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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Ramadan 2010: Giving to Those in Need is an Act of the Pious

Gifts, good food, friends and family are things we think about when Ramadan approaches. It is in this month that we find our tables full of food. Friends and family we hardly see throughout the year gather in one place and in the name of faith and brotherhood share a meal. It is in these times that we realize Ramadan is a gift from God, and the last ten days of this holy month is indeed a most blessed time – a time where we should focus even more on worship and giving.

A gift is a thing you give to others without expecting something in return. It is a selfless act, one that strengthens the bonds that bring people together. This is why the prophet said, "Give gifts to one another, and you will love one another. (Bukhari Manners #594)"

In this respect Ramadan is a celebration of humanity that reminds us we are not consumers. Instead, it tells us we are people with a spiritual compass that drives us to be more than who we are. A gift is a symbol and the impact that it leaves on others depends on how appropriate it is. Giving is itself a gift, and giving it to those most in need is the most appropriate gift of all -- an act of the pious:

God describes the most pious by saying in Sura al Baqara, "They spend out of love for Him on those close to them, the orphan and the needy. They spend on the wayfarer, and the beggar, and they free those in captivity from bondage. They are in constant prayer and they give as a responsibility charity. (2:177)"

It is important to give. It shows you care. It recognizes and acknowledges the value of others. More importantly, giving teaches us to think of others before ourselves. It is an act that reinforces feelings of love and compassion, even develops them towards those we may not know.

We are told to give and spend in the way of our lord so we may come to know God -- what greater gift is there than to know our creator? We have been given the opportunity to give and spend in the way of our Lord. The bounties of this giving benefit us in this world, but the best gift can we hope to receive is He who brings us near when we give.

-- Hasan Seirafi
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