Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim
Nowadays in the minds of Muslims there is some ambiguity concerning the differences between gifts, loans and charity and how and when to give each for the sake of Allah. You’ll see a Muslim giving something to his brother, the brother accepting it gratefully, and then a few days later he is wanting it back. Or perhaps a mother gifting some clothes to her daughter, and when the daughter wants to give those clothes in charity, the mother gets angry and doesn’t let her. You’ll also see Muslims helping their relatives who’re in a tight spot, and later expecting compensations and humility from the relative because of it. Also there are Muslims who throw charity in the faces of needy people as if they were dogs in need of feeding.
What’s wrong with us is the fact that no matter how much we know about the fiqh of prayers and fasting, no matter how much we know about aqeedah ar Rububiyyah and uluhiyyah, we still mostly lack knowledge when it comes to etiquettes of dealing with people.
So let us see what the religion wants from us when it comes to giving to others.
Zakah is the third pillar of Islam, making it obligatory upon us to give charity. Beyond that, charity is highly recommended in our religion, with the Prophet (saws) informing us about different kinds of charity. The most important thing we need to know when it comes to charity is this:
قَوْلٌ مَّعْرُوفٌ وَمَغْفِرَةٌ خَيْرٌ مِّن صَدَقَةٍ يَتْبَعُهَا أَذًى ۗ وَاللَّهُ غَنِيٌّ حَلِيمٌ o يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تُبْطِلُوا صَدَقَاتِكُم بِالْمَنِّ وَالْأَذَىٰ كَالَّذِي يُنفِقُ مَالَهُ رِئَاءَ النَّاسِ وَلَا يُؤْمِنُ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ ۖ فَمَثَلُهُ كَمَثَلِ صَفْوَانٍ عَلَيْهِ تُرَابٌ فَأَصَابَهُ وَابِلٌ فَتَرَكَهُ صَلْدًا ۖ لَّا يَقْدِرُونَ عَلَىٰ شَيْءٍ مِّمَّا كَسَبُوا ۗ وَاللَّهُ لَا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الْكَافِرِينَ .
Kind speech and forgiveness are better than charity followed by injury. And Allah is Free of need and Forbearing. O you who have believed, do not invalidate your charities with reminders or injury as does one who spends his wealth [only] to be seen by the people and does not believe in Allah and the Last Day. His example is like that of a [large] smooth stone upon which is dust and is hit by a downpour that leaves it bare. They are unable [to keep] anything of what they have earned. And Allah does not guide the disbelieving people. [2:263-64]
Loan is the temporary giving of wealth to another person with a promise of return of it without any riba, i.e. adding to or subtracting from the original wealth that was given. The most important thing to remember about loans is this: Allah wants us to go easy on our debtors. The proof of this are the following hadiths:
May Allah show mercy to a man who adopts a kind attitude when he sells, buys and demands for the repayment of loans.[Al-Bukhari].
He who likes Allah to deliver him from the calamities of the Day of Resurrection, let him either give respite to a debtor or grant him remission (of loans) in straitened circumstances. [Muslim].
Whoever would like Allah to shade him with His shade, let him give respite to one in difficulty, or waive repayment of the loan. [ibn Majah]
A gift is something which you give to another person with a complete transfer of ownership on that article. Giving gifts increase love [al Adab al Mufrad]. It is also a highly recommended practice.
The most important thing to know about gifts is this: The moment you hand over the gift, all your claim on that article is gone, it no longer belongs to you. It is for the one receiving it, and they can do whatever they want with it– showcase it, give it to someone else, or throw it in the garbage.
The Messenger of Allah said: ‘The one who takes back his gift is like the dog which vomits then goes back to its vomit.’ [an Nasai]
Also, ‘No one should take back his gift except a father (taking back a gift) from his son.’ [an Nasai]
So whenever we give something to someone, we should ascertain to ourselves and them what is it we’re giving: charity, loan or gift, because as we saw, the rules concerning each is different.
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