Giving For the Sake of Giving, Not for Heavenly Rewards | Quranalyze It

Giving For the Sake of Giving, Not for Heavenly Rewards | Quranalyze It June 29, 2015

GUEST POST BY MANDI NARR

I’m writing this now, in the month of Ramadan because I feel it is an appropriate time to bring this up. I feel the true spirit of giving is lost among Muslims. We have reduced charity to a mere point-earning system, where in we are rewarded in coin values of Mercy, Forgiveness and Blessings.

The more good we do, the more coins we stash so we can buy things in heaven. A lavish house within one of the suburbs where the Prophets live. A river of honey out the back door. Or perhaps a second floor filled with nothing but gold furnishings?

To me this seems like materialism. Just because we place it within the context of “hereafter” doesn’t make it any less comparable with the consumerism we try to escape right here on earth. And to believe otherwise, to consider the possibility of doing good just for good’s sake is, well, that’s just blasphemy.

I will tell you a story. And when you consider this story, remember that I am only talking about a brick. That’s right. A simple, red, jagged-edged, heavy brick.

It was a cold January morning. The kind of cold born out of a clear, crisp sky with no cloud in sight to hide the sun or keep the biting Canada cold winds at bay. I was walking into work and happen to notice that one of the bricks that decorated the edge of the grass was out of place. I stopped and picked it up and put it back in its rightful place, and to ensure no one would happen to trip over it.

As soon as a finished, one of the ladies who worked there as an Islamic studies teacher exclaimed from behind me: “Oh Mandi! So many times I walked past this brick and I never pick it up, I always say I will get it next time… but this morning you did, so you will get the blessings!” Now remember, we’re just talking about a brick. I turned to her, smiled and said “the ability to do good is a blessing in itself.”

She looked at me as if I just killed one of her kittens. “Oh no no no no! Don’t say that! Sister, you do believe in heaven and hereafter, right? That’s our belief!” she said as almost she as about to cry in shock and disbelief. Heaven forbid I should be an atheist for thinking such things! To keep from starting an all out argument, I smiled and nodded and went along my way.

IT WAS JUST A BRICK.

I didn’t have it in me to explain it to her, nor did I have the time. Actually, I probably did have the time, but I simply didn’t know where to start. It astonished me that to her, the simple idea of the ability to help, do good, spread light and to even know God as a blessing in itself was not just something on heard of, it was a no-no. To her, and to far too many people, doing good isn’t a blessing, it’s only a way to get blessings. They don’t see it as an elevated state of being, as an expression of God consciousness.

No. Do good, behave, follow the laws and you will earn your points.

 

What has happened to us? Why is this version of Islam being spoon fed to the masses as truth? Where is the elevation? When do we start believing that not only are we the result of good, we can also be the expression of it? Whenever I think back on this cold day just a few years ago, I feel just as sad and astonished at her reaction and protests as I did then.

 

The true spirit of giving has been lost, and I wonder what it will take to bring it back. I urge us all, during this Holy month of Ramadan to bring this spirit back. To remember that it’s not about earning points or intangible coins of blessings but because we truly can feel the pain of another, and we want to alleviate that because we want no one to be in pain, because God Himself wishes for no one to be in pain.

Let us reflect on this, and reflect on the saying of Muhammad, that we should want for our brother what we want for ourselves. For that, we need closeness.

Reduce the spirit of giving to a mere point-earning system, and all we are left with is distance, coldness, and disconnection–not only from our fellow human beings, but from God as well.

Image courtesy: Getty Images

Mandi Nar is an avid seeker and traveler with a down to earth approach to spirituality. She sometimes suffers from giving too much to help others, and is working on her first book to discover what motivates kind hearted people to do so. You can follow her on Facebook.

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  • Raeez Mohammed Basheer

    Well…I agree that the desire to do good is itself a blessing from Allah. He guides our minds in the right way because of the goodness in our past actions or because we recite ” Fatiha” in our salats, in which we ask for guiding us in the right path.
    But sometimes we need to do good when we do not feel like doing it. The “feel good” factor of doing good might not be present in all our good deeds; at least in the short term. Sometimes we have to do the right thing even if it hurts us in this world. For this the desire of reward/paradise or the fear of punishment/hell might be the only thing we can hold on to.
    When we do good, and declare that what we did was for the reward from Allah, it might seem selfish but it also sounds humble. We are declaring that what we do is not becuse we are generous or righteous but for the reward of Allah.
    We are responsible and accountable for what we DID, not the spirit with which we did those deeds.
    If someone gives MORE in charity with the desire of heavenly reward than another person whose aim was to feel good about himself, I think the first individual would be in a higher position in terms of the good that he did simply beacause he did more.
    Well….that is my opinion….overlook any grammatical errors and/or spelling mistakes.

  • Great post!

  • mike

    you sound like a nut. so what of those who wish to die as martyrs for the greater reward? what you have said is the exact problem with islam. it is more concerned with the next life than this life. and spelling and grammatical errors. your spelling and grammar is fine. your logic is horribly flawed.

  • Raeez Mohammed Basheer

    May peace be upon you.Thank you for bringing it to my attention that I might be a ” nut with horribly flawed logic”.

    No, I was not referring to the suicide bombers or such misguided extremists who have a twisted interpretation of the quran, or who have never even read the quran.

    I was talking about the people who dare to challenge existing practices and institutions for the sake of upholding the values of truth and justice, even if it leads to ridicule, alienation from friends and family, or even harrassment and imprisonment.

    We all have to choose between what is right and what is easy.
    Sometimes to do the right thing we have to make some very tough decisions. Like saying no to your boss or even quitting your job if we are forced to do unethical practices.
    Even when we are held at gunpoint and asked to do wrong and renounce what is right, we are not supposed to do it.We are also not justified in doing it.
    Reward of the hereafter is something we can cling on to in such difficult situations.
    I agree with you that islam considers the next life to be more important that this one. This life is a test for doing the right thing against all adversities including your own self.
    That is the struggle we are supposed to undergo.

    Kindly avoid personal comments and insults if you wish to reply.
    – Peace.

  • mike

    well I hope no one is holding you at gunpoint. yes doing what is right is a good thing. but what is wrong and what is right is the question. so do you believe that sharia should rule the world?

  • Raeez Mohammed Basheer

    Sharia as practiced in many(most) of the ” islamic ” countries of the middle east is not according to the quran despite their claims.
    It is based on the “hadith” or the traditions of the prophet and the opinions of religious priests/’scholars’.
    98% of muslims have never read the quran with understanding. 99.9% of muslims have never read the hadith(at least in my country, India).What they follow as islam is the traditions and practices of their fathers and forefathers without questioning.

    The hadiths are a bunch of sayings falsely attributed to the prophet.Many times they even conradict the verses of the quran.
    Majority of muslims do not accept this as they have not read the hadiths. Only a casual reading is required to see that there is something wrong with it.

    So, the answer is no. The present sharia law is corrupt.
    Majority of muslims are following this distorted version of islam.

    One of the most FUNDAMENTAL aspects of islam is that we should not associate partners with God. But most of the muslims assosiate partners like the authors of the hadiths, the religious leaders, in matters regarding religion.
    ..Sorry for the lengthy post.
    -peace.

  • mike

    no need to apologize. lengthy posts are always welcome.
    so are you in the .01%?
    so you are a Koran only muslim?

  • Raeez Mohammed Basheer

    Well.. I would not like to label myself as a new sect of islam like” quran only muslim”.
    My religion is islam.
    Yes, I consider only the quran to be authentic enough to be follwed in matters of religion.
    Fortunately or unfortunately I am the minority in islam.

  • Michele

    There are opportunities for martyrdom in this world mike, but killing innocents is not one of them. If you died protecting the weak, you could be a martyr. Suicide is haram as well. You can’t do a haram thing to somehow do something right. You can go in knowing you will likely die. Everything about suicide bombing is nothing about martyrdom.

  • mike

    how many times do you pray?
    so are you in the .01%?

  • mike

    are you a muslim? do you follow the hadiths? what do you think of the concept of occasionalism?

  • Raeez Mohammed Basheer

    3 times a day.
    Well…0.1% if my math is right!

  • mike

    well, then you are a quranists.
    my bad, decimal slip. 0.1%. next thing you know. i’ll be saying spinach has some super high amount of iron in it. 0.1% cool. can you tell me where gog and magog are?
    there is a discussion on loonwatch right now about verse 5:32. what do you think it means? is it only directed at the jews?

  • Michele

    Yes I am Muslim. I am Muslim because it helps me live a better life. I advance emotionally and physically by following the practices and rituals associated with it and by taking time from my day to analyze and examine my behavior and learn new ways of thinking about morality and spiritual growth. I don’t know what occasionalism is, nor do I feel I need to. There are parts of Islam as imagined by others that I don’t like, but there are many great hadiths. I take what I think is good from them because it WORKS FOR ME. One example is the hadith qudsi. It’s hard to explain that to someone who has not considered it from this angle. I left Islam for 3 years, but I came back. I’m better with it. I do know that killing yourself and other innocents is completely haram and, taken together, one of the worst sins a human is capable of. I’m fine to leave it there for now.

  • Raeez Mohammed Basheer

    “Those who invoke not, with God, any other god, nor slay such life as God has made sacred except for just cause, nor commit fornication; – and any that does this (not only) meets punishment. (But) the Penalty on the Day Of Judgement will be doubled To him…(25:68-69).

    This is Quranic verses regarding murder.
    So, I think 5:32 applies to all.

    I understand that Gog and magog were trapped by someone named ” dulqarnain” and they would be free during the final day of qiyama.( 18:92-102. & 21:96-97)
    I do not know where they were trapped.

  • mike

    you don’t think 5:45 (I think) is dealing with murder? a life for a life, an eye for and eye, …ear, nose, tooth.
    so does the Koran mention blood money? what do you think of a murder being set free if they can pay off the surviving family?
    yes, the ‘two horned’ king said ‘bring me ingots of iron and copper….. I was hoping to mine the copper out of the great rampart he built. but no one seems to know the location. strange no one has come across this giant wall or these tribes. don’t you think?

  • mike

    http://www.usc.edu/org/cmje/religious-texts/hadith/qudsi.php

    is the hadith qudsi you refer to these forty?

    what “angle”. that you take what is good and leave the bad behind? that is a great angle. I wish all muslims took that angle. unfortunately many believe you have to take ALL of it. and they don’t see the bad parts. a couple of years ago a mufti in Egypt made a fatwa encouraging the ‘mujahedeen’ in Palestine to take jewish women as war booty. defending the enslaving of women as war booty he said: “it is as haram, to make what is halal haram, as it is to make what is haram halal.”

    you remind me of the scene in the movie ‘menace to society’. they are sitting in the park talking with the one guy’s father, played by that actor ‘rock’. they ask him what he thinks of his son becoming a muslim. he replies,if Muhammad can help him to be a better person than jesus can, I’m all for it. something like that.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occasionalism

    “all events are taken to be caused directly by God”
    “fire doesn’t burn the cotton, allah burns the cotton.”

  • Raeez Mohammed Basheer

    I do not know where the copper wall is.. maybe it is underwater..submerged by an earthquake or similar event.Maybe it got buried under the lava flow of a volcano.I do not know.
    If memory serves me right, the entire Indus valley civilization and its cities were discovered only during the twentieth century.

    Maybe if someone finds out the location they may be set free!! Maybe that must be the reason why they are hidden.

    Regarding blood money, it is not applicable to murder.It appplies to culpable homicide or accidental killing(4:92). (That is how I understand)

    Yes,I think “life for a life” (5:45) means capital punishment to those who commit murder.

    -peace

  • mike

    now I’m really confused. both those phrases say something like, ‘except those you for go it out of charity’. what does that mean? if someone kills my wife, I can just say, ‘don’t worry about it’. I for go your punishment out of charity?
    as the smiths once said, ‘that’s ok, she was old and would have died anyway.’

  • Raeez Mohammed Basheer

    I do not have the exact answer. I also usually get confused many times while reading the quran.

    Eventhough I read and write arabic, I do not know its meaning. All I can do is look into the various translations of the quran to understand it.

    I have read somewhere that doubt is essential to faith.

    Regarding your example, may be you get to spare ‘only’ the murders LIFE. (The equalent punishment).He may be sent for life imprisonment or other punishments according to the law of the land.
    There might also be other vague explanations like no one would completely forgive his wife’s murderer unless he himself was a co conspirator.In that case the husband would be suspected and charged with a crime.
    Maybe the wife also has a son, a father and they might have to say something about a complete pardon…

    I am also not saying that I know for sure (100%) that islam is the truth. I think of the evidences for and against the argument and currently I am betting that islam is the truth, with a very high degree of confidence. Quran explains far more things than the things that it leaves unexplained. No one can know it all.

    -peace

  • mike

    yes I’ve meet a couple of people who can read Arabic but don’t understand it. a very strange thing to me. so you can phonetically read the writing? you know the sounds, but don’t know what you are saying? so when you say write, you mean you can copy something written in Arabic?
    anyway, yeah some muslims say you can suspend the death penalty but the murderer still gets punished. but others say he is let of scot free. no doubt the Koran is confusing.
    I thought allah was supposed to know everything?
    btw, good to see you see the great possible flaw in allowing a next of kin to be in charge of ‘justice’.

  • Raeez Mohammed Basheer

    My point of view would be that mercy is important along with justice. If God punishes us for all the sins we have done without accepting our repentance, then I fear none would escape hell. If we expect God to forgive our sins we can also forgive the sins of others. (2:178)-This is a great mercy and concession from Your lord…

    By being able to write, I mean that I can write it down when some one is dictating arabic.

    Verse 3:7- says that
    The quran has clear statements which form the foundation of islam. But some verses are ambiguous. Only God knows its true meaning. People with bad intentions will misinterpret it. People of knowledge would say, ‘we believe in it’.Those who understand would pay attention to this.

    Many doubts that i have had have been cleared over the course of time. But some remain.
    God knows everything, It is me who does not even know arabic. Maybe Allah intended for some confusion amongst us,so that we may constantly ask for his guidance during our prayers.

  • mike

    “If God punishes us for all the sins we have done without accepting our repentance, then I fear none would escape hell.” what do you mean by ‘escape hell’?

    “If we expect God to forgive our sins we can also forgive the sins of others.” lol. yes I was raised catholic. I’m quite familiar with this concept.
    shouldn’t perfection not be open to ‘misinterpretation’? the Koran reminds me of a skit I saw on tv once. there are two guys in a locked room with a bomb counting down. one guy says not to worry, I have me trusty bomb defusing book right here. he opens the book and reads, ‘cut the red wire’. the other guy cuts the red wire and then the guy with the book turns the page and says, ‘after you cut the blue wire’……..BOOM.

  • Raeez Mohammed Basheer

    Well..the bomb diffusing instruction comes under the majority of verses which are unambiguous and clear.

    The quran is perfect, it is we mortals who are imperfect in understanding the ambiguous verses. God who is perfect understands these verses which are relatively few in number.

    Those who twist these verses do so knowingly for their own selfish agenda.They use religion for their political and monetary ambitions. I do not think they actually believe in God

  • mike

    so god puts in verses that are ambiguous and unclear in his ‘divine revelation’? why would anyone (thing) of reason do this? this makes no sense. that is why people of reason know this religion to be false.

    “Those who twist these verses do so knowingly” so it is not a ‘misinterpretation’? they do it knowingly. and god knows they will do this, yet chose to ‘revel’ verses that can be twisted? again, this lacks all reason.

  • Raeez Mohammed Basheer

    God did allow and allows evil to exist in this world. This is a way to test the believers when they are faced with this evil. Quran might not be an exception.

    God might have very well known that some will misuse the book. God does say that quran is a mercy for those who belive and is a book which can be used by the disbelievers to mock muslims using the ambiguous verses.

    Quran is for the people who,according to God, wants guidance, not for the one who are evil anyway.

    People of reason also should explain the reason for the numerous scientific facts mentioned in the quran, when many of the facts were discovered by modern science in the twentieth century.

  • mike

    “God did allow and allows evil to exist in this world. This is a way to test the believers when they are faced with this evil. Quran might not be an exception.” yes god created evil and gave iblis a respite. so is iblis chained up during Ramadan, or is that only in a hadith.

    “God might have very well known that some will misuse the book. God does say that quran is a mercy for those who belive and is a book which can be used by the disbelievers to mock muslims using the ambiguous verses.” so what is it for those of us who don’t believe? is shirk the one unforgivable sin for quran only muslims?

    “Quran is for the people who,according to God, wants guidance, not for the one who are evil anyway.” yeah, I’ve been told I’m evil. that I have a diseased heart. what doe sit say right off the bat, ‘they are blind, deaf, and dumb…allah has put a seal on their hearts…over their eyes is a veil….in there hearts is disease and allah increases their disease…they are the parable of those who kindle a fire and allah extinguishes their fire taking away their light…they stumble to and fro like those in thunderstorm.. 2:6 through like 2:20.

    “People of reason also should explain the reason for the numerous scientific facts mentioned in the quran, when many of the facts were discovered by modern science in the twentieth century.” like what? please tell me you have something better than the fetus is a leech and the mountains hold down the earth?

  • Raeez Mohammed Basheer

    I was not referring to you when I talked about evil people or disbelievers.Unless of course you have made up your mind that you will never consider the quran to be true no matter how compelling or overwhelming the evidence that you have right now or will have in the future.

    A complete discussion of the scientific facts of the quran is beyond the scope of this discussion. Surely you must be knowing more than the two that you have mentioned.(origin of life in water, the path of the moon similar to dried olive branch,
    Continental drift..)

    *regarding embryology it is not only the similarity to a leech, but regarding various stages of embryologic development, the order in which the sense organs are formed, the site of origin of the primitive gonads and many more…I am a doctor by profession and it was these facts in the quran that caused my teenage athiestic self to seriously consider quran being the word of God. I do not know if you know this but Dr. Keith L Moore, one of the most leading embryologists of all time considers these verses to be divine in origin, as he could not find any other explaination.

    There is also numerical miracles and literary miracles in the quran.Something which I cannot appreciate. I am a student of science and for me these are convincing enough for the time being.

    Mm..no evidence of a chained up iblees in the quran.

    -Peace

  • mike

    well I’m definitely a disbeliever. does that not equate to evil? as a kafir, am I not said to ‘conceal the truth’? is this not in and of it’s self an evil act?

    never say never.

    “A complete discussion of the scientific facts of the quran is beyond the scope of this discussion.” why? the scope of this discussion is only limited by the storage capacity of the internet, and that is nearly limitless. certainly more than just a google. no I’m not familiar with dr moore. does he believe in Nostradamus’ writings as well?

    ‘the origin of life in water’? I thought the Koran says that adam was formed out of black clay? or is that a hadith?

    “the path of the moon similar to dried olive branch” what in the world does that mean?
    jailed up during Ramadan must be a hadith. but you do believe in iblis? the jinn, good and bad (shaytaan). you believe in waswas?
    so what kind of doctor are you? is that picture recent, you look kind of young for a doctor. what country issued you a license to practice medicine?

  • Raeez Mohammed Basheer

    I am typing this thing in a smartphone. To discuss the scientific facts in the quran ill need to type extremely lengthy posts.

    Thing about nostradamus is that out of his prophecies some seem to have happened but many have failed. None of the quranic scientific facts have been disproven till now. Infact the quran challenges mankind to find out contradictions in the quran.

    Yes, the quran repeatedly states that God created life in water. Around 5-6 times if I remember correctly.

    To declare that you will never believe the quran even if you are provided with overwhelming evidence is not very scientific.
    Examine the evidence (read the quran with a hypothesis that it might be true/ with an open mind)then consider if you are a believer or not.

    I say that if I find evidence for the non authenticity of quran I will reject it. It is reasonable to expect the athiest to accept quran if the evidence is compelling.

    In India you get Bachelor of medicine degree(MBBS) as early as the age of 22. I am 27 have obtained mbbs and am a specialist in internal medicine(M.D)
    Yes..I do look young for my age. I shall take it as a compliment.

  • mike

    ah. your platform limits your ability, not this forum. gotchya. I just got my first smartphone and still don’t go online with it. I still just use my phone for phone calls. I’m a bit of a troglodyte when it comes to IT technology and social media. you and herr skolly have a similar issue with your small mobile devices it appears. do you not have internet at your house and a full sized keyboard?
    anyway, ‘never say never’, actually means you should always keep and open mind and never discount possibilities, not the ‘declaration’ you seem to think I’ve made. perhaps it is a cultural thing?
    I’ve read the Koran, at least quite a bit of it. but much like watching an ed wood film, my suspension of disbelieve only goes so far. that may be a reference you might not get? so let me ask you this, as a person of science, you believe that gog and magog are on earth somewhere? trapped by an earthquake or tsunami? you believe Solomon had jinn enslaved to him and one stole the queen of Sheba’s throne? the giants of ad were destroyed by allah.
    yes, saying you look young is always a compliment. hell, by 27 I was bald, so no one ever complimented me. 😉 Indians don’t seem to go bald much, do they? rushdie is bald but y’all seem to grow old with your thick wavy hair, like the greeks. or is it just my ‘mis’perception?
    so what do you think of modi? or the peace tv guy, I can never remember his name, dr zaik nadir or maybe that is backwards?
    I hope you get a computer with a keyboard someday. I would love to talk to an indian/doctor/muslim. as you can see I really like talking religion and politics, but if you wan to through some medical stuff in there, I’m always up for that too.
    you have a good day boss, stay cool.
    oh yeah, and remember what they say, ‘youth is wasted on the young’.

  • mike

    I was not referring to you when I talked about evil people or disbelievers.” so who is evil according to the Koran?

  • mike

    that’s it doc?
    we done?

  • Raeez Mohammed Basheer

    Hi, It seems like I am a little busy these days. We were talking about science in quran.
    If you can provide ur mail id it woud be possible to send long texts and docs regarding the topic,when I finally get my hands on a new computer.

  • mike

    that’s alright boss. you hit me up through disqus or not at all. it is of no great consequences either way. maybe it would be best if you stay focused on your patients.
    nor do I really care about the supposed miracles in the Koran. I’ve read several on some of them and they were ridiculous. I was more wondering what you think of modi and the BJP? did he manage to get his 5 million toilets built in the first 100 days?

  • mike

    have you found a computer yet. there is an evangelical on patheos who is looking for a muslim’s input. Rebecca Florence Miller.

  • Well, this concept is Tasawwuf.
    Please listen to this video and think.

    تصوف کا دلکش پھندا .

    **************

    تصوف نے کیسے جاہل لوگوں کو گمراہ کیا

    سنئے اور جانئے .

    http://www(.)dailymotion(.)com/video/x12llrs_tasawwuf-ka-dilkash-phanda_webcam

    Plz remove brackets () from the above link to listen to the video.