Eighth Call: Do not void your Donations with Reproach and Hurt
Almighty Allah says (what can be translated as): “O you have believed, do not void your donations with obliging (reproach) and hurt, as one who expends his wealth (for the sake) of showing off to mankind and does not believe in Allah and the Last Day. So, the likeness of him is as the likeness of a smooth rock on which is dust, then a shower hits (Literally: afflicts) it; so it leaves (the rock) solid. They are unable (to do) anything with whatever they have earned; and Allah does not guide the disbelieving people. And the likeness of the ones who expend their riches, seeking gracious satisfaction of Allah and confirming themselves, is as the likeness of a garden upon a mound; a shower hits it, so it brings forth its crop twofold; yet in case no shower hits it, then a drizzle; and Allah is Ever-Beholding of whatever you do.” (Al-Baqarah: 264-265)
Allah (SWT)1 tells his servants that reproach and hurt void the aim of giving Sadaqah2. It is also invalidated by giving it to show off and boast before people. This kind of person gives charity and donations pretending that he does so for the sake of Allah (AWJ)3 and to relief the suffering of the needy and the poor, while actually he wants to garner the praise and admiration of people to be known as a donator among them. This does not mean that all kinds of public expending are dispraised. When expending is made publically and known to people with the intention that it encourages others to expend, then it is a rewarded act, so it should not be confused with expending for mutual boasting out of hypocrisy and dissemblance. This is why Almighty Allah states (what can be translated as): “The ones who expend their riches by night and day time secretly and in public, then they have their reward from the Providence of their Lord, and no fear will be on them, neither will they grieve.” (Al-Baqarah: 274) Indeed, the ones who expend their fortunes in the way of Allah and do not follow up their Sadaqah with reproach and hurt, will have their reward from Allah (SWT), they will experience no fear or grieve whatsoever.
The deeds of these dissemblers are like a smooth hard rock on which is a little dust; when heavy rain falls on the rock, it washes it of dust leaving it completely bare. It is like how the deeds of dissemblers vanish because they were not done for the sake of Allah; it was done for the praise of people. They will not benefit of any of their work, even if they look like they have good deeds. Allah does not guide the disbelieving dissembling people to goodness because they have chosen to go astray.
This hard solid heart covered with hypocrisy and dissemblance is represented by “a smooth rock on which is dust”. This rock does not have any abundance or flexibility. It is covered with smooth dust that hides its hardness from the eyes. Just like how hypocrisy covers the hardness of the heart void of faith.
“Then a shower hits (Literally: afflicts) it; so it leaves (the rock) solid.” The heavy rain wipes off the smooth dust so the hardness and severity of the rock is revealed. No fruits or plants grow out of this solid rock, exactly like the heart that expends his wealth for the sake of showing off to people, it will not be rewarded and it will not gain any goodness!
On the other hand, there is a second scene that contradicts this situation. Hearts full of faith that are soft and tender, they expend wealth and money “seeking gracious satisfaction of Allah and confirming themselves.” This heart spends with a firm belief in the reward and goodness, it stems from his faith and anticipation for the reward of Allah, this belief is also deeply rooted in his conscience. If the hard heart covered with a screen of dissemblance and hypocrisy is pictured as a solid rock covered with smooth dust, the believing heart is depicted as a garden, an abundant garden with rich soil compared to some smooth dust on a solid rock. A garden on a mound versus a rock covered by some smooth dust! This is a great harmonic comparison that depicts coordinating images. If the heavy rain falls on the garden, it does not wipe it off like it did with the smooth dust; on the contrary it enriches and cultivates it more.
Almighty Allah says (what can be translated as): “A shower hits it, so it brings forth its crop twofold.” The shower of rain hits this rich garden and it revives it exactly like how the Sadaqh revives faith in the heart of a believer so he hangs more to faith and strengthen his link to Allah. So, Sadaqah actually increases his wealth because Allah (SWT) redoubles for believers, the more the devotion in paying Sadaqh, the more the reward in return for it, because devotion in acts of worship reduplicates the reward. It means that you do any kind of goodness only to please Allah (AWJ). Also, the life of the Muslim community is enriched by expending for charity, it gets reformed and it grows:
“Yet in case no shower hits it, then a drizzle; and Allah is Ever-Beholding of whatever you do.” If the garden does not hit by heavy rains, then at least it will have a drizzle which is enough for such rich soil.
This is a complete brilliant scene, with contradicting views and coordinated parts. It is depicted in a marvelous coherent method and performance. The scene represents all thoughts and reflections that the heart might experience. It depicts the inner intangible feelings versus the outer tangible scenes which makes it a lot easier for the heart to choose easily between the road of goodness by spending for the sake of Allah (AWJ) and the road to loss and doom by spending to show off to people and boast with whatever the expender has.
Since it is a scene for the sight and insight aiming to knowing Allah and approaching Him, hence comes the commentary: “and Allah is Ever-Beholding of whatever you do.”
As for the second scene it represents the end of reproach and hurt. How such dispraised attitudes eliminate the effects of Sadaqah completely at the time that the doer of such kind of act does not have any help or support. He cannot do anything about this elimination. Allah (AWJ) depicts this bad end in a very powerful suggestive image. Everything turns from safety and abundance to destruction and ruin: “Would any of you like to have a garden of palms and vineyards with rivers running from beneath it, (and) he has all (kinds) of products therein, and greatness (with years) afflicts him, and he has a weak offspring, then a whirlwind with fire therein afflicts it, so it is burned away? Thus Allah makes evident the signs to you that possibly you would meditate.”
It is a shadowy, abundant fruitful garden, exactly like the Sadaqah in nature and effect. It is a blessing in the life of the expender, its taker and the life of the human community as a whole. It is shadowy, rich and blessed with goodness, nourishment, water and growth.
Who would want such garden – or reward- then to be hit with affliction due to reproach and harm in giving charity. It wipes it off the face of the earth and kills it exactly like how a whirlwind with fire destroys the garden.
When does this happen? At the time of disability to save it and need to enjoy its blessings and shades!
“And greatness (with years) afflicts him, and he has a weak offspring, then a whirlwind with fire therein afflicts it, so it is burned away?” Who would want that fate? Who think about this fate and yet he does not avoid it?
“Thus Allah makes evident the signs to you that possibly you would meditate.” This way the live depicted scene starts with contentment, richness and enjoyment. It has abundance, beauty and spirit, and then a whirlwind with fire therein afflicts it. This amazing effective scene gives this feeling of fear that leads to no hesitation in choosing before it is too late, i.e. before the rich garden gets hit by a whirlwind with fire in it!
This amazing figurative and precise coordination in building each scene separately, while showing all the details, does not stop at drawing the scenes. It combines and interweaves them from the beginning of the lesson till the end. They are all depicted harmoniously in the same environment and background, namely an agricultural environment. A grain that grows seven ears, a smooth rock on which there is dust then a shower hits it leaving it bare, a garden upon a mound; a shower hits it, so it brings forth its crop twofold, a garden of palms and vineyards with rivers running from beneath it. Even the shower, heavy rain, drizzles and whirlwind which are part of the agricultural environment are mentioned in this amazing artistic depiction.
Then comes the fact behind this amazing artistic show, the fact of the link between the human spirit and the soil, the fact of the one shared origin, the fact of the same nature of the spirit and the soil, the fact of life growing in the spirit and in the soil as well and finally the fact of reward or punishment to the spirit which is depicted in the image of the soil.
It is the Qur’an, the Word of Truth, with verses basic and fundamental (of established meaning), further explained in detail, from one who is wise and well acquainted with all things.
(1) SWT: Subhanahu wa Ta'ala [Glorified and Exalted Be He]
(2) Sadaqah: donations and voluntary charity.
(3) AWJ: Aza-Wa-Jal [Glorified and Sublime be He].