I thought I would keep with the spirit of Ramadhan and touch on the topic of charity.
Parting with something that we consider valuable is never easy. In many cases, time is what we value most and thus have the hardest “time” giving up. Money is probably a close second. Why would one want to give up something that they’ve worked so hard for? Well, let’s discuss it.
Gifting is an act that surrounds many celebrations all around the world. Eid, Christmas, Hanukkah and any other major religious holiday that you can think of. But why gifting? And before I get any snarky remarks, we don’t give gifts because we live in a consumerist culture and major department stores pound us with a message of “buy buy buy” months before the actual holiday. It goes back a lot further than that. The prophet Muhammad (PBUH) emphasized giving gifts because it was a gesture of goodwill amongst people and increased love and affection within relationships. Societies today are a lot wealthier than they were in the past and therefore purchasing a gift for someone else is “easier” now than it was hundreds of years ago. At that time the average person did not have much and therefore giving up something to someone else required a lot more than it does today. Nevertheless, gifting is a significant act that should be practiced often.
During this month before we can start planning our Eid celebrations and the things that we’re going to give and receive we are encouraged to give in charity. Again, another act that requires us parting with something of value. Money, clothes, food, whatever it is, there are always those that have less than we do, so let’s help out in any way that we can. But it’s sounds a lot easier than it actually is. Think about it- why should I give up something that I worked so hard for? Sometimes goodwill and improving relationships isn’t enough of a reason for one to part with something valuable, and that is completely understandable. In a book that I was listening to recently called Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, the author mentioned that one should increase giving in charity in pursuit of accumulating wealth. Wait, What?! I’m trying to get rich here! Not give my money away! But he touched on 2 key points that can put things into perspective when it comes to giving in charity:
- First is the principle of trying to get without giving. Too often we want to be rewarded or compensated for things without giving anything up. If you want to get straight A’s you need to give up the time to study. If you want to get fit, you have to give up unhealthy eating. In a similar manner, if you want to gain wealth, you need to give something up, so giving in charity is a great start. According to Hill this principle is governed by nature or as he calls it the law of economics– “which neither recognizes nor tolerates for long, GETTING WITHOUT GIVING”.
- The second point that has been a demoralizing factor for many when it comes to giving or donating is the fear of poverty. Too often we hear “I’ll give when I have more”, or “I only have this much, so I can’t give”. This thought process leads to fear of poverty and should be avoided. Our thoughts are like arrows. An arrow will hit whatever object the archer concentrates on. Similarly, giving in charity will not decrease ones wealth; rather it’s a persons negative thoughts that will lead to their demise. Therefore the will (or thought) to summon wealth and riches needs to be ones focus and not the fear of poverty.
Maybe you already know all this, maybe you don’t. Regardless, I hope you’re a little bit more inclined to give to those in need after reading this. Make the most of the next few days and drink plenty of water.