We give gratitude to Allah that the month of forgiveness, mercy and redemption from hell fire is once again here. Many who observed last year’s Ramadan are not around to witness this year’s. Those around this year did nothing to be alive. It is therefore a privilege that we have survived till today. For Muslims in most parts of the world including Muslim minority countries, this is a Ramadanbeing observed in the most unusual manner.Some religious duties that make the month holier than others shall be missed. That should not be a source of worry because Allah (SWT) knows best why He made 1441AH Ramadan to be so.
Although the whole year is appropriate for doing good, more acts of charity (in cash or kind)are encouraged during Ramadan. It may take the form of public feeding of the poor and the needy, donating food items to the underprivileged or other forms of kindness that epitomizes spending in the way of Allah.Helping neighbours and relations out of their predicaments is also kindness. Allah (SWT) states in Qur’an 2:261 that “The parable of those who spend their substance in the way of Allah is that of a grain of corn; it grows seven ears and each ear hath a hundred grains. Allah gives manifold increase to whom He pleases; and Allah cares for all and he knows all things”.
Anyone who feeds a fasting believer in Ramadan receives the same reward given to the individuals that were fed without reducing anything from the reward of the persons fed. For instance, if you feed 10 persons who are fasting in a day, you are due to receive a reward equivalent to the reward given to 10 persons that fasted on that day. This is aside of the reward that also accrues to you (the benefactor) for fasting on that day. Ramadan is a special favour for us, the Ummah of the Prophet (SAW). Ramadan fast is so revered that Allah (SWT) said “fasting is for Him, and He (not the angels), gives the reward for it”. Let us therefore take advantage of the opportunities offered by Ramadan to show kindness to others.
You do not have to be ‘Dangote’, Governor, Minister, Senator, Sultan, or Chief Imambefore you could be kind to others. No matter how low a person imagines or believes his level of poverty to be, there are so many ways he or she could be kind. Moreover, kindness isn’t an act that begins and ends with money. Even a good speech in Islam is an act of charity. The significance of every act of ibadah lies in the spirit that underscores it; or in other words, the intention that prompted it. Let us remember that it is for the benefit of those who lack material wealth that Allah availed us with intangible forms of charity. Islam admonishes that the affluent and the indigent should spend according to their resources. Allah (SWT) states in Qur’an 65:7 that “Let the man of means spend according to his means; and (for) the man whose resources are limited, let him spend according to what Allah has given to him; Allah puts no burden on any person beyond what He has given him…”
Bill Gates was once asked if there was someone richer than him and he replied in the affirmative.He saidhe once arrived at the New York airport and wanted to buy a newspaper but realised he had no change.He told the vendor that he wanted a newspaper but had no change. The vendor gave Gates the paper for free.After two or three months again, Gates arrived the same airport and again was short of change to buy a newspaper. The vendor again offered him the newspaper for free. When Gates refused, the vendor told him he was doing that from his little profit. Gates took the newspaper.
After 19 years when Gates had become famous, he remembered the vendor and began searching for him. He found him after a long search. When Gates asked if the man remembered giving him newspaper for free, the vendor said he did that twice.Gates asked the vendor to tell him anything he wanted in life because he wanted to repay the help, which the latter had offered him in the past. The vendor said, “Sir, don’t you think by doing so, you won’t be able to match my help? I helped you when I was a poor newspaper vendor but you are trying to help me now when you have become the richest man in the world.How could your help match mine?” Gates said he realisedthe newspaper vendor was richer than he is because he (the vendor) didn’t wait to become rich to help someone.
It would be unwise for anyone to convince himself thatit would only be time to be kindwhen he becomes rich. Who told anyonehe wouldbecome rich tomorrow? Allah (SWT) reminds us in Qur’an 31:34 of the five things, which He (SWT) had denied humanity their knowledge is the absolute ignorance of what each “soul shall earn tomorrow”. It would be double tragedy if we never get rich.Most often, many as middle and low income earners in developing countries naturally get poorer and poorer. Like the vendor, it is time for everyone to be kind especially during this peculiar Ramadan.Let us remember that the truly rich are those who possess a rich heart rather than lots of money. Let us take advantage of the ‘bonanza’ that is exclusive to the month of Ramadan.
The need to be kind cannot be more imperative than now. According to the Sunnah of the Prophet (SAW), charity which includes feeding of the poor is a strong instrument of attaining recovery from illnesses and also a means to averting calamities. The Prophet (SAW) similarly exhorts us to treat the sick among us with alms. Let us not see the lockdown order and social distancing measuresbeing observed in most states of the country as obstacles to implementing these hadiths of the Prophet (SAW). We only need to find alternative ways of responding to the exigencies occasioned by COVID-19 pandemic. To forestalllarge crowds, food and dates packagedin take-away packs could be put in big basins and beneficiaries asked to maintain social distance while they go in turn to pick their shares.
Similarly, we can deliver our kindness and charity to theInternally Displaced Persons(IDPs) in their camps, and to old persons,widows and orphans in theirhomes; without necessarily bringing them together in one place. The items could be dropped in front of recipients’ houses and occupants alerted to come out for them by knocking on their door; remembering also to properly use sanitizers and nose masks.We urgethoseasked to manage funds provided by state governments, groups and individuals for the welfare of the poor and the vulnerable including IDPs during this Ramadan to fear Allah (SWT). The funds or food items should not end up in private houses.May Allah (SWT) deliver us from COVID-19, amin.