We’ve all been there – going to events or reading fundraising campaigns and being told by those who are raising money that charity does not make a person poor. This is a fact in our Islamic tradition and is one that is commonly spoken of by those raising funds, but not as considered by the ones giving charity.
According to a narration by Abu Hurairah, the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), said: “Charity does not decrease wealth, no one forgives another but that Allah increases his honour, and no one humbles himself for the sake of Allah but that Allah raises his status.”
There are countless examples of people who have benefited has been exalted by giving charity. A study conducted in 2006 at the National Institutes of Health showed that those who participate in charity work tend to be happier because giving triggers parts of the brain associated with pleasure, social connection, and trust, creating a “warm glow” effect.
We have a promise from our Lord that charity will not decrease our wealth and scientific backing that charity is good for us, so what makes people feel so hesitant to dig into our pockets and give?
This means that more often than not, underneath the perceived greed of others is actually deeply rooted in fear of giving. It’s not merely a character flaw to judge, rather a manifestation of a wound that needs to be healed.
Honestly, in this day and age, who isn’t afraid of their wealth being taken away from them? We’re still adjusting in a post-pandemic environment, our work patterns have changed, the news is bombarding us with a gloom-and-doom economic forecast; being afraid is entirely natural. Especially when we add childhood and generational beliefs around money and security into the mix.
This means it’s easy to judge those who show greed, but it’s also important to have compassion for the fear behind the greed – not just within others, but within us as we reflect on who we are and strive to become better Muslims who lead from the heart.
When we strip the components of the ego that contribute to the reluctance to give and look at it purely as a fear of giving, we learn more about who we are and what traumas we need to release to allow us to lean into the Divine love and support that is readily available for us at any given moment in time.
At your own discretion, figure out whether you can afford to give charity and how much, even if it’s within the range of pennies. No deed is too small in the eyes of Allah, especially when you’re battling with your nafs (ego) to give. It’s the intention and the momentum of building this small, yet consistent deed that matters.
When it comes to using the fear of giving charity to your advantage in understanding yourself, you’re on the road to a strange, but beautiful avenue to heal your heart and unlock your limiting beliefs to supercharge your tawakkul (reliance on God’s plan).
After all, Allah is Al-Qadeer— The Powerful One. He is the one who says ‘kun fa yakun’, ‘be and so it is’ and anything can come to fruition. Our limits on what is possible come from our perceived limitations on what can be done, not on the miraculous power of Allah.
All that really needs to be done is to tap in to understand why you’re feeling hesitant to give. This is the perfect chance to understand your beliefs surrounding money and abundance. What were you taught about money during your childhood? How have your experiences shaped the way you give and receive money? Do you receive with guilt or gratitude?
Often, when you receive with guilt, you give with fear because a part of you believes that Allah has created a finite nature of resources, despite rationally knowing that Allah can create and destroy anything and everything through his own will. You feel that people are depleting their own resources when they give to you, so you believe giving to others will deplete your own.
In these matters, it’s not what we know that dictates what we do, it’s how we feel. This is why being gentle and understanding ourselves rather than judging is so important.
When we work through our beliefs surrounding charity by feeling into our thoughts about them, we find ourselves in alignment with our truth. We stop judging ourselves based on how much or how little we give, rather we understand why we feel insecure about giving and how these beliefs started. We begin to unlearn them by tapping into core emotions that dictate the way our nervous system works.
We then understand the fear and can take action to go to the other side of it; in this case, it's giving. After all, the best things are on the other side of fear. We give without fear and cushion ourselves by having tawakkul in Allah that we’re being fully taken care of. If we can do this in one aspect of life, we can do this in other aspects too.
The essence of this work is to create a safe space from within which puts us to account and helps us grow. Using charity, we’re teaching the mind and heart new skills to gently hold ourselves accountable and learn about our patterns. Once we know how to do this in one area, it becomes easier to do it in other areas of our lives. This helps us strengthen and soften the mind at the same time and shed fear without even noticing it’s gone. It helps us let go.
And once we let go, something beautiful happens.
We quieten and soften the mind enough to tie our camel without choking it, lead with our hearts, and allow Divine flow to energise us and take care of the rest.