Saturday 3 May 2014

Accepting Gifts

Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem

 By Hadhrat Moulana Abdul Hamid Is’haq Saheb (Daamat Barakaatuhum)

A Mureed asked about accepting gifts, when having made an intention to do something for the pleasure of Allah Ta’ala, or accepting gifts having taught someone something of Dien. Would it be against Ikhlaas (sincerity) to accept? Would it spoil one’s deed, when the favour or the teaching was meant to be for Allah Ta’ala?

I explained that the giving of gifts is actually encouraged in the Hadith. Rasulullah (Sallallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said:

“Give gifts to one another, and you will love one another.”[1]

However, it does happen that after doing some good for somebody, like teaching him, etc. the person reciprocates by giving something.

Outwardly, it may seem like a kind of payment, though the person says that it is a gift. The person – whether a teacher, Da’ee[2], etc. – may feel hesitant and reluctant to accept, when he considers his intention being for the pleasure of Allah Ta’ala.

However, somebody else's actions or intentions do not spoil or destroy one’s own intentions or actions.

If our intention is that we are taking it in return for what was done, then this will be against Ikhlaas. If we accept it as a gift, then this will be acceptable and in order.

Our Akaabir have taught and explained to us that there is a test in regard to gifts.

Firstly, we should not expect anything, outwardly or inwardly - on doing any favour or teaching someone something. 

If nothing is given and we are upset or hurt or offended, this will reveal our insincerity. If we are convinced that the person is giving it as a payment, then it would be best not to accept. We should not accept.

If the person is giving as an expression of his appreciation and gratitude, and will be hurt if we do not accept - then we should accept. We should keep in mind the condition of not expecting and should reflect and introspect and ask ourselves: If nothing was given, would I have felt hurt or upset?

This is the gauge of sincerity in accepting gifts.

Also, we find that the Sunnah of gifts was not only accepting gifts. It was also giving gifts. Hadhrat Ayeshah (Radhiyallahu anha) said that Rasulullah (Sallallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) used to accept gifts and used to give something in return. (Sahih Bukhari)

In fact, we find that Rasulullah (Sallallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) would sometimes give more than was received. SubhanAllah. Moreover, in the Hadith, we are directed to respond to the kindness of others in some way:

“Whoever does you a favour, respond in kind, and if you cannot find the means of doing so, then keep praying for him until you think that you have responded in kind.”[3]

Another way which Rasulullah (Sallallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) directed us to, is saying JazakAllah khayran: “Whoever has a favour done for him and says 'JazakAllahu khayran' has done his utmost to thank him.”[4]

When a person does not have the means, then this is more than sufficient to reciprocate kindness, because Allah Ta’ala is the only one who can recompense in the best way.

It is also permissible; in fact courteous and well-mannered, for the recipient to mention the person’s kindness, so long as his intention is sincere in doing so. Acknowledging a person’s kindness is from amongst the noble qualities of a Believer.

Another teaching which we are cautioned of is to give something and then remind the person of our gift or favour. This goes against the grain of Ikhlaas – that a person gives and then reminds the recipient of his gifts and kindness, or he entertains expectations of favours in return, or expects his gift to be announced and publicized.

Many have their own agenda in doing favours, giving gifts and rendering assistance. When their own interests are not fulfilled, then they curtail their assistance or sever relationships - because there was no personal gain or their own ends were not achieved. This clearly indicates selfishness and insincerity, as opposed to doing something, seeking only the pleasure of Allah Ta'ala.

It may even be that the person gives a gift so that others may see or come to know of it and that he is then acknowledged as generous or good hearted – then this would be Riyaa (showing off).

So Ikhlaas is demanded of both the giver and the recipient.

Moreover, good character calls for appreciation, whether the gift is big or small, expensive or inexpensive. Unfortunately, if something given is of little value, we do not care to express our thanks; whereas it was the noble habit of Rasulullah (Sallallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) to accept even humble items which were given to him as gifts.

Rasulullah (Sallallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) never ignored any person’s kindness. Not only did he accept, but he expressed his appreciation and pleasure, thereby putting happiness in the giver’s heart. And to put happiness into the heart of a Believer is greatly rewarding.

Hadhrat Abu Hurayrah (Radhiyallahu anhu) related that Rasulullah (Sallallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said: “If I were invited to a meal of a sheep’s foot I would accept, and if I were given a sheep’s foot as a gift, I would accept.”[5] 

Hafez Ibn Hajar (Rahmatullahi ‘alayh) had explained that this Hadith indicates the noble nature and humility of Rasulullah (Sallallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam), together with his desire to make others happy, by responding to an invitation, despite knowing that he would be fed a humble meal or by accepting a humble gift.  These words of Rasulullah (Sallallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) are to encourage us to establish the bonds of brotherhood and friendship.

And also directs us to interact with different people, including the poor – who are generally turned away or looked down upon. Alhamdulillah, we see how the Sunnah erases all prejudices and discriminations. 

We should keep in mind that whatever we receive is from Allah Ta’ala. People are only the asbaab (means) whereby we receive our sustenance. So ingratitude and in-appreciation is indirectly expressed to Allah Ta’ala who is the actual Giver.

Looking down upon any gift also reveals a person’s pride.

May Allah Ta’ala grant us Ikhlaas in practising on the Sunnah, in our interaction with people, and grant us the Taufeeq to always do for Allah Ta’ala alone, and having our expectation in Him and not on His creation. Aamien.

[1] Sahih Bukhari
[2] Da’ee : One who invites to Dien
[3] Abu Dawood
[4] Tirmidhi
[5] Sahih Bukhari