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Surah Al Baqra Verses 261-270

261 The parable of those who spend their substance in the way of Allah is that of a grain of corn: it groweth seven ears and each ear hath a hundred grains. Allah giveth manifold increase to whom He pleaseth; and Allah careth for all and He knoweth all things.

262 Those who spend their substance in the cause of Allah and follow not up their gifts with reminders of their generosity or with injury for them their reward is with their Lord; on them shall be no fear nor shall they grieve.

263 King words and the covering of faults are better than charity followed by injury. Allah is free of all wants and he is Most Forbearing. 309

264 O ye who believe! cancel not your charity by reminders of your generosity or by injury like those who spend their substance to be seen of men but believe neither in Allah nor in the last day. They are in Parable like a hard barren rock on which is a little soil; on it falls heavy rain which leaves it (just) a bare stone. They will be able to do nothing with aught they have earned. And Allah guideth not those who reject faith. 310

265 And the likeness of those who spend their substance seeking to please Allah and to strengthen their souls is as a garden high and fertile: heavy rain falls on it but makes it yield a double increase of harvest and if it receives not heavy rain light moisture sufficeth it. Allah seeth well whatever ye do. 311

266 Does any of you wish that he should have a garden with date-palms and vines and streams flowing underneath and all kinds of fruit while he is stricken with old age and his children are not strong (enough to look after themselves) that it should be caught in a whirlwind with fire therein and be burnt up? Thus doth Allah make clear to you (His) signs; that ye may consider. 312 313

267 O ye who believe! give of the good things which ye have (honorably) earned and of the fruits of the earth which We have produced for you and do not even aim at getting anything which is bad in order that out of it ye may give away something when ye yourselves would not receive it except with closed eyes. And know that Allah is free of all wants and worthy of all praise. 314 315 316 317

268 The Evil One threatens you with poverty and bids you to conduct unseemly. Allah promiseth you His forgiveness and bounties and Allah careth for all and He knoweth all things. 318

269 He granteth wisdom to whom He pleaseth; and he to whom wisdom is granted receiveth indeed a benefit overflowing; but none will grasp the message but men of understanding.

270 And whatever ye spend in charity or devotion be sure Allah knows it all. But the wrong-doers have no helpers.


Commentry:

309 A very high standard is set for charity. (1) It must be in the way of God. (2) It must expect no reward in this world. (3) It must not be followed by references or reminders to the act of charity. (4) Still less should any annoyance or injury be caused to the recipient; e.g. by boasting that the giver relieved the person in the hour of need. Indeed, the kindness and the spirit which turns a blind eye to other people's faults or short-comings is the essence of charity: these things are better than charity if charity is spoilt by tricks that do harm. At the same time, while no reward is to be expected, there is abundant reward from God - material, moral, and spiritual - according to His own good pleasure and plan. If we spend in the way of God, it is not as if God was in need of our charity. On the contrary our short-comings are so great that we require His utmost forbearance before any good that we can do can merit His praise or reward. Our motives are so mixed that our best may really be very poor if judged by a very strict standard. (2.263)

310 False charity, "to be seen of men", is really no charity. It is worse, for it betokens a disbelief in God and the Hereafter. "God seeth well whatever ye do" (ii. 265). It is compared to a hard barren rock on which by chance has fallen a little soil. Good rain, which renders fertile soil more fruitful, washes away the little soil which this rock had, and exposes its nakedness. What good can hypocrites derive even from the little wealth they may have amassed? (2.264)

311 True charity is like a field with good soil on a high situation. It catches good showers of rain, the moisture penetrates the soil, and yet its elevated situation keeps it well-drained, and healthy favorable conditions increase its output enormously. But supposing even that the rain is not abundant, it catches dew and makes the most of any little moisture it can get, and that is sufficient for it. So a man of true charity is spiritually helathy; he is best suited to attract the bounties of God, which he does not hoard selfishly but circulates freely. In lean times he still produces good works, and is content with what he has. He looks to God's pleasure and the strengthening of his own soul. (2.265)

312 The truly spiritual nature of charity having been explained in three parables (ii. 261, 264, 265) a fourth parable is now added, explaining its bearing on the whole of our life. Suppose we had a beautiful garden well-watered and fertile, with delightful views of streams, and a haven of rest for mind and body; suppose old age were creeping in on us, and our children were either too young to look after themselves or too feeble in health; how should we feel if a sudden whirlwind came with lightning or fire in its train, and burnt it up; thus blasting whe whole of our hopes for the present and for the future, and destroying the result of all our labor and savings in the past? Well, this life of ours is a probation. We may work hard, we may save, we may have good luck. We may make ourselves a goodly pleasance, and have ample means of support for ourselves and our children. A great whirlwind charged with lightning and fire comes and burns up the whole show. We are too old to begin again: our children are too young or feeble to help us to repair the mischief. Our chance is lost, because we did not provide against such a contingency. The whirlwind is the "wrath to come"; the provision against it is a life of true charity and righteousness, which is the only source of true and lasting happiness in this world and the next. Without it we are subject to all the vicissitudes of this uncertain life. We may even spoil our so-called "charity" by insisting on the obligation which others owe to us or by doing some harm, because our motives are not pure. (2.266)

313 Not strong (enough): dhu'afa-u: literally weak, decrepit, infirm, possibly referring to both health and will or character. (2.266)

314 According to the English proverb "Charity covers a multitude of sins". Such a sentiment is strongly disapproved in Islam. Charity has value only if (1) something good and valuable is given, (2) which has been honorably earned or acquired by the giver, or (3) which is produced in nature and can be referred to as a bounty of God. (1) May include such things as are of use and value to others though they may be of less use to us or superfluous to us on account of our having acquired something more suitable for our station in life; for example, discarded clothes, or an old horse or a used motor car; but if the horse is vicious, or the car engine so far gone that it is dangerous to use, then the gift is worse than useless; it is positively harmful and the giver is a wrong-doer. (2) Applies to fraudulent company-promoters, who earn great credit by giving away charity in some of their ill-gotten gains, or to robbers (even if they call themselves by high-sounding names) who "rob peter to pay Paul". Islam will have nothing to do with tainted property. Its economic code requires that every gain should be honest and honorable. Even "charity" would not cover or destroy the taint. (3) Lays down a test in cases of a doubtful gain. Can we refer to it as a gift of God? Obviously the produce of honest labour or agriculture can be so referred to. In modern commerce and speculation there is much of quite the contrary character, and charity will not cover the taint. Some kind of art, skill, or talent are God-given: it is the highest kind of charity to teach them or share their product. Others are the contrary: they are bad or tainted. In the same way some professions or services may be tainted, if these tend to do moral harm. (2.267)

315 The preceding note tries to indicate some of the things which are bad or tainted. We should not even think of acquiring them for ourselves, soothing our conscience by the salve that we shall practice charity out of them. (2.267)

316 Closed eyes imply disgust or connivance because of some feature which we would not openly acknowledge. (2.267)

317 To dedicate tainted things to God is a dishonor to God, Who is independent of all wants, and Who is worthy of all honor and praise. (2.267)

318 Good and evil draw us opposite ways and by opposite motives, and the contrast is well marked out in charity. When we think of doing some real act of kindness or charity, we are assailed with doubts and fear of impoverishment; but Evil supports any tendency to selfishness, greed, or even to extravagant expenditure for show, or self-indulgence, or unseemly appetites. On the other hand, God draws us on to all that is kind and good, for that way lies the forgiveness of our sins, and greater real prosperity and satisfaction. No kind or generous act ever ruined anyone. It is false generosity that is sometimes shown as leading to ruin. As God knows all our motives and cares for all, and has everything in His power, it is obvious which course a wise man will choose. But wisdom is rare, and it is only wisdom that can appreciate true well-being and distinguish it from the false appearance of well-being. (2.268)

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