Chapter 57: Contentment and Self-esteem and avoidance of unnecessary begging of People
allah, the exalted, says:
"and no moving (living) creature is there on earth but its provision is due from allah.'' (11:6)
"(charity is) for fuqara (the poor), who in allah's cause are restricted (from travel), and cannot move about in the land (for trade or work). the one who knows them not, thinks that they are rich because of their modesty. you may know them by their mark, they do not beg of people at all.'' (2:273)
"and those, who, when they spend, are neither extravagant nor niggardly, but hold a medium (way) between those (extremes).'' (25:67)
"and i (allah) created not the jinn and mankind except that they should worship me (alone). i seek not any provision from them (i.e., provision for themselves or for my creatures) nor do i ask that they should feed me (i.e., feed themselves or my creatures).'' (51:56,57)
522. abu hurairah (may allah be pleased with him) reported: the prophet (pbuh) said, "richness is not the abundance of wealth, rather it is self-sufficiency.''
[al-bukhari and muslim].
commentary: self-sufficiency means that man lives on whatever he possesses, remains contentedly independent of others and avoids begging of them. herein lies a suggestion that man should submit to divine dispensation. he should not desire more than he needs, nor should he keep an eye on the wealth of others.
523. `abdullah bin `amr bin al-as (may allah be pleased with them) reported: the messenger of allah (pbuh) said, "successful is the one who has entered the fold of islam and is provided with sustenance which is sufficient for his needs, and allah makes him content with what he has bestowed upon him.''.
commentary: to be contented with the independent subsistence (kafaf) has been counted a merit by the prophet (pbuh) because this prevents one from begging of people. the hadith points out the excellence of those people who remain satisfied with their limited resources and do not beg of people. similarly, autarky has its own merit because affluence often makes a man proud, whereas penury lowers his image in the eyes of people. yet adequate livelihood has no room for the pitfalls of the two other situations.
524. hakim bin hizam (may allah be pleased with him) reported: i begged messenger of allah (pbuh) and he gave me; i begged him again and he gave me. i begged him again and he gave me and said, "o hakim, wealth is pleasant and sweet. he who acquires it with self-contentment, it becomes a source of blessing for him; but it is not blessed for him who seeks it out of greed. he is like one who goes on eating but his hunger is not satisfied. the upper hand is better than the lower one.'' i said to him, "o messenger of allah, by him who sent you with the truth i will not, after you, ask anyone for anything till i leave this world.'' so abu bakr (may allah be pleased with him) would summon hakim (may allah be pleased with him) to give his rations, but he would refuse. then 'umar (may allah be pleased with him) would call him but he would decline to accept anything. so 'umar (may allah be pleased with him) said addressing muslims: "o muslims, i ask you to bear testimony that i offer hakim his share of the booty that allah has assigned for him but he refuses my offer.'' thus hakim did not accept anything from anyone after the death of messenger of allah (pbuh), till he died.
[al-bukhari and muslim].
commentary: man constantly remains engaged in hoarding wealth and there comes no point of termination to this process. rather, the more he gets it, the more he is overpowered by lust for it till he is carried to the grave. if man gets wealth in a dignified way without being crazy for it, ethics certainly allows him to do so.
525. abu burdah (may allah be pleased with him) reported: abu musa al-ash`ari (may allah be pleased with him) said: "six of us accompanied messenger of allah (pbuh) in an expedition. we had one camel with us; we rode it in turn. our feet got injured and my nails also fell out. we wrapped up our feet in rags; and because of this the campaign came to be known as dhat-ur-riqa` (the campaign of rags).'' abu burdah (may allah be pleased with him) says: abu musa reported this hadith but regretted having done so. he said, "would that i had not mentioned it!'' he said so because he disliked to disclose anything concerning his deeds.
[al-bukhari and muslim].
commentary: this hadith also throws light on the ascetic and insightful life of the companions and their submission to the divine will. moreover, we are told that it is advisable not to disclose virtuous deeds in order to avoid committing the sin of showing off.
526. `amr bin taghlib (may allah be pleased with him) reported: some booty or prisoners of war were brought to messenger of allah (pbuh) and he distributed them, giving some men and neglecting others. then, he was informed that those whom he had not given a thing were displeased. on this the messenger of allah (pbuh) praised allah and glorified him and said, "it is a fact that i give to one and overlook another. the one i ignore is dearer to me than the one i give. i give to those in whose hearts i perceive anxiety; others i leave with the richness and contentment that allah has put in their hearts. one of them is `amr bin taghlib.'' upon this `amr bin taghlib said, "by allah i shall not accept a herd of red camels in exchange for what the prophet said (about me).''
commentary: whatever voluntary gifts or the spoils of war were brought to messenger of allah (pbuh), he divided them out to the companions. in distribution, he weighed different considerations in his mind and the beneficiaries were categorized into three groups: the needy, the deserving cases and those whose hearts were to be won over. his primary concern, however, was to make donations to only those people about whom he had apprehensions that, if ignored, they would display impatience and weakness. in this way the reliable and contented type of men were intentionally ignored. the superiority of `amr bin taghlib (may allah be pleased with him) is determined by the fact that the prophet (pbuh) counted him among the latter, and he rightly took it as a great honour for him. hence, we conclude that a ruler enjoys powers of expediency with regard to doling out from the public treasury. yet, he is supposed to carry into practice what is implied by piety, integrity and trustworthiness. he must not be subordinate to self interests.
527. hakim bin hizam (may allah be pleased with him) reported: the prophet (pbuh) said, "the upper hand is better than the lower one; and begin (charity) with those who are under your care; and the best charity is (the one which is given) out of surplus; and he who wishes to abstain from begging will be protected by allah; and he who seeks self-sufficiency will be made self-sufficient by allah.''
commentary: in this hadith the underlying points are self-evident but the last point is very important: those who avoid begging of others and remain independent of them are beloved to allah. indeed he helps such people. instead of leaving them alone to be degraded on account of begging, he bestows upon them the sense of self-sufficiency, patience and contentment.
528. abu sufyan (may allah be pleased with him) reported: messenger of allah (pbuh) said, "do not be importunate in begging. by allah! if one of you asks me for something and i give it to him unwillingly, there is no blessing in what i give him.''
commentary: here one has been prevented from making demands to others importunately, pressingly and persistently. because even if one gets something in this way, it will be bereft of blessing. the reason is that the giver's will is not involved in the matter as he has given the charity to the beggar with a sense of reluctance and aversion and out of modesty.
529. `auf bin malik al-ashja`i (may allah be pleased with him) reported: seven, eight or nine people, including myself, were with messenger of allah (pbuh) on an occasion when he (pbuh) remarked, "would you pledge allegiance to messenger of allah?'' as we had taken oath of allegiance shortly before, we said, "we have already done so, o messenger of allah.'' he again asked, "would you not pledge allegiance to messenger of allah?'' so we stretched out our hands and said, "we have already made our pledge with you, o messenger of allah, on what should we make a pledge with you?'' he said, "to worship allah and not to associate anything with him, to perform the five (daily) salat and to obey.'' then he added in a low tone, "and not to ask people for anything.'' thereafter, i noticed that some of these people who were present did not ask anyone to pick up even the whip for them if it fell from their hands. [muslim].
commentary: herein we find an approval of renewing the oath of loyalty; besides, there is also a ground for administering such oath in respect of the obedience and worship of allah, and decent behaviour. what is more, we are also under obligation to observe all that the oath of fealty stands for.
530. ibn `umar (may allah be pleased with them) reported: the prophet (pbuh) said, "if one of you would keep begging (of people) until he meets allah (on the day of resurrection) his face will be without a shred of flesh.''
[al-bukhari and muslim].
commentary: the lack of flesh from the face is either metaphorically indicative of disgrace and wretchedness, or it would factually happen as a symptom of sinning and the punishment thereof. this seems to be more plausible. aversion against begging has been fomented in this hadith because it brings shame both in this world and the hereafter.
531. ibn `umar (may allah be pleased with them) reported: while messenger of allah (pbuh) was on his pulpit (in the mosque) delivering a khutbah (religious talk) about sadaqah (charity) and begging, he said, "the upper hand is better than the lower hand, the upper hand is the one which gives and the lower hand is the begging one.''
[al-bukhari and muslim].
532. abu hurairah (may allah be pleased with him) reported: messenger of allah (pbuh) said, "he who begs to increase his riches is in fact asking only for a live coal. it is up to him to decrease it or increase it.''
commentary: we come to know that begging without a pressing need is such a disgraceful crime that it brings one to hell-fire. what a pity that beggary prevails among the followers of a religion which brands it as an abominable crime! it is extremely pitiable and lamentable that muslims are ignorant of and indifferent to islamic teachings.
533. samurah bin jundub (may allah be pleased with him) reported: messenger of allah (pbuh) said, "begging is a cut that a person inflicts upon his face; except for asking a ruler, or under the stress of circumstances from which there is no escape.''
commentary: to submit his demand to the head of state means that if a man deserves help, he should go to the public treasury which exists in an islamic country so as to fulfill the needs of the needy gracefully. if his access to it is not possible, he is free to put his demand to others as well.
534. ibn mas`ud (may allah be pleased with him) reported: messenger of allah (pbuh) said, "he who suffers poverty and seeks relief from people, he will not be relieved; but he who seeks relief from allah alone, he will be relieved sooner or later.''
[abu dawud and at-tirmidhi].
commentary: in this hadith, it has been suggested that a man in need should turn to allah alone and not to human beings because he alone meets the needs of all creatures. yet, if the situation and need so demand, he may also resort to people, but he should have the firm conviction that their co-operation and help depend on the will of allah.
535. thauban (may allah be pleased with him) reported: messenger of allah (pbuh) said, "he who guarantees me that he will not beg anything from anyone, i will guarantee him (to enter) jannah.'' i said, "i give you the guarantee.'' then thauban (may allah be pleased with him) never begged anything from anyone.
commentary: not to seek any kind of aid from anybody means that a request should not be made as such without need. because in the hour of need a man is permitted by the shari`ah to request somebody to meet his requirement. yet, if on such occasions he still avoids begging of anybody, it will reflect a very high point of his scrupulous uprightness. later thauban (may allah be pleased with him) adopted this way. ibn majah says in his sunan that if from the horseback his whip fell on the ground, instead of seeking the help of anybody he would himself get down and pick it up.
536. qabisah bin al-mukhariq (may allah be pleased with him) reported: i stood as surety for a debt and came to messenger of allah (pbuh) to seek his help in discharging it. messenger of allah (pbuh) said, "wait till we receive charity and i shall give you out of it.'' he (pbuh) added, "o qabisah, begging is not lawful except for three people. one who has incurred debt (for assuming guarantee), for him begging is permissible till the guarantee is discharged and he should then refrain; a person whose property has been destroyed by a calamity is allowed to beg till he attains self-sufficiency; a person who meets with dire necessity (due to hunger) provided that three men of understanding from his people affirm the genuineness (of his poverty), for him begging is lawful till he attains means of his subsistence. other than these, o qabisah, anything received through begging is unlawful, its recipient devours it unlawfully.''
commentary: this hadith explicitly tells us about the three types of men who are allowed to beg of others. a detailed description has already been mentioned above.
537. abu hurairah (may allah be pleased with him) reported: messenger of allah (pbuh) said, "a needy person is not the one who goes from door to door, begging and is turned away with a morsel or two or with a date or two. but a needy person is the one who does not have enough to live upon, and neither from his appearance it occurs that he is needy and should be given alms, nor does he himself beg anything from others.''
[al-bukhari and muslim].
commentary: the professional beggars and the truly needy have clearly been identified here. the point is that we should try to find out deserving people and spend on them. because, despite being needy, they do not wear a professional look nor do they approach anybody to receive alms. in no way will it be counted as charity if we satisfy ourselves by giving a few coins to a professional beggar whom we come across on the road