Asked what charity looks like and most probably people would say “giving money to the poor”. It would definitely be the most popular answer. Whilst that is very true, we know that charity can encompass so much more.
Sometimes, it doesn’t even involve reaching deep into our pockets. But always, it should involve reaching deep into our souls. We need to search for something within that we can share with others for their betterment and not for our self-aggrandizement. Of course, all of this should happen with a firm belief that we only seek the best reward from Allah and not necessarily a ‘thank you’ from the ones we aim to help.
So, even during this time of global political and economic gloom and doom, I know that charity doesn’t have to stop. I may not always have money to spare but Islam teaches me that charity can be practised in so many different ways. For example, smiling at someone, lending an ear in someone’s time of need and for me, not least, writing this blog for the last 2+ years.
Whilst the original intention for writing here was to help myself offload years after my divorce and find a form of release, the blog has since evolved into a place where I hope others can find respite too, inshaAllah. So, the intention (niyyah) for it has also reshaped itself and it’s heartwarming to have received replies over the months from people I don’t even know and yet who have welcomed the implicit advice I have shared along the way. But it’s not even about receiving praise from others; it’s about learning that there has been a tiny positive impact made on their lives. May Allah always allow this humble blog to ignite a flame of adventure and plant a seed of empowerment in the minds of others, inshaAllah.
Not surprisingly, even now, I still come across divorced women who are in a total quandary about life. I sympathise. I was one of them myself. For a short time. Now I know better than to put all my eggs in one basket. But whilst I may not be able to alleviate people’s pain with money (I doubt money is the ultimate solution anyway), my task here is to draw upon my own experiences and share them appropriately in a manner where others may take heed. I have been blessed with this platform and a voice and hope to make it work for others. That’s what motivates me to keep returning week after week. It might be the only charity I can afford for now but I pray it has far-reaching and meaningful consequences for all who stop by.
In an ideal world, who wouldn’t love to give money to those less fortunate and help set them up in life? There will always be the desire to do good in this way and there will always be that need somewhere. However, money is in the hands of many and beyond simply emptying our purse in a dispassionate way, Allah has blessed each of us with unique capabilities and we need to draw upon and exploit them for the benefit of others. I believe a real sense of charity comes at a cost to ourselves – and I don’t mean in monetary terms only. For it to have meaning to us, there will be inconveniences. Making personal sacrifices with time, physical and mental energy, intellectual abilities and other intangible qualities that we all possess, takes a charitable act onto a higher level. That’s where the individual challenge should be sought. Arguably, those examples are where the best forms of charity even lie.
Ultimately, we connect everything back to Allah. Even the ability and desire to do good in the first place. Recognising the tools He has placed in our hands is a wonderful start. Using them effectively is an even bigger example of the gratitude we express in return. Ultimately, anything we give in the name of charity has its returns and often in ways we couldn’t even begin to comprehend. The best return is the one which reconfigures our thinking and aligns it closer to what Allah wants from us. The real lesson in charity is not that we have made a difference to the lives of others but they have made a difference to our understanding of ourselves.