بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيْم

اَلْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِيْن،وَالصَّلاۃ وَالسَّلامُ عَلَی النَّبِیِّ الْکَرِيم وَعَلیٰ آله وَاَصْحَابه اَجْمَعِيْن۔

Allah Demands From us‘a Goodly Loan’!

Despite the fact that Allah is the Creator, the Owner and the Sustainer, has created us all including Jinns and Human Beings, he has asked us repeatedly in the Holy Qur’an, that we should pay Him qarazan hasana, a goodly loan. This is His absolute bounty and endowment that He has bequeathed us all the means to earn wealth and thereupon, He demands from us a loan!

In the Holy Qur’an, Allah has referred to this kind of loan twelve times, in six different verses. At every place the loan has been associated with the expression of hasana, the goodly and the fair loan. In these verses, Allah has described several forms of compensation for this kind of ‘goodly loan’ e.g. the best reward in this life, the best recompense in the world and in the Hereafter, a great reward in the Hereafter, pardoning of the sins and admittance into the Paradise.

The literal meaning of the Arabic word qard is ‘to cut’. In this context, such a loan would entail that a person cuts off some part of his wealth and spends it in the name of Allah who in turn promises its reparation several times more than the original sum. By helping out the destitute, no dearth is caused in a person’s wealth, rather the fortune apportioned for the poor and the needy is divinely returned back to the individual with a manifold increase. This increase sometimes manifests itself through both the material and spiritual abundance within this lifetime and in the Hereafter, there would certainly be an overwhelming blessing in this loan which is hasana, the better, the beautiful, the good!

The six Qur’anic Verses about this kind of loan are as follows:

  • Who is the one who would give Allah a good loan so that Allah multiplies it for him many times? Allah withholds and extends, and to Him you are to be returned. (Surah Al Baqara Verse 245)
  • Behold! I shall be with you! If you are constant in prayer, and spend in charity, and believe in my apostles and aid them, and offer up unto Allah a goodly loan, I will surely efface your bad deeds and bring you into gardens through which running waters flow. (Surah Al Ma’ida Verse 12)
  • Who is it that will offer up unto Allah a goodly loan, which he will amply repay? For such (as who do so) shall have a noble reward. (Surah Al Hadeed Verse 11)
  • Verily as for the men and women who accept the truth as true as who offer up unto Allah a goodly loan, they will be amply repaid and shall have a noble reward (in the life to come). (Surah Al Hadeed Verse 18)
  • If you offer unto Allah a goodly loan, He will amply repay you for it, and will forgive your sins: for Allah is ever Responsive to gratitude and is Forbearing. (Surah Al Taghabun Verse 17)
  • And spend in charity and thus lend unto Allah a goodly loan: for whatever good deed you may offer up in your own behalf, you shall truly find it with Allah, better and richer in reward. (Surah Al Muzammil Verse 20)

The connotations of the goodly loan:

This beautiful expression connotes spending in charity in the name of Allah, supporting the poor and the needy, maintaining the orphans and the helpless widows, paying the debts of the poverty-stricken and spending on one’s own family. In short all the forms of human charity are included in this concept of ‘goodly loan’ that Allah challenges the mankind with. One more form of this loan that the scholars of Islam have noted is to lend money or resources to a genuinely needy person with the intention that if he is not able to return the amount, it would be forgiven in the name of Allah.

Why does Allah attribute men’s spending for other human beings as a goodly loan unto Himself?

Allah is Eternal, the uncaused cause of everything. He has no needs of any kind. He is the fulfiller of all the needs. We all benefit from His treasures of blessings and benedictions and He grants with a magnanimous hand so that we may benefit others of our sort and be means of goodness to the servants of Allah. He has sought to arrange this special succour to reach his servants through us. He calls it ‘a goodly loan’ which He has promised to amply compensate. We have several examples among the pious of the Ummah who immediately welcomed the opportunity. In this connection we have the famous story of Abu Al Dahdah (RA) as follows:

Abdullah bin Mas’ud (RA) narrates that when a verse, related with qard-e-hasan, the fair and goodly loan was revealed, a Companion of the Prophet (PBUH) from among the Ansaar named Abu Al Dahdah presented himself before the Prophet (PBUH) and asked if it was true that Allah had asked for a goodly loan. When the Prophet (PBUH) replied in the affirmative, Abu Al Dahdah requested the pleasure of holding the Prophet’s (PBUH) hand to pledge his orchard of 600 date palm trees as the goodly loan to Allah. He later went to that garden and called his wife Umme Al Dahdah from outside its walls to come out with her household belongings as it had been presented to the Prophet (PBUH) to fulfill the needs of the poor Muslims in the name of Allah. In Surah Al Hashr Verse 9, Allah has appreciated such people in these words: (Those who) give the others preference over themselves, even though poverty may afflict them. And whosoever is saved from his own avarice, such are they who are successful.

Following are the instances of the great virtue and reward of the goodly loan, spending in the path of Allah:

  • The parable of those who spend their possessions for the sake of Allah is that of a grain out of which grow seven ears, in every ear a hundred grains: for Allah wants manifold increase unto whom He wills. And Allah is Infinite, All-knowing. (Surah Al Baqara Verse 261)
  • And the parable of those who spend their possessions out of a longing to please Allah, and out of their own inner certainty, is that of a garden on high fertile ground: a rainstorm smites it and thereupon it brings forth its fruit twofold; and if no rainstorm smites it, then soft rain (falls upon it). And Allah sees all that you do. (Surah Al Baqara Verse 265)
  • I and the one who patronizes an orphan would be like two joined fingers in the paradise. (Bukhari)
  • The one who supports the poor and the widow is like the one who goes out to fight in the path of Allah.
  • The one who provides clothes to a fellow Muslim who is in need, Allah will grant him green dresses of the paradise to wear. The one who feeds a Muslim in hunger, Allah will bestow him the heavenly fruits to eat. The one who quenches the thirst of a Muslim, Allah will provide for him sealed wine of the heaven. (Abu Da’ud, Tirmidhi)
  • You are granted sustenance and you are helped in your need for the sake of those who are weak and vulnerable. (Bukhari)
  • The charity does not cause the wealth to be reduced. (Muslim)

Whatever sincerity we employ while we spend in the path of Allah, it will bring a corresponding reward and recompense. There are traditions that affirm that even one penny that is spent to aid a destitute with sincerity would bring forth a reward which is upto seven hundred times the original act and even more.

In the verse No. 261 of Surah Al Baqara quoted above, two great attributes of Allah have been mentioned: The Infinite and the All-knowing which are indicative of the great bounty and plenteousness of His endowments and His great and thorough knowledge that encompass everything that a person spends as well as the intention with which it is spent. Thus both the spending and the objective of the spending are both of crucial importance. In this context, the following traditions of the Prophet (PBUH) are important to remember:

Who should be the recipient of this charity ‘the beautiful loan’?

This special charity, this goodly loan can be extended to the poor relatives, orphans, widows, destitute poor people, debtors who are unable to pay back their loans and the travelers who lose their resources during their journey. Allah has said in Surah Adh-Dhariyat Verse 19: And in all that they possess, (there is) a due share unto such as might ask (for help) and such as might suffer privation.

What to spend in charity and in the way of qarde hasana, the goodly loan?

In Surah Al Baqara Verse 267, Allah enjoins: O you who believe! Spend on others out of the good things which you may have acquired.

In Surah Aal-e-Imran Verse 92, it is ordained: Never shall you attain to true piety unless you spend on others out of what you cherish yourselves; and whatever you spend, verily, Allah has full knowledge thereof.

When this second verse was revealed, Abu Talha (RA) came to the Prophet (PBUH) and said, “O Prophet (PBUH), Allah has solicited the spending out of the most cherished belongings and among all my possessions I love my orchard (Bairha’) the most. I hand it out for the sake of Allah and I expect its reward and recompense from Him.” The Prophet (PBUH) replied, “O Abu Talha! You have traded it for a great advantage.”

In another tradition it is narrated that Abu Talha pleaded thus: O Prophet (PBUH) my orchard amounting to this big sum is for voluntary charity and if I had the power to keep this charity a secret, I would have done that.

When Umar Farooq (RA) heard this verse of Surah Aal-e-Imran he also presented himself before the Prophet (PBUH) and said, “Among all my possessions, I love my share of the land in Khyber and I wish to give it away in the path of Allah.” The Prophet (PBUH) said, “Make a trust of it. Hold the principle entity and give away its produce in the path of Allah.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Muhammad bin Munkadir relates that when this verse was revealed, Zayd bin Haaretha (RA) had a very beloved horse among his belongings and he brought it to the Prophet (PBUH) and said, “This is my voluntary charity.” The Prophet (PBUH) took it from him and presented it to Zayd’s son Usama (RA). Zayd’s face exhibited signs of wonderment and awe, to this the Prophet (PBUH) responded, “Allah has accepted your charity. Now I may distribute it to anyone, be it your son, any of your relatives or a stranger.”

In short, the revelation of this one verse alone stirred an entire audience of the faithful companions (RA) to present their most cherished and prized treasures in voluntary charity and these were distributed among the needy by the Prophet (PBUH).

Elucidation:

The Prophet (PBUH) himself had trained the great Companions (RA) and he (PBUH) had perfected their faith and trust in Allah and that is why, they had a ready willingness to devote and spend each and every article of their assets in the path of Allah merely to please Him Almighty. The fabulous charitable donations of Abu Bakr Siddique (RA) at the time of the Khyber expedition and the examples of the frequent and generous spending ascribed to Usman Ghani (RA) are but two instances among thousands of others that bedeck the pages of Islamic history. We should try to follow these great examples and the least we should do is to spend in the path of Allah, give Him the goodly loan from out of our rightful and honest earnings.

The elements that render this fair and goodly loan effective and fruitful ineffective and fruitless:

These include show-off and ostentation, the desire to be known as a charitable and magnanimous person and to adopt a sarcastic and ironical attitude towards those whom one gives charity.

Allah has so beautifully described the factors that spoil or enhance the good effects of qarde hasana in Surah Al Baqara Verses 262-265:

‘They who spend their possessions for the sake of Allah and do not thereafter mar their spending by stressing their own benevolence and hurting (the feelings of the needy) shall have their reward with their Sustainer, and they need not have any fear, and neither shall they grieve.

A kind word and the veiling of another’s want is better than a charitable deed followed by hurt; and Allah is Self-Sufficient, Forbearing.

‘O you who have attained to faith! Do not deprive your charitable deeds of all worth by stressing your own benevolence and hurting (the feelings of the needy), as does he who spends his wealth only to be seen and praised by men, and believes not in Allah and the Last Day: for his parable is that of a smooth rock with (a little) earth upon it and then a rainstorm smites it and leaves it hard and bare. Such as these shall have no gain whatever from all their (good) works: for Allah does not guide people who refuse to acknowledge the truth.

‘And the parable of those who spend their possessions out of a longing to please Allah, and out of their own inner certainty, is that of a garden on high, fertile ground: A rainstorm smites it, and thereupon it brings forth its fruit twofold; and if no rainstorm smites it, soft rains (falls upon it). And Allah sees all that you do.’

Spending in the path of Allah even in straitened and distressed circumstances:

Allah is so kind and benevolent that He becomes happy with His servants even when they spend out of their meagre resources and small fortunes. The only condition is sincerity and good intention. We should be ready to be charitable even in the times of difficulty and austerity.

Allah appreciates His servants thus in Surah Aal-e-Imran Verse No. 134:

‘Those who spend in time of plenty and in time of hardship and hold in check their anger, and pardon their fellow-men because Allah loves the doers of good.’

A similar accolade has been stated in Surah Al Baqara Verse No. 177: ‘And he who spends his affluence, however much he may cherish it, upon his near of kin, and the orphans, and the needy and the wayfarer, and the beggars, and for the freeing of the human beings from bondage, and is constant in prayer, and renders the purifying dues to the poor.’

Once the Prophet (PBUH) was asked about the best form of charity and he replied: “Spending in the condition when you are healthy and full of life and while you are afraid of becoming poor and have desire to be prosperous.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Allah has made wealth an indispensable means of human life and has taught man how to earn it but he has kept the end of all his efforts in His own hand. He can expand the material resources of whomsoever He wills and he can also constrict these. He has formulated an entire economic system within the auspices of Islamic Law that governs human quest for material sustenance. This system has been delegated even more beautiful and enriching by introducing voluntary charity, sadaqaat as well as fixed poor’s-due (zakaat).

Allah has made us interdependent and He is consistently watching our actions as to where we earn from and where we spend our earnings. On the Day of Judgment, according to the Prophetic traditions, we shall not be able to move an inch towards absolution unless we justify the means we adopted to earn money and the ends where we utilized it.

Mohammad Najeeb Qasmi (www.najeebqasmi.com)