Though my taste for bollywood music has diminished over the last few years, but I still love to enjoy some occasional light music and gazals in the evening. Very recently, while returning home from the second Taraweeh of the holy month of Ramadan, a soothing voice hit my eardrums, and I couldn't resist my urge to increase the volume of my transistor set to have the melody and euphony of the gazal. It was the famous Nida Fazili couplet “Ghar Say Masjid Hai Buhut dhoor Chalo Yun Karlain, Kisi Roatay Huyai Bachay ko Ha'nsaya Jayay". (Mosque is too far from home, so let's pledge to bring smiles to a crying child in despair) which scratched the closed corners of my conscience.
It stirred my thought process, and scores of sambre faces began to flash upon my mind who crave for a few morsels of rice and dal, who don't manage a plate full of semolina pudding for their young ones, who fail to break the fast of their kids with a couple of sweet dates, whose cauldrons seldom see any non-veg cuisines. Starvation and hunger is written in their fate. Deity of smiles has forgotten to visit these hapless paupers. But, we can bring back their smiles with our small gestures of compassion. We need not to spend hefty amounts to let smiles adore their faces again, rather our ordinary acts of kindness can make them feel cheerful and happy. Pious and virtuous slaves of Allah (SWT) never miss any opportunity to help poor, destitute and paupers in order to win the pleasure of Allah (SWT).
We have hundreds and thousands of glum and doleful faces around us. Our one modest gesture can restore exhausted smiles on such faces. And Ramadhan is the best month to add the colour of compassion and empathy in the monotonous lives of needy and destitute. If we really wish to win the pleasure of Allah (SWT), then we must switch to unselfish acts of charity, generosity, philanthropy and altruism. Allah (SWT) has actually created us all to share the miseries and pains of others. Had our creation been solely for the purpose of worship and repitition of His holy attributes, then angels weren't meagre to sing hymns of His divine grandeur and majesty.
But, there is a unique motive and philosophy behind our creation. We have been created for love and compassion of our fellows and brethren. And we have been bestowed with a heart which not only supplies oxygenated blood to our body, but is also a treasure house of emotions and feelings which teach us the real essence of life. Compassionate human hearts beat for anyone who is in pain and sorrow. We have scores of examples where Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and His companions have helped their non-muslim neighbours in distress and agony. So, our charity must not be confined to religious belief and faith. " Apna Toa Kaam Hai Jalatay Rahai'n Chirag, Rastay Mei'n Chahay Dost Ya Dushman Ka Ghar Milay ".
The month of Ramadan is the best time of year to encash the rewards though our charitable gestures must not stop throughout the year, because the wages are increased to seventy times or more. Conscientious and God-fearing people never forget the needy and the poor, rather they expedite their charitable and philanthropic efforts during the month of Ramadan. Even many low-paid workers and lower middle class people display some unprecedented generous moves during the holy month, though their own pockets are half-filled.
Pious people with soft hearts visit homes of the needy and the poor to enquire if they have enough to ignite their chulhas for Predawn and Iftaar meals. But, they don't let anyone know about their munificence and greatness. All the great things are done secretly. Allah (SWT) will surely reward such people from His own treasures. Anyone who helps a thirsty to quench his/her thirst, will be served by Allah (SWT) from His well of Kousar, on the day of resurrection when the sun will be a few metres away from the surface of earth.
Affluent and rich prefer to pay their Zakat during the holy month of Ramadan, because the abundant rewards, blessings and mercies of Allah (SWT) lure them to give. Zakat is the basic third pillar of Islam. It is an institution which plays a vital role in the regulation and management of different economic and social issues of societies. Different social evils viz prostitution, thefts, dacoities and money lending are actually the offshoot of economic issues which societies fail to address.
Zakat and other acts of charity ensure the well-being and welfare of people without falling prey to debts and institutions of compound interest, which deteriorate and worsen their plight. The gulf between the wealthy and the poor during the contemporary times is sure to widen because the foundations of modern economic system is based on the principle of materialism, while as Zakat and charity in Islam paves way for the reduction of economic inequalities.
There are numerous people who help people through their charitable and generous acts. But, they hardly care about their honour and self-esteem, because their primary aim behind these gestures is to win public admiration and hype. They actually hurt their feelings and tear their dignity to get acknowledged and applauded by people. But, the Islamic concept of charity is totally different. Holy prophet Muhammad (SAW) has ordered Muslims to give charity by their right hand without letting the left to know about it. Muslims do it purely to please their Lord, and have no selfish or personal motives behind it.
Islamic Jurisprudence has mandatorily imposed an obligatory form of alms on all Muslims irrespective of their ages and gender, during the month of Ramadan that is commonly known as Sadqah Fitr. Muslims across the globe pay this obligatory sadaqa before the Eidul-Fitr prayers. It helps the poor and the destitute to celebrate the Eidul-Fitr and the fasting of Ramadan very comfortably. Allah (SWT) has laid greater emphasis on the provision of charity in Muslim societies. Rupees hundred is worth only a hundred for us, but it means a lot to a needy. It can bring smiles on wretched faces and it can soothe a parched belly. May Allah (SWT) accept our charity and generosity!
(Author is a Teacher and a Rising Kashmir Columnist. He can be reached at email@example.com)