Let not the pandemic dampen our spirit of giving in a big and meaningful way. We may thank it for having made us realize the fragility of human life and the uselessness of the things that we have so much treasured all our lives. No doubt, it has played havoc with our lives, with our jobs, with our earnings and everything that we can think of. Many a well to do families have been reduced to poverty and many a poor family have been reduced to pauperdom. It is time that we give a serious thought to the changed scenario, which continues to unabatedly baffle us all, and sensitise ourselves to the grim situation that stares in the face of many an otherwise good and noble people. Let us not forget to help these pious people who never hesitated to give when they were in a position to do so. We have to take care of them with more sensitivity; let us offer them help in all possible ways; let us give charity wrapped in dignity
Any sacred occasion, Ramzan, or Bakr Eid, is a time to increase our good deeds and to connect with those who go without food and water. This year, we should also reach out to the victims and those at greater risk of the coronavirus pandemic who may not have access to adequate protection and healthcare. Give generously in this blessed month and beseech Allah to make our sadaqa a protection for us and our loved ones. Let us remind ourselves of why we should continue to give charity during this calamity. Let us not be fearful and worried about our wealth; instead, let us continue to be compassionate, selfless and generous for the sake of Allah.
In the Qura'an, Allah often tells us not to fear or be distressed; because as long as we believe and perform good deeds, we will not lose anything. Even if we are isolated or fall victim to this pandemic, as long as we continue to believe and do good, we will not have lost anything. Rather, we will have gained Allah’s pleasure, reward and the incredibly high status of a martyr.
Charity is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and plays a huge part in everyday life for Muslims around the world. Helping our less fortunate brothers and sisters by giving up free time is one way, but donating Zakat and ongoing charity (also known as Sadaqah Jariyah) are just some of the many ways that Islamic teachings prioritize charity in the wider world. Zakat is an obligatory form of charity, based on an individual’s personal wealth, and must be donated to help those who are in need of a helping hand. Zakat is calculated based on what we have that is over and above our own basic needs and ensures that nobody suffers for want of basic necessities.
Whereas Zakat means to purify your wealth in this world by giving to the less fortunate, Sadaqah Jariyah is a form of ongoing voluntary charity that helps recipients build a better future as well as providing them with relief. Instead of simply donating food and water, to give Sadaqah Jariyah provides recipients with the opportunity to create an income for their families on a long term basis. This ongoing charity rewards both the donor and the recipient not just in this world but also in the Hereafter. To qualify for Zakat, one should be of good health both physically and mentally and meet the Nisab threshold. This is based on cash, gold, silver, precious stones and other assets and those eligible typically donate 2.5% of their profitable wealth as Zakat. Sadaqah Jariyah, on the other hand, is a voluntary form of ongoing charity that covers all aspects of giving.
Zakat is an obligation cast upon almost all Muslims and is compulsory as instructed by the Holy Qura'an, that all able Muslims undertake this to deepen their connection with Allah (S.W.T) and betterment of themselves. Giving of charity is very important in Islam because there are so many people around the world who need support to meet even the bare necessities of life. People are without food, clean water, shelter, clothing and education everywhere we look, whether nearby in our towns and cities or further afar in war-torn countries. By giving to those in need, a good deed is done for both parties, as the donor will also gain contentment from being able to help.
Sadaqah can work for us in myriad ways to incorporate ceaseless charity in our life, and the rewards of which are immeasurable. Whether one chooses to donate one’s time and energy or prefer to give monetary contributions towards a worthy cause, it could not be easier to get involved. Teaching others and spreading the knowledge we have is a great way to educate those around us. Engaging in discussion, sharing facts and knowledge with the purpose of doing good shall fetch rewards every single time this knowledge is passed on. There are far too many children in the world who are deprived of their basic human needs and are being denied education, too. By sponsoring a child, we are contributing to not just their education, but their emotional development and tapping into their creativity, inspiring them to want more from this world. By sponsoring a child, we are helping them develop skills that can change their families lives forever.
One of the greatest ways to give charity is to get involved in the construction of a significant building, such as a school or a hospital. As with any other form of Sadaqah, we will receive just as much benefit from our generosity and the potential for reward is immense. Every child learning, every sick or injured person treated is rewarded.
Although food and water are often taken for granted, for many people around the world, these life essentials are in short supply. Not only do they provide sustenance and sanitation, but they can completely transform the lives of those in need. Donating food and clean water is just one way to help, but donating to a cause that gives these communities a means of accessing clean water themselves and nurturing their crops is one of the greatest ways to help ceaselessly. This ongoing charity is hugely beneficial.
Giving charity should be an ongoing process in a way of restoring balance in the world, ensuring all communities are afforded the same rights and as instructed by the Holy Quran. By integrating ongoing charity into our everyday lives, it will soon become the norm. By adopting this way of thinking and accepting Sadaqah Jariyah as a way of life, Allah (S.W.T) will ensure that our good deeds are rewarded not just today, but in the Hereafter, too.
It is not just what or how much we give in charity that matters, the manner in which we give is also important. Seek no praise, no reward, for anything we do. No sooner do we perform a good action than we begin to desire credit for it. No sooner do we give money to some charity than we want to see our names blazoned in the papers. Misery must come as the result of such desires. Giving to purely receive praise will not be rewarded as this cannot be regarded as a selfless charitable act, but giving to help others and seeking fulfillment from their happiness along with the happiness of Allah (S.W.T) only will bring great reward in return. For best reward charity should be wrapped in dignity.
So, this pandemic season, let us not be content with having made the mandatory one time annual Zakat on Eid as ordained for Muslims in general, but let us also pledge to continue our support to the needy and the vulnerable with greater vigour for as long as it is necessary.
Bhushan Lal Razdan, formerly of the Indian Revenue Service, retired as Director General of Income Tax (Investigation), Chandigarh.