Charity is proof of your beliefs

2013-08-08 00:00

THE month of Ramadan is a school to learn certain behavioural patterns to adopt for the rest of the year.

So let us remind ourselves: the lord of Ramadan is also the lord of every other month of the year. Therefore, although Ramadan has ended, the good behaviour learnt needs to continue.

In Ramadan, people get closer to Allah because of the nature of Ramadan. They don’t backbite (although this is prohibited outside of Ramadan). We’re extra-vigilant to train ourselves.

The philosopher Imam Ghazali said: “If you can control yourself with food and sexuality, then you can control all other things easier. These are the two primary drives in the human being. The Eros drive, and the need for satiation, for food.”

In learning to discipline the soul, we get closer to Allah.

Prophet Mohammed said: “Purification is half of faith”.

Imam Ghazali expanded on this, saying that purifying your heart is half of faith. One half is to enter into faith and the other half is tazkiyah — the purification of the heart and disciplining of the soul.

Allah says of the soul: “He has succeeded who purifies it, and he has failed who instils it [with corruption]” — who stunts it. Tazkiyah is central to Islamic tradition and Ramadan is the month for tazkiyah.

Allah has ordained: “O you who believe, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous.” (Qur’an, 2:183.)

Ramadan is intended to develop spiritual discipline, establish the prayer routine and encourage charity in its adherents.

The prophet said “prayer is a light”. How is it a light?

“Give good tidings to those who go in the darkness [for the night and early morning prayers] of complete light on the day of judgment,” he said.

On Judgment Day, there are stages where it becomes completely dark. And those who did not have prayer in this world will not have any light to see.

Muslims are also advised that regular prayer, for which a state of cleanliness is required, “will prevent you from doing foul and disobedient things”. It increases your light. The more spiritual light you have, the more you can contribute to the elimination of darkness in the world.

Darkness cannot succeed because it is not a positive quality — it is a negative quality.

If you enter darkness into a room filled with light, it cannot dispel the light. But if you have a room filled with darkness, one bit of light will illuminate the space. Light is positive. And that is what we are accruing with our spiritual practice — light to dispel the negativities that exist in this world.

This is the role of those who believe in God. Of those who believe in a day of judgment when you will be taken into account.

The prophet added: “And charity is a proof”.

Charity is a proof of your belief, in how you give to others. Allah says of man: “When evil touches him, he’s impatient”, he becomes completely destabilised. And “when good touches him, he withholds, he’s greedy, he’s covetous, he wants to keep it for himself, he doesn’t want to share — except those who pray”.

At the end of Ramadan, we give charity in the form of zakat-ul-fitr. This is a dedicated portion from each person who is given to those in need.

It used to be a portion of grain, but now, in the Hanafi school of thought, we pay money because its movement to places that need it more than we do is easy to facilitate.

We give zakat at the end of Ramadan because we have just learnt about hunger and there are many people who are hungry.

It is inexcusable that, in the face of so much wealth, we still have famine today. We have a globalised system and the means to take food anywhere on the planet, and yet we have people starving. This is completely unacceptable when we have people vomiting from overeating.

Stores carry rows and rows of dyspeptic medicines for indigestion, for people who eat too much, who don’t need that food.

The prophet said: “Nobody is a believer who goes to bed full and his neighbour is hungry”.

• Irshad Soofi is the priest at the Soofie Mosque in Masukwana (East) Street.

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