Have you ever awakened to the multitude of blessings God has given you and frantically wondered if you were thanking God enough for them? On the other hand, have you ever felt as though you didn’t have much? That God gave others more and forgot to apportion you the same?
The solution to both spiritual dilemmas is the same: gratitude and giving. When you give, regarding the former, you recycle God’s gifts to become a source of a good, this constantly expressing gratitude for them. And when you give, regarding the latter, you make apparent to yourself how much you actually have from which to give, making you feel rich in blessings upon blessings to thank God for. Truly, it’s the cycle of the great cycle of gratitude that keeps on giving.
God Almighty says: “Speak to My servants who have believed, that they may establish regular prayers, and spend (in charity) out of the Sustenance We have given them, secretly and openly, before the coming of a Day in which there will be neither selling nor befriending. It is Allah Who hath created the heavens and the earth and sendeth down rain from the skies, and with it bringeth out fruits wherewith to feed you: it is He Who hath made the ships subject to you, that they may sail through the sea by His Command; and the rivers (also) hath He made subject to you. And He hath made subject to you the sun and the moon, both diligently pursuing their courses: and the Night and the Day hath He (also) made subject to you. And He giveth you of all that ye ask for. But if ye count the favors of Allah, never will ye be able to number them. Verily, man is given up to injustice and ingratitude.” [14: 31-34]
In these beautiful verses God reminds us of His favors upon us and our tendency to be ungrateful despite them. In doing so, He gives us the perfect prescription for maintaining gratitude befitting if such a generous Lord as Himself. After a command to pray, God loving tells us, ‘His Servants,’ to give in charity.
Thus, charity is established not only as the perfect arrangement to ensure the whole spectrum of society is taken care of, but as a means through which we purify what we have been given. Charity is how we give thanks.
Think of when a loved one gives you a gift— an incredible, thoughtful, most grand gift. How can you possibly show them how much you appreciate it? How can you express how much this means to you? The answer: you use it. Imagine the delight of a friend who sees you wearing the bracelet she gave you; or of a mother when you present her a cake you made using a baking tool she gave you… etc, etc. Now imagine how that gift grows forgotten and unappreciated if you stash it away in a closet instead.
When we use what we have been given for the good of God’s creation, we acknowledge our bounties as being from God alone. And when we give of our gifts in charity, we shift the focus from the gift itself to the Giver Himself. We acknowledge who loaned us our blessings and who they truly belong to and establish them as a right upon all mankind.
When we give of what we have been given, we mustn’t remember why: because we can. As a Zakat Foundation volunteer puts it in our Volunteer Voices series, “to be in a position to be of service rather than receive service— that’s a blessing in itself. So if you’re in a position to give or be of service to others, it would be a time against that blessing not to give of what you have been given, help others, and make a difference.”