Discretion, Time, Intention
Issue 500 » October 24, 2008 - Shawwal 24, 1429
Al-Baqarah (The Cow)
Chapter 2: Verse 264 (partial)
"O you who have attained to faith! Do not deprive your charitable deeds of all worth by stressing your own benevolence and hurting [the feeling of the needy], as does he who spends his wealth only to be seen and praised by men, and believes not in God and the Last Day."
Throughout the Quran humankind is asked to find the measure in which it will give and to remain discreet and respectful of others. Indeed, one's way of giving is in itself a testimony of faith: if you have no need to be seen by others, it is a sign that you know God is always with you. Discretion also safeguards the dignity of those you help.
This duty to be discreet is more important than it may appear: it bears the mark of respect for people's dignity in all circumstances, even the most intimate. The aim is to prevent evil, to give before the poor need to beg, and to try to avoid being seen by anyone so that no one has to be embarrassed or look the other way for no reason. When society does not give what its members are entitled to have, the more affluent among them must express the greatness of this principle of dignified generosity. The Quran constantly paints this landscape, which must not be forgotten in our personal economic management.
"Westerm Muslims and The Future of Islam" - Tariq Ramadan, pp. 180-181
The Value of Time
Al-Bukhari, al-Tirmidhi, and Ibn Majah narrated, on the authority of Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with both of them, that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: "There are two blessings which many people lose: Health and free time for doing good."
Time is a precious blessing and a great gift, the value of which is only realised and benefitted from by the successful guided ones, as indicated by the noble hadith, "which many people lose," implying that only a minority benefit from it, while the majority are wasters and losers.
"The Value of Time" - Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghuddah, p. 6
Intention and Intention
Any deed performed with the sole intention of pleasing Allah which is also consistent with His shariah is an act of worship or ibadah. At the same time, though, there are some deeds that must be accompanied with an intention for them to be accepted by Allah. These deeds include, according to the majority opinion, ablution, ghusl, tayammum, prayers, zakat, fasts, pilgrimage, itikaf and other acts of worship.
For example, someone could go the entire day without eating due to lack of food or for health reasons but this would not be the same thing as fasting as an act of worship. Whenever anyone wishes to fast as an act of worship, one must first make the intention to perform that act of worship. Therefore, in order to distinguish the act of worship from any other customary act, the intention must be present in the heart of the person.
"Commentary on the Forty Hadith of al-Nawawi" - Jamaal al-Din M. Zarabozo, p. 141