Connect with us
Advertisement

Islam and Charity

IQBAL EBRAHIM
UNDERSTANDING ISLAM

Charity is a concept that is part of and is preached by almost every religion of the world and is a way of bringing justice to society but more especially it is one way of easing the burdens that the less fortunate people in society suffer on a daily basis. ‘……to spend out of your substance, out of love for Him. For your kin, for orphans, for the needy, for the wayfarer and for those who ask….be steadfast in prayer and practice regular charity….’ (Quran 2: 177)

This is the essence of any religion, as such charity is central to a Muslim's life because Islam has made charity in the form of Zakaat as obligatory and binding upon all those who practice the faith. There are different forms of charity but the basic two forms of charity in Islam are the forms of obligatory and voluntary, called Zakaah and Sadaqah respectively.

The Zakaah contribution is compulsory upon us; Of the Five Pillars of Islam the third obligation upon a Muslim is “zakaah” – charity or the poor due. Muslims believe that everything in the universe belongs to Allah and that He has graciously entrusted humankind with the earth, its resources, etc. We are enjoined to earn and spend our wealth properly and nobly.  Giving zakaah, is a religious obligation that purifies the very wealth that we possess. Zakaah is the honorable act of setting aside a percentage of one’s yearly savings, once they have reached a certain threshold, for the sake of helping the poor and needy. By giving the yearly zakaah, the believers free themselves from the chains of self- centrism, greed and sheer materialism.

Sadaqah is a very wide term and is used in the Quran to cover all kinds of charity.  Examples of other charitable deeds are; "your salutation to people," "your enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong", "refraining from doing evil to any one", or a smile or a glass of water to a thirsty person, or they may even just utter a kindly word and so on. The circle of those toward whom an act of charity may be done is equally wide.

To give food to one's wife or one's children is called a charitable deed, while to maintain even one's self is not excluded from the category of charitable deeds. The Noble Prophet said, "Whatever you feed yourself with is a charity, and whatever you feed your children with is a charity, and whatever you feed your wife with is a charity, and whatever you feed your employee with is a charity." The doing of good to any or all of creation is also classed as charity; Planting something from which a person, bird or animal later eats or even seeks shelter also counts as charity.

'By no means shall you attain righteousness unless you give (freely as a charity) from that which you love; and whatever you spend Allah knows it well.' (Qur’an 3: 92).  'Whoever does an atom weight of good he shall see it (in his book), and whoever does an atom weight of evil he shall see it' (Qur’an 99: 7 – 8). The Bible says: ‘And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity’. 1 Corinthians 13: 13.

A Muslim is urged to care for others. He or she cares for their spiritual wellbeing as well as for their material welfare and this includes care for their individual needs as well as for the community / collective or social good.  Helping others is a basic rule of conduct in Islamic living for this is how a Muslim is characterized throughout the Qur'an: "And the believers, men and women, are protectors of one another; they enjoin that which is good / just and forbid the evil." (Quran 9: 71). And: "So give the kinsman his due, and to the needy and to the wayfarer. That is for those who seek Allah's countenance. And such are successful." Quran 30:38


To be charitable does not necessarily mean giving money, Even the spirit of kindness and well-wishing is part of charity.; look around you, there are so many people who need assistance, this could not necessarily be in monetary terms but it could be doing things like giving assistance to an invalid person to cross the road, a friendly smile, lending an ear to a stressed person, visiting the sick and the elderly who need company, there are so many orphans in society, how about paying them a visit and other such works.  A kind word is an act of charity; 'Kind words and forgiveness are better than a charity followed by injury' (Qur’an 2: 263).

Going even further, even to teach someone illiterate, to take the hand of someone blind, to guide someone who is lost and to aid one who has fallen – all are acts of generosity and charity. Even to remove from the road anything, which may cause hurt is considered a charitable deed. Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) said: "Most liked by Almighty Allah is the one who is most charitable and humanitarian to the people in general. And the most liked act is that of pleasing a Muslim or relieving him/her of some grief, or helping them when they are in debt, or saving one from hunger."

Due to life’s uncertainty it is much better for the Muslim to give away in charity during his lifetime before death overcomes him. Believers are urged to hurry with giving the charity and should not delay it unnecessarily. The Prophet (PBUH) was once asked about the best of all charities, so he said; 'The best charity is what you give during your life while you are in need of it.'

'The likeness of those who spend their money for Allah's sake is as the likeness of a grain (of corn), it grows seven ears, every single ear has a hundred grains, and Allah multiplies (increases the reward) for whom He wills, and Allah cares for all and is All Knowing' (Qur’an 2: 261).

The believer also should not follow up his charity by hurting the feelings of the one who receives it, for example by reminding him of the generosity. Doing so would only nullify the reward of the charity. 'O you who believe, cancel not your charities by reminders of your generosity, or by harm' (Qur’an 2: 264).

When one is unable to or may for some reason, not want to give charity to a person who is asking for it, he should kindly tell him without hurting his feelings. 'Kind words and forgiveness are better than a charity followed by injury' (Qur’an 2: 263). These are some of the Islamic etiquettes of giving charity, in the final analysis anyone who gives charity with a good intention always feels the inner peace and pleasure of having helped someone less fortunate. It is also a reminder that we should be thankful to our Creator for being blessed for being more fortunate than others.

'By no means shall you attain righteousness unless you give (freely as a charity) from that which you love; and whatever you spend Allah knows it well.' (Qur’an 3: 92). 'Who is he that will loan to Allah a beautiful loan which Allah will double unto his credit and multiply it many times?' (2: 245). There are many poor and needy people in society, let us fulfil our obligations to our Lord and Creator by assisting those in need.

Continue Reading

Columns

Is COVID-19 Flogging an Already Dead Economic Horse?

9th September 2020

The Central Bank has by way of its Monetary Policy Statement informed us that the Botswana economy is likely to contract by 8.9 percent over the course of the year 2020.

The IMF paints an even gloomier picture – a shrinkage of the order of 9.6 percent.  That translates to just under $2 billion hived off from the overall economic yield given our average GDP of roughly $18 billion a year. In Pula terms, this is about P23 billion less goods and services produced in the country and you and I have a good guess as to what such a sum can do in terms of job creation and sustainability, boosting tax revenue, succouring both recurrent and development expenditure, and on the whole keeping our teeny-weeny economy in relatively good nick.

This content is locked

Login To Unlock The Content!

Continue Reading

Columns

Union of Blue Bloods

9th September 2020

Joseph’s and Judah’s family lines conjoin to produce lineal seed

Just to recap, General Atiku, the Israelites were not headed for uncharted territory. The Promised Land teemed with Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. These nations were not simply going to cut and run when they saw columns of battle-ready Israelites approach: they were going to fight to the death.

This content is locked

Login To Unlock The Content!

Continue Reading

Columns

Security Sector Private Bills: What are they about?

9th September 2020

Parliament has begun debates on three related Private Members Bills on the conditions of service of members of the Security Sector.

The Bills are Prisons (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Police (Amendment) Bill, 2019 and Botswana Defence Force (Amendment) Bill, 2019. The Bills seek to amend the three statutes so that officers are placed on full salaries when on interdictions or suspensions whilst facing disciplinary boards or courts of law.

In terms of the Public Service Act, 2008 which took effect in 2010, civil servants who are indicted are paid full salary and not a portion of their emolument. Section 35(3) of the Act specifically provides that “An employee’s salary shall not be withheld during the period of his or her suspension”.

However, when parliament reformed the public service law to allow civil servants to unionize, among other things, and extended the said protection of their salaries, the process was not completed. When the House conferred the benefit on civil servants, members of the disciplined forces were left out by not accordingly amending the laws regulating their employment.

The Bills stated above seeks to ask Parliament to also include members of the forces on the said benefit. It is unfair not to include soldiers or military officers, police officers and prison waders in the benefit. Paying an officer who is facing either external or internal charges full pay is in line with the notion of ei incumbit probation qui dicit, non qui negat or the presumption of innocence; that the burden of proof is on the one who declares, not on one who denies.

The officers facing charges, either internal disciplinary or criminal charges before the courts, must be presumed innocent until proven otherwise. Paying them a portion of their salary is penalty and therefore arbitrary. Punishment by way of loss of income or anything should come as a result of a finding on the guilt by a competent court of law, tribunal or disciplinary board.

What was the rationale behind this reform in 2008 when the Public Service Act was adopted? First it was the presumption of innocence until proven otherwise.

The presumption of innocence is the legal principle that one is considered “innocent until proven guilty”. In terms of the constitution and other laws of Botswana, the presumption of innocence is a legal right of the accused in a criminal trial, and it is an international human right under the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 11.

Withholding a civil servant’s salary because they are accused of an internal disciplinary offense or a criminal offense in the courts of law, was seen as punishment before a decision by a tribunal, disciplinary board or a court of law actually finds someone culpable. Parliament in its wisdom decided that no one deserves this premature punishment.

Secondly, it was considered that people’s lives got destroyed by withholding of financial benefits during internal or judicial trials. Protection of wages is very important for any worker. Workers commit their salaries, they pay mortgages, car loans, insurances, schools fees for children and other things. When public servants were experiencing salary cuts because of interdictions, they lost their homes, cars and their children’s future.

They plummeted into instant destitution. People lost their livelihoods. Families crumbled. What was disheartening was that in many cases, these workers are ultimately exonerated by the courts or disciplinary tribunals. When they are cleared, the harm suffered is usually irreparable. Even if one is reimbursed all their dues, it is difficult to almost impossible to get one’s life back to normal.

There is a reasoning that members of the security sector should be held to very high standards of discipline and moral compass. This is true. However, other more senior public servants such as judges, permanent secretary to the President and ministers have faced suspensions, interdictions and or criminal charges in the courts but were placed on full salaries.

The yardstick against which security sector officers are held cannot be higher than the aforementioned public officials. It just wouldn’t make sense. They are in charge of the security and operate in a very sensitive area, but cannot in anyway be held to higher standards that prosecutors, magistrates, judges, ministers and even senior officials such as permanent secretaries.

Moreover, jail guards, police officers and soldiers, have unique harsh punishments which deter many of them from committing misdemeanors and serious crimes. So, the argument that if the suspension or interdiction with full pay is introduced it would open floodgates of lawlessness is illogical.

Security Sector members work in very difficult conditions. Sometimes this drives them into depression and other emotional conditions. The truth is that many seldom receive proper and adequate counseling or such related therapies. They see horrifying scenes whilst on duty. Jail guards double as hangmen/women.

Detectives attend to autopsies on cases they are dealing with. Traffic police officers are usually the first at accident scenes. Soldiers fight and kill poachers. In all these cases, their minds are troubled. They are human. These conditions also play a part in their behaviors. They are actually more deserving to be paid full salaries when they’re facing allegations of misconduct.

To withhold up to 50 percent of the police, prison workers and the military officers’ salaries during their interdiction or suspensions from work is punitive, insensitive and prejudicial as we do not do the same for other employees employed by the government.

The rest enjoy their full salaries when they are at home and it is for a good reason as no one should be made to suffer before being found blameworthy. The ruling party seems to have taken a position to negate the Bills and the collective opposition argue in the affirmative. The debate have just began and will continue next week Thursday, a day designated for Private Bills.

Continue Reading
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!