give away what they love but in fact what they desperately needed in food after a gruelling fast in the heat of Arabia. God acknowledges this gesture and promises them “a drink which is like camphor.” (76:2).
These acts demonstrate charity in their highest and purest form. Without this level of charity, Islam would not have survived. Let’s not forget Lady Khadija (as), the first wife of the Prophet, who gave away every penny and asset she had to keep the religion from perishing.
I’m not suggesting we should all give away everything we have, yet let’s reflect the next time before we give charity and ask ourselves if we can do that little bit more.