Welcome Friends: Ahlan wa sahlan!
Today’s reading (as well as tomorrow’s) is all about how BEST to spend ‘our’ wealth, and the resources we may ‘control.’
Although -in reality- it is NOT our wealth and we are only entrusted with it temporarily, we ARE fully responsible for it as long as it is within our reach (HQ57:7):
“BELIEVE in God and His Messenger, and spend (on others)
out of that of which He has made you trustees/successors:
for, those of you who have attained to faith and who spend freely
[in God’s cause] shall have a great reward.”
1. We stopped yesterday at verse 264 with a parable (about someone who spends for public recognition and does not believe in God), which continues today.
Verse 265 provides contrast between that and:
Spending out of a longing for God’s good pleasure, and in firmness of Self. This is like a fertile garden on high ground upon which there is heavy rain. It will yield its crop twofold- and will even be productive with a light shower or a sprinkling of dew.
The difference is in the foundation, the quality of the land, our individual selves… and NOT in what falls upon us. Hypocrisy is indeed incomparable to Genuineness.
2. Since we are all ‘trustees/successors’ on earth, inheriting earth’s bounties to dispose of and regenerate for future benefit, the next verse (266) calls upon us to behave indeed as responsible parents would, giving each other AND leaving the next generation the best we can provide. How would we feel in our weak old age, if we suddenly found all the wealth and gardens we’d left for our children… go up in flames? That picture elicits our response, a potent realization to deal with now, when there STILL is something we can do about it!
3. Although we might spend out of what we don’t need, Verse 267 deters us from giving things we do not like to others, or things we consider unpleasant/foul (خبيث). This is so important; God addresses our innermost intentions here, for only He knows them well and can call our genuineness to account.
4. Verse 268 tells us of the ‘prodding’ we get from our base desires (the Deviant/Satan), in that generosity “would bring us to poverty,” or that we should indeed feel free to “breach the limits imposed upon us (by our higher conscience).”
When we compare both translators’ rendering of ‘Fah-shaa’ (فحشاء), we find that Y. Ali calls it ‘unseemly conduct, while M. Asad says it is ‘to be niggardly’ or miserly. They are both right; Y. Ali opted for the more precise definition, while M. Asad preferred the broader connotation which the word has come to mean.
In Arabic, (فحش)’fahasha’ denotes the spread of something outside its boundaries, and is only about something corrupt and repulsive. Our Lexicon* also adds that some people have said that a miser is a 'faahish' because miserliness is a person’s most repulsive trait (the lexicon considers this a 'broadened' concept). Why is it a most repulsive trait? Because by definition, miserliness goes against our being ‘Naas,’ the best of God’s creation, the social, cognizant beings, who comfort and support each other.*
5. Verse 269 tells us the value of Wisdom; not a single word can we add to Yusuf Ali’s note 318!
Verses 270- 271, 273- 274 provide guidance on spending; in comparison with the spender for public recognition, Verse 271 tells us that it is best to give our gifts ‘sadaqaat’ to the poor privately, although allowing it to be known would also be good.
(‘Sadaqa’ usually refers to what we give as gifts, after we have already given the poor of our wealth what is rightfully theirs (Zakat). The dues/Zakat are a RIGHT the poor have upon the wealthy. Although we should not humiliate the poor by publicizing WHO gets the Zakat, it is believed to be a good idea to make it publicly known that the wealthy DO indeed pay their dues as good citizens. That would encourage other wealthy people to pay their dues, and deflect the resentment or humiliation poor people might feel.) See Y. Ali’s notes 319-322.
6. Prophet Muhammad, peace upon him, is told in Verse 272 that he is NOT required to make sure people are guided (see HQ 28:56); well-explained by Muhammad Asad in note 260.
7. As we have seen, the Qur’an considers us ‘trustees/successors,’ generation after generation, inheriting earth’s bounties and accountable for its use AND regeneration to provide continued benefit to all.
Some might ask: If that’s the case, then what, if anything, can we truly call ‘ours?’ (Even our bodies fall apart -despite our care- and disintegrate..)
The answer is:
There is only one thing that remains OURS throughout. It began before our Life in Proximity on earth (الحياة الدنيا), and will be carried into the Later, Final Life (الحياة الآخرة) .
It is our Relationship with our Creator; a relationship WE DEFINE in this life by our intentions and deeds.
Only when that Single, Essential, relationship remains sound, can all the other beautiful relationships we enjoy in this life…. live on to the next.
Tomorrow’s reading is from verse 275-282.
فحش: كلمةٌ تدلُّ على قُبحٍ في شيء وشَناعة. من ذلك الفحْش والفَحْشاء والفاحشة. يقولون: كلُّ شيء جاوَزَ قَدرَه فهو فاحش؛ ولا يكون ذلك إلاّ فيما يُتَكَرَّه. ويقولون: الفاحش: البخيل، وهذا على الاتِّساع، والبخلُ أقبحُ خِصال المرء.
"ناس" لفظ يخصّ من يأنس ويؤنس له.