Step by Step, Charity of the Poor, Shared Involvement
Issue 806 » September 5, 2014 - Dhul-Qida 10, 1435
Step by Step
Al-Isra (The Night Journey) - Chapter 17: Verse 106
The Quran was revealed in order to educate a community and establish for it a system and code of life. This community would then carry it to all the corners of the earth in order to educate humanity on the basis of this perfect system. Hence the Quran was revealed one part at a time, according to the practical needs of that community and the circumstances attending its first formative period. Education and the moulding of a nation and a community require time as well as practical experience. Thus the Quran was not revealed as a theoretical doctrine or an abstract vision to be used for academic study and polemical argument. It was revealed part by part instead so that it could be implemented gradually during this formative period. This is indeed the reason for its gradual revelation, one part or passage at a time, not a whole scripture or code given at the outset.
The first generation of believers received it in this light. They approached it as directives to be implemented in practice, be they prohibitions, recommendations or obligations. They never approached it as something for moral or intellectual debate like poetry and literature, or for amusement like legends and stories. They allowed it to influence their daily lives to the full, bringing their feelings, perceptions and behaviour in line with it, and moulding their way of life in accordance with its teachings. They discarded whatever values, norms and practices were in conflict with it.
"In The Shade of The Quran" - Sayyid Qutb, Vol. 11, p. 224
Charity of the Poor
In the circumstances just before the expedition of Tabuk, a man with no money could do nothing. Yet there were examples of a high standard of faith attained by some of those very poor people.
Ulbah ibn Zayd was one such poor person. He yearned to go with the Muslim army, but could not find the means to do so. One night he was alone in his home. He woke up and prayed for a long while. He reflected on the situation and tears sprang from his eyes. Then he addressed God with this emotional prayer: "My Lord, You have commanded us to go on Jihad and You have encouraged us not to abandon this duty. Yet You have not given me what I need in order to be able to go on this campaign. Your Messenger cannot give me any means of transport. I therefore give in charity to every Muslim any right which I hold against him for a wrong he had done to me, whether in matters of money or self or honour."
The following morning, the man joined the dawn prayers as he always did. The Prophet (peace be upon him) asked: "Where is the man who was charitable last night?" Nobody answered. The Prophet repeated the question and said: "Let this man stand up." Ulbah stood up and explained to the Prophet what he had done. The Prophet said: "By Him who holds my soul in His hand, this has been credited to you as a zakat accepted by God." [Ibn Kathir, al-Bidayah wal-Nihayah]
"Muhammad Man and Prophet" - Adil Salahi, p. 698
Dialogue is not enough. Even if it is rigorous, even if it is necessary to give time to knowing, trusting, and respecting each other, even if we should take on ourselves the widest possible responsibility to report back, it is only one stage or one aspect of the encounter among the various religious traditions. It is urgent that we commit ourselves to joint action.
In dialogue, we soon realize that we hold a great number of convictions and values in common. We understand very quickly that we are facing the same difficulties and challenges. But we very rarely move outside these circles of reflection. Together we say "God," awareness, spirituality, responsibility, ethics, solidarity, but we live and experience, each one on one's own, the problems of education, transmission of spirituality, individualism, consumerism, and moral bankruptcy. In philosophical terms, we could say that we know one another in words but not in action. Our experience convinced us not only that this path is necessary but also that it is the only way to eventually change minds and build mutual respect and trust.
Acts of solidarity take place from within each religious family, but the examples of shared initiatives are rare. People sometimes invite others, but do not act in collaboration. One of the best testimonies that religious or spiritual tradition can give of itself lies in acts of solidarity between its adherents and others. To defend the dignity of the latter, to fight so that our societies do not produce indignity, to work together to support marginalized and neglected people, will certainly help us know one another better, but it will, above all, make known the essential message that shrines at the heart of our traditions: never neglect your brother in humanity and learn to love him, or at least to serve him.
"Western Muslims And The Future of Islam" - Tariq Ramadan, pp. 211, 212