Contributed by Jameel Kermalli (Sanford, USA)
Commentary by Allamah Taba Tabai (AR)
Al-Baqara (The Cow) 2:264 – O You 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 what they have earned.
And Allah guides not those who reject faith.
The context of the verses (261 – 274) indicates that they must have been revealed all together. Their theme is spending in the way of Allah. They begin with a parable to show that charity increases in the hands of Allah, one to seven hundred or even more, by the permission of Allah. Another parable shows that this increase is sure to happen; it cannot fail. They go to forbid insincerity in spending, that is, spending to show others how generous one is, and give one more parable to demonstrate the futility of this, that such spending does not increase and bears no fruit.
Also, they admonish the believers not to follow charity with reproach and injury, because these two evils nullify alms and make their reward forfeit. Then they say that spending should be from their good and lawful wealth, and not from unlawful or worthless things, as it shows niggardliness and miserliness. Thereafter they prescribe who should be given charity – the poor men who are besieged in the way of Allah. Finally it again reminds them of the great reward of charity which they shall find with Allah.
Believers – What Allah (SWT) Wants You To Know, Understand and Practice 66
In short, the verses exhort the believers to spend and explain to them the following things:
? First: The purpose of spending: It should be to seek the pleasure of Allah, not to show off to people.
? Second: The fashion and condition of this good work: It should not be followed by reproach and injury.
? Third: The quality of the wealth to be spent: It must be lawful and good, not unlawful or worthless.
? Fourth: The qualification of the receivers: It should be given to those poor who are besieged in the way of Allah.
? Fifth: The rewards of such spending in this world and in the next.
One of the two pillars of Islam is the Rights of the people; and spending for the welfare of the people is one of the things to which Islam pays the utmost attention. It exhorts a believer to spend for this purpose, and has laid down the rules and opened up the ways for such spending – some of these ways are obligatory and others highly recommended: zakat, khums (the one-fifth tax), penalties to expiate certain illegalities, various types of redemption, obligatory spending and recommended charities. Then there are laws to establish and regulate endowments, settlements for residence, or for life, wills, gifts and many similar things.
All this has been done to improve the living standards of the poor classes – the people who cannot meet their expenses without help from others. The intention of Islam is to raise their level to bring them nearer to the people of means.
On the other hand, it has strictly forbidden the rich people from pompous living and showing off their wealth. It has allowed them to live in a reasonable and honorable manner; but has prohibited extravagance and the squandering of wealth in a lavish style which is above the reach of the average person.
The aim of both sets of rules was to create a community life that would be neither too low nor too high, whose various groups would be nearer to each other, and would have a fairly uniform standard of life. Such a society would give life to the institution of unity and cooperation; and would eradicate conflicting designs and uproot enmity and antagonism. The Qur’an holds that the true religion must organize life in all its multifarious activities, putting it in order in such a way that man’s bliss is guaranteed in this life as well as in the next one. Such a religion will
Believers – What Allah (SWT) Wants You To Know, Understand and Practice 67
bless man with true knowledge, noble character and pleasant life; he will be free in this life to enjoy the bounties given to him by Allah, and to remove from himself unpleasant things and all types of misfortune.
This is a fact, the truth of which was demonstrated by the Prophet during his lifetime when he had the authority in his hands. He showed its correctness and demonstrated how it created a stable society, growing, developing and bearing good results.