Why Is It Important to Be Generous?

Generosity is such an important virtue in the religion of Islam that the holy Quran says with regard to it: “You will never attain piety until you spend out of what you hold dear, and whatever you may spend of anything, Allah indeed knows it” (3:92).

 

As perfect exemplars of this great ethical virtue, the holy prophet (PBUH) and infallible Imams (AS) always recommended their followers to be unconditionally kind and bountiful with people. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) stated: “A generous person is closer to Allah, to the people and heaven” [1]

 

 

 

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God’s Promise to the Generous

 

Allah says in the Holy Quran:

 

“As for him who gives and is Godwary, and confirms the best promise, We will surely ease him toward facility” (92:5-7)

 

Generosity is one of the qualities of the soul which Allah bestows upon His beloved ones, who are not concerned about material wealth and willingly give to others to make the world a better place and reach God’s satisfaction.

 

In return, The Bountiful Allah has promised to provide the generous with ease and facility both in this world and the hereafter. Under God’s promise to generous people in the verse above, scientific studies also confirm the ease and happiness generosity would bring about. “A huge review of 40 studies on the effect of volunteering on general health and happiness was published in the journal BMC Public Health. The results? Volunteering not only improves well-being and life satisfaction, but it is also linked with decreased depression and a lower risk of dying early” [2].

 

One Reason Why We Should Be Generous!


One of the most eminent characteristics of the holy infallible Imams was their generosity. It has been narrated that Imam Hassan (AS) granted his whole wealth twice in his lifetime to win Allah’s satisfaction and improve the life of his fellow human beings. He also divided his property with the poor three times, granting half his wealth to the poor altogether, including his own shoes [3]. Money was only a means for him to help the needy. “Once, he was asked: ‘We do not see you disappoint a beggar. Why?’

 

 

He replied: ‘I am asking Allah for His favors, and I love to be near Him. I am ashamed, as I am myself in need of Allah, to repulse a beggar. Allah got me used to a habit; to shower me with His bounties, and I get Him used to me showering His bounties on the people. I fear that should I stop my habit, He may stop His habit.’” [4]

 

 

This implies the verse of the holy Quran that says:

 

“Be good [to others] just as Allah has been good to you” (28:77)

 

 

It is noteworthy, however, that the infallible Imams never sought excessive asceticism. Neither did they ordain absolute abstinence from worldly delights [i]. Although they were sometimes rich, they willingly wanted to lead the life of the poorest people in the society. So that they could sympathize with them, and show the nothingness of the perishable earthly wealth compared with other eternal values.

 

 

But does it mean that Muslims have to give all their wealth away generously like their leaders? In fact, this kind of behavior mostly suits the leaders of a community. What Islam expects from the rest of the people is moderation in generosity.

 

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The Rewards and Consequences of Generosity in Islam  


Along with the social and individual benefits of the generosity in Islam for the giver proven by the researchers, ranging from a better outlook on life to having a lower risk of early death, the Quranic verses also name some more spiritual effects of this act of benevolence:

 

Achieving the Blessings of Allah


Generosity and charity make us receive the unlimited, immeasurable blessings and mercy of God:

 

“Those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah and then do not follow up what they have spent with reproaches and affronts, they shall have their reward near their Lord, and they will have no fear, nor will they grieve” (2:262)

 

Increase in God’s Provision and Sustenance (Rizq)


God has guaranteed multiplied reward as the replacement of donation and generosity in this world and the hereafter:

 

“… and He will repay whatever you may spend, and He is the best of providers’” (34:39)

 

“The parable of those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah is that of a grain which grows seven ears, in every ear a hundred grains. Allah enhances several fold whomever He wishes, and Allah is all-bounteous, all-knowing” (2:261)

 

Living with Ease


God showers his endless blessings upon generous people. He makes it easy for them to follow the path of obedience and charity until they are granted a life free from any fears or difficulties:

 

“Those who give their wealth by night and day, secretly and openly, they shall have their reward near their Lord, and they will have no fear, nor will they grieve” (2:274)

 

Imperishable Gain


“Indeed, those who recite the Book of Allah and maintain the prayer, and spend secretly and openly out of what We have provided them, expect a commerce that will never go bankrupt” (35:29)

 

The Reward of the Ultimate Abode


“Those who are patient for the sake of their Lord’s pleasure, maintain the prayer, and spend secretly and openly out of what We have provided them, and repel evil [conduct] with good. For such will be the reward of the [ultimate] abode” (13:22)

 

In the next part of this article, we will introduce 6 Etiquettes of Generosity and Almsgiving. 

 

Notes:

[i] Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) says: “there is no monasticism in Islam” [5].

 

Reference:

[1] Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 70, p. 308.

[2] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/01/generosity-health_n_4323727.html

[3] https://www.al-islam.org/imamate-and-imams-ayatullah-ibrahim-amini/second-imam-hasan-ibn-ali

[4] https://www.al-islam.org/imam-hasan-bin-ali-al-balagh/his-generosity