A Lesson in Daily Charity

By Roshan Shah

We all love surprisesbut only if they are pleasant, of course! I had a wonderful surprise the other day while in an auto-rickshaw.

I generally refrain from talking more than whats necessary with auto-rickshaw drivers while they are driving, because the traffic on the roads of the city where I live is so dense and chaotic that I fear I might distract them if I chat them upand who knows what might then happen? But that day I was tempted to make conversation with the driver. We began by talking about something quite mundane, but I dont quite remember exactly how, I soon found myself listening to some very wise words of wisdom on life, religion and spirituality. The driver, it turned out, was a Sufi of sorts.

Imagine discussing Sufi spirituality while speeding in an auto-rickshaw with someone youve just met for the first time ever!

But that isntthereally surprising thing, though. Ive had similar sorts of conversations with auto-rickshaw drivers before, men from different faith backgrounds, so this wasnt something really new for me. What was definitely novel was what I learnt when we finally reached where I needed to get to. The driver stopped the vehicle and carried on speaking. He spoke lovingly about his master, a Sufi of the Qadri order, who had left the world a while ago. I thought I saw his eyes brimming with tears. He talked about truth being found in every religion. He also spoke of how faith must go along with good deeds. And thennot in order to show off but to demonstrate the point of service being a necessary part of spiritualityhe told me about a practice that he has made into a habitwhich is what that great surprise that I had that day is about.

Every day, the driver explained, he takes out half the money that he earns on his first trip and keeps it apart. In this way, over a few days he is able to set aside a fairly sizeable amount. He uses this money for charityto give to people in need. If I am not mistaken, I think he also added that while giving this money to the needy, he does not consider their community or religious background.

Now, isnt this all really wonderful? It was certainly a surprising learning lesson for me!

Service of ones fellow human beings, the driver wanted to say, is an integral part of true religiousness, without which claims to faith are hollow. The poor, too, have a share in ones earnings. The drivers enthusiasm to help the poor was truly touching. Imagine making it a point to set apart a big portion of your income every single day for the needy? I certainly had never thought of doing something like that myself.

Theres another wonderful thing that I learnt from this beautiful experience. And that is, that you dont have to be materially rich to be charitable. The driver definitely wasnt what youd call economically prosperous. He perhaps lived in a small tenement in a densely-populated area. Maybe he was the only earning member of his family. He probably slogged long hours every day on traffic-clogged roads to eke out a livelihood. And yet, he was such an incredibly charitable man!

Many of us do give in charity once in a while, but how many of us do so every single day? Charity was an integral part of this mans daily life. Every single day, he thought of the needy, diligently setting aside something from his earnings for them, almost the first thing in the morning after starting work.

If this man could do beautiful acts of charity every single day, maybe I should do something like that, too?

What do you say?

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