Importance of Spending on the Needy
As the month of Ramadhan comes to its end, World Ahlul Bayt Islamic League (WABIL) would like to take this opportunity to remind all believers of the duty incumbent upon them to spend as much as possible on those less fortunate and needy. Anyone who has a degree of comfort, no matter how small, is duty bound to spend out of his wealth on those who are needy. Moreover, those involved in collecting funds to help the needy have a greater duty to ensure that the less fortunate’s needs are met immediately without delay.
AnsÄb al-AshrÄf – narrating from Abi SÄlih al-SammÄn: “I saw Ali (a.s.) enter the public treasury and he noticed some money there and he said: “These are here while there are people in need?” He then ordered the money to be distributed among people. He had the place swept and sprinkled with water and he said his prayers there.” - AnsÄb al-AshrÄf, vol. 2, p. 371. TÄrikh Dimashq, vol. 42, p. 476.
Al-GhÄrÄt – narrating from Bakr ibn `IsÄ mentioning the conduct (sira) of ImÄm Ali (a.s.): “Verily he distributed (among the people) whatever there was in the public treasury. There came no Friday when anything would remain in the treasury. Every Thursday evening, he ordered the treasury to be cleaned and sprinkled with water and he would then perform two units (rak’as) of prayers.” - al-GhÄrÄt, vol. 1, p. 69. Also cf., Hiliyat al-AwliyÄ, vol.7, p. 30.
The above show how it is incumbent on those collecting funds for the needy to not amass the money, sitting on it while people are desperately waiting for the aid to reach them. Nothing can justify an organisation collecting money and not distributing it: often organisations claim that they are holding back some of their funds for a rainy day. However, this would mean a lack of trust in Allah providing in the future. The only justification for holding back some of the collected donations would be to fund ongoing projects.
Further, we must aim to live, eat, dress, behave, simply and modestly, as our Imams shunned all pomp and social status. Our own community is currently infected with the malaise of driving high-status cars, living in luxury accommodation, and spending millions on so-called religious projects which actually demand simplicity and respect for the humility of the Infallibles (as). To use religion to justify social status and spending is treachery. As Imam Ali (as) advised his governor of Basrah, Uthman ibn Hunayf in Nahjul Balaghah Letter 45;
“O IBN HUNAYF, I have come to know that a young man of Basrah invited you to a feast and you leapt towards it. Foods of different colours were being chosen for you and big bowls were being given to you. I never thought that you would accept the feast of a people who turn out the beggars and invite the rich….
Remember that every follower has a leader whom he follows and from the effulgence of whose knowledge he takes light. Realize that your Imam (Ali a.s) has contented himself with two shabby pieces of cloth out of the (comforts of the) world and two loaves for his meal. ….
If I wished I could have taken the way leading towards (worldly pleasures like) pure honey, fine wheat and silk clothes but it cannot be that my passions lead me and greed take me to choosing good meals while in the Hijaz or in Yamamah there may be people who have no hope of getting bread or who do not have a full meal. Shall I lie with a satiated belly while around me there may be hungry bellies and thirsty livers?”
The advice above should pierce our hearts with embarrassment if we live in comfort and squander money when there are believers who cry due to poverty.
WABIL urges you to rise up, awaken your souls, and trade in this transient world for the permanent Hereafter, to spend on those who are needy, and seek closeness to Allah by seeking nearness to the Prophet (sawa) and his Holy Progeny.
Sayed Mohammad Al-Musawi
World Ahlul Bayt Islamic League (WABIL)