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Charity in the Age of Social Media: Islamic Perspective

Charity in the Age of Social Media: Islamic Perspective
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In the world of social media, it becomes difficult to fight off the urge of sharing the pictures of the charitable activities but the donors need to understand that there's something more important than this social media celebration.

Danish Hameed
Due to the current lockdown world wide in wake of corona virus, many people are facing shortage of essential supplies and in this backdrop, the philanthropic activities have been expedited both at individual and collective levels. These are indeed encouraging signs of a living society which showcase the fundamental humanitarian values. However, while helping the people in need, it’s important to preserve the self respect and dignity of the indigents. In the world of social media, it becomes difficult to fight off the urge of sharing the pictures of the charitable activities but the donors need to understand that there’s something more important than this social media celebration. In this piece, the author makes an attempt to identify the do’s and don’ts of charity from islamic perspective.
In Islam, the act of charity is highly encouraged. There are however two very different ways to go about it; you can either give charity publically or you can give it discretely. The latter carries more rewards, though, in some situations, public display of charitable donations is preferred because it encourages others to follow suit
The left hand shouldn’t know what the right hand is doing. There is wisdom in this advice. It is meant to encourage people to show discretion when performing a good deed such as charity. In Islam, the act of charity is highly encouraged. There are however two very different ways to go about it; you can either give charity publically or you can give it discretely. The latter carries more rewards, though, in some situations, public display of charitable donations is preferred because it encourages others to follow suit.
The act of charity is deemed to be one of the most favourable acts in Islam. Allah (SWT) and his Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) mentioned time and time again that the act of charity is great, and should be performed on a regular basis. There are several Ahadith on the importance of charity as well as verses in Quran that clearly tell us giving charity is a righteous and great act in the eyes of Allah (SWT). However, when giving charity, discretion is advised, hence the saying that the left hand shouldn’t know what the right hand is doing. Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) once said:
“There are seven people (categories)  whom Allah will shade on the Day of Judgement when there will be no shade except His…
Prophet (pbuh) mentioned six of them and finally concluded by saying:
 “A man who gives in charity and hides it, such that his left hand does not know what his right hand gives in charity; and a man who remembered Allah in private and so his eyes shed tears.” (Abu Hurairah & collected in Saheeh al-Bukhari (English trans.) vol.1, p.356, no.629 & Saheeh Muslim (English trans.) vol.2, p.493, no.2248)
The last part of the Hadith mentioned above gives a very important message to all humanity. It reminds us that we, as humans, need to acknowledge the difference we can make and the motives behind it. A lot of us have forgotten the real meaning of charity, and so have ended up doing it with the wrong intentions.
Islam teaches Muslims that giving in secret is far superior to giving publicly, and that drawing attention to one’s charitable actions is a highly undesirable quality.
Giving Charity in Secret
The Prophet Mohammad said that one of the seven groups of people that will be granted shade on the Day of Judgment includes the one who gives charity but hides it, so that even his left hand does not know what his right hand has spent. Islam places a great emphasis and reward on giving charity in secret. It preserves the dignity of those who receive the charity, and also prevents the giver from being boastful or seeking praise. Islam teaches Muslims that giving in secret is far superior to giving publicly, and that drawing attention to one’s charitable actions is a highly undesirable quality. The Prophet said: “Allah loves the God-fearing rich man [who gives much in charity but still] remains obscure and uncelebrated.” (Muslim)
Giving charity in secret is best when giving charity that is voluntary (Sadaqah). Regarding voluntary charity, Allah says in the second chapter of the Quran:
If you disclose your Sadaqaat (almsgiving), it is well; but if you conceal them and give them to the poor, that is better for you.” [Quran 2:271]
Giving Charity Publicly
If a person fears that he will be showing off, or tempted to show off, when giving charity, or that he may cause some humiliation or embarrassment to the poor person, then it is better for him to give it in secret.
However, giving charity publicly—as long as the giver knows his intentions are not to show off or be boastful, and can donate charity in a modest way—sets a good example to the community. It encourages others to follow in the giver’s footsteps and give charity, too. Giving charity publicly is best when giving obligatory charity (Zakat). Scholars agree that doing obligatory acts in Islam is best done openly and announced, so as to encourage others to fulfill their duties as well.
A Mix of Both
In Chapter 2, verse 274 of the Quran, Allah says:
Those who spend their money in the night and in the day, secretly and openly, they will have their reward with their Lord, there is no fear over them nor will they grieve.” [Quran 2:274]
This verse means that we should give charity both in public and in private. While keeping the amount of charity given private, a person can publicly—avoiding invitations of praise—give charity, serving as a reminder for others to also give and setting an example for the community. But it is also important for the Muslim to give charity in private (or “in the cover of night”), to establish to themselves and to God that they are giving charity because Allah commands it, and because they seek His pleasure and to fulfill their charitable duty.A man who gives in charity and hides it, so that his left hand does not know what his right hand gives, is essentially a person who cares more about helping other people with good deeds than what other people think of his good deeds. Let us all be discreet in our pledges and donations this year. Let us donate graciously as is expected of us and assist the many who are suffering right now.
The author is a student of Govt Degree College Anantnag.
Disclaimer: Views expressed are author’s own and do not reflect the stand or policy of Oracle Opinions.

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