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Quranic Terminology: Truth/True/Truly/Truthful: (4) Regarding Charity Donations

Quranic Terminology: Truth/True/Truly/Truthful: (4) Regarding Charity Donations

Published in November 18, 2017

Translated by: Ahmed Fathy


1- There are those who donate US$ millions for charity venues; this might not be intended to please Almighty God. There are those who donate very little but intend sincerely and truthfully to please Almighty God; this is a true expression of truth monotheistic belief in Allah. This is why in Quranic tongue, and the Arabic tongue, donations or alms literally means (truthfulness), sadaqa in Arabic, indicating benevolence and sincere, true belief in God. this means that charity donations in the Quranic contexts are directly linked to truth or true faith. 

2- Many words of the Arabic tongue have their meanings indicated in their morphological roots; the Arabic root s/d/q (i.e., true) gives us the Arabic words for donation and sincere, true friend. The Quranic text introduces new words to the Arabic tongue: Zakat (which is charity money) also literally means to purify and recommend oneself with good deeds. Hence, donations money which are not linked to true, sincere belief in God and piety are null/void and never reward by God. God says in the Quran: "Kind words and forgiveness are better than charity (sadaqa) followed by insults..." (2:263); "O you who believe! Do not nullify your charitable deeds with condescension and hurtful words..." (2:264). About the link between charity donations and truthfulness, we provide some details in the points below.   


Firstly: Quranic commands urging believers to donate for charity:

1- God commands us to spend money for His sake before we die and feel sorry because it will be too late to perform more good deeds: "And give from what We have provided for you, before death approaches one of you, and he says, "My Lord, if only You would delay me for a short while, so that I may be charitable, and be one of the righteous."" (63:10).

2- God urges real believers to donate money for charity by promising large rewards from Him in the Hereafter: "The parable of those who spend their wealth in God's way is that of a grain that produces seven spikes; in each spike is a hundred grains. God multiplies for whom He wills. God is Bounteous and Knowing" (2:261); "And the parable of those who spend their wealth seeking God's approval, and to strengthen their souls, is that of a garden on a hillside. If heavy rain falls on it, its produce is doubled; and if no heavy rain falls, then dew is enough. God is seeing of everything you do. Would anyone of you like to have a garden of palms and vines, under which rivers flow-with all kinds of fruit in it for him, and old age has stricken him, and he has weak children-then a tornado with fire batters it, and it burns down? Thus God makes clear the signs for you, so that you may reflect." (2:265-266); "Those who spend their wealth by night and day, privately and publicly, will receive their reward from their Lord. They have nothing to fear, nor shall they grieve." (2:274); "The charitable men and charitable women, who have loaned God a loan of righteousness-it will be multiplied for them, and for them is a generous reward." (57:18).


Secondly: sadaqa or charity donation within Quranic legislations:

1- Harming poor ones who receive charity donations by words showing condescension and hypocrisy nullifies rewards of charity as it is deemed untrue and insincere: "Kind words and forgiveness are better than charity followed by insults. God is Rich and Clement. O you who believe! Do not nullify your charitable deeds with condescension and hurtful words..." (2:263-264). 

2- Some of those who donate for charity sometimes show this in public but not hypocritically; rather, in order to encourage others to donate for charity for the sake of the poor. Hence, giving alms in public is OK and so is donating in private in some other cases so as not to hurt feelings of the needy. In both cases, one is to be true, sincere to God within piety as one measures conditions of each case: "If you give charity openly, that is good. But if you keep it secret, and give it to the needy in private, that is better for you. It will atone for some of your misdeeds. God is cognizant of what you do." (2:271). Thus, what of vital importance is the type feelings of piety derived from donating money for charity, as per the great Quranic sharia legislations of God.  

3- It is an obligation imposed by our Lord God that charity money must be from money earned through honest means and legal sources: "O you who believe! Give of the good things you have earned, and from what We have produced for you from the earth. And do not pick the inferior things to give away, when you yourselves would not accept it except with eyes closed. And know that God is Sufficient and Praiseworthy." (2:267).

4- We tackle in the points below the categories of those who deserve charity donations.

4/1: About obligatory zakat money collected and regulated by a given Quran-based country from all citizens, we read the following verse: "Charities are for the poor, and the destitute, and those who administer them, and for reconciling hearts, and for freeing slaves, and for those in debt, and in the path of God, and for the traveler in need-an obligation from God. God is All-Knowing, Most Wise." (9:60).

4/2: Individual donations are surplus money-sums which are not needed by donators, who are neither stingy nor extravagant, and such donations are granted to certain categories of people: "...And they ask you about what they should give: say, "The surplus."..." (2:219); "And those who, when they spend, are neither wasteful nor stingy, but choose a middle course between that." (25:67); "They ask you what they should give. Say, "Whatever charity you give is for the parents, and the relatives, and the orphans, and the poor, and the wayfarer. Whatever good you do, God is aware of it." (2:215). 

4/3: Charity donations are to be paid for this special category of impecunious immigrants who fled religious persecution and seek to please God, and they are shy to ask for anything from anyone: "It is for the poor; those who are restrained in the way of God, and unable to travel in the land. The unaware would think them rich, due to their dignity. You will recognize them by their features. They do not ask from people insistently. Whatever charity you give, God is aware of it." (2:273).

4/4: Those who deserve receiving charity donations are not necessarily guided persons; they are to be helped regardless of their religious denominations (or even lack of any), and regardless of their being sinners or righteous people since they are needy. God has said the following to Muhammad: "Their guidance is not your responsibility, but God guides whom He wills. Any charity you give is for your own good. Any charity you give shall be for the sake of God. Any charity you give will be repaid to you in full, and you will not be wronged." (2:272).  

5- We tackle in the points below charity donations versus usury (i.e., moneylending with interest rates).

5/1: Some of the companions of Muhammad in Arabia used to practice usury instead of donating charity money to the poor and the needy, and they were reluctant to lend money without interest. God warns them against Hell for eternity in case they die without repentance: "Those who swallow usury will not rise, except as someone driven mad by Satan's touch. That is because they say, "Commerce is like usury." But God has permitted commerce, and has forbidden usury. Whoever, on receiving advice from his Lord, refrains, may keep his past earnings, and his case rests with God. But whoever resumes-these are the dwellers of the Fire, wherein they will abide forever." (2:275).   

5/2: God compares in this verse between donating charity money to the poor for the sake of God and moneylending within usury: "God condemns usury, and He blesses charities. God does not love any sinful disbeliever." (2:276). Hence, usurers are very sinful type of disbelievers.

5/3: God has warned severely those usurers who were believers in terms of peaceful demeanor to stop moneylending with the poor in lieu of donating money for charity, and they were to retrieve the money they lent to borrowers without interest rates if they feared the Lord God in piety, and to postpone taking the debts-money from those who were needy or to waive these sums out of charity: "O you who believe! Fear God, and forgo what remains of usury, if you are believers. If you do not, then take notice of a war by God and His messenger. But if you repent, you may keep your capital, neither wronging, nor being wronged. But if he is in hardship, then deferment until a time of ease. But to remit it as charity is better for you, if you only knew." (2:278-280). 

6- Charity donations within other domains include the following points. 

6/1: Charity donations are paid within pilgrimage rituals: "And carry out the Hajj and the Umrah for God. But if you are prevented, then whatever is feasible of offerings. And do not shave your heads until the offering has reached its destination. Whoever of you is sick, or has an injury of the head, then redemption of fasting, or charity, or worship..." (2:196).

6/2: Charity donations are paid for atonement and expiation of sins: "Others have confessed their sins, having mixed good deeds with bad deeds. Perhaps God will redeem them. God is Forgiving and Merciful. Receive contributions from their wealth, to purify them and sanctify them with it; and pray for them. Your prayer is comfort for them. God is Hearing and Knowing. Do they not know that God accepts the repentance of His servants, and that He receives the contributions, and that God is the Acceptor of Repentance, the Merciful? Say, "Work. God will see your work, and so will His messenger, and the believers. Then you will be returned to the Knower of secrets and declarations, and He will inform you of what you used to do."" (9:102-105).

6/3: Donating diyya money (i.e., money paid as compensation for physical harm done) for charity instead of accepting and spending it: "And We wrote for them in it: a life for a life, an eye for an eye, a nose for a nose, an ear for an ear, a tooth for a tooth, and an equal wound for a wound; but whoever forgoes it in charity, it will serve as atonement for him. Those who do not rule according to what God revealed are the unjust ones." (5:45).

6/4: Donating diyya money (i.e., money paid to the family of a victim as compensation for manslaughter) for charity instead of the dead person's family accepting and spending it: "Never should a believer kill another believer, unless by error. Anyone who kills a believer by error must set free a believing slave, and pay compensation to the victim's family, unless they remit it as charity..." (4:92).

6/5: Dowries paid by husbands to wife are literally in Quranic/Arabic tongue expressed by the term sadaaq, a word derived from the Arabic root s/d/q (i.e., true), and some wives repay some of such sums of dowries to their husbands charitably and kindly and out of love to be spend in the household after they live together as man and wife: "Give women their dowries graciously. But if they willingly forego some of it, then consume it with enjoyment and pleasure." (4:4).


Thirdly: charity donations and hypocrites during the era of Muhammad:

1- The stances of hypocrites toward charity donations include the following points.

1/1: Some hypocrites who did not deserve charity money were greedy and coveted to have shares of this money: "And among them are those who criticize you in regard to charities. If they are given some of it, they become pleased; but if they are not given any, they grow resentful." (9:58).

1/2: Some hypocrites donated for charity conditionally and then renege on their promises and vows: "Among them are those who promised God: "If He gives us of His bounty, we will donate and be among the upright." But when He has given them of His bounty, they became stingy with it, and turned away in aversion." (9:75-76).

1/3: Some hypocrites ridiculed those who donate charity money for military endeavors, and this shows that donating money for self-defense jihad endeavors is part of donating charity money within Islam: "Those who criticize the believers who give charity voluntarily and ridicule those who find nothing to give except their own efforts - God ridicules them. They will have a painful torment." (9:79).

2- Between charity donations and hypocrites and their secret counsel to spoil Islamic Shura consultation done collectively:

2/1: Affluent, haughty hypocrites in the Yathreb city-state hated direct democracy of the Islamic Shura consultation as it involves all inhabitants of Yathreb indiscriminately; hence, they engaged into rumormongering through secret counsel to spoil this Shura: "Counsels in secret to conspire are from Satan, that he may dishearten those who believe; but he will not harm them in the least, except by leave of God. So let the believers put their trust in God." (58:10).

2/2: This secret counsel should have been for the sake of good deeds including donating money for charity: "There is no good in much of their private counsels, except for him who advocates charity, or kindness, or reconciliation between people. Whoever does that, seeking God's approval, We will give him a great compensation." (4:114). Those who sought private counsel with Muhammad have been commanded by God to donate money for charity, and if they were poor, they should purify their souls with acts of worship; God says in the Quran: "O you who believe! When you converse privately with the messenger, offer something in charity before your conversation. That is better for you, and purer. But if you do not find the means-God is Forgiving and Merciful. Are you reluctant to offer charity before your conversation? If you do not do so, and God pardons you, then perform the prayer, and purify your souls, and obey God and His messenger. God is Aware of what you do." (58:12-13).

  As always, God says nothing but the Absolute Truth. 

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