Allah has created and determined human livelihood and sustenance to be different one from another. Apart from being a test, to see whether they are grateful or otherwise, it is also a blessing of Allah to His servants who are less fortunate.
Payment of zakat is one of the pillars of Islam. Through this decree, it is clear that the teachings of Islam are concerned with the rights and welfare of the disadvantaged. At the same time, it educates and controls the souls of those who are well-off from being engrossed with arrogance, pride and selfishness.
The practice of infaq, or disbursement, is not necessarily restricted to aspects of property, but it is widespread and may include other things that make the Muslim community a community of givers, rather than a community of beggars. This command and advice is enshrined in Surah al-Baqarah, verse 254, and has the following meaning:
“O, you who have believed, spend from that which We have provided for you before there comes a Day in which there is no exchange and no friendship and no intercession. And the disbelievers – they are the wrongdoers.” [Al-Quran, surah al-Baqarah, verse 254].
It is human nature to crave for wealth, because human life is full of needs and wants. Hence, they use all the abilities bestowed upon them by Allah to pursue wealth in this world. In the process, some adhere to the laws and rules laid down by Allah, while others ignore it until there is injustice, persecution, oppression and so on. This is so unfortunate, that man has forgotten himself and little by little, is consumed by Satan’s seduction, and indulges in the temptation of their desires.
The practices of zakat, infaq, and charitable contributions are also closely related to the faith of a Muslim. That is, a Muslim individual must believe that Allah has given the assurance that for those who have contributed their wealth for the sake of Allah, they shall soon receive something better as replacement. This is based on the declaration of Allah in Surah Saba ‘, verse 39:
(Which means): “Say, “Indeed, my Lord extends provision for whom He wills of His servants and restricts [it] for him. But whatever thing you spend [in His cause] – He will compensate it; and He is the best of providers.” [Al-Quran, surah Saba’, verse 39]
It is obvious through this verse that Allah, the Most Gracious and the Most Giving, has provided an outright assurance to those who carry out His commands and recommendations. Faith is the prerequisite for such practice, or act of worship, to be accepted and evaluated by Allah. Islam does not require infaq to be performed only by the wealthy. It is even open to those who are not wealthy and even to those who are poor. In fact, it is also not restricted to certain amounts, as even a small amount shall still receive rewards from Allah. What is judged by Allah is the wealth of the soul of His servants. Indirectly, this situation creates competition among Muslims and a challenge for the rich. In addition, Muslims are also required to perform infaq in good or bad times. May Allah classify us as being among the physically and spiritually prosperous.
Companions of Rasulullah and the Salafussalih, namely the three (3) early generations of Muslims, have shown superior examples in performing the practices of waqaf and infaq. For example, the account of Saidina Abu Bakar who disbursed all of his wealth “in the cause of Allah”, or Fisabilillah. When asked of what he left for his family members after such a huge disbursement, he replied confidently, “I left them to Allah and His Messenger”. This is an answer that is full of conviction for Allah and the love of Rasulullah.
This is the kind of generation we dream of re-appearing to shape the world. Certainly it starts with the congregation present today. In fulfilling the obligation to contribute, there are still among us today those who do not believe in the assurance of Allah. Islam does not recommend us to take uncalculated risks, but the character of being too calculative has resulted in Muslims not acting at all. It is very unfortunate and needs to be addressed immediately, especially by every Muslim individual. The act of giving to charity and infaq should be taught to our children from very early in their childhood.
In addition, among the negative culture within our society is making waqaf a commercial issue. Waqaf and infaq are sometimes used to promote the selling of a product or business. As a result, the charities focus only upon those who are able to bring the highest impact to their business. This would also result in the donations and infaq given not fulfilling the requirements set by the Syariat. As Muslims, faith in Allah is enough to make us expect benefits and rewards either in this world or even more so in the Hereafter
To conclude, we should remember that:
First: Islam stipulates that zakat, infaq, donations, and charity as overt acts of taking care of the disadvantaged.
Second: Every Muslim must believe in Allah’s promise that He will replace the sacrifice of His servant with something better.
Third: The culture of giving charity and disbursements of wealth is to be sown and inculcated within the younger generation from very early in their childhood.
Let us observe what has been declared by Allah in Surah Ali ‘Imran, verses 133 and 134:
(Which means): “And hasten to forgiveness from your Lord and a garden as wide as the heavens and earth, prepared for the righteous. Who spend [in the cause of Allah] during ease and hardship and who restrain anger and who pardon the people – and Allah loves the doers of good;” [Al-Quran, surah Ali ‘Imran, verse 133-134]