By Ghulam Rasool DhelviAfter 30 days and nights of Ramzan have been spent in complete devotion to God, Id ul-Fitr comes to imbibe sincere goodwill in man for other human beings. It comes every year to remind us of our humane duty towards the weaker sections of society. The sole purpose of this festival is feeding the poor and assisting the less fortunate. This is precisely why Allah has made it incumbent on this day to offer fitrah (a fixed amount of charity) to the poor. Thus, Id ul-Fitr comes at the end of Ramzan bringing delight for the distressed, joy and ecstasy for the orphans and widows, and abundant resources for those in need.
For this purpose, Islam has enjoined three forms of alms giving: (1) Zakat, a mandatory duty on all wealthy people towards the less fortunate. A percentage of one’s wealth (2.5 per cent) after living expenses are covered has to be given to those in need. (2) Sadaqa, a voluntary offering of the wealth to the poor and needy people. (3) Fitrah, which is a fixed amount of charity mandatory for all Muslims to offer to the poor before they perform the prayer of Id ul-Fitr. In fact, the Id prayer is not accepted to God, unless fitrah is paid to the poor. Fitrah is an essential and rightful share of the poor in the wealth of every Muslim going to offer Id ul-Fitr.
Besides zakat and fitrah, the destitute ones should also be assisted on Id with other forms of charity, sadaqa and hadyah (gifts). However, the Quran has specified those who can be entitled to receive zakat. It clearly states: “Zakat expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy and for those employed to collect (zakat) and for bringing hearts together and for freeing captives (or slaves) and for those in debt and for the cause of God and for the (stranded) traveller — an obligation imposed by Allah.”
Id literally means something that returns, and Fitr denotes alms. So, this feast returns every year to enliven the spirit of almsgiving. It is kind harbinger of assisting the needy and sharing with the poor. However, there must be complete sincerity and modesty in giving alms to the needy. It should be meant only to please God, not to seek any worldly gratitude, fame or praise. The Quran exhorts: “(The righteous are those) who feed the poor, the orphan and the captive for the love of God, saying: ‘We feed you for the sake of God alone; we seek from you neither reward nor thanks’.” Several injunctions in the Quran like this instruct us to give alms without reproach to the recipient. Prophet Muhammad enjoined to give charity (sadaqa) in secret rather than in the presence of others. For, it makes us realise that the sole intention of almsgiving is to please God and not to gain the admiration of people.
Similarly, there is no worth or virtue in a charity which is followed by an insult or taunt. The Quran says that even “a kind word with forgiveness is better than a charity that may cause an insult to the recipient”. It admonishes those who indulge in this false and fruitless act of charity: “O you who believe! Do not make your charity worthless by reproach and injury, like him who spends his property to be seen of men and does not believe in Allah and the last day; so his parable is as the parable of a smooth rock with earth upon it, then a heavy rain falls upon it, so it leaves it bare; they shall not be able to gain anything of what they have earned.”
Extracted from asianage