Volume 4: Surah Baqarah, Verses 261-274
 

The parable of those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah is as the parable of a grain growing seven ears, in every ear there are a hundred grains; and Allah multiplies for whom He pleases; and Allah is Ample-giving, All-knowing (261). Those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah, then do not follow up what they have spent with reproach or injury, for them is their reward with their Lord, and they shall have no fear nor shall they grieve (262). A kind word and forgiveness is better than charity followed by injury; and Allah is Self-sufficient, Forbearing (263). 0 you who believe! do not nullify your charity by reproach and injury, like him who spends his wealth to be seen of men and does not believe in Allah and the last day.

So his parable is as the parable of a smooth rock with (some) earth upon it, then a heavy rain falls upon it, so it leaves it just a bare stone. They shall not gain anything of what they have earned. And Allah does not guide the unbelieving people (264).

And the parable of those who spend their wealth seeking the pleasure of Allah and keeping firm their souls is as the parable of a garden on an elevated ground, upon which heavy rain falls so it brings forth its fruit twofold; but if heavy rain does not fall upon it, then light rain (is enough). And Allah sees what you do (265). Would anyone of you like that he should have a garden of palms and vines with streams flowing beneath it; he has in it all kinds of fruits; and old age has overtaken him and he has weak offspring, when (lo!) a whirlwind with fire in it smites it so it gets burnt up. Thus Allah makes the signs clear to you, that you by reflect (266).

0 you who believe! spend (benevolently) out of the good things that you have earned and of what We have brought forth for you out of the earth, and do not aim at what is bad of it, that you may spend (in charity), while you would not take it yourselves unless you connived at it; and know that Allah is Self-sufficient, Praiseworthy (267). Satan threatens you with poverty and enjoins you to abomination; and Allah promises you forgiveness from Himself and abundance; and Allah is Ample-giving, All-knowing (268). He grants wisdom to whom He pleases, and whoever is granted wisdom, he indeed is given a great good; and none but men of understanding mind (269). And whatever alms you give or (whatever) vow you vow, surely Allah knows it; and the oppressors shall have no helpers (270).

If you give alms openly, it is well, and if you hide it and give it to poor, it is better for you; and this will remove from you some of your sins; and Allah is aware of what you do (271). To make them walk in the right way is not incumbent on you, but Allah guides aright whom He pleases; and whatever good thing you spend, it is to your own good, and you do not spend but to seek Allah’s pleasure; and whatever good thing you spend shall be paid back to you in full, and you shall not be wronged (272). (Charity is) for the poor who are besieged in the way of Allah - they cannot go about in the and; the ignorant man thinks them to be rich on account of their self-control (from begging) ; thou wouldst recognize them by their countenance; they do not beg from men importunately,; and whatever good thing you spend, surely Allah knows it (273). Those who spend their wealth by night and by day, secretly and openly, for them is their reward with their Lord, and they shall have no fear, nor shall they grieve (274).

GENERAL COMMENT

The context of the verses indicates that they must have been revealed all together. Their theme is spending in the way of Allah. They begin with a parable to show that charity increases in the hands of Allah, one to seven hundred or even more, by the per­mission of Allah. Another parable shows that this increase is sure to happen; it cannot fail. They go to forbid insincerity in spend­ing, that is, spending to show others how generous one is, and give one more parable to demonstrate the futility of this, that such spending does not increase and bears no fruit. Also, they admonish the believers not to follow charity with reproach and injury, because these two evils nullify alms and make their reward forfeit. Then they say that spending should be from their good and lawful wealth, and not from unlawful or worthless things, as it shows niggardliness and miserliness. Thereafter they prescribe who should be given charity - the poor men who are besieged in the way of Allah. Finally it again reminds them of the great reward of charity which they shall find with Allah.

In short, the verses exhort the believers to spend and explain to them the following things:

First: The purpose of spending: It should be to seek the pleasure of Allah, not to show off to people.

Second: The fashion and condition of this good work: It should not be followed by reproach and injury.

Third: The quality of the wealth to be spent: It must be lawful and good, not unlawful or worthless.

Fourth: The qualification of the receivers: It should be given to those poor who are besieged in the way of Allah.

Fifth: The rewards of such spending in this world and in the next.

SPENDING IN THE WAY OF ALLAH

One of the two pillars of Islam is the Rights of the people; and spending for the welfare of the people is one of the things to which Islam pays the utmost attention. It exhorts a believer to spend for this purpose, and has laid down the rules and opened up the ways for such spending - some of these ways are obligatory and others highly recommended: zakat, khums (the one-fifth tax), penalties to expiate certain illegalities, various types of redemption, obligatory spending and recommended charities. Then there are laws to establish and regulate endowments, settle­ments for residence, or for life, wills, gifts and many similar things.

All this has been done to improve the living standards of the poor classes - the people who cannot meet their expenses without help from others. The intention of Islam is to raise their level to bring them nearer to the people of means.

On the other hand, it has strictly forbidden the rich people from pompous living and showing off their wealth. It has allowed them to live in a reasonable and honorable manner; but has prohibited extravagance and the squandering of wealth in a lavish style which is above the reach of the average person.

The aim of both sets of rules was to create a community life that would be neither too low nor too high, whose various groups would be nearer to each other, and would have a fairly uniform standard of life. Such a society would give life to the institution of unity and cooperation; and would eradicate conflicting designs and uproot enmity and antagonism. The Qur’an holds that the true religion must organize life in all its multifarious activities, putting it in order in such a way that man’s bliss is guaranteed in this life as well as in the next one. Such a religion will bless man with true knowledge, noble character and pleasant life; he will be free in this life to enjoy the bounties given to him by Allah, and to remove from himself unpleasant things and all types of misfortune.

This will be possible only when society enjoys a good life and all its members share its bliss equally or almost equally. This, in its turn, demands that all their needs are fulfilled and the condition of society reformed. All this needs money and wealth. The way to get that money for this most important purpose is by contributions from the members of society - they are required to spend- out of what they have earned by their labor. Surely the believers are brothers to each other; and the earth is of Allah, and property and wealth belong to Him.

This is a fact, the truth of which was demonstrated by the Prophet during his lifetime when he had the authority in his hands. He showed its correctness and demonstrated how it created a stable society, growing, developing and bearing good results.

It was this society for which the Leader of the faithful, ‘Ali (a.s.) felt nostalgia, and the passing away of which he remem­bered sorrowfully, in one of his speeches:

"You live in a period when the steps of virtue are moving backwards, and the steps of evil are moving forward; and Satan is increasing his eagerness to ruin people. This is the time when his equipment is strong, and his traps have been widely spread and his prey has become easy (to catch). Cast your glance wherever you like. Do you see (anything) except a poor man suffering (the pangs of) poverty, or a rich man changing Allah’s favor for ungratefulness, or a miser trampling the right of Allah to increase his wealth, or an arrogant person (who behaves) as though his ears hear any counsel with difficulty." (Nahju ‘l-balaghah, Sermon 129).

The passage of time has proved the validity of this Qur’anic system - that the various classes should be brought together, the poor should be helped through "spending", and the rich forbidden extravagance, pomposity and vanity. When western culture took the upper hand, people’s ideals and outlook changed. They clung to the earthly life, tried their utmost to acquire and keep all worldly trinkets coveted by animal greed and sensual desires, and adopted for it whatever means they could. The result: wealth was confined within a limited circle, the pleasures of life were reserved for a wealthy minority, and the only share of the lower class in it was deprivation. The upper classes continued to swallow each other like cannibals, until a very select group monopolized the blessings and bliss of this life and the vast majority, that is, the common people, were denied even the right of life.

This behavior generated all evil tendencies on both sides; it gave rise to the saying, "Every man for himself ". No one leaves anything nor does he spare anything. It has resulted in a class struggle, and open enmity between the two groups, the rich and the poor, the haves and the have-nots, each side wanting to exterminate the other. This was the basic cause of the World Wars and the emergence of Communism. Truth and nobility have been cast aside, peace of mind and tranquility of heart have departed from the world, and the human species on the whole does not have any feeling of joy in life. This is the position which the chaos of human society has reached today - what tomorrow holds is more grievous and horrible.

One of the most damaging factors in this social disorder is the closure of the gate "spending", and the opening of the doors of interest. Allah has explained the evil of this in seven verses coming after these verses of "spending"; Allah had warned the mankind that if interest becomes widespread, the world will fall in disorder. It is one of the prophecies of the Qur’an which has been fulfilled in these days. When the Qur’an was revealed, interest was a fetus; now it has been born from the womb of western economy and is growing by leaps and bounds.

To understand what we have just mentioned, read the following verses:

Then set your face uprightly for the (right) religion in natural devotion (to the truth) ; the nature made by Allah in which He has made men; there is no alteration in the creation of Allah; that is the right religion, but most people do not know turning to Him. And be careful of (your duty to) Him, and keep up prayer and be not of the polytheists, of those who, divided their religion and became sects, every sect rejoicing in what they have with them. And when harm afflicts men, they call upon their Lord, turning to Him; then when He makes them taste of mercy from Him, lo! some of them begin to associate (others) with their Lord, so as to be ungrateful for what We have given them; but enjoy yourselves (for a while), for you shall soon come to know . . . So give to the near of kin his due, and to the needy and the wayfarer; this is the best for those who desire Allah’s pleasure, and these it is who are successful. And whatever you lay out as interest, so that it may increase in the property of men, it shall not increase with Allah; and whatever you give in charity, desiring Allah’s pleasure - it is these (persons) that shall get manifold . . . Disorder has appeared in the land and the sea on account of what the hands of men have wrought, that He may make them taste a part of that which they have done, so that they may return. Say: "Travel in the land, then see how was the end of those (who were) before (you); most of them were polytheists." Then set thy face upright to the right religion before there comes from Allah the day which cannot he averted; on that day they shall become separated (30:30-43).

There are verses of the same import in the chapters of Hud, Yunus, the Night journey, the Prophets etc. We shall explain them later on.

This is apparently the reason why these verses of spending exhort the believers and give so much emphasis to "spending".

COMMENTARY

QUR’AN: The parable of those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah is as the parable of a grain . . .:

"The way of Allah" means anything which leads to the pleasure of Allah; any religious purpose for which work is done. The phrase in the verse is unconditional, although it comes after the verses of "fighting in the way of Allah", and although the phrase "in the way of Allah" is combined in many verses with fighting. But such recurring usage does not restrict the phrase to fighting.

Some scholars have said: The words, "as the parable of a grain growing seven ears. . . " actually mean, "as the parable of him who sowed a grain that grew seven ears. . . " The "grain growing seven ears" is the parable of property spent in the way of Allah, and not ."of those who spend" that wealth. And it does not need much explanation.

This interpretation, although sound in itself, is not in total conformity with the Qur’an. On deep contemplation, we find that an overwhelming number of the Qur’anic parables are of this same style. See, for example, the following verses:

And the parable of those who disbelieve is as the parable of one who shouts to that which hears not but a call and a cry . . . (2:171) . As we see, it is the parable of him who calls the disbelievers, not of the disbelievers themselves.

The likeness of this world’s life is only as water which We sent down from the sky; by its mingling, the herbage of the earth which men and cattle eat grows; until when the earth puts on its golden raiment and it becomes garnished, and its people think that they have power over it, Our command comes to it, by night or by day, so We render it as reaped, as though it had not been in existence yesterday; thus do We make clear the signs for a people who reflect (10:24).

. . . the parable of His light is as a niche in which is a lamp . . . (24:35).

Look also at other parables mentioned in these very verses:

So his parable is as the parable of a smooth rock . . .

And the parable of those who spend their wealth seeking the pleasure of Allah and keeping firm their souls is as the parable of a garden on an elevated ground . . .

There are many such verses and all of them have one thing in common - all restrict themselves to the main element of the likeness, the essential ingredient of the parable; and omit other factors for the sake of brevity.

A parable is an actual or imagined story which has a marked resemblance to the subject matter in some aspects; it creates a picture in the mind which helps to fully grasp the idea for which the parable has been used. For example, there are the Arabic proverbs, "I have neither she-camel nor he-camel"; and, "In summer you wasted the milk". These sayings remind the hearer of the related true stories by fitting the story to the topic at hand, and at once the picture flashes before his mind’s eyes in clear perspective. That is why it is said that proverbs do not change.

Another example: "The parable of those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah is as the parable of the one who sows a grain, it growing seven ears, in every ear there are a hundred grains." This is an imaginary story.

The basic element of a parable - the essential ingredient of the similarity that produces the clear and well defined image of the topic - is sometimes the whole story; and occasionally a part of the story. Examples of the former are

And the parable of an evil word is as an evil tree pulled up from the earth’s surface; it has no stability (14:26), The similitude of those who were placed under the Torah, then they did not hold it, is as the similitude of the donkey bearing books (62:5).

The example of the latter, where the basic element is only a part of the story, is this parable under discussion - spending in the way of Allah has been likened to the grain growing seven ears, every ear having a hundred grains. This is the basic element of analogy; but in explaining it we earlier added the words, "of him who sows"; it was added just to complete the story.

In the Qur’anic parables, where the basic element of the analogy is the whole story, Allah has mentioned it without any omission. But where that element is only a part of the story, only that part has been described and others have been left out. Why should the full story have to be described when the purpose of the parable is fully served by the short version. Moreover, this style creates alacrity in the hearer’s minds - they do not find what they anticipate and an unexpected picture is flashed before their minds’ eyes. But it fully serves the purpose: it is different from the anticipated picture and yet it is the same. This is brevity through alteration in its finest way; and the Qur’an uses it whenever necessary.

QUR’AN: Growing seven ears, in every ear there are a hundred grains:

"as-Sunbul" (ear of corn, spike) is on paradigm of fun 'ul It is said that its root meaning is to draw a curtain. The ear of corn was given this name because it hides the grains in their husks.

A most foolish objection has been leveled against this verse, that it is a simile of a thing which is not found in the world - no ear contains a hundred grains.

Reply: It is not necessary for a similitude that the picture compared with be found outside the imagination. Analogies with imaginary ideas and images are found by their thousands in every language.

Moreover, ears containing a hundred grains, and a single seed yielding seven hundred grains are very often found in many places.

QUR’AN: And Allah multiplies for whom He pleases; and Allah is Ample-giving, All-knowing:

Allah gives more than seven hundred to whom He pleases: He is Ample-giving; no one can put any hindrance on His generosity; nor can anyone restrict His grace. Allah says: Who is it that will lend to Allah a goodly loan, so He will multiply it for him manifold (2:245). In this verse, "manifold" is unrestricted; there is no numerical limit to it.

Someone has said: This sentence means, "Allah increases this much, that is, seven hundred for one, for whom He pleases." According to this interpretation seven hundred would be the limit of multiplication.

But if we accept this interpretation as correct, then this sentence would show the cause of the previous statement ( . . seven ears, in every ear there are a hundred grains). In that case, it should have begun with the word inna (verily, surely, indeed). See for example another verse, where the causative sentence begins with the word "surely": Allah is He Who made for you the night that you may rest therein and the day to see; most surely Allah is Gracious to men (40:61). There are many verses in the same style.

The seven-hundred-fold reward is unrestricted - it is not restricted to the Hereafter. The promise is as valid for this world as it is for the Hereafter.

And on reflection, one has to support this idea. You spend your property in the way of Allah; you may be thinking at first that you have lost that property without getting anything in exchange. But if you ponder a little on this matter you will appreciate that mankind is like one living body; it has various limbs and organs, all of different shapes and with distinctive names, but all of them are united in the goal of life, all are joined together in each other’s effects and benefits. If one of these limbs loses its health, becomes weak or falters in its function, the whole body is adversely affected and fails to reach its goal. The eyes and the hands are two organs with different names and separate functions. But man has been given his eyes so that he may distinguish objects from each other through light, color and distance. When this task is accomplished, the hands come into action to take hold of what man should acquire for himself, and to repulse what should be repulsed. If the hands fail in their function, man has to make up the loss through other limbs; but, to begin with, it creates untold misery and hardship for him, and also decreases the normal functions of those limbs to the extent they are used as substitutes for the hands. But if other limbs were to send to the ailing hands some of the blood cells and energy from their own stock and the hands to become restored to health, the whole body would grow better and every limb would share in the benefits - the benefits which may be hundreds and thousands times more than the small amount of blood, etc., which it expended for the hands.

Likewise, when a man spends for the betterment of the condition of another, it saves the beneficiary from evils which are generally caused by poverty; he feels love for the benefactor in his heart, his tongue speaks his name with respect ; and he busies himself in his work with more vigor and energy and thus prospers. The whole of society feels its good effects, and as a member of that society, the benefactor also shares in that social upliftment. This is more evident when the spending is done for social services like education, training, etc. This much about general spending.

When that spending is done in the way of Allah, seeking His pleasure, the increase is sure to occur without fail. If wealth is spent, but not for the pleasure of Allah, then it is done for selfish aims - the rich man spends on a poor man to avert his evils from himself. Or he thinks that if the poor man becomes self-supporting, the whole of society will become a better place to live in, and in this way the benefactor will live in it more happily. This type of spending is a sort of subjugation of the poor who is exploited by the rich for selfish purposes. Such a charity creates bad effects in the poor. Sometimes these hard feelings accumulate and then burst out in riots and revolutions.

But the spending which is done only for the pleasure of Allah is free from these defects; it creates only good, and only bliss and blessings result from it.

QUR’AN: Those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah, then do not follow up what they have spent with reproach or injury, for them is their reward with their Lord, and they shall have no fear nor shall they grieve:

"al-Itba‘" is used with both transitive and intransitive meanings. It means ‘to follow’ and ‘to pursue’ ; and ‘to attach one thing to other’. This word has been used in these two meanings in the verses: Then they pursued them at sunrise (26:60) ; And We attached to them a curse in this world . (28:42).

"al-Mann" means to say what may turn charity into annoyance, for example, to tell the beneficiary: "I gave you this and that". The root-meaning of this word, as has been said, is "to cut ". The word has been used in this meaning in the verse . . . for them surely is a reward never to be cut off (41:8).

‘al-Adha" is immediate harm, a little injury. "al-Khawf" (fear) is the expectation of harm or trouble. "al-Huzn" (grief) is the sorrow which greatly disturbs the soul, and which is caused by a real or almost real misfortune.

QUR’AN: A kind word and forgiveness is better than charity followed by injury. . . : "Kind word" is that which is not disliked by the common man. It may vary according to circumstances. "al-Maghfirah" (forgiveness) literally means to cover. "al-Ghina" (self-sufficiency) is the opposite of need and poverty. "al-Hilm" (forbearance) means to remain silent when confronted with disagreeable words or actions.

The contrast between a kind word and forgiveness, on the one hand, and charity followed by injury, on the other, shows that the "kind word" means that if one wants to turn away a suppliant without fulfilling his need and the suppliant has not uttered unpleasant words, one should express one’s good wishes and utter good words to him. The "forgiveness" refers to the same situation, provided the suppliant has said unpleasant things about the intended benefactor. In both cases, if one uses a kind word and forgives the suppliant it is far better than fulfilling his need and then following it with reproach and injury. Such reproach, in fact, shows that the benefactor thinks that what he has spent is a great wealth, and that he is annoyed with the people’s requests and supplications. But a believer should be far above such moral defects and petty thoughts. The believer must mould himself on the attributes of Allah. And Allah is Self-sufficient: no bounty is great in His eyes; He gives and bestows whatever He wishes. Also He is Forbearing: He makes no haste in meting out punishment to evil-doers; He does not become angry on His creatures’ follies. It was to point out this important matter that the verse ended the sentence, "and Allah is Self-sufficient, Forbearing".

QUR’AN: 0 you who believe! do not nullify your charity by reproach and injury:

The verse proves that charity becomes forfeited if it is followed by reproach and injury.

Some people say that this verse shows that subsequent sins (and especially big ones) nullify the good deeds preceding them. But this inference is uncalled for. The verse only talks about reproach and injury vis-à-vis charity.

The topic of forfeiture (of deeds) has already been explained in detail.

QUR’AN: Like him who spends his wealth to be seen of men and does not believe in Allah and the last day:

As the verse is addressed to the believers, and as one who does a good deed to show to men is not a believer (because he does not do that deed for the sake of Allah) the prohibition was not extended to showiness; it was confined to reproach and injury, because there is no danger of showiness for a believer. The verse likens the alms­giver who follows his alms with reproach and injury to the one who spends to show off to men; and the likeness is in the forfeiture of charities, although there is a difference between both. The charity of one who spent to show off to men was null and void ab initio; while that of the one who followed it with reproach and injury was correct and valid to begin with, but was later nullified because of these sins.

The verb "does not believe" has the same form and tense as the preceding one, "spends"; it does not say "did not believe". This similarity of tense shows that the disbelief here implies the showing person’s disbelief in the divine call of spending and in His promise of its great reward. Had he believed in the divine call to the believers to spend in His way, and also in the last day when the promised reward would be given, he would have done his good deed to seek the pleasure of Allah and would have longed for the reward of the last day, instead of doing it to be seen by men.

It shows that disbelief here does not imply that the showy person does not believe in Allah at all. Also it proves that doing a deed with the intention of showing off to men implies that such a doer has no faith in Allah and the last day, in so far as that deed is concerned.

QUR’AN: So his parable is as the parable of a smooth rock. . . does not guide the unbelieving people.:

The pronoun, "his" refers to "him who spends his wealth to be seen of men"; the parable is for him. "as-Safwan" and "as-safa" are smooth rock. The same is the meaning of "as-said"

"al-Wabil" is heavy rain, descending with force. The pronoun in "They shall not gain" refers to "him who spends to be seen of men", because "him" stands for the whole group of showy persons. The sentence "They shall not gain anything of what they have earned" describes the reason for the analogy; and it is the common factor of the two sides of this simile. The sentence "And Allah does not guide the unbelieving people" describes the general principle: a man who does a deed to show to people is in that particular respect an unbeliever, and Allah does not guide such people. This sentence, therefore, gives the reason for the forfeiture mentioned in this verse.

The man who spends to show off to people can get no reward for such spending. Look at a smooth rock, upon which is some earth, then a heavy rain falls upon it. Now, rain, and especially a heavy downpour, is the apparent cause of the earth coming to life again; it makes it green and adorns it with plants. But if earth settles on a smooth rock it cannot remain in place in a heavy rainfall; it is washed away and the bare rock is left there for everyone to see - the rock which cannot absorb water, nor can it nourish a seed to grow. Rain and earth both together are the most important causes of plant life and growth; but as their place was a smooth rock their effect was totally nullified, although none can attribute any fault or defect to these two life-giving ingredients.

Thus is the case of the man who does a good deed but not with intention of seeking the pleasure of Allah; his action becomes totally null and void, even when the deed, for example, spending in the way of Allah, is among the most effective causes of getting divine reward. But the heart of such a man is like that smooth rock; it is unable to receive divine mercy and grace. And thus he gets nothing of what he had earned.

The verse shows that the acceptance of a deed depends on sincere intention and on the pure aim of seeking the pleasure of Allah. Sunnis and Shi‘ahs have narrated from the Prophet that he said: "Verily, deeds are according to intentions".

QUR’AN: And the parable of those who spend their wealth seeking the pleasure of Allah and keeping firm their souls:

"Seeking the pleasure of Allah" means doing what Allah has ordered His servant to do. When the master gives an order to his servant and the servant complies with that order, the master faces him, pleased with him. Likewise, Allah orders His servant concerning certain things and when the servant obeys His command Allah turns towards him with pleasure and mercy.

The phrase "and keeping firm their souls" has been interpreted in various ways:

a) It means "certitude and confirmation".

b) "at-Tathbit" (to keep firm) means at-tathab-but (to make sure). The phrase means that they want to make sure where they spend their wealth.

c) It means to make sure how they spend: if it is for the pleasure of Allah, they spend it; if there is any shade of impurity in intention, for example, and eagerness to be seen by men, they desist from spending.

d) It means keeping the souls firm in obedience to Allah.

e) It ‘means establishing the soul firmly in faith by making it accustomed to spending property for the sake of Allah.

Obviously, these interpretations do not fit the verse unless one is prepared to stretch the meaning of the word "keeping firm" beyond its linguistic limit. Probably a more appropriate interpretation (and Allah knows better!) may be as follows:

Allah, first, unconditionally praised spending in His way, and mentioned that it had a very great reward in the presence of Allah. Then He excluded two kinds of spending, because Allah is not pleased with them and no reward will be given for them:

1) spending to show off to people, and such a deed is null and void ab initio;

2) spending that is followed by reproach and injury, for although such a deed is valid initially, it becomes nullified because of the subsequent sins of reproach and injury.

In these cases the deed is nullified, either because the doer does not seek the pleasure of Allah from the very beginning (as in the first case) or because his soul changes the initial correct intention and seeks worldly satisfaction through reproach and injury (as in the second case).

Now Allah describes the condition of His good servants who spend purely for His sake. These are they who spend to seek the pleasure of Allah and then "keep firm their souls" on this pure intention without following it with bad deeds which could nullify it.

In short, "seeking the pleasure of Allah" means that the doer of a good deed should not contaminate his intention with showiness or other such things which would indicate that his action is for other than Allah. And "keeping firm their souls" means that he should fix his soul firmly in that pure and uncontaminated intention.

This "keeping firm" is done by the soul on the soul. Grammatically, "tathbitan" (keeping firm) is "at-tamyiz" (accusative of specification) ; "min" (from) shows origination; "anfusihim " (=their souls) is the subject "from" which the action of "keeping firm" originates; its object is another "anfusahum" (their souls) which is deleted but understood. Accordingly, the phrase means that their souls keep firm their souls.

Alternatively, the word, "keeping firm" may be "al-maf ‘ulu ‘l-mutlaq" (cognate accusative) for emphasis of a deleted but understood verb of the same meaning.

QUR’AN: As the parable of a garden on an elevated ground. . . what you do:

The root word ar-raba’ means increase. "ar-Rabwah" means a good earth which increases its growth and gives a high yield. The word is also used as ar-rubwah and ar-ribwah al-Ukul " is what is eaten. al-Aklah means one morsel. "at-Tall" is a drizzle, which has little effect.

The parable has been revealed to show that spending which is done to seek the pleasure of Allah cannot fail to bring about a good effect. The spending was done for Allah and its connection with Allah has continued ; therefore, divine care always looks after it, making it grow and flourish; it must surely bring forth its fruits. Of course, the degree of care varies according to variation in the degree of purity of the intention; and the strength of the deed is correlated with the firmness of soul.

There is a garden on a good earth; a heavy rain falls on it and it brings forth its fruits abundantly - although the yield may vary in quality and quantity, according to the amount of rain which falls on it.

As there is bound to be such variation, the verse ended on the sentence, "and Allah is aware of what you do". He never has any doubt in the matter of rewards; the rewards of various deeds are never confused in His eyes; He does not give this one’s recompense to that one, and that one’s to this one.

QUR’AN: Would anyone of you like... that you may reflect:

"al-Wudd" (is to love, to long for, to yearn) "al-jannah" is a clump of trees, their branches touching each other. "al-Jann" means to cover, to shield. A garden is called al-jannah because it covers the earth and protects if from the rays of the sun, and the like. This word is used for a clump of trees only, not for the plot of land upon which those trees stand. That is why it is correct to say, as the verse says, "streams flowing beneath it"; if the word included the earth, the phrase would have been wrong. When the plot or earth is intended, the expres­sion is changed: . . . a lofty ground having meadows and springs (23:50). On the other hand, the phrase, "garden beneath which rivers flow", repeatedly occurs in the Qur’an.

The preposition "of", in "a garden of palms and vines", is for description; it describes the main type of trees and fruits; it does not give a full list of them. If the major part of a garden contains palms, it is generally called a palm garden, although it contains other trees also. That is why Allah said immediately after it, "he has in it all kinds of fruits". "al-Kibr" is old age; "adh-dhurriyyah" means children, offspring; "ad-du‘afa’" is the plural of "ad-da‘if" (weak).

This parable joins the old age of the progenitor with the weakness of the progeny to emphasize the utmost need of the said garden, in the absence of any other means of livelihood. Had the garden owner been young and strong he could have earned his livelihood with his hands even if the garden had been burnt down. Alternatively, if he had had no weak offspring, even if he had been an aged person, he would not have felt the effects of this calamity so much; he would have known that his days were numbered and soon he would be free from all troubles. And if he had been of old age but had had strong offspring who could have work and earn their livelihood, they could have lived on their earning and the loss of the garden would not have caused much distress. But when old age coincides with weak offspring and the garden is burnt down, all possible means of livelihood are cut off. The old man cannot regain his youth and strength, so that he can re-create the garden as he had done before. His offspring are weak and they cannot do it themselves. And the garden is burnt down, it cannot regain its bloom and fruit.

"al-I‘sar" is a cyclone. This parable puts before our eyes the position of those who spend their wealth and then follow it with reproach and injury, and thus their deed is nullified; and there is no way to return that deed to its state of validity again. The parable perfectly fits this situation.

Through this parable Allah expects such people to ponder upon their position. Such deeds are done only when people are overtaken by such evil traits as love of wealth and honor, pride and avarice. These evil traits do not let them contemplate and meditate; do not give them a chance to distinguish between what is beneficial and what is harmful, between good and bad. And if they had stopped to ponder they would have seen the truth.

QUR’AN: O you who believe! spend (benevolently). . . Allah is Self-sufficient, Praiseworthy:

"at-Tayammum" is to aim, to intend; "al-khabith" (bad) is opposite of "at- tayyib" (good) ; "Wit" is related to the word "bad". The phrase "that you may spend in charity" shows the "state" of the subject of the verb "do not aim"; the phrase "while you would not take it yourselves" shows the "state" of the subject of the verb "you may spend it"; it is governed by the same verb. The phrase "unless you connive at it" is in place of an infinitive verb. It is said that a "li" (because) is understood before it - thus it would mean, "except because of your connivance at it". Others have said that a "bi" (= with) is understood here - in this case it would mean "except with your connivance at it".

Whatever the grammatical explanation, the meaning of the verse is a quite clear. Allah explains the condition of the wealth which should be spent: it should be from one’s good property; and not from bad property which the spender himself would not deign to accept unless he connived at it. Giving bad wealth in charity is not generosity at all; it is getting rid of an unwanted item. Such spending will not create any love of generosity in the donor’s heart, nor will it bring to him any spiritual perfection.

That is why the verse ends on the sentence "and know that Allah is Self-sufficient, Praiseworthy". When you spend anything, keep in view the Self-sufficiency and Praiseworthiness of Allah. He needs nothing, yet He appreciates your good spending. Therefore, spend from your good property. Or, it may mean: He is Self-sufficient and Praiseworthy. You should not bring to Him what is not fit for His Great Sanctity.

QUR’AN: Satan threatens you with poverty . . . Allah is Ample­giving, All-knowing:

The verse explains that choosing a bad thing for charity is not good for the charity-giver; it is only good property which is good for them to spend. The prohibition is for their own good, as the thing prohibited is bad for them. They dislike giving good items in charity because they believe that a good property makes one wealthy and rich; they therefore resist the idea of giving it away in charity. A bad item is worthless, and so they are ready to donate it in alms. But it is the temptation of Satan who frightens his friends with poverty. The fact is that donating property and spending it in the way of Allah to seek His pleasure is just like any other good trade and dealing - it has its recompense and profit, as Allah has mentioned in these verses. Moreover, it is Allah who makes one rich and bestows abundance; property, by itself, has no power to enrich anyone. Allah says: And that He it is Who enriches and gives to hold (53:48).

In short, it was a mistake on their part to withhold the good and likeable items from their charity because of fear of poverty. Allah points this out in the sentence "Satan threatens you with poverty". This sentence puts the cause (Satan’s threatening) in place of its effect (fear of poverty). This figurative expression has been used to indicate that this fear is damaging to their interest, because whatever Satan incites one to do is bound to be wrong and an error - either directly or indirectly, that is, through something disguised as right.

Someone might have thought that this fear of poverty was reasonable, even if it was caused by Satan. The next sentences do not leave any room for such a misunderstanding: "and enjoins you to abomination". This withholding, this heavy-heartedness in spending good things creates in their souls the trait of miserliness and niggardliness, which in its turn leads one to disobey and reject those commands of Allah that effect one’s wealth and property; it is clear disbelief in the Great Lord. Also, it casts the needy people into the perdition of poverty, privation and depression, which in its turn leads to loss of lives, and honor, and to every hope of crime and abomination. Allah says:

And there are those of them who made a covenant with Allah: "If He gives us out of His grace, we will certainly give alms and we will certainly be of the good." But when He gave them out of His grace, they became niggardly of it and they turned back and they withdrew. So He made hypocrisy to follow as a consequence into their hearts till the day when they shall meet Him because they failed to perform towards Allah what they had promised with Him and because they told lies . . . Those who taunt the free-givers of alms among the believers and them who cannot find but their hard earnings, so they scoff at them; Allah will pay them back their scoffing, for them is a painful chastisement. (9:75-79)

"And Allah promises you forgiveness from Himself and abundance; and Allah is Ample-giving, All-knowing.": It further removes the earlier-mentioned possible misunderstanding. Allah had already clearly told the believers that there is either truth or falsehood; there is no third alternative. Truth is the straight path, that is from Allah; and falsehood is from Satan. , Look at the following verses of the Meccan period: . and what is there after the truth but error? (10:32); Say: ‘Allah guides to the truth" (10:35) ; . . . surely he (i.e. Satan) is an enemy, openly leading astray (28:15). In short, the above-mentioned sentence reminds them that the idea of niggardliness coming into your mind because of the fear of poverty is based on a bad judgment; forgiveness of Allah and increase in wealth (mentioned in previous verses) come from spending from good property, not from niggardliness or from giving away unwanted items.

The sentence "Allah promises. . ." puts (like the preceding sentence "Satan threatens you . . . ") the cause in place of its effect. Also, it shows the contrast between the promise of Ample-giving, All-knowing Allah and the threat of Satan, so that the spenders may look at both and choose for themselves what is in their own interest.

The verse, in short says:

You choose bad items for spending, instead of good property, because you are afraid of poverty; and because you are unaware of the good results which accrue from spending good things. So far as the fear of poverty is concerned, it is the evil suggestion of Satan, and Satan always wants to put you in perdition and lead you to falsehood and abomination: you should never follow his evil whisperings. What follows a charity of good things is abun­dance and forgiveness. And it is sure to follow, because it is Allah Who has promised it, and His promise is true; He is Ample-giving - it is easy for Him to fulfill His promise and to give you abun­dance and forgiveness from Himself; He is All-knowing, not a single thing or condition is hidden from Him; therefore, what He has promised is based on His All-encompassing knowledge.

QUR’AN : He grants wisdom to whom He pleases:

"al-Ita’" (is to grant, to give). "al-Hikmah" (wisdom) is on paradigm of fi‘lah which denotes a species or a variety of it. Its literal meaning will, therefore, be a sort of precision and perfection, or a species of perfect and precise thing in which there is no defect or flaw. Mostly it is used for intellectual cognition that is true and not liable to falsehood and error at all.

This sentence shows that what has preceded it (spending, its causes and its good effects on human life) is based on wisdom. al-hikmah (wisdom) is a true proposition, conforming to the facts; it contains the bliss and felicity of man, because it clarifies the divine realities concerning the origin and the end of the world and mankind, and explains the principles of the physical world in-as-much as it touches on human bliss and felicity; it includes the fundamental truths of nature upon which are based the laws of religion.

QUR’AN: And whoever is granted wisdom, he indeed is given a great good:

The meaning is clear. The sentence is in the passive voice, although the preceding sentence has clearly said that it is Allah Who grants wisdom; this passive voice has been used to show that wisdom, in itself, is the source of a great good; whoever gets it, is bound to get that great good; and that good is not only because wisdom is given by Allah. If "giving" is attributed to Allah it does not necessarily mean that the thing given is good, or that it will end in good. Allah says about the Qur’an:. . . and We had given him of the treasures, so much that its keys would certainly weigh down a company of men possessed of strength . . . Thus We made the earth to swallow up him and his abode, so he has no body of helpers to assist him against Allah . . . (28:76-81).

The verse attributes "great good" to wisdom, instead of unqualified "good", although wisdom has a high status and a great splendor. It was to show that every affair depends, for its good end, on the care and help of Allah; and that blessings and bliss is good only when its end is good.

QUR'AN: And none but men of understanding mind:

"al-Lubb" (literally means kernel, the softer part within hard shell). It is used in the meaning of al-‘aql understanding because understanding has the same position vis-à-vis the man as the kernel has vis-à-vis its hard shell. It is used in this very meaning in the Qur’an. The use of the noun al-‘aql with the meaning of understanding, seems to be of a later origin; that is why it has not been used in this form in the Qur’an; although its verb have often been used, for example, "ya‘qilun" (they understand). "at­Tadhakkur" means to remember, to mind. It means going from a conclusion to its premises or from the premises to their conclusion. The verse shows that wisdom depends on minding, which in its turn depends on understanding. There is no wisdom where there is no understanding. Some details about understanding have been given earlier in the discussion about the words used for perception.

QUR’AN: And whatever alms you give or whatever vow you vow surely Allah knows it; and the oppressors shall have no helpers:

What Allah has called you to spend, and what you have made obligatory on yourselves through a vow is not hidden from Allah. He shall give rewards to him who obeys Him, and shall chastise him who is unjust to others and oppresses them. There is a shade of threatening in this sentence (. . . Allah knows it), and this is emphasized by the next sentence: "and the oppressors shall have no helpers".

This last sentence proves four things:

First: The oppression in this verse means the oppression of the needy and poor by not spending on them and by withholding their financial rights. It does not mean other sins and injustices, because there are helpers, atonements and interceders in the case of other sins. For example, there is repentance, the avoidance of great sins, and the intercessors on they Day of Resurrection for the sins concerning the rights of Allah. Allah says:

...do not despair of the mercy of Allah; surely Allah forgives the faults altogether ...And return to your Lord...(39:53-54); If you avoid great sins which you are forbidden, We will expiate from you your (small) sins (4:31);...and they do not intercede except for him whom He approves ...(21:28).

This also explains why this verse mentions "helpers" (in the plural). It is because there shall be many helpers in case of other sins.

Second: This oppression, that is, neglect of charity, is not liable to expiation. Had it been a minor sin, it would have been wiped out by expiation. In other words, it is a great sin. Also, it proves that it is not forgiven by repentance. It gets support from the traditions which say that repentance from sins concerning the rights of people is not accepted unless the sinner returns and gives all the due rights to those who possess them. Nor shall the intercession of the intercessors avail them on the Day of Resurrection, as is clearly seen in the words of Allah:

Except the people of the right hand, in gardens; they shall ask each other about the guilty: "What has brought you into Hell?" They shall say: "We were not of those who prayed, and we used not to feed the poor. . . " So the intercession of the intercessors shall not avail them (74:39-48).

Third: This oppressor is not of those with whom Allah is pleased. Intercession shall be for only those whose religion Allah approves and is pleased with. (Vide the topic of Intercession.) This shows why Allah used, in verse 2:265, the words "seeking the pleasure of Allah", and did not say "seeking the Person of Allah"

Fourth: Not spending property on the needy and poor when they are present and need assistance is a great and mortal sin. Allah has counted some kinds of not spending as equivalent to ascribing partners to Allah and disbelieving in the last day. For example, He says about not giving alms:. . . and woe to the polytheists, who do not give zakat and they are unbelievers in the hereafter (41:6-7). It should be noted that this chapter is from the Meccan period when az-zakat (poor rate) as known to us was not ordained. Therefore, it must refer to general alms.

QUR’AN: If you give alms openly, it is well, and if you hide it and give it to the poor, . . . and Allah is aware of what you do:

"al-Ibda"’ means to show, to exhibit. "as-Sadaqat" is the plural of as-sadaqah , which means expenditure in the way of Allah; it is a general word used for both obligatory and voluntary spending. Sometimes it is said that its original meaning is voluntary spending.

Allah praises both ways of spending because each has some good effects. Giving alms openly presents a practical example of enjoining good; it encourages people to spend and to be generous. Also, it makes the needy and poor happy - they see that there are in society people who have sympathy with them, that there is some wealth earmarked for them, and kept in reserve for the day they will need it. This, in its turn, removes their pessimistic feelings, gives them a new vigor to pursue their activities, and creates a feeling of oneness between them and the wealthy members of society. And all these effects are good.

Hiding alms and giving secretly to the poor is also good; such an alms-giving is far removed from showiness, reproach and injury; it protects the poor members of society from shame and disgrace, and preserve their honor and prestige in the eyes of the public. Thus, open charity creates good effects in society much more than secret charity; and secret charity is purer in intention.

The foundation of religion is purity of intention; the more a deed is nearer to this purity, the more it is nearer to excellence. That is why Allah gave more weight to secret alms: "and if you hide it and give it to the poor, it is better for you". Needless to say that "better" is in the comparative. And Allah is well-aware of the actions of His servants; there is no chance of His mistaking the "better" deed for some thing else, "and Allah is aware of what you do".

QUR’AN: To make them walk in the right way is not incumbent on you, but Allah guides aright whom He pleases:

It is a parenthetic sentence addressed to the Prophet, in between the general talk addressed to the believers. The Apostle of Allah felt that there were many differences in various aspects of the charities given by the believers: some of them were sincere, while others indulged in reproach and injury, or were reluctant to spend out of their good property. This observation saddened him, because all of them were believers. Therefore, Allah consoled and comforted him by reminding him that the belief found in them and their guidance are in the hands of Allah; He guides whom He pleases to belief and the various degrees of it; it is not in the power of the Prophet to create it or to preserve it. Therefore, it is not the responsibility of the Prophet to preserve their belief, nor should he worry about its weakening or extinction, nor should he be disappointed by the threatening and harsh tone used in some of these verses.

When an infinitive verb is joined to a noun or pronoun in a possessive phrase, it implies that verb’s coming into being. In this verse Allah has used the phrase "hudahum" which means "their guidance". As explained above, it implies the "guidance" which actually exists. That is why we have translated it as "To make them walk in the right path".

Apart from this, whenever Allah has attributed guidance to Himself, showing that the Prophet has no power to guide them, it has been done to comfort and console him.

In short, this sentence is parenthetic, inserted between the address to the believers, so that the Prophet may not be disheartened. It is like verse 75:16-18: Do not move your tongue with it to make haste with it. Surely on Us is the collecting of it and the reciting of it. Therefore when We have recited it, then follow its recitation. When the purpose was served, the speech reverted to the original talk with the believers.

QUR’AN: And whatever good thing you spend. . . and you shall not be wronged:

Now the speech is again addressed to the believers, in a style which is devoid of both good news and warning, unaffected by the tone of mercy or anger. Obviously, it results from the preceding words, "but Allah guides aright whom He pleases".

Now the speech only calls them to spend, clearly saying that the speaker has nothing to gain from this call. Whatever benefits are in spending are for their own good - provided they do not spend except to seek Allah’s pleasure. The sentence "and you do not spend but to seek Allah’s pleasure" shows the state of the principle sentence, and its meaning is: "and whatever good things you spend it is to your own good while you do not spend but to seek Allah’s pleasure ".

As it was possible for someone to think that this benefit (which was supposed to accrue to them from spending) was just a name without any substance, Allah continued the verse, saying "and whatever good thing you spend shall be paid back to you in full, and you shall not be wronged". These sentences make it clear that the benefit of this recommended spending, that is, the reward promised for it in this world and in the hereafter, is not an imaginary thing; it is a factual and actual existent; Allah shall pay it back in full to the spender, and he shall not be wronged, that is, his repayment shall not be reduced or lost.

The verb, "shall be paid back to you in full", is in the passive voice. The payer (i.e. Allah) has not been mentioned by name. This style was opted for so that the speech may be more effective. Whatever benefit is there, is for the spender only; the Giver of the rewards gains nothing from it; look here, even His name is not mentioned in this verse.

The verse, in short, is like a speech which has no speaker; if there is any benefit from it, it will accrue to the listener only.

QUR’AN: (Charity is) for the poor who are besieged in the way of Allah . . . surely Allah knows it:

"al-Hasr" gives the meaning of constraint. ar-Raghib has written in his al-Mufradaat: "al-Hasr" and "al-ihsar" means to prevent people from the way of the House (of Allah). al-ihsar is used for the manifest hindrance (like the enemy) as well as for the hidden snag (like sickness). But al-hasr is used for the hidden hindrance only. Therefore, the words of Allah: but if you be prevented (2:196), cover both types of hindrance; so also are the words "for the poor who are besieged in the way of Allah". But the words of Allah "or who come to you, their hearts shrinking" refer to hidden hindrances like cowardice and miserliness.

"at-Ta’affuf" means to acquire the characteristics of chastity and integrity; "as-sima" is the sign, the mark, "al- ilhaf" is to beg importunately.

The verse explains the way to use alms - the best use those poor persons who have been besieged in the way of Allah and are confined in it, because of some factors beyond their control. For example: an enemy who took away their dress and covering, or prevented them from going out to earn their livelihood; a sickness which closed the door of income for them; an activity (like acquiring knowledge) which does not leave them time to earn their livelihood.

The words, "the ignorant man (i.e., ignorant of their condition) thinks them to be rich on account of their self-control", mean that they do not display their poverty, except that which cannot be hidden in any way, like the etchings of poverty on their faces, or like old clothes, etc.

It is said that the words "they do not beg from men importunately" mean that they do not beg from men at all, so that it could push them to importunity. Once a man begs from someone for his needs, he loses his restraint and soon a time comes when he begs from everyone importunately and shamelessly.

More probably, the sentence means what it says; it negates importunity in asking from men, and not discrete asking. Importunate begging may mean such asking which exceeds the limit

of the necessary description of one’s needs. It should not be forgotten that explaining one’s needs in extreme hardship is not only allowed but sometimes becomes even necessary. But exceeding that limit is importunity, and is condemned.

Allah said "thou canst recognize them by their countenance"; and did not say "you can recognize them". It was done to protect their honor and preserve their self-respect, because of which they exercised self-control and did not ask from men indiscreetly. Had Allah said "you can recognize them" it would have meant that their poverty was well-known to everyone; and it would have been against their honor, an open humiliation. But there is no disgrace for them if the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) knows their conditions by looking at their countenance: after all, he is their Prophet, sent to them, has mercy on them and is kind to them. This is the reason - and Allah knows better - why in this sentence the singular pronoun has been used, in contrast to the other pronouns in this verse.

QUR’AN: Those who spend their wealth . . . nor shall they grieve:

The words "secretly" and "openly" are opposite to each other and they describe the condition of spending. This verse covers all possible times (by night and by day) and conditions (secretly and openly) of spending; it shows how much those spenders were keen on obtaining the reward, and how deep was their desire to seek the pleasure of Allah. As a result, Allah turned towards them with mercy and promised them a good promise in the language of kindness and grace: "for them is their reward with their Lord, and they shall have no fear, nor shall they grieve".

TRADITIONS

It is narrated in ad-Durru ‘l-manthur, about the words of Allah: and Allah multiplies for whom He pleases: Ibn Majah has narrated from al-Hasan ibn ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, Abu ‘d-Darda’, Abu Hurayrah, Abu Amamah al-Bahili, ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar, Jabir ibn ‘Abdullah and ‘Imran ibn Hasin, all of them narrating from the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) that he said : (And Ibn Majah Majah)

and Ibn Abi Hatim have narrated from ‘Imran ibn Hasin from the Messenger of Allah that he said:) "He who spent a property in the way of Allah and himself stayed in his house, shall get for every dirham seven hundred dirhams; and he, who himself fought in the way of Allah and spent his property in this way, shall get on the Day of Resurrection for every dirham seven hundred thousand dirhams". Then he (the Prophet) recited this verse: and Allah multiplies for whom He pleases.

as-Sadiq (a.s.) said: "When a believer does well in his deed, Allah multiplies his deed, every good deed seven hundred times. And this is the word of Allah: and Allah multiplies for whom He pleases. Therefore, make good your deeds which you do to obtain the reward of Allah." (at-Tafsir of al-‘Ayyashi)

This tradition has been narrated by al-Barqi also.

‘Umar ibn Muslim said: "I heard Abu ‘Abdillah (a. s.) saying: ‘When a believer does well in his deed, Allah multiplies his deed, every good deed seven hundred times. And this is the word of Allah: and Allah multiplies for whom He pleases. Therefore, make good your deeds which you do to obtain the reward of Allah.’ I (i.e. ‘Umar ibn Muslim) said: ‘And what does "making good" mean?’ He said: ‘When you pray, make your ruku' and sajdah good, and when you fast, keep away from that which spoils your fast, and when you do hajj, be on guard against all that is forbidden to you in your hajj and 'umrah. Then he said: ‘And every deed that you do should be clean from impurity."’ (ibid.)

In the same book there is a tradition from Himran from Abu Ja’far (a.s.). Himran said: "I asked him (i.e. Abu Ja‘far - a.s.): ‘Do you think that a believer has superiority over a Muslim in anything like inheritance, judgments and orders, so that a believer should have more than a Muslim in inheritance or other things?’ He said : ‘No. They both proceed on the same path (i.e., are equal) in all this, when the Imam decides between them; but the believer has a superiority over the Muslim in so far as their deeds are concerned."’ He (Himran) said: "I told him: ‘Has not Allah said: Whoever brings a good deed he shall have ten like it? And you think that they (i.e., the other Muslims) are gathered together with the believers in prayer, fasting and the hajj?’ He (the Imam) said: ‘Has not Allah said that Allah multiplies for whom He pleases manifold? Thus, the believers are those for whom the good deeds are multiplied, for every good deed seventy fold; so this is among their excellence; and Allah multiplies for the believer his good deeds according to the rectitude of his belief a manifold multiplication; and Allah does for the believer what He pleases.' "

The author says: There are other traditions with this meaning. And all of them are based on the view that the sentence: and Allah multiplies for whom He pleases is general, and that it covers doers of other good deeds also, in addition to those who spend in the way of Allah. And this view is the correct one; because the only thing that can be said for limiting it to the spenders is the fact that it was revealed in the context of spending; but we know that if a verse is revealed at a certain time or in a certain context, that time or that context does not restrict the general meaning of the word or the sentence.

And as the verse is not limited to spending, likewise, the word "yuda‘if" (increases, multiplies) should be treated as general; it implies every kind of increase, in number as well as in other ways. In short, the meaning of the verse will be: And Allah increases, enhances and multiplies a good deed in any way He pleases for anyone He pleases; He multiplies for every doer of good his good deed seven hundred times, or more, or less, as He increases for those who spend more than seven hundred times when He so pleases.

Question: You said earlier that it was wrong to interpret this sentence as saying "and Allah multiplies this multiplication for whom He pleases", and now you interpret it here in this very way.

Reply: What we refuted there was limiting this meaning to those who spend. And this tradition also rejects the idea that the verse is limited in any way.

The words of the Imam "Allah multiplies for whom He pleases manifold" combine two verses together: one, this very verse under discussion, and second, verse 245 of this second chapter: Who is it that will lend to Allah a goodly loan, so He will multiply it for him manifold.

It may be inferred from this tradition that the deeds of (those of) other sects of Islam (apart from the believers) may be accepted and given their reward. We shall discuss this topic under verse 98 of chap. 4: Except the weakened ones from among the men .. .

The author of Majma‘u ‘l-bayan says: This verse is general about spending in all these things (i.e. jihad and other ways of charity); and the same is narrated from Abu ‘Abdillah (a.s.).

‘Abdu ‘r-Razzaq has narrated in his al-Musannaf from Ayyub that he said : "A man came to the Prophet from Ra’s Tall. Thereupon they (i.e. the companions) said: ‘How brave is this man? Would that his bravery were in the way of Allah!’ The Prophet said: ‘Is only he who was killed in the way of Allah?’ Then he explained : "The one who went out in the earth seeking a lawful (earning) to sustain his parents is in the way of Allah; and the one who went out seeking a lawful (earning) to sustain his family is in the way of Allah; and the one who went out seeking a lawful (earning) to sustain himself is in the way of Allah; and the one who went out vying in exuberance is in the way of Satan.’" (ad-Durru ‘l-manthur)

Ibnu ‘l-Mundhir and al-Hakim have narrated (and the latter has said that it is correct) that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) asked al-Bara’ ibn ‘Azib: "0 Bara’! How is your spending for your mother?" (And al-Bara’ was generous to his family.) He replied: "0 Messenger of Allah! How good it is! (i.e, it is very good)." (The Prophet) said: "Verily, your expenditure on your family and child and servant is alms; therefore, you should not follow it with reproach or injury." (ibid.)

The author says: The traditions containing this meaning are numerous from the chains of both sects; and those traditions say that every deed which Allah is pleased with is in the way of Allah; and every expenditure in the way of Allah is alms.

There is a tradition in at-Tafsir of al-Qummi, under the verse: "Those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah... ", from as-Sadiq (a.s.) that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) said: "Whoever conferred something good on a believer and then injured him (i.e. his feelings) with his talk or reproached him has surely nullified his charity. . ." as-Sadiq (a.s.) said: as-Safwan is a big rock in a desert. al-Wabil is rain; and at-tall is what settles at night on trees and plants. al-I‘sar is wind.

Ibn Jarir has recorded from ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) about the words of Allah: 0 you who believe! spend (benevolently) out of the good things that you have earned (he said, "from gold and silver"), and of what We have brought forth for you out of the earth, (he said, "from grain and dates and everything in which zakat is prescribed). (ad-Durru ‘l-manthur)

Ibn Abi Shaybah, ‘Abd ibn Hamid, at-Tirmidhi (and he has said that this tradition is correct), Ibn Majah, Ibn Jarir, Ibnu ‘l­Mundhir, Ibn Abi Hatim, Ibn Marduwayh, al-Hakim (and he has said that it is correct) and al-Bayhaqi (in his as-Sunan) have narrated from al-Bars’ ibn ‘Azib, that he said about the words of Allah, and do not aim at what is bad of it that you may spend (in charity): "It was revealed about us, the group of the Helpers (ansar). We owned date-palms. (It was our custom that) a man used to come from his trees, however numerous or few they might be; and he brought a bunch of dates or two, and hung it in the mosque; and the people of the "raised platform" (Ahlu ‘s-Suffah) had nothing to sustain them. Therefore, when one of them felt hungry, he used to come to that bunch and hit it with his stick; thus, unripe and ripe dates dropped down and he ate them. And there were some people, not inclined to generosity, who brought bunches which had gone bad and had dried, and also broken bunches; and they hung them (in the mosque). Thereupon, Allah sent down the verse: 0 you who believe! spend (benevolently) out of the good things that you have earned and what We have brought forth for you out of the earth, and do not aim at what is bad of it that you may spend (in charity), while you would not take it yourselves unless you connived at it. Allah commented that if one of you were given a present like that which he gave in charity he would not accept it except if he connived at it or felt shy of rejecting it." al-Bars’ then said: "Therefore, everyone of us used to bring the best that he had." (ibid.)

There is a tradition in al-Kafi, that as-Sadiq (a.s.) said about the words of Allah: 0 you who believe! spend (benevolently) out of the good things that you have earned and of what We have brought forth for you out of the earth, and do not aim at what is bad of it that you may spend (in charity) : "When the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) ordered az-zakat (poor-rate) on dates, some people used to bring various types of dates as poor-rate, (dates) of the worst kind. They took out as their poor-rate the dates called aj-ju ‘rur and al-mi ‘afarah, those with little flesh and big stones. And others brought good dates. Thereupon, the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) said: ‘Do not estimate these two (types of) dates and do not bring any of them (as poor-rate).’ And concerning this was revealed: and do not aim at what is bad of it that you may spend (in charity), while you would not take it yourselves unless you connived at it. And conniving means to take these two dates."

There is another tradition from Abu ‘Abdillah (a.s.) about the above-mentioned verse, that he said: "The people had earned bad earnings in the (days of) ignorance. When they became Muslims, they wanted to take that (unlawful earning) from their property to give it in charity. But Allah did not allow them except that they should take out from the best of their earnings."

The author says: There are may traditions with this meaning from the chains of the both sects.

It is quoted in at-Tafsir of al-Qummi about the words of Allah: Satan threatens you with poverty . . . that Allah means, "Satan tells you, ‘Do not spend, otherwise you shall become poor’, and Allah promises you forgiveness from Himself and abundance", that is, He shall give you if you spend for His sake and shall reimburse you abundantly.

at-Tirmidhi (and he has said that this tradition is correct), an-Nasa’i, Ibn Jarir, Ibnu ‘ l-Mundhir, Ibn Abi Hatim, Ibn Hib­ban and al-Bayhaqi (in his ash-Shu’ab) have narrated from Ibn Mas‘ud that he said that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) said: "Verily, Satan has a nearness with the son of Adam and the angel has a nearness (with him). As for the nearness of Satan, it is a threatening with evil and a denying of truth. And as for the nearness of the angel, it is promising of good and a confirming of truth; therefore, whoever felt it, should know that it is from Allah, so let him thank Allah. And whoever felt that other (effect), should seek the protection of Allah against Satan." Then (the Messenger of Allah) recited: Satan threatens you with poverty and enjoins you to abomination . . . (ad-Durru ‘l-manthur)

at-Tafsir of al-‘Ayyashi quotes Abu Ja’far (a.s.) about the words of Allah, and whoever is granted wisdom, he indeed is given a great good, that he said: "The knowledge (of Allah)."

The same book quotes as-Sadiq (a.s.) as saying: "Verily, wisdom is the knowledge (of Allah) and understanding of the religion."

al-Kafi quotes as-Sadiq (a.s.) as saying in explanation of this verse: "Obedience to Allah and knowledge of the Imam."

The author says: There are other traditions with the same meaning; and they present some examples of a general meaning.

There is in al-Kafi a tradition: from a group of our companions, from Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Khalid, from some of our companions, who mentioned the chain of narrators reaching the Messenger of Allah; the narrator said that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) said: "Allah did not distribute among (His) servants anything better than wisdom; so, the sleep of the wise is better than the wakefulness of the ignorant, and the staying of the wise is better than the rising of the ignorant. And Allah did not send any prophet nor any apostle till (his) understanding was perfected and his wisdom was superior to all the wisdom of his people. And what the prophet keeps hidden in his mind is superior to the endeavors of the endeavourers. And the servant does not fulfill his obligations (towards) Allah until he knows Him; and all the worshippers together do not reach in the excellence of their worship what a wise (person) attains; and the wise people are the people of understanding; Allah says: and none but men of understanding mind."

as-Sadiq (a.s.) said: "Wisdom is the light of knowledge, and the weighing scale of piety, and the fruit of truth; and if you were to say that Allah did not bestow upon His servant a bounty greater and higher and better and more magnificent than wisdom, you would be saying (the truth). Allah, Powerful and Great is He, has said: He grants wisdom to whom He pleases, and whoever is granted wisdom, he indeed is given a great good, and none but men of understanding mind."

The author says: There are many traditions about the verse: And whatever alms you give . . ., concerning the alms, the vow and the injustice, which we shall write, God willing, in more appropriate places.

It is reported in ad-Durru ‘l-manthur from several chains from Ibn ‘Abbas, Ibn Jubayr, Asma’ bint Abi Bakr and others that the Messenger of Allah used to forbid (the giving of) alms to non-Muslims; and the Muslims disliked spending on their non­believing relatives. Then, Allah sent down this verse : To make them walk in the right way is not incumbent on you . . . Thereupon, (the Messenger of Allah) allowed it.

The author says: It has already been explained that the phrase "hudahum" (their guidance; to make them walk in the right way) appropriately means guiding the Muslims themselves by making them follow the right path; it has no connection with the unbelievers. The verse, therefore, is quite unrelated to the story of its revelation mentioned in the above report. Moreover, the very next verse which prescribes the group on which the alms should be spent (for the poor who are besieged in the way o f Allah . . .) does not support this story.

So far as spending on a non-Muslim is concerned, the generality of the verse is enough to allow it provided it is done in the way of Allah and to seek the pleasure of Allah.

al-Kafi quotes as-Sadiq (a.s.) about the words of Allah: And if you hide it and give it to the poor, it is better for you, that he said: "It is in other than az-zakat; verily az-zakat is openly, not secretly."

There is another tradition in the same book from the same Imam: "Whatever Allah has made obligatory on you, announcing it is better than hiding it; and whatever is voluntary, hiding it is better than announcing it."

The author says: There are other traditions with the same meanings as the two above traditions. And its meaning may be clearly understood from earlier explanations.

It is written in Majma’u ‘l-bayan, under the verse: (Charity is) for the poor who are besieged in the way of Allah . . ., that Abu Ja’far (a.s.) said: "It was revealed about the companions of the raised platform." the author of Majma’u ‘l-bayan goes on to say that the same thing has been narrated by al-Kalbi from Ibn ‘Abbas. "And they were about four hundred men; they had no houses in Medina, nor were there any people of their clans where they could find shelter. Therefore, they got themselves settled in the mosque; and they said: ‘We shall go out in every expedition sent by the Messenger of Allah.’ Therefore, Allah exhorted the peo­ple to (help) them. Then (it became a custom that) if a man took his meal and some food was left over, he brought it to them."

In at-Tafsir of al-‘Ayyashi, Abu Ja’far (a.s.) is quoted as saying: "Verily Allah hates the one who begs importunately."

It is written in Majma’u ‘l-bayan, under the words of Allah: "Those who spend their wealth by night and by day. .." Ibn ‘Abbas said describing the reason of its revelation: "It was revealed about ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (a.s.); he had four dirhams; and he gave them in charity, one at night-time, and one in the daytime, one secretly and one openly. Then came down this verse: Those who spend their wealth by night and by day, secretly and openly. . . " at-Tabrisi (author of Majma ‘u ‘l-bayan) further said: "And the same is narrated from Abu Ja’far (a.s.) and Abu ‘Abdillah (a.s.)."

The author says: And this thing has been narrated by al-‘Ayyashi in his at-Tafsir; al-Mufid in his al-Ikhtisas, and as-Saduq in his ‘Uyunu ‘l-akhbar.

‘Abdu ‘r-Razzaq, ‘Abd ibn Hamid, Ibn Jarir, Ibnu ‘l-Mundhir, Ibn Abi Hatim, at-Tabarani and Ibn ‘Asakir have narrated through the chain of ‘Abdu ‘l-Wahhab ibn Mujahid from his father from Ibn ‘Abbas about the words of Allah: Those who spend their wealth by night and by day, secretly and openly . . ., that he said: "It was revealed about ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) that he had four dirhams; and he spent them (in charity) at night one dirham, and in the day one dirham, and secretly one dirham, and openly one dirham." (ad-Durru ‘l-manthur)

al-Burhan (Tafsir) quotes Ibn Shahrashub (in his al-Manaqib) who narrated from Ibn ‘Abbas, as-Suddi, Mujahid, al-Kalbi, Abu Salih, al-Wahidi, at-Tusi, ath-Tha‘labi, at-Tabrisi, al-Mawardi, al-Qushayri, ath-Thumali, an-Naqqash, al-Fattal, ‘Abdullah ibn al-Husayn and ‘Ali ibn Harb at-Ta' (in their books of at-Tafsir) that: ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib had some silver dirhams; so he gave in charity one at night and one in the day, and one secretly, and one openly. Thereupon was revealed (the verse) : Those who spend their wealth by night and by day, secretly and openly . . . Thus Allah named (his) every dirham a wealth and gave him the good news of acceptance.

It is written in some books of tafasir (pl. of tafsir, i.e., commentary) that the verse was revealed about Abu Bakr; he gave in charity forty thousand dinars - ten by night, and ten by day and ten secretly and ten openly.

The author says: al-Alusi has written in his at-Tafsir under this tradition: "al-Imamu ‘s-Suyuti has commented that the report of his (i.e., Abu Bakr’s) giving forty thousand dinars in charity has only been narrated by Ibn ‘Asakir in his history from ‘A’ishah, and there is no mention of the revelation of this verse in that report. It seems that those who claimed it (i.e., the revelation of the verse about Abu Bakr) inferred it from the tradition narrated by Ibnu ‘l-Mundhir from Ibn Ishaq that he said: ‘When Abu Bakr died and ‘Umar became Khalifah, he addressed the people; he thanked Allah and praised Him as He should be praised; then he said: "0 people! verily, some avarice is poverty, and some abandoning of hope is self-sufficiency; and verily you gather what you do not eat, and you hope for what you do not get. And know that some miserliness is a branch of hypocrisy; therefore, spend for your own good." Then he said: "So where are the people of this verse?" - and saying it, he recited this verse. And you know that these words do not show in any way that this verse was revealed about Abu Bakr.’ "

It is reported in ad-Durru ‘l-manthur, through various chains, from Abu Amamah, Abu ‘d-Darda’, Ibn ‘Abbas and others that the verse was revealed about the people of the horses.

The author says: "The people of the horses" refers to those who kept the horses (for the purpose of jihad) and spent on them by night and by day. But the wording of the verse, "secretly and openly", does not fit this interpretation. What would be the sense of this generalization and particularization in the case of spending on horses?

There is also in ad-Durru 'l-manthur from al-Musayyab that this whole verse was revealed in praise of `Abdu 'r-Rahman ibn `Awf and `Uthman ibn `Affan when they spent on "the army of straitened circumstances" (i.e., army of Tabuk).

The author says: The same objection arises here as has been leveled against the preceding interpretation - that it does not fit the wordings of the Qur'an.