Part 7: Gifts and Charity, Family and Company, Ethics and Etiquette
(f) GIFTS AND CHARITY:- Islam is essentially a religion of beneficence, urging the expenditure of any amount for others. Explaining what to give and whom to give, how to give and how much to give. It lays great stress upon benevolent distribution which is most natural and effective method to smooth economic hardships and to cultivate social good will. 177: 2. Good things, preferably such as we like for ourselves, should be offered as present or charity, and not worthless stuff which we would decline to accept. “Spend of the good things do not seek what is bad to spend (in charity)….” 267 :2, 91 : 3. Beneficence begins at home, and extends in a natural order from presents to parents and relatives, to donations for the pious poor, till it covers all in need, without any regard to religion or creed. Vide 215,273,272 : 2.
Donation may be given publicly and privately, openly and secretly, as the occasion may be, but never with the object of making a show for self advancement, or of putting others under obligation, for subsequent subjugation. Vide 271,274,262,264:2. As to the natural question, how much to give, Islam according to its inherent realism, allows full latitude for individual temperaments, but denounces the miser without qualification. Vide 133: 3, 28, 29 : 17, 195 : 2, 268 : 2, 36 : 4.
(g) FAMILY AND COMPANY:- Islam enjoins upon its followers love, sympathy and service, for all they associate with, from parents and relations to friends and companions, so as to preserve peace and good-will in society. It is to be noted that love and respect of parents come next to the worship of Allah, in Islamic culture. 23,24 : 17….. Be grateful to me and to both of your parents….14: 31. It is clear from this that gratitude to Allah should be coupled with gratitude to parents, to make it acceptable. Parents cannot force one to follow a false religion. One has a right to make a careful choice for one’s self. Vide 15: 31, 36: 4. The last passage can give an idea to what extent Islam seeks to establish love and sympathy in mankind.
(h) ETHICS AND ETIQUETTE:- Here is given a brief sketch of Islamic ethics and etiquette, to be observed in social life. A few phases may suffice here. “ Help one another, in virtue and piety, and do not help one another, in sin and transgression” vide 2 : 5, 90 : 16, 17: 31, 128 : 16, 10 to 12 : 49, 36: 17, 18, 19: 31, 27 to 29 : 24, 30: 25, 30, 31, 33: 24. What a natural and sure remedy for scandals and the concomitant evils which ruin the society!
Mutual divorce, remarriage and widow marriage, being well-known matrimonial rights allowed by Islam, need not be detailed here. In the light of long experience, they have been accepted as natural and necessary provisions of the institution of marriage, and by force of circumstances, they are being adopted, in due course, even by people whose religion tried to suppress this necessity for ages.
With due reservation, Islam also-allows wives more than one, up to four at the same time. This rule is however permissive and not obligatory in any way. It may be easy to criticize this latitude on the basis of idealistic love, but it is not easy to deny the unbridled sexual liberty which has prevailed in the absence of such a provision, and also the vexing consequences, social, moral, physical, which natural follow libertinism.
As pointed out before, Islam does not shirk the realities of life, but acknowledges them as such, and provides for them to the legitimate extent, so as to make religion practicable. It does not seek refuge behind sheer idealism, to the utter di regard of realism. It aims to regulate, and not to annihilate or suppress human nature. It supervises the natural growth, and does not force any hothouse culture. It is positive and realistic first, normative and idealistic next; and that is the natural combination, if a religion means to guide and uplift mankind.