KARAM (KINDNESS)

Favor, generosity, honor, donation. One of the nice traits that a Muslim needs to have.

The word “ikram” meaning to show respect and to help is derived from the same root. It is used in the sense of welcoming a person, treating to him and entertaining him.

Karam is a comprehensive word meaning treating people nicely with words, deeds, financial help and treat (food and drink). Therefore, the word "karam" lexically includes a great part of Islamic ethics.

Forgiving, generosity, treating people well, grant and geniality are among the nice traits that this word expresses.

"Karam" is a lexically comprehensive word but it is used in the sense of generosity, being honorable and noble as a term. A "karim person" means a "generous, honorable, respectable person

The following is stated in a hadith: "He who believes in Allah and the Day of Judgment should treat to his guest. (Nawawi, Riyadus-Salihin, translated by H. H. Erdem, II, 119)

"Karim": good-natured, generous, honorable and respectable among people. Its opposite is "laim": ill-natured, vile, unrespectable among people.

"Karim" is one of Allah’s Beautiful Names (Asma al-Husna) (an-Naml, 27/40, al-Infitar, 82/6). It means the one who has grace and grant, who forgives a lot.

"Dhul-Jalal- wal-ikram" (ar-Rahman, 55/27, 78), which means the one who has majesty and grace, is one of Allah’s Beautiful Names.

The religion of Islam is based on the foundation of high ethics. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), who is the prophet of Islam with high ethics was sent as a "model for believers":

" And thou (standest) on an exalted standard of character" (al-Qalam, 68/4).

"Ye have indeed in the Messenger of Allah a beautiful pattern (of conduct) for any one whose hope is in Allah and the Final Day, and who engages much in the Praise of Allah " (al-Ahzab, 33/21).

The Prophet (pbuh) said, "I was sent to complete high ethics only."

His best statement about "karam" is what he said to Qurayshis on the day when Makkah was conquered: After his speech on the day of conquest, the Prophet addressed them as follows: “O Qurayshis! What do you think I will do to you?” The Qurayshis said, “You are a generous and good brother. You are a generous and good nephew. We think you will do good deeds and favor to us.” Thereupon, the Prophet said, “My situation and your situation are like what Joseph (Yusuf) said to his brothers. I am saying to you what Yusuf said to his brothers: " This day let no reproach be (cast) on you: Allah will forgive you, and He is the Most Merciful of those who show mercy!" (Yusuf, 12/92). You can leave. You are free."

Hz. Ibrahim was a "friend of Allah" (Halilullah) (an-Nisa, 4/125) famous for his hospitality and a great prophet. It is said that he did not eat if there were no guests at his table. It is stated in the Quran that the Prophet Ibrahim was a generous person who liked treating to people: "Has the story reached thee, of the honored guests of Abraham? Behold, they entered his presence, and said: "Peace!" He said, "Peace!" (and thought, "These seem) unusual people." Then he turned quickly to his household, brought out a fatted calf, and placed it before them. He said, "Will ye not eat?" (adh-Dhariyat, 51 /24-27; Hud, 11/69)

The word "karam" is not mentioned in the Quran but words derived from it are used a lot: "karim" (in 27 verses), "ikram" (ar-Rahman, 55/27, 87); "kiram" (Abasa, 80/16; al-Furqan, 25/72; al-Infitar, 82/11); "akram" (al-Alaq, 96/3; al-Hujurat, 49/13); "Mukramun" (al-Anbiya, 21/26; as-Saaffat, 37/42, al-Maarij, 70/35; Yasin, 36/27; adh- Dhariyat).

The word "Karim", which is mentioned most in the Quran is used in the sense of  "abundant", "great" and "honorable". "Rizqun karim": abundant, legitimate sustenance; "ajrun karim": great reward; "Quranun Karim": valuable, honorable Quran (al-Waqia 56/77).

There are a lot of orders and advice related to Karam-Ikram in the Quran: "Infaq fi sabilillah": Spending in the way of Allah is the most important order. "Feeding the indigent and the orphan" (al-Insan, 76/8), "liberality to kith and kin" (an-Nahl, 16/90), "Do good to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, those in need, neighbors who are near, neighbors who are strangers, the companion by your side, the wayfarer (ye meet), and what your right hands possess" (an-Nisa, 4/36). The orders above and similar ones reflect Islam’s understanding of karam (generosity-helping). It is an important principle in Islamic ethics for a believer to want for his believing brother what he wants for himself and not to want for his believing brother what he does not want for himself.

When the Muslims left their houses and property in Makkah and migrated to Madinah, the Muslims in Madinah (Ansar) welcomed them and shared their houses and property with them. Thus, they became distinguished people who were praised in the Quran:

"But those who before them, had homes (in Medina) and had adopted the Faith,- show their affection to such as came to them for refuge, and entertain no desire in their hearts for things given to the (latter), but give them preference over themselves, even though poverty was their (own lot). And those saved from the covetousness of their own souls, - they are the ones that achieve prosperity." (al-Hashr, 69/9)

The Prophet (pbuh) established brotherhood between muhajirs and ansar after the Migration. One muhajir became the brother of one ansar. According to what is stated in a verse, Ansar loved their Makkan brothers more than their own selves. They treated to their muhajir brothers very much and made self-sacrifices for them. They even drew lots to accept muhajirs as their brothers. On the other hand, muhajirs appreciated the sincere efforts of Ansar and accepted their help to the extent that they needed; they did not misuse the sincere help of Ansar.

There are several hadiths about the superiority of generosity and evil of stinginess: "The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) was the best, most generous and courageous one among people." "When something was wanted from him, he would never say no." He stated 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)

Priority in Treating and Good Deeds

Our religion listed the order of the people to be treated, respected and helped, and asked us to observe this order:  "Serve Allah, and join not any partners with Him; and do good- to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, those in need, neighbors who are near, neighbors who are strangers, the companion by your side, the wayfarer (ye meet), and what your right hands possess: For Allah loveth not the arrogant, the vainglorious" (an-Nisa, 4/36)

We are ordered to say nice words to people, especially to our parents. (al-Isra, 17/23)

The Prophet and his clean wives are the best models for us in terms of treating people based on their state and entertaining and showing respect to them: Once, Hz. Aisha stopped over somewhere during an expedition. She placed something to eat on the ground. Meanwhile, a beggar came.  Hz. Aisha said, "Give a loaf of bread to this poor person." Then, another person came on a mount. Hz. Aisha said, "Invite him to the meal." They said, "You give bread to the poor and invite the rich to the meal." Hz. Aisha said, "Undoubtedly, Allah determined some degrees for people. We are to act in accordance with those degrees. That poor man will be pleased with a loaf of bread. However, it does not fit us to give that rich man a loaf of bread like the one we gave to the poor one."

2. Once, the Prophet (pbuh) entered a house. His Companions followed him and filled the house. Then, Jarir b. Abdullah al-Bajali arrived. He could not find a place to sit and sat at the doorstep. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) took off his cardigan, gave it to him and said, "Sit on it." Jarir took it, wiped it over his face, kissed it and started to weep. Then, he folded it and returned it to the Prophet (pbuh) saying, "I will never sit on your garment. May Allah honor you as you honored me." The Prophet (pbuh) looked around and said, "When the leader of a tribe comes to you, treat to him and honor him."

3. "When the Prophet’s foster mother came, he placed his cardigan on the ground and said, 'Hello mother!' He made her sit on the cardigan and said, 'Ask whatever you want; your demand will be accepted.' She said, 'I want my tribe.'  The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, "My right and the right of Sons of Hashim are yours." The other people there stood up and said, 'O Messenger of Allah! Let our right be hers too.' Afterwards, the Prophet (pbuh) visited his foster mother and gave her his two shares from Hunayn." (Ihya, 11/196).

To feed the poor and to help the needy are among the most important traits of believers. Hypocrites and deniers do not help the poor and they despise them." (al-Maun, 107/1-3)

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