Fasting & Philanthropy
Sawm or Fasting in the Islamic tradition requires dawn until dusk abstention from food, drink and intimacy. It is, however far more than mere refraining from these necessities of daily living.
Spirituality and Social Consciousness
Fasting in Islam is a mode of enhancing self-discipline, an opportunity for regulating attitude and conduct; for developing a better self that focuses on the larger purpose of existence. The month of Ramadan is thus an opportunity for spiritual rejuvenation and increased philanthropy; a means of attaining taqwa (piety), which the Qur’an considers the pinnacle of human development.
While fasting, we are far more aware of the hunger of the poor and the suffering of the oppressed and are therefore instructed to be more generous in this month. As a matter of fact, the feast of Eid-ul-Fitr, marking the end of the fast of Ramadan, cannot be celebrated unless those affording ones have disbursed the sadaqa-tul-fitr (natural charity or sincere bounteousness) to the impoverished. This promotes attentiveness to social responsibility, interest in the welfare of society and inspires a continued spirit of generosity.
Dimensions of Generosity
Whatever one can do to enhance the situation of others is considered charity or an act of generosity. Prophet said; “There is charity due on every part of the body every day.” He went on to say: ” to bring justice between people is charity, to help a person with transport and helping with baggage is charity, a kind word is charity, every step towards prayer is charity, removing harmful things from the way is charity …. giving water to the thirsty is charity. A person’s true wealth lies in the good they accrue for the Hereafter through good deeds in this world. When a person dies people ask ‘what has he left behind?’ while angels ask ‘what has he sent forth?’ ”
Honestly answering the question; “What am I doing for others?” is in a way a good measure of our spirit of generosity.
Heart over Wallet
Charity enhances the giver rather than devaluing his worth; as Prophet Muhammad said; “Charity does not decrease wealth”. Real generosity is not dependent so much on income as it is on the capacity of the heart. There are many who have the means to give, but not the heart to give. And there are many, who, the more they have the less they give. Thus, when giving of material wealth, ensure that you do not give merely from the top of your wallet, but rather give from the bottom of your heart.
Greater Living through Benevolence
Life should not really be about how much wealth we accrue, but rather how many people we serve; because the greater our giving, the greater our living Prophet Muhammad said: “Surely, Allah created humanity to be of benefit to creation.”
Remember, we are here to enrich the world. We become enriched by enriching the lives of others and if we ever forget that, we impoverish ourselves.
Ramadan Mubarak – A blessed Ramadan to all.
Adapted with slight editorial modifications from islamicity.org.