"And remind, for indeed, the reminder benefits the believers."
(Al-Quran 51:55)

Friday 27 December 2013

Prophet Muhammad (saw) - The Generous One

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu!

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Of all of Allah's created beings, none has ever been as generous as the Prophet Muhammad (saw). There are reasons why he was so generous. He was sent to adorn himself and others with the noblest of manners; when he gave to others, he expected nothing in return from them, desiring instead to be rewarded by Allah alone; and, perhaps most importantly, he trusted in Allah so much that he did not fear poverty.

Because the Prophet (saw) possessed the above mentioned qualities, he became the very personification of generosity. An Arab poet once noted that the Prophet (saw) would have altogether forsaken the word No, had it not been for the Tashahud (the testimony of faith):

He said "no" never, except when he made Tashahud,

Had it not been for Tashahud, his "no" would have been a "yes".

What the poet meant, of course, is that, whenever someone went to the Prophet (saw) and asked him for something - money, food, clothing, or something else - he (saw) would never say "No". But he did use the word "No" in the testimony of faith: "No one has the right to be worshipped but Allah".

Among Arabs, certain historical figures are still remembered for their generosity - the likes of Haram, Ibn Jad'an, and perhaps most famously, Hatim. And yet none of these men even approached the generosity of the Prophet (saw). Without thinking twice about the matter, the Prophet (saw) once gave a man an entire flock of sheep that were so numerous that they filled the valley that separated two mountains. 

At around the same time, he gave each chieftain of various Arab tribes one hundred camels. On one occasion, a man asked the Prophet (saw) for the very shirt he had on his back. In response to the man's strange request, the Prophet (saw) removed his shirt and handed it over to the man.

When the Prophet (saw) showed generosity, he expected nothing in return. Many rich men, especially kings, give charity, hoping not for a monetary return, but instead for respect, love, admiration and loyalty. The Prophet (saw) expected none of these things; nay, he acted so humbly that he made a person feel that, by taking something from the Prophet (saw), he was the one who was doing the Prophet (saw) a favour, and not vice versa. 

Or in the words of a poet:

You see him, when you go to him, with a cheerful expression on his face.
Making it seem that you are the one giving him that which you ask for.

If the Prophet (saw) had nothing when someone asked him for something, he would find something to give him. And when he had very little himself, he would give away what little he had, trusting that Allah would reward him and provide for him.

When the spoils of war would be gathered, he would distribute them in less than an hour. His table-spread was like a complementary food stand - any and all comers were welcome to it, except that they were welcome to take generous portions. 

Everyone benefited from the Prophet's (saw) generosity: The traveller he treated as a guest; the hungry he provided with food; his relatives he honoured with good treatment; to the needy he gave without fear of poverty; the rich and the poor alike he treated well; Jews, Bedouins, enemies, and hypocrites all ate with him as his guests. 

It is not mentioned in any narration that the Prophet (saw) ever became weary of being generous, ever said "no" to someone who asked him for help, or ever showed the least bit of displeasure towards someone who demanded his assistance.

On one occasion, a Bedouin pulled back violently at the collar of the Prophet's (saw) robe, so violently, in fact, that a mark was left of the Prophet's (saw) neck. The Bedouin then said: "Give me from what you have in terms of Allah's wealth; from the wealth that is neither your father's nor your mother's". The Prophet (saw) turned to the Bedouin, laughed good-naturedly, and then gave him a generous share of wealth.

When a treasure of gold or silver would come to him, he would distribute it immediately, without saving even a coin from it for himself. When he gave someone money, he was happier to give than was the other person to receive. 

A paragon of generosity himself, the Prophet (saw) exhorted Muslims to follow his example. He said:

"Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him be generous to his guest".

In another narration, he said:

"Every person will be under the shade of his own charity (on the Day of Resurrection), until judgement is rendered among people."

According to yet another narration, he said:

"Charity never causes one's level of wealth to decrease".

To give is to be blessed. Whatever you give away in charity, you get back in some form or another. 


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