The Charitable One
by Faisal Akhtar
A destitute man stands in the middle of the room and begs for help but no one is answers his call. In a whole gathering of Muslims no one gives him what he needs except for one man. He goes up to the poor man and gives from that which Allah S.W.T has given him until the poor man is satisfied. Well, that poor person was I and that charitable one is my brother in Islam. What was it that I was begging for you might ask? I tell you now that it is something we are all in need of once in a while and that is a smile.
Prophet of Allah (SAS) said, 'your smile for your brother is Sadaqah. Your removal of stones, thorns or bones from the paths of people is Sadaqah. Your guidance of a person who is lost is Sadaqah.' (Related by Bukhari from Ibn Hibban's Sahih)
Indeed a smile is sadaqah and we are all in need of a smile once in a while. Imagine what a wonderful place this world would be if everyone greeted each other with a smile. After a long hard days work, wouldn’t you like to go home and be greeted with a smile from your family? If the answer is yes then why not greet your brothers and sisters with a smile, it might just make their day.
Humor is a necessary part of life, but many people turn to one of two extremes when it comes to humor. One of these extremes is too much laughter. We have all seen such people who will do almost anything for a laugh. Such people act more like clowns and usually no one takes them seriously. Such people pull some ridiculous stunts for a laugh when our Prophet forbade such behavior.
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Do not laugh too much, for excessive laughter kills the heart (i.e., spiritually).” (Reported by Ibn Maajah, no. 4193; Silsilah al-Saheehah, no. 506).
Going to extremes to get a laugh includes making fun of your brothers. How many of us have made fun of a brother because of his stature or a limp in his walk? (I am talking in masculine terms because I cannot speak for the sisters) Many of you will say that although you have done this, you are such good friends with each other the other person doesn’t mind. Ok, lets say for arguments sake that he doesn’t mind, who is it that made your brother the way he is? Is it the brother in question or is it Allah S.W.T? Are you mocking the brother or you mocking the decision of Allah of to make him that way? We need to be very careful when saying these things brothers. It says in the Quran
O you who believe let not one group of people make fun of another, perhaps the (one’s being made fun of) are better then them. And let not women make fun of other women perhaps the (woman being made fun of) is better then them. And do not insult one another and do not call each other by (offensive) nicknames. Wretched is the name (i.e. mention) of disobedience after (one’s) faith. And whoever does not repent – then it is those who are the Dhaalimoon (the wrongdoers). The Holy Qur’an [49:11]
Certain people insult each other “just for fun”. All I have to say to such people is that what if someday you say something to your brother that is hurtful and for the sake of your friendship he swallows that bitter pill, what then? These doses of bitterness will build up in that person and a day might come that you realize that you aren’t even friends anymore all for the sake of fun. This is the reason I find it difficult approaching some people at ISRU. I have observed them making fun of each other among themselves but what I dread is that if I become friends with these people, my honor won’t be safe with them. I won’t know when the next biting comment about the way I am or my background will come my way.
Let me give you a little example from my own experience. I went to a friend’s apartment recently and I observed something. On my way out, I made a passing comment to another friend about what was going on in the apartment. I thought the comment was funny but it really wasn’t, I had backbitten my brother and one other brother was quick to point out my mistake. I had backbitten just for fun. Backbiting is a major sin brothers, and those of you who make passing comment about each other while the other isn’t present really should be careful. Some of you I am sure still might be thinking of ways people use to justify backbiting such as “I would say it in front of him” or the famous “but its true” excuse. To dispel your doubts about the fact that such talk is backbiting, I refer you to a wonderful article by Brother Tanweer called “Boneless Wonder” in this previous Nasihah issue(PDF).
Another kind of wrong humor is laughing at the pain of others.
Aswad reported that some young men from the Quraish visited 'A'isha as she was in Mina and they were laughing. She said: What makes you laugh? They said: Such and such person stumbled against the rope of the tent and he was about to break his neck or lose his eyes. She said: Don't laugh for I heard Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: If a Muslim runs a thorn or (gets into trouble) severe than this, there is assured for him (a higher) rank and his sins are obliterated. [Sahih Muslim, #6237]
How many of us have laughed at someone who fell down in a crowded hallway in school? How many of us enjoy watching such things on television? The reason I pose these questions is that I have been guilty of these things. Neither did I ask the person who fell down if he was ok nor did I help him back up and I am guilty of watching such T.V. May Allah forgive all our sins.
While the behavior mentioned is prevalent, there is another extreme that exists when it come to humor. Some brothers seem to think that it is not permissible to laugh or even smile in Islam and that is perhaps due to the misinterpretation of the Hadith about excessive laughter I quoted above. The keyword is excessive brothers. Our Prophet (SAW) was not a serious and strict person. He smiled often and made jokes with his Wives and the Sahabah. The examples are too numerous to quote here but I invite you to visit this web page and find out how kind hearted our Prophet truly was.
Although such behavior is rare, it is certainly a mistake to equate overly serious demeanor with high Iman. Laughing too much does kill your heart but what about smiling too little?
The brother I talked about in my opening paragraph really practically embodies the sunnah of our Prophet of being light hearted. He is serious when he needs to be and he is charitable otherwise. I remember one occasion in which this brother truly showed me what it means to be charitable. A family member of the brother in question had just passed away and I went to pay my respects. I was feeling ashamed of myself since I had not gone to visit his family member when they were in the hospital. I knew the brother must be sad for his loss and I was feeling guilty for failing to visit him before. When I met him, I was ready for a sad encounter but even then that brother greeted me with a smile and his smile said “It is ok that you didn’t come before, you are here now and that’s all that matters”. Even on that sad day he smiled at me and I cannot begin to tell you what that smile meant to me. I pray to Allah SWT that he helps us embody every sunnah of our Prophet SAW.
Islam is the only joy in my life and lately, I have noticed a string of rather serious and gloomy articles on Hidaya so I think it is time for some change.
Here is my little charity to you
Surrounded by Muslims
Two business men seated on an airplane noticed a Muslim man sitting in front of them, one of the men says to the other with a wink, "I was going to go to Africa until I found out that half the country is Muslim so I don't want to go there".
The other man says, "We'll how about Saudi Arabia then?"
The first man says "No way, that place is loaded with those Muslims too."
The other man suggests a trip to the US but his companion says "The Muslims have spread out over the whole country every time I turn around there I bump into one."
The men are watching the Muslim, and can see that the Muslim man is fidgeting and getting kind of agitated about their conversation. The fellow who started the teasing decides to really get him mad and says "I really wanted to go to Pakistan but that place is crawling with Muslims"
At this the Muslim man has had it and finally turns around in his seat and sweetly says to the men, "Why don't you both go to hell? There's hardly any Muslims there!"
Please fell free to make your charitable contributions in the comments section. I would like to thank all the brothers who are so charitable to me that I look forward to coming to ISRU every day.
If there is anything correct in this article, it is from Allah SWT and if there are any mistakes, they are my own.
Aka Peace on Earth Advocate
I am surprised more people didnt post comments on this. At any rate, excellent article brother Faisal. All too often we take things to extremes and either laugh too much or smile too little. May Allah, Glorious and Exalted, reward your charitable friend and may we all learn from your aricle inshaAllah.on June 2, 2004 7:19 PM
This article is from the old days when Hidaya was new and this was my first article on it. I wrote it as a guest columnist. People did comment back then and there were some really funny jokes posted in response. Too bad, Hidaya crashed and the old comments were lost.
Anyway, JazakAhllah Khairon June 2, 2004 7:32 PM
I like opium! :)on July 29, 2005 8:38 PM
Sheikh Abdul Hakim Murad replied to the whole "religion is the opium of the masses" statement by saying that these days "opium is the religion of the masses".
What does this mean? People choose the blissful ignorance of their own epistemological 'superiority' (their opium) over the glaring realities inherant in creation and cling to it with a religious fervor.on July 29, 2005 9:23 PM
Assalamualaikum warahmathullahi wabarakatuhu,
Nice article brother. Smiling takes less effort compared to frowning as smiling uses less muscles compared to frowning.