Generous: open-handed; charitable; munificent. Generosity: open-handedness; charity; munificence; benevolence.
Generosity is a superior rule of ethics that enables man to give away to the needy, grant and help them legitimately from what he has for the sake of Allah, without having any other intentions.
Generosity is a faculty of the spirit. It leads man to giving away to the poor and granting. A person who has this faculty helps anything that is necessary individually and socially. He wants to help financially from his heart without being forced by anybody. Since such people act upon the following principle: "Allah is He Who gives all sustenance" (an-Naml, 27/64; adh-Dhariyat, 51/58), they have clean and rich hearts. (al-Layl, 92/17-20). They try to help others by all means. They believe that Allah gives them from His grace and generosity and that the needy have their share in what Allah gives them. (Hud, 11/6) They regard generosity as the basis of others’ rights. They try to meet the needs of others without thinking about their own needs. They even prefer giving what is necessary for them to others.
In order to attain the attribute of generosity, it is necessary to give away voluntarily (al-Hashr, 59/5; al-Hadid, 57/11-18; al-Maida, 5/13), not to expect any praise or reward for it (al-Insan, 76/8-l0), to avoid the deeds that will offend the person one helps (al-Baqara, 2/263-264), and to give from the things that are valuable for the giver (Aal-i Imran, 3/92).
Islamic scholars rate generosity as follows under the conditions that are listed:
Sakhawah: The generosity performed by giving away some of one’s property. That is regarded as the minimum degree of generosity like giving zakah.
Jud: The generosity performed by giving away most of one’s property and leaving some of it to oneself like Hz. Abu Bakr’s giving away for jihad in general.
Ithar: The generosity performed by giving away what one needs to others by undergoing difficulties himself. The example of it in the Era of Bliss is Madinah Muslims’ (Ansar) inviting Makkan Muhajirs to their city and sharing everything they had with the Muhajirs, which made Allah appreciate them. (see al-Hashr, 59/5) Another example is Hz. Abu Bakr’s risking his life in the cave for the Prophet (pbuh), whom he loved very much, during the Migration. (at-Tawba, 9/40)
Generosity and jihad are regarded equal in the Quran; Allah wants people to spend out of the bounties He gives them to other slaves. (al-Baqara, 2/254) He states that generosity will help to save man from all kinds of problems, pains and distress on the Day of Judgment. (al-Baqara, 2/222). In some verses, generosity is likened to business and as a loan to Allah. (al-Baqara, 2/245; al-Maida, 5/12; al-Hadid, 57/11)
Hearts are purified thanks to generosity. (al-Layl, 92/17-20). For, one of the factors that blacken the heart after unbelief and hypocrisy is excessive love of property and the desire of devotion to wealth. As a matter of fact, the following is stated in the Quran: "And ye love wealth with inordinate love." (al-Fajr, 89/20) With this love, man fears and thinks as follows: "If I spend this wealth, nothing will remain for me." Thereupon, Satan takes action: "The Evil one threatens you with poverty and bids you to conduct unseemly." (al-Baqara, 2/268) However, as Allah Almighty states,
"Property and wealth are only a trial." (az-Zumar, 39/49-52) The way of passing this trial (test) is generosity. (at-Taghabun, 64/15-17).
One of the most important reasons why man avoids generosity is the feeling "Why should I give my property to others?" and the thought "If I give to others from my property, my wealth will decrease and I will have difficulty when I am in need." The religion of Islam eliminates this feeling and thought by all means. According to Islam, property and wealth do not belong to any person. Property and wealth belong to Allah only. He is the real owner of everything. (Aal-i Imran, 3/180; al-Hadid, 57/10) This fact is emphasized in more than twenty verses in the Quran. Since property belongs to Allah, it is naturally regarded by the believer as the most appropriate to spend it in the way of its owner. The feeling of generosity in the believer originates from this thought. The Prophet (pbuh) states the following:
"A generous person is close to Allah, close to Paradise, close to the people and far from Hell. A stingy person is far from Allah, far from Paradise, far from the people and close to Hell. An ignorant generous person is more beloved to Allah than a worshiping stingy person." (Tirmidhi, Birr, 40) "One of the people to be envied is the generous." (Bukhari, Tamanna, 5; Tawhid, 45). The Prophet advises people to be generous when they live and not to delay generosity to after death: "The best charity is the one that you yourself give. Charity is what you give to anyone you wish and as much as you wish when you are healthy and when you own your wealth. You will be late if you delay it till the time when you are on the death bed. Your inheritors will do whatever they wish with it." (Bukhari, Wasaya, 14)
Abdullah b. Abbas narrates the generosity of the Prophet as follows: "The Messenger of Allah was the most generous and charitable one among people. When he was with Jibril in Ramadan, he would give away everything he had." Jibril would go to the Messenger of Allah every night in Ramadan and teach him the Quran. Jibril said, "The Messenger of Allah is more generous than the winds that bring abundance." (Muslim, Fadail, 12, 2308).
Jabir b. Abdullah stated the following:
"When somebody wanted something from the Messenger of Allah (pbuh), he would never say "No"." (Y. Kandahlawi, Hayatus-Sahaba, III, 1181)
The following was reported from Hz. Ali: "When something was asked from the Messenger of Allah, he would say "yes" if he wanted to do it. When he did not want to do it, he would keep silent. He never said "no"." (Y. Kandahlawi, ibid)
"We underwent such times that nobody among us wanted to have more gold and silver than his Muslim brother." This statement of Abdullah b. Umar shows us how the Companions acted related to generosity and altruism. In that case, a Muslim must spend the property Allah has given him in the way of Allah and in a way that will please Him when he is alive and healthy so as not to regret afterwards. God Almighty states the following: Spend something (in charity) out of the substance which We have bestowed on you, before Death should come to any of you and he should say, "O my Lord! why didst Thou not give me respite for a little while? I should then have given (largely) in charity, and I should have been one of the doers of good." (al-Munafiqun, 63/10)
Ghazzali says, "A person who does not have wealth must have contentment, not ambition. He who has wealth must have generosity, not stinginess."
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