This is in response to “Charity and Publicity”, ‘Write Hand’ by Ajaz-ul-Haque . To my understanding charity is certainly a virtue of soaring magnitude and someone who is helping people and having the feeling of making lives of others better is certainly praiseworthy. Looking at it at the mundane level a person taking such initiative, giving charity or becoming instrumental for this cause is a super-human. I personally don’t consider the ‘epsilon’ inadequacy committed by the people, NGOs or any such organisation during the process of raising and dispersal of funds. Here the point which I want to put thrust upon is the purpose, the objective, the intension, the desire, the aspirations, the ambition or more specifically what we call in urdu is the neeyat for carrying out such an enterprise. The impetus for being so benevolent and charitable is certainly given by the humanity which I possess: if I see someone in need, living in a grief stricken conditions my soul should impel me to help him out. My religion also teaches doing charity as my obligation (to help this person out) and by doing so my Lord would be contended by this act of mine. This is magnanimity (which certainly is inculcated by my faith) and whatever I do, I do it for humanity without looking at the cast, creed or colour of the person. Now looking on the other side of it, I demonstrate philanthropy for getting a reward against it, that is I do charity only after calculating the reward my religion has promised me for doing so. Undoubtedly, I help the needy person out but now my neeyat is changed. This time I am not doing it out of humanity but for getting a (bigger) reward, the purpose is served but with a different intension which proves counter-productive in certain cases. Here I would like to quote some examples to substantiate my claim: A person who was raising funds for a CA patient came to me and said about the patient and his inability to pay the money who was getting treated at PGI Chandigarh. To my curiosity, I just tried to probe if he has been able to raise enough money for the treatment of the (patient) person and the excuses people had been making for manifesting their inability to extend their help are award winning. The most astonishing justification he had got from an (un)educated guy to whom the problem was explained he replied, “ look I would happily offer some help if this was the month of fasting (mah-i-siyaum)”.
Another (bitter) experience I want to share is that: some time before one of my relatives died and I went there (a place which is a bit far from my home) and fortunately I was able to participate in his funeral prayers. A friend of mine who met me there was surprised (and happy too) to see me there. During our conversation he started to demonstrate the expertise and comprehension he holds about the reward for offering nemaz-e-jinazah and was trying to explain qeeraat (the reward for participating in someone’s funeral prayers) to me. I was fixedly looking at him and giving him the impression that I am listening to him very keenly.
The point I want to make here is; we need to perceive matters in a right perspective. We have to be wise enough to understand, that certain statements are purely metaphoric, if we are taught (by our religion) and made to understand abstractions by concretisation, we should not (as a result) become self-centred. If our religion tries to make us understand in an easier way let us not keep on calculating, adding and multiplying our good deeds. I personally am of the opinion that intension is the trump card, if I perform my duties (for which I am being paid) with good intension I will be rewarded for being charitable too and if I do charity with the intension of getting rewarded only I may end up getting nothing. Faith is something very very personal and of course of paramount importance. But let us not bury humanity underneath the mis-interpreted and mis-understood religiosity. We cannot be religious unless we are not human; if faith is a dew- drop then humanity is the only vessel which can hold it. Let us not be self-centred and act like robots towards our social responsibilities. If I am a doctor (I am assumed to be different/special or a super-human) I should not keep on watching the clock for finishing my duty hours I should be benevolent instead. If I am teacher (I am assumed to be an idol, an inspiration and a role model) my duties does not end once I come out of my class and if I am a preacher I should not restrict my sermons within the four walls of the prayer hall. Let us be responsible, let us play big, let us think big, let us have the desire to deserve and more importantly let us be passionately charitable.