In the previous article, we explained the importance of generosity in Islam. This article presents you with six codes of behavior that are to be observed in the acts of charities and alms-giving. The religion of Islam attaches great emphasis to the way how we offer our generous help and kindness to others. Some of the rules regarding generosity in Islam are as follows:
“‘We feed you only for the sake of Allah. We desire no reward from you, nor thanks’” (76:9)
In this verse, Allah praises the family of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) [Ahlul-Bayt (AS)], who would give their food to the needy only for the sake of God's grace and satisfaction without asking for rewards and even waiting for thanks.
“As for him who gives and is Godwary” (92:5)
The companionship of generosity in Islam with piety is to avoid stinginess in almsgiving and also to earn and spend in lawful (Halal) ways. You can choose a deceitful way to reach a laudable aim since the ends can never justify the means.
“Do not keep your hand chained to your neck, nor open it all together, or you will sit blameworthy and regretful ” (17:29)
This verse stresses the importance of moderation saying we should neither quit almsgiving by being tight-fisted nor be too open-handed in our act of kindness towards others.
“O you who have faith! Do not render your charities void by reproaches and affronts” (2:264)
Expressing or reminding your favor upon others may hurt their feelings and would definitely invalidate your charitable act. Islam strongly recommends us to treat each other with dignity and respect. Therefore, we should seriously avoid any kind of hurtful behavior or words which we think might offend the receiver of help.
“O you who have faith! Spend of the good things you have earned [through trade and the like] and of what We bring forth for you from the earth, and do not be of the mind to give the bad part of it, for you yourselves would not take it unless you ignore…” (2:267)
We are surely reluctant to receive anything worthless; so how could we give away something we do not like ourselves in the path of Allah? This is definitely disrespectful to our fellow brothers and sisters, insulting the high status of God.
It is highly recommended in Islam to give charity in secret so that the needy does not feel embarrassed and to safeguard his/her dignity and self-esteem. We should know that we are never superior to the one we are helping no matter how great our charity is.
Shall We Help the One Whom Allah Would Help if He Wished?
This question is asked by the disbelievers when Allah tells them to give charity: “When they are told, ‘Spend out of what Allah has provided you,’ the faithless say to the faithful, ‘Shall we feed [someone] whom Allah would feed if He wished? You are only in manifest error’” (36:47).
You might also wonder why Allah does not provide for the destitute Himself and orders the rich to help them! To resolve this doubt one should think about how people would develop virtues if they were all the same and had the same facilities! What would responsibility mean then? What about freedom of choice? Wouldn’t it be deterministic if God chose to help the ones He wished? “Does man suppose that he has been abandoned to futility?” (75:36)
There would be only one answer to all these questions: Each of us is responsible for everything that happens to us and also for our fellow human beings. The teachings of generosity in Islam are recommended in many verses of the holy Quran and stories from our infallible Imams to help us all lead a better life.
Not only that, psychologists and researchers of modern sciences have proven the positive impacts generosity has on our lives, as well. That is why people around the world nowadays are getting more and more engaged in many charitable acts like voluntary works, donations, etc., which would help the cycle of “good” going and make us all live in a happier world.
We already wrote an article on the concept of freedom of thought and freedom of expression in Islam. We argued that Islam encourages people to think about their actions and choices. And even when it comes to accepting Islam, Allah wants people to think and choose their path in life with reason and knowledge.
But the question that sounds a little contrary to freedom of thought is that if people are free to think, and then make their choices based on their knowledge and understanding, then why if a Muslim chooses to leave Islam, in some specific cases he is sentenced to death? Is it even true that leaving Islam is always followed by execution?
In this article, we will examine possible conflicts between freedom of thought and expression, and apostasy. We will also clarify if everyone who leaves Islam should be afraid of Muslims who want to kill him?!
There are so many verses in the holy Quran that show Allah does not want people to be forced to accept Islam. The most famous verse is when Allah clarifies that “There is no compulsion in religion; truly the right way has become distinct from error” (2:256).
He explains that the truth has been explained by the Lord and whoever is willing can believe, and whoever is not willing is free to disbelieve. Nevertheless, He also mentions the consequences of being a disbeliever in the hereafter (18: 29). He emphasizes that it wasn’t a hard job for Him to make all the creation believe in Him, but He didn’t, and He tells His prophet: “will you then force men till they become believers?” (10: 99), while God has created human with free will and the capability to choose.
Freedom of thought is encouraged in Islam as long as it does not lead people and society toward divorcement. “The objective of speech and expression according to Islam is to build up love, tolerance, social harmony, and understanding among members to ensure a peaceful coexistence.”  Therefore, freedom of thought is permitted in Islam as long as it does not harm the society.
There is a fundamental rule in Islam, to which other rulings must not be contrary. A Muslim should neither be harmed nor should he harm anyone else. When thoughts are harmful to people in the society, Islam limits freedom in expressing the thoughts that may create social disorder, since one point that is important in Islam, is to provide people with efficient rulings and ideologies to prevent them from bewilderment.
If one believes in any other religion or ideology rather than Islam and lives with his belief, no one can force him to convert to Islam. Nor can anyone condemn him for not being a Muslim, because accepting Islam is a personal and rational issue and people cannot be followers of others in this regard.
But if a person who was born a Muslim or was converted to Islam freely and after personal investigations, leaves Islam, he is among apostates in Islam. However, not everyone who leaves Islam is sentenced to execution. An apostate who is sentenced to execution is the one who “renounces a religious or political belief or principle, not a person who is doubtful about principles of religion.” 
There are some main beliefs that denying them will make a person an apostate based on Islamic jurisprudence:
1. Denying God,
2. Denying monotheism,
3. Denying prophet-hood of the prophet,
4. Denying the prophet himself,
5. Denying the necessities of religion after knowing their necessity, such as prayer, fasting, almsgiving, etc.
6. Enmity with or humiliating the religion and its sacred places or books or beliefs.
Allah (SWT) says in the Quran; “He who disbelieves in Allah after his having believed, not he who is compelled while his heart is at rest on account of faith, but he who opens (his) breast to disbelief-- on these is the wrath of Allah, and they shall have a grievous chastisement.” (16: 106)
In the above verse and other verses that talk about apostasy, there is no ruling about an execution sentence for the apostate. But in all the verses Allah warns them of a huge punishment in this world and the hereafter. 
Therefore, according to Most Muslim Jurists, if Muslims leave Islam because of their misconceptions about Islamic principles, they are not to face a death penalty, but even they have to be supported by other Muslims and Muslim scholars to continue their investigations until they find the right path in their life. 
But if an apostate leaves Islam, while he knows that Islam is the real truth, and expresses his ideas against Islam overtly and extensively, in a way that he misguides other people from this faith, then under some conditions he is sentenced to execution.
According to Mutahhari, the death penalty for an apostate is applicable only in the realm of the Islamic government for the interest of the Islamic society. 
Also based on the ruling of Ayatullah Khomeini with regards to Salman Rushdie’s book against Islam and the Prophet of Islam, if someone who lives outside the realm of the Islamic government, commits acts by which he would insult the sacred beliefs of Muslims, or threaten the interests of Islamic government, He is ruled to be sentenced to execution.
As the rulings on the execution sentence for apostates in Islam is based on different aspects that can be realized by the jurists and may vary from time to time, based on the conditions of the time, there is no exact definition for the apostate who is sentenced to death. And if the death penalty applies to an apostate, it will be notified by the Muslim jurists.
- Bhat AM (2014) Freedom Of Expression From Islamic Perspective. Journal of Media and Communication Studies 6: 69-77.
- apostasy in Islam
- the Quran: [2: 217] & [5: 54]
- Hilli, Hassan bin Yusuf, Tahrir Al-Ahkam, vol.2, p. 336
- Makarem Shirazi, N. Maktab e Esalam, year 24, No. 6
In different cultures or religions, people pay special attention to some specific numbers. For example, numbers 7, 40, and 70 are amongst lucky numbers, and number 13 is known to be a cursed number in some cultures. However, the significance of the number 40 among many cultures and religions is very noticeable. Therefore, this question may arise that what is so special about this number? Can number forty bring luck and happiness to people? Is it a fact or just a superstition? Let’s have a quick look at the background of the number forty in different religions.
Number forty has been mentioned in the Bible in different verses:
1- Jesus (PBUH) fasted "forty days and forty nights" in the Judean desert. (Matthew 4:2, Mark 1:13, Luke 4:2).
2- Forty days was the period from the resurrection of Jesus to the ascension of Jesus (PBUH). (Acts 1:3).
3- Rain fell for "forty days and forty nights" during the Flood (Genesis 7:4). 
Number forty is mentioned in the Quran four times:
1 & 2- Prophet Moses (PBUH) spent 40 days on Mount Sinai, where he received the ten commandments (2: 51, 7: 142).
3- Prophet Moses (PBUH) and his people were lost in the desert for forty years. (5: 26)
4- As mentioned in the Quran, It seems that the age of forty should be the time when a human being is supposed to reach his/her intellectual perfection and understanding of life. This is the time when one can plan the rest of his/her life in a way to gain the most from this world for the hereafter:
“… When he comes of age and reaches forty years, he says, ‘My Lord! Inspire me to give thanks for Your blessing with which You have blessed my parents and me, and that I may do righteous deeds which please You, and invest my descendants with righteousness. Indeed I have turned to you in penitence, and I am one of the Muslims.” (46: 15)
It is narrated from Prophet Muhammad (PBUH & HP) that “When one becomes forty years old, Allah tells his two guardian angels, ‘From now on, be strict on him and note every small and big deed he does’” . The narration emphasizes that the age of forty shapes the personality of a person, and if he/she is still unable to manage his/her life, it is his/her fault for having wasted his/her life in the wrong way.
There are so many narrations from Prophet Muhammad (PBUH & HP) that mention number forty. Here we list a few of these narrations:
1- “He who purifies his faith for Allah for forty days, Allah will flow the springs of wisdom from his heart to his tongue” .
2- “The prayers of the one who drinks wine are not accepted for forty days unless he repents”  [i].
3- “The prayers of a person who gossips would not be accepted for forty days and nights” .
Some scholars say that number forty is used to emphasize the significant amount of something.
4- “One who leaves his house to gain a gate of knowledge by which he deviates the wrong towards righteous, or deviance to guidance, his deed is equal to forty years worship of a worshipper” .
In some cultures, it is a tradition that forty days after a passed-away person’s burial, close relatives and friends gather in a place with the family of the late person and remember the passed-away person and wish peace and patience for his/her family. In this manner, they show the family of the deceased person that they are not alone, and people will help them and support them when required.
It is based on this tradition, taken from the conduct of the Prophet (PBUH & HP) and his Progeny (AS) that Muslims travel to Karbala on the 40th (Arba’een) martyrdom commemoration of Imam Hussain (AS) and his companions; Not only to sympathize with the household of Prophet (PBUH & HP) on this event, but to show their gratefulness for their courage in preserving the true Islam and the conduct of the Prophet (PBUH & HP). More importantly, Muslims show that the aim of Imam Hussain (AS) is still observed and taken care of.
Based on the importance that some verses of the Quran and narrations of the Prophet (PBUH & HP) give to number forty, Muslim scholars, especially those who are fond of Islamic mysticism and self-purification, pay special attention to number forty in their conducts and life-style.
Therefore, there is nothing wrong with trying to benefit from the blessings that the number forty may have. And it is trustworthy because Allah and the Prophet (PBUH & HP) have mentioned it. However, normal human beings do not have a real knowledge of numbers and the wisdom behind them.
As mentioned in a narration earlier, the Prophet (PBUH & HP) says that if you purify your faith for forty days, you will see a great result.  The reason is that if one works so hard on his/her spirituality to be able to purify his faith for forty days, it will become a habit for him. Allah says in the Quran, “Be wary of Allah, and Allah will teach you, and Allah has knowledge of all things” (2: 282), which is very much relevant to the mentioned narration. Therefore, one interpretation of doing something for forty days is that whatever you do for this long period, with persistence, will become your habit, and after something becomes a habit, you can easily go on with it for the rest of your life.
To sum up, there is no such thing as lucky or cursed numbers. And instead of trying to find luck in numbers, one should work hard to develop his personality, spirituality, knowledge, and wisdom.
But the reason number forty has been mentioned by the Prophet (PBUH & HP), and Islamic scholars might be a symbol of enormousness, meaning that if you persist in doing something for a considerable amount of time, it will become your habit. However, the reason why they insisted on number forty might be because they wanted to spread unique conduct and a specific discipline among the believers.
[i] Some may think that if praying and fasting are not accepted for forty days after drinking, then it will be OK if they do not pray or fast for forty days after they drink. It should be noted that praying and fasting are still compulsory for the person who drinks. However, the sin is counted so huge that they should repent from it, deciding not to commit it again, and say their prayers and perform fasting and other obligations.
- number in religion
Al-kafi, Vol 8, P. 108
Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 67, p. 242
Mustadrak al-Wasa’il, vol. 17. P. 57
Al-Kafi, Vol. 6, p. 400
Amali- e Tousi, p. 118
Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 67, p. 242