Commentary on the Quran (Chapter 2:254)
By: Mohammad Sobhanie
Importance of Giving Charity
بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَنفِقُوا مِمَّا رَزَقْنَاكُم مِّن قَبْلِ أَن يَأْتِيَ يَوْمٌ لَّا بَيْعٌ فِيهِ وَلَا خُلَّةٌ وَلَا شَفَاعَةٌ ۗ وَالْكَافِرُونَ هُمُ الظَّالِمُونَ ﴿٢٥٤﴾
2:254 O’ you who have believed, spend from that which We have provided for you before there comes a Day in which there is no exchange and no friendship and no intercession. And the disbelievers – they are the wrongdoers.
Commentary 254: The Quran places great emphasis on giving charity and considers it one of the keys to receiving divine forgiveness and salvation on Judgment Day. Verses 2:254 and 14:31 advise believers to give alms before the day on which no trade, friendship, or intercession could save them from eternal punishment.
You can be forgiven for your mistakes in this world by paying a fine or through the intercession of a friend. But on the Day of Judgment, one will not be able to pay a fine to escape the punishment of one’s sins. (يَأْتِيَ يَوْمٌ لَّا بَيْعٌ فِيهِ). Friends and family will be caught up in their sins and will be less able to care for other people’s problems (يَوْمٌ …لَا خُلَّةٌ). Intercession would not benefit miserly people who did not care for others’ pain and suffering despite the immense wealth and resources that they had in this world (يَوْمٌ …لَا شَفَاعَةٌ). The verse ends by stating that abandoning almsgiving is a sign of disbelief and oppression (وَالْكَافِرُونَ هُمُ الظَّالِمُونَ).
There are ten conditions in the Quran for a good charity. These are :
- The charity should be from the good things which one has earned, not from worthless things which one would be reluctant to accept (Al-Baqara, 2:267):
یأَیُّهَا الَّذِینَ ءَامَنُوا أَنْفِقُواْ مِنْ طَیّبَاتِ مَا کَسَبْتُمْ وَ مِمَّا أَخْرَجْنَا لَکُم مّنَ الْأَرْضِ وَ لَاتَیَمَّمُوا الْخَبِیثَ مِنْهُ تُنْفِقُونَ وَ لَسْتُمْ بَآخِذِیهِ إِلَّا أَن تُغْمِضُواْ فِیهِ وَ اعْلَمُواْ أَنَّ اللَّهَ غَنِىٌّ حَمِیدٌ
- The charity should be given in times of self-need (Al-Hashr 59:9):
وَ یُؤْثِرُونَ عَلَى أَنْفُسِهِمْ وَ لَوْ کَانَ بِهِمْ خَصَاصَهٌ
- The charity should be given to the needy and impoverished people (Al-Baqara, 2:273):
لِلْفُقَرَاءِ الَّذِینَ أُحْصِرُواْ فِى سَبِیلِ اللَّهِ
- The charity given in private is better than in public (Al-Baqara, 2:271):
وَ إنْ تُخْفُوهَا وَ تُؤْتُوهَا الْفُقَرَاءَ فَهُوَ خَیْرٌ لَّکُمْ
- The charity should not be accompanied by reproaches and affronts (Al-Baqara, 2:264):
یَأَیُّهَا الَّذِینَ ءَامَنُوا لَاتُبْطِلُوا صَدَقَاتِکُم بِالْمَنّ وَ الأَذَى
- The charity should be accompanied by sincerity and purity of intention (Al-Baqara, 2:265):
یُنْفِقُونَ أَمْوَالَهُمُ ابْتِغَاءَ مَرْضَاتِ اللَّهِ
- The person who gives charity must always consider it small and insignificant regardless of how great and significant the alms might be (Al-Muddathir, 74:6):
وَلَا تَمْنُن تَسْتَكْثِرُ
- The charity should be from the favorite property which one loves and adores (Aal-e-Imran 3:92):
لَن تَنَالُوا الْبِرَّ حَتَّىٰ تُنفِقُوا مِمَّا تُحِبُّونَ
- Remember, Allah (SWT) is the actual owner, and humans are merely the custodians of Allah’s (SWT) bounties and blessings. Thus, when one donates, they should think of themselves as a mediator between the Creator and the people (Al-Hadid, 57:7):
وَ أَنْفِقُوا مِمَّا جَعَلَکُمْ مُسْتَخْلَفِینَ فِیهِ
- The charity should be from the lawful property because God only accepts lawful property (Al-Ma’ida, 5:27):
إِنَّمَا یَتَقَبَّلُ اللَّهُ مِنَ الْمُتَّقِینَ
Some of the above conditions are mandatory, and some are recommended. For instance, the fifth condition is mandatory: the charity must be free of reproaches and affront. The second condition, giving alms in times of self-need, is recommended.
2:254 [يَا] O [أَيُّهَا] you [الَّذِينَ] who [آمَنُوا] believe [أَنفِقُوا] spend [مِمَّا] of what [رَزَقْنَاكُم] we have provided you [مِّن] from [قَبْلِ] before [أَن] that [يَأْتِيَ] comes [يَوْمٌ] a Day [لَّا بَيْعٌ] no bargaining [فِيهِ] in it, [وَلَا خُلَّةٌ] and no friendship [وَلَا شَفَاعَةٌ ] and no intercession [وَالْكَافِرُونَ] and deniers [هُمُ] they [الظَّالِمُونَ] are the wrongdoers.