As time flies by us, many of us realize that a blessed month has just left us, and will not come again for an entire year. Oh how Ramadan presents itself swiftly and runs off just as fast. But for some, this month went by very slowly, and it is those people who are truly blessed.
The month of Ramadan has come and gone, and with the grace Allah placed in it, it has given everyone a fair chance to get back on the track of goodness, visiting the masajid, reciting and learning the Quran, and opening our hearts and wallets to give to friends, families, and the needy. But just like everything else in our lives, such habits quickly leave us, as well.
But today, insha'Allah, is where all of that changes.
It's in a human being's nature to be stingy, fearing a loss of any accumulated wealth and a decline in our income. It is also human nature to be kind to others. This creates the worldly battle of good and evil, the battle that is fought within but is expressed outwardly. The battle of choice: Whether one should be cautious when donating, keeping in mind all of the bills lying at home, or one should give openly to those who need it more than us.
After the last Ramadan, I'm sure many of us vowed to continue to support the needy and well-deserving populations among us--and I am just as sure that most of us have been distracted from doing so. Given the poor political-economic situation around the world, more and more people are losing their wealth and are resorting to seeking help from the very wealth Allah has given others to provide the poor and needy from. It's natural to fear a loss of wealth, health, and family members, but it is crucial for us to realize that all of these blessings (yes, blessings!), no matter what we see them as, came from The Almighty for us to use and be thankful for.
Gratitude! Now that is a very important part of attaining wealth.
Gratitude helps us realize just how much we need Allah and how much He has given us. Only with this realization can we actually go out and give back to the world what Allah has prescribed and recommended us to give. Our hearts then open up to do the most miraculous things, and we fly off in flocks, emptying our pockets for those in need. Out of great happiness and appreciation, Allah then refills our pockets so we can give more and more.
I don't think there could be a better time to "realize" those blessings and change our lifestyles--after Ramadan, of course, than now, in Shawwal, with its Six White Days, to remind us of where our spirits have just been, and to solidify the goodness they have gleaned in the harvest of Ramadan.
This is especially true, I think, considering the rigorous Ramadan rush we have just gone through: Getting in the habit of donating to the Masajid, giving to charities, and paying out our Zakat obligations. With the blessed month of Ramadan, the wind in our sails, we have already refreshed our tack of giving generously and thanking Allah, and we can continue to do more in the month of Shawwal and its sister months.
A Quranic Archetype of Gratitude
A story that always inspires my family and I is that of Prophet Ayyub, on him be Allah's peace. For 80 years of his life, he was given excellent health, great wealth, and was extremely generous. He always remembered to thank Allah for his provisions and then would spend freely on those who needed help. A man with a large stock of cattle, many servants to help out with the responsibilities, and a very dedicated family, Ayyub would rank among the wealthy elite were he alive today.
To test him though and bring out the best in him, Allah allowed for his cattle and servants to be taken away from him. Then, Ayyub's family were also stricken by calamity. To make it even more difficult, he was covered with a disease that would bring about ugly sores all over his body. So bad was his physical condition, and so thorough his impoverishment, that he was taken out to the edge of the city, abandoned there, and none would dare or care to approach him.
Yet his faith remained solid and never diminished, and he continued to thank Allah for what he had received. His remembrance of Allah increased to such an extent that satan was enraged by his unfailing attitude of gratitude. Nothing the arch-deluder was permitted to do to Ayyub could make him waiver in the least. Indeed, it only increased him in thankfulness to Allah.
After some time, Ayyub asked Allah for mercy and relief from his condition. After being very pleased with him, Allah responded and removed the difficulties from him.
"And (remember) Ayyub, when he cried to his Lord: 'Verily, distress has seized me, and You are the Most Merciful of all those who show mercy'" (Qur'an 21:83).
The Way of Allah Is Changeless
Such is the Sunnah of Allah. He pushed Ayyub to his limits so that he might have a chance to be thankful and gracious, and increase his ajar, his divine reward, and his place with his Creator. What better action can Allah see than a person thanking Him for all he has done for them, even after removing everything of value--health, wealth, and family--from one's life? As with Ayyub, Allah may push us to our limits too, though few of us, indeed, are as worthy of this as was Ayyub. Yet Allah tries us so that we can hammer our mettle into goodness with the mallet of divine remembrance and the anvil of godly appreciation, so that we may perfect the nobility of our character.
How often do we realize and thank Allah for the income we've received for so many years? How often have we thanked Allah for granting us such wonderful families? For many of us, all of the much Allah has given us is not enough for us, and how sad it is to say this. Our focus is truly off if we can't even remember to say alhamdulillah after eating a nice, warm meal!
When it comes to being generous, we must use examples like those of prophets Ayyub, Ibrahim, and Muhammad, Allah's peace and blessings be upon them all. In modeling ourselves after them--and especially upon the paradigm of the Prophet Muhammad, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, whose model perfects and preserves the prophetic way--this will immeasurably better our own characters. And there can be no doubt that the gusts of generosity--"like the free-blowing wind," as was the kindness of our Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, will breeze through our souls and cause us to open our hearts and wallets to give as much as we can. There are so many organizations out there that need funding as well as manpower to help complete tasks and projects at home and all around the world.
Let It Flow
In a last-ditch effort, the time is now to re-start our services and donations to our communities. We should be on the front lines of this fight against poverty and greed! This is no small statement. It's a reality that needs making. Allah says in the Qur'an: "Let there arise out of you a group of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining Al-Maroof (i.e. Islamic Monothe- ism and all that Islam orders one to do) and forbidding Al-Munkar (polytheism and disbelief and all that Islam has forbidden). And it is they who are the successful ones" (Qur'an 3:104).
We are the Muslims, the ones who Allah mentions in this group who bring about change in society by enjoining all that is good and righteous. We are those Muslims who stand up against inhumanity and forbid all that is evil and cruel. We in America live among as much as 17 percent of the population who are below the federal poverty line. What of you in India? You in the U.K.? You in Europe? And yes, even you in the Gulf? Our stomachs are always full. And our lives are always comfortable. For us to go another day without supporting our poverty-stricken neighbors is an ignorant rejection of the principles of our wonderful deen.
When Allah repeatedly tells us in the Qur'an to establish prayers followed by giving the Zakat-Charity (the poor-due), He is giving us the keys to success and, indeed, to Paradise. He is telling us to always be thankful to Allah (establish salah) and to always give alms and sadaqah-charity to those in need (give Zakat) so that He may grant us more to give from. If one day poverty overcomes us (and we seek Allah's refuge from this for it is, indeed, an "evil bedfellow"), I'm sure that we too would appreciate someone else providing us from what Allah has given them to share from.
Strength to overcome difficulties and deep faith in Him is what we all ask of Allah, the All Merciful, the Sustainer. Then if that du 'a of ours be true let generosity flow from us like the grateful wind.
Article provided by Al Jumuah Magazine, a monthly Muslim lifestyle publication, which addresses the religious concerns of Muslim families across the world.
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