Last night ( Ooops, last Sunday night) was the last family gathering for the month of Syawal. In Malaysia we celebrate Eid Mubarak until the last day of the month. I believe no other country in the world does the same.
It was quite a gathering. I could tell by the sound of laughter (of adults and children) in the garden by the pool of my sister in law's house. I was rather tired and was almost stuck to my seat inside the house with only a few of the other members of the family. It was only because I was tired as I was also entertaining two distant cousins and their families the afternoon before. But to be honest, I was also busy in my mind thinking about a point I made to my dear hubby of how best we can, if we have the money and other resources, spend them on others who are seriously in need.
Giving to others in charity is strongly encouraged in Islam. The Quran says :
" 133) Be quick in the race for forgiveness from your Lord, and for a Garden whose width is that (of the whole) of the Heavens and of the Earth, prepared for the righteous, ___
134) Those who spend (freely), whether in prosperity, or in adversity; who restrain anger, and pardon (all) men;__ For Allah loves those who do good;__"
Chapter 3, verse 133 and 134.
This subject came up for discussion between my hubby and I just the day before, and since we could not completely agree on the issue, the subject remains in my mind. My husband has no qualms at all about giving to charity as much as possible. We only could not totally agree on the meaning of "as much as possible". I said that "as much as possible" means that we have to give away our last dollar if someone else more deserving needs that dollar. And if we did that, that deserving person would feel grateful, a feeling which we can only imagine by way of his words and his body language.
This subject reminds me of my childhood days. As I said before, my parents came to Malaysia as immigrants. We could ill afford the luxuries of life. And I could still remember how excited I felt when a "rich person" from the village gave me a ride in his car to town together with my dear mother. I was in my primary school then, and every day as I walked to school for a distance of about a mile, I would turn my head as a car passed me, wishing in my heart that someone would give me a ride. I worked hard through school and now own a car. I could still remember those days living in poverty, and by today's standard, extreme poverty. Alhamdulilah, the memory made me a person who can easily empathize with other people. May Allah continue to bless me with resources that I can share with others.
Having said that I would like to share with visitors to my blog of something I learned many years ago while at work about what matters as a result of what we do or don't do. In a video clip shown to us in a leadership training session we were shown a picture of this young guy who was walking along a quiet beach and was throwing back star fish that were stranded on the beach back into the sea. The number of star fish was countless and this guy was throwing them one by one. Of course it would take ages to throw them all into the sea.Coincidentally, an old man was following him from behind and seeing this young guy's effort as not being worth the trouble, he said something like: "It is useless for you to do that and it doesn't matter because you can never finish throwing all of them with your bare hands." The young guy answered, "never mind, at least it matters to that one." He threw one into the sea and he continued doing what he was doing. Since then I always remember that even if it is one in a million that benefit from your kindness, it is still worth the trouble, no matter what others say. Because that ONE person could be you yourself and it may be just a simple car ride, but that joy is remembered for many years in your life.
Like wise, just think if we have millions and millions to spare.Maybe we should not be thinking of how many people whom we have helped, but think of what it could do to that one last person who can benefit from our last dollar, so to say. Its like the Marginal Theory of Utility in economics. I remember one economics professor who was speaking in one Dakwah session one day and he said that he would always persuade his wife to get up with him at night to do the late night prayer (Tahajjud). He reasoned to his wife that one last prayer that night may be the determinant factor that Allah would consider whether our place is in Heaven or in Hell. Surely we would get up because the simple act of just waking up from sleep and do the prayer maybe for half an hour, but the result could be the entry to Heaven. Won't we regret if we hadn't done that simple act.
This is just a point to ponder seriously. Therefore I would imagine that if I have millions to spare, I would only buy a reasonably good designer car and not the best car in the world because that savings that we would make by so doing could be spend on those in real need. Even if it is just one person, IT MATTERS.