Fruits for the Week

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The true Muslim prefers others to himself, even if he is poor because Islam teaches its followers to do so. This altruism is a basic characteristic of the true Muslim, which distinguishes him from other people.

The Ansaar, may Allah be pleased with them, were the first pioneers in altruism after the Prophet (saw) himself. A verse of the Qur’an was revealed commending their unique selflessness, which would remain for all time a shining example to the humanity of how generosity and altruism should be. They welcomed their Muhajir brothers, who had nothing, and gave them everything: “But those who before them, had homes (in Madinah) and had adopted the faith – show their affection to such as came to them for refuge, and entertain no desire in their hearts for things given to the (latter), but give them preference over themselves, even though poverty was their (own lot). And those who saved from the covetousness of their own souls – they are the ones that achieve prosperity.” (Qur’an 59: 9)

The life of the Prophet (saw) abounds with altruism, and he also instilled this attitude in the hearts of the first Muslims. Sahl ibn Sa’d (ra) reported: “A woman brought a woven garment (burdah) and said,’ I wove it with my own hands for you to wear.’ The Prophet (saw) took it, as he needed it. He came out to us, wearing it wrapped around his waist. So-and-so said, ‘Give it to me, how nice it is!’ The Prophet (saw) said, ‘Fine.’ The Prophet was sitting in a gathering, and when he came back, he folded up the burdah and sent it to that man. The people told the man: ‘You should not have done that. The Prophet wore it because he needed it, then you asked for it and you knew that he does not refuse the request.’ He said, ‘I did not ask for it so that I could wear it. I asked for it so that it could be my shroud.’ Sahl said: ‘And later on it was his shroud.’” (Bukhari)

The Prophet (saw) used to feel happy whenever he saw his teaching of altruism bearing fruits in the Muslims’ lives when there was some crisis such as drought or famine. This is seen in his words: “When a number of their men are killed in battle, or they do not have enough food for their children, the Ash’arees (a tribe) gather whatever they have in one cloth and share it out equally. They belong to me and I belong to them.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

The True Muslim is tolerant, easy-going, and treats others kindly. He hastens to alleviate the burden of the debtor, as the noble Qur’an tells him: “If the debtor is in a difficulty, grant him time till it is easy for him to repay.” (Qur’an 2: 280)

Islam wants the Muslim to be a human being before he is a creditor. So if he feels that his brother who is in debt is suffering some hardship, he recognizes his situation and makes some allowances for him. He postpones the date of payment until his brother is able to pay the debt, or he writes off a part of it. By doing this, he is obeying the commands of his Lord and performing a righteous deed that will save him from the hardships of the Day of Resurrection and shade him in the shade of the Almighty Throne of Allah (swt).

Abu Qatadah (ra) said: “I heard the Messenger of Allah (saw) said: ‘Whoever would like Allah to save him from the hardship of the Day of Resurrection, let him alleviate the burden of a debtor or write off part of the debt.’” (Muslim)

Abu Hurairah (ra) said: “The Messenger of Allah (saw) said: ‘Whoever allows a debtor to postpone payment, or writes off a part of the debt, Allah will place him under the shade of His Throne on the Day of Resurrection, the Day when there will be no shade except His.’” (Tirmidhi)

There are many hadiths on this topic, all of which confirm that a person’s lenience towards a debtor will not be wasted in the sight of Allah. It will be entered in the record of his good deed, and Allah the Most Gracious will compensate him for forgoing his brother’s debt by giving him something better. His shortcomings will be compensated for and he will be saved for the horrifying events of the Day when mankind is resurrected to meet the Lord of the Worlds.

Abu Hurayrah (ra) said: “The Messenger of Allah (swt) said: ‘There was a man who used to lend money to the people. He used to tell his employee: ‘If you come across any debtor who is in difficulty, let him off. Perhaps Allah will let us off.’ So when he met Allah, He let him off.’” (Bukhari and Muslim)

by Muhammad Ali Al-Hashimi

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