Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Significance of Charity in Ramadan

Charity & Generosity in Ramadan:

Generosity is one of the highest virtues of Islam and one of the manifest qualities of the Prophet Muhammad who was known as the most generous of people. It is better to go beyond the minimum of what the Sacred Law demands when giving charity. This generosity is an expression of gratitude to God, who is the Provider of all wealth and provision. 

The significance and rewards of charity have a close relationship with Ramadan. The fasting days and prayer-filled nights soften hearts and create ripples of compassion and generosity. The hunger and thirst felt during fasting reminds the believers that the world is filled with people who are unable to find enough food or drink for their needs and allows even the well-off Muslims to experience first hand the suffering of the poor, thus encouraging them to help the needy.

Virtues of Charity in Ramadan:

The Prophet (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “The best charity is the one which is given in Ramadan.” [Tirmidhi]

The Prophet (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam) was the most generous person among all the men, particularly during the month of Ramadan. He (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam) used to be extra ordinarily benevolent and generous when he met Gabriel. During the month, the Angel Gabriel (‘Alayhissalaam) used to visit him every night and recite the Noble Qur’an to him. During this period, the generosity of the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam) used to be very much increased, faster than the rain-bearing wind. [Bukhari and Muslim]

This Hadith induces us to do two good things frequently and with full preparation in the month of Ramadan. First, benevolence and generosity so that people get maximum time for worship and reduce their mundane affairs during this month. Second, recitation of the Qur’an and reading and hearing the Qur’an from one another, as is done by two Huffaz in this manner.

The Prophet (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam) said: "It (Ramadan) is the month of sympathy with one's fellowmen." [Sahih Ibn Khuzaima]

The Prophet (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “Whoever offers a meal for breaking the fast of another person, earns the same merit as the one who was observing the fast without diminishing in any way the recompense of the fasting person.” [Ahmed, Nasai and authenticated by al-Albani]
 The Sahaba asked,"O messenger of Allah, not all of us possess the means whereby we can feed a fasting person to break his fast." Rasulullah (SAWS) replied, "Allah grants the same reward to the one who gives a fasting person to break the fast a mere date, or a drink of water, or a sip of milk." [Sahih Ibn Khuzaima]

"Whoever gave a person who fasted water to drink, Allah shall grant him to drink from My fountain such a drink where after that he shall never again feel thirsty until he enters Jannah." [Sahih Ibn Khuzaima]

Sadaqat ul-Fitr/Zakat ul-Fitr:

Zakat ul-Fitr is often referred to as Sadaqat ul-Fitr. The word Fitr means the same as Iftar, breaking a fast and it comes from the same root word as Futur which means breakfast. Thus, Islamically, Zakat ul-Fitr is the name given to charity which is distributed at the end of the fast of Ramadhan.

Sadaqat ul-Fitr is a duty which is Wajib on every Muslim, whether male or female, minor or adult as long as he / she has the means to do so. The proof that this form of charity is compulsory can be found in the Sunnah whereby Ibn 'Umar (RA) reported that the Prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam made Zakat ul-Fitr compulsory on every slave, freeman, male, female, young and old among the Muslims; one Sa' of dried dates or one Sa' of barely [Bukhari]

The main purpose of Zakat ul-Fitr is to provide those who fasted with the means of making up for their errors during the month of fasting. Zakat ul-Fitr also provides the poor with a means with which they can celebrate the festival of breaking the fast ('Eid ul-Fitr) along with the rest of the Muslims.

Ibn Abbas (RA) reported, "The Prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam made Zakat ul-Fitr compulsory so that those who fasted may be purified of their idle deeds and shameful talk (committed during Ramadhan) and so that the poor may be fed." [Abu Dawood with a sahih chain]

Hence, the goal of Sadaqat ul-Fitr is the spiritual development of the Believers. By making them give up some of their wealth, the believers are taught the higher moral characteristics of generosity, compassion (sympathy for the unfortunate), gratitude to God and the righteousness. But, since Islam does not neglect man's material need, part of the goal of Zakat ul-Fitr is the economic well-being of the poorer members of society.

Paying Zakat in Ramadan:

Zakat is the obligatory charity and is another pillar of Islam which most Muslims give in Ramadan. The rewards of zakat given in Ramadan increases 70 fold since, according to the hadith, the rewards of every fardh is multiplied by 70 times in Ramadan.

Imam al-Ghazali says in 'Ihya ul Uloom':
"One should endeavor to choose one of the most opportune times to pay Zakat, resulting in more closeness to Allah and compounding the value of the Zakat.
One such favorable time would be month of Muharram, since it is the first month of the Islamic year and one of the sacred months. Another is Ramadan."

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