Sunday 13 January 2008


Allah says:

And they will ask you concerning the Ruh (soul), say; it is from the Command of my Lord, and I (Allah) have not given you knowledge (of it) except a little. (17:85)

The Ruh commonly translated as soul is a special non-physical spark of extremely refined light which Allah causes to enter the human physical shell. It was never a part of the universe. It does not die and does not enter the body of any other creature upon the death of the individual.

Just as how a tiny spark can glow or become a big flame, so too the Ruh can grow in the body and permeate all the cells of the person. When the light of the soul reaches all the cells the person will begin to have real "religious experience" called in the Holy Qur'an Al Yaqeen, and translated as certainty.

But in order to do so there must be the right condition in the body; just as how the flame can only burn if it gets oxygen and breeze. On the other hand if it is covered with carbon dioxide it will go out.

For the human being the permissible things are the ingredients to make the light of the soul spread and the prohibited things are like the carbon dioxide to the fire. When the light of the soul is prevented from reaching the cells of the body, the body will burn in the Hell Fire.

The mission of life is to allow the light of the soul to spread. Prophet Muhammad (pboh) is reported to have said:

Verily, Allah created the elements of man in darkness, then He infused unto them His Light. He who received the light and made use of it received the right guidance, and he who erred was led astray.

He also used to pray as follows:
O Allah, let there be light in my heart, in my sight, in my hearing, on my right side, on my left side, in front of me and behind me. Let there be light in my nerves, in my blood, in my flesh in my hair and in my limbs. O Allah make me light.

The body is made from earth. Allah says:

He it is Who created you from clay, and then decreed a stated term (for you). (6:2)

Our mission in life is, on one hand, to decorate our bodies with beautiful colors and designs, just as the potter takes a piece of clay (ceramic) and shapes and decorate it. On the other hand we are ordained by the Lord of the worlds to polish and shine it, just as the worker will take a piece of stone (metal) and polish it and shine it till it becomes a beautiful diamond or some other expensive ornament.

Our mission in life is to change our small piece of earth which (i.e. our bodies) into another piece resembling a beautiful jewel. Perhaps, it is in this context Allah says in the Holy Qur'an:

The day the earth will be changed into another earth. (14:48)

The goldsmith takes the piece of metal which is a piece of stone taken from the ground, heats it, beats it, makes designs on it and finally produces a beautiful piece of jewel. So too, the human being can accept the trials of the world as the process for refining the personality. If we can withstand the heating and beating (trials of life) and emerge successful, we will be able to absorb the Light of the Lord inside of us and become a jewel in the presence of man and a gem for the Hereafter.

Allah says:

And the earth will shine with the Light of the Lord. (39:69)

There are personalities of bygone times who were able to polish their pieces of the earth, to such an extent, that they are today called saints. Their bodies were not different from ours, but the life style made them outstanding. They submitted to the Lord as He ordained, and when their neighbors, families and friends were enjoying the material life they were toiling (in the night) to improve their relationship with the Creator, and in the day they were humbly submitting to His commands.

Believers are expected to work ceaselessly by upholding the Islamic principles of submission, to polish and brighten their souls so that the light of them can penetrate the cells of the bodies and make them bright. Allah says:

Allah is the Protector of those who have faith; from the depths of darkness He will lead them forth into light. Of those who reject faith their patrons are the evil ones; from the light they will lead them forth into the depth of darkness. They will be the companions of the fire. They will dwell therein forever. (2:257)

With pain and suffering, with trials and tribulations, with the numerous challenges of life, the believer undertakes the journey; all the time hoping for Allah's Grace and praying that the Light of the Lord will ultimately reach his heart. Along with these programs of activities he prays sincerely as follows:

O our Lord, perfect our light for us, and grant us Forgiveness, for surely, You have power over all things. (66:8)

May the Gracious and Merciful Lord bless every believer, fill his or her heart with light, instill in his personality humility, and fill his mind with sincerity, so that he will live and love for the sake of Allah alone. May He cause every one of us to leave this world believing in His Oneness.


What is the Islamic definition of Charity?

The Qur'an has used different terms to describe charity. Some of these are:
· Infaq fi sabeel Allah (spending in the way of Allah). Infaq means spending benevolently.
· Ihsaan meaning the doing of good, or kindness and consideration.
· Zakah meaning growth and purification.
· Sadaqah derived from the root sidq meaning truth. It is used to signify charitable acts.
· Khayraat meaning good deeds.

How does Prophet Muhammad (pboh) define Charity?

Prophet Muhammad (pboh) is reported to have said:

Every good act is charity. Your smiling to your brother is charity; an exhortation of your fellowmen to virtuous deeds is equal to alms-giving; your putting a wanderer on the right road is charity; your assisting the blind is charity; your removing stones, and thorns, and any other obstructions from the road is charity; your giving water to the thirsty is charity.

We normally say that Allah provides for everyone; then must a person give charity?

Giving charity serves a number of purposes. Some of these are:

· It is like giving to Allah a goodly loan which He will pay back on the Day of Judgment by multiplying the amount many times. He says in the Holy Qur'an:
Who is he that will loan to Allah a beautiful loan which Allah will double unto his credit and multiply many times? (2:245)

· It is a form of saving for the Hereafter. Prophet Muhammad (pboh) is reported to have said:
When a person dies the angel will ask; what good deeds has he sent before him.

· According to teachings of Islam the giving of charity serves as the expiation of sins. For example if a person should break his fast deliberately in the month of Ramada, he might be required to keep sixty days of fasting, or feed the poor as is prescribed.

· Sometimes when a person commits a transgression, if he gives charity it may compensate for the sin he would have committed.

· Charity also gives protection of some kinds of sins.

· Charity wards off affliction in this world, questioning in the grave, and punishment in the Hereafter. Allah says:

Those who (in charity) spend of their goods by night and by day, in secret and in public, have their reward with their Lord. On them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve. (2:224)

What are some of the things a person should keep in mind when giving charity?

· The charity must be something beneficial and must have some sort of value to the recipient.
· It must be something that was lawfully earned; as it is not correct to take unlawful wealth, etc. and give it as charity.
· It must be something that can be referred to as the bounty of Allah.
· It should be things that will benefit others, even if it may, at the time be of little value to the giver, e.g. used clothes, etc.
· It must not be from ill gotten gains, e.g. a bandit may rob somebody and give the money as charity.
· Charity should be given solely for the sake of Allah. In the Holy Qur'an Allah says:
Don't the people understand that Allah accepts repentance from His votaries and receives their gifts of charity? (9:104)

I understand that there must not be any condition when charity is given; would you like to comment on this?

· Because charity is given solely for the sake of Allah there must not be any condition attached to it.
· The giver of charity must not expect any kind of reward or benefit from the recipient of it.
· It must not be followed by reference or reminders. Allah says:
Those who spend their substance in the cause of Allah, and do not follow up their gifts with reminders of their generosity. (2:262)
· It should not be the cause of annoyance or embarrassment to the recipient. Allah says:
`Kinds words and covering of faults are better than charity followed by injury. (2:263)
· It must not be done for show.
· It must be given to those in need.

I understand that there are two basic types of charity in Islam. They are called Zakat and Sadaqa. Can you explain something about them?

Zakaat is normally called poor tax, i.e. money is taken out once every year from the wealthy and given to the poor believers; sadaqa is charity; it must given to those in need.

Zakaat purifies ones wealth; sadaqa is just a good act.

Zakaat must be spent in accordance with Divine guidance; sadaqa is optional and can be given at any time.

Zakaat is taken out from certain categories of assets; sadaqa can be anything.

Zakaat is a fundamental principle of Islam; sadaqa is left to the individual's generosity.

Zakaat is meant to better the economic and social life of the believers; sadaqa is meant to better the lives of humanity at large.

Zakaat is a fixed rate; sadaqa is limitless.

You said that Zakaat is given to specific types of believers; who are such persons who are entitled to receive Zakaat?

Those entitled to benefit from Zakaat include the following:

· Men who have been weaned from hostility to Truth, who would probably be persecuted by their former associates, and require assistance until they establish new connections in their new environment.
· Those in bondage, literally and figuratively; captives of war must be released; slaves should be helped to freedom; those in bondage of ignorance or superstition or unfavorable environment should be helped to develop themselves.
· Those who are held in the grips of debt should be helped to economic freedom.
· Those who are struggling and striving in Allah's cause by teaching or fighting or in duties assigned to them by the Islamic State and they are unable to earn their ordinary livelihood.
· Strangers stranded on the way.
· Any believer who might find himself or herself in such a condition that they may need some help, will be entitled to benefit from Zakaat.

Charity should not be given for show; can you elaborate on this principle?

Poverty is a terrible thing; and because it can come upon anyone, we need to treat the less fortunate with dignity. While it is true there are those who feel they have a right to receive Zakaat, there who those who are in need but do not ask, such people must be helped without advertising it. Allah says:

Charity is for those in need, who, in Allah's cause are restricted and cannot move about in the land, seeking (trade or work). The ignorant man thinks that because of their modesty they are free from want; but you shall know them by the expression on their faces. They do not beg openly from everyone. And whatever of good you give, know that Allah is well aware. (2:273)

Secret charity gives no encouragement to begging. It saves the receiver from being verbally abused. It helps the giver to conceal his charity. It saves a person the humiliation of accepting charity in the presence of others. It removes doubt in the minds of others as to the extent of charity a person is receiving. Allah says:

If you disclose (acts of) charity, even so it is well; but if you conceal them, and make them reach those (really) in need, that is best for you. It will remove from you some of your evil. (2:271)

But we see that in the time of Prophet Muhammad (pboh) some of the companions give charity openly, like Abu Bakr gave the Prophet (pboh) all that he had at the time?

Sometimes, it might be better to give charity in public, as long as it is not done for show. It causes a person to show gratefulness. It causes one to become humble. It might be an example others will like to follow.

Who should give charity; is it only the wealthy, or can anyone give something in charity?

Prophet Muhammad (pboh) is reported to have said:
Charity is a necessity for every Muslim. He was asked; what if a person has nothing? He replied; He should work with his own hands for his benefit and then give something out of such earnings in charity. The Companions asked; What if he is not able to work? He replied, He should help poor and needy persons. The Companions further asked; What if he cannot do even that? He said: He should urge others to do good. And if he lacks that also? The Prophet (pboh) said: He should check himself from doing evil. That is also charity.

We see from this Tradition that no one is exempt from giving charity in some form or fashion. Prophet Muhammad (pboh) is reported to have said:
There is no limit to charity; your smile for your brother is charity; your removal of stones, thorns or bones from the path is charity, your guidance of a person who is lost is charity.

In another Tradition he said: To do justice to your brother is charity.

We are told that Prophet Muhammad (pboh) who was the most generous of persons, was especially generous in the Holy Month of Ramadan; is there any reason why this was so?

First of all we must understand that Ramadan is a special month. In this month the Generous Lord multiplies the reward for doing good more than in any other month. Every good deed is rewarded tremendously.

Remember, in the Hereafter, you will only receive what you sent before you.

Another important thing is that during the month of fasting, a lot of people may not have anything to start of break their fast, that is why feeding the fasting person is so important. In the time of the Prophet (pboh), there were so many people in need that he used to give and give all the time.

Is there any kind of charity that a person can give that can earn for him continuous rewards?

One of the best forms of such charities is to promote knowledge. Prophet Muhammad (pboh) has indicated that the best person is the one who learns the Qur'an and teaches it.

Also any kind and generous act that will benefit humanity; as long as they receive benefit, the doer of the act will receive blessing.

Ramadan is the month in which people take out their Zakaat; would you like to comment on this?

Zakaat is paid on taxable assets (from the Zakaat point of view) that remain with a person for a year. Ramadan is a good time to calculate, as it is easy to calculate from Ramadan to Ramadan.

Also, because the blessings are multiplied more and more in Ramadan, if a person should pay his Zakaat during this month, he is assured of more in this world as well as in the next.


Allah says:

Verily, this is the honourable Qur'an written in the Preserved Tablet. (56:77)

If one from amongst the Pagans asks thee for asylum, grant it to him, so that he may hear the Word of Allah. (9:6)

The Qur'an is the Word of Allah; as a result it is unique. It is the only entity that came directly from Allah to man. Of course, it was sent through Angel Gabriel. Before it was even recited, Gabriel impressed it in the heart of the Prophet (pboh), thereafter; the recitation became easy, as the verses were not revealed in chronological order. Recitation, intonation, meaning and the wisdom contained in the messages of the divinely revealed verses were given to the Prophet (pboh) over a period of twenty three years.

The Qur'an existed long before Allah created the universe. Prophet Muhammad (pboh) is reported to have said:

Allah recited Surahs Taaha and Yaseen one thousand years before creation. When the angels heard them they said: how fortunate are they on whom they (the chapters) will be revealed; how fortunate are those who commit them to memory; how fortunate are those tongues that shall recite them. (Ghazali, Ihya)

Being the Word of Allah, the Qur'an has a special combination of vibrations which cannot be reproduced, nor can it be ever matched by any creature. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why Allah says:

Had We sent down this Qur'an on a mountain, surely, you would have seen it humble itself and cleave asunder, for fear of Allah. (59:21)

Muslims are therefore, very blessed to have been the recipient of this divine formula. Prophet Muhammad (pboh) is reported to have said:

A reciter of the Qur'an belongs to the family of Allah, and is His sincere servant.

When the Qur'an is being recited the vibrations contained in the words impact on those who recite as well as those who listen to the recitation. It purifies them and polishes their souls. The Noble Messenger is reported to have said:

Rust falls on the heart as it falls on iron. When asked: how can the rust of the heart be removed? He replied: By reciting the Qur'an and remembering death.

Recitation of this Holy Book does not only help us in this life; it will be one of our greatest helper in the Next. The Prophet (pboh) is reported to have said:

Prophets, angels or anybody else cannot be better intercessors in ranks than the Qur'an.

The Qur'an contains knowledge of the past, present and future. We read about the fall of Adam, the murder of Abel, the confrontation of Pharaoh by Moses; the destruction of Aad and Samuud, the Story of Joseph, etc. from the Holy Book. We are told about the effects of man's activities on the environment and the consequences of disobedience; and the next phase in the evolution of the universe is clearly written in the Book.

It is interesting to know that long, long before the universe was created Allah had already stated that there will be believers (ashaabul yameen) and non-believers, (ashaabul shimaal); how they both will behave and what will be the consequences of their actions. It means that whatever is happening is in the knowledge of Allah and cannot be questioned by us. What should be our concern is to live in conformity with the Divine Prescription contained in the Book and, in addition read it "for the pleasure of Allah".

Our New Year Resolution should be: We are going to recite the words of the Book, for the sake and pleasure of Allah; and if we cannot recite it, we shall spend some time listening to it.

Some people are of the view that we waste time reciting the Qur'an in Arabic, as we are unable to understand what we read. In this connection it is useful to place on record what Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal said; he said: I saw Allah in a dream, and asked Him; O Allah, for what thing one can come near to You? He (Allah) said: O Ahmad, by means of My Kalaam. I asked Him, O Lord, by means of understanding it or not? He said, Yes, whether you understand its meaning or not.

Except the Prophet (pboh), no one can fully grasp all the meanings of the words contained in the words, even then the companions used to read the Book excessively. Hazraats Umar and Uthmaan used to recite it once every week. Hazraat Ali said:

If I wish I can load seventy camels with the Tafseer (commentary) of Surah Fateha.

For us humble believers, it will be a very good thing if we can allocate some extra time for recitation of this noble Book in the coming year, as it will definitely help to become more enlightened.

And we should try to know more of the messages contained in it, and teach others what we know, as the Prophet (pboh) is reported to have said:

The best person is he who learns the Qur'an and teaches it.

May Allah bless everyone with a peaceful and prosperous new year.