Freedom Of Slaves: An End To Slavery – Quran 2:177

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BackgroundThis verse was revealed in Madinah (Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi – Tafhim al-Qur’an – The Meaning of the Qur’an, and Dr. Muhammed Asad).

Analysing Verse

Righteousness is not that you turn your faces toward the east or the west, BUT [TRUE] RIGHTEOUSNESS IS [IN] ONE WHO BELIEVES IN ALLAH, the Last Day, the angels, the Book, and the prophets and gives wealth, in spite of love for it, to relatives, orphans, the needy, the traveler, THOSE WHO ASK [FOR HELP], AND FOR FREEING SLAVES; [and who] establishes prayer and gives zakah; [those who] fulfill their promise when they promise; and [those who] are patient in poverty and hardship and during battle. Those are the ones who have been true, and it is those who are the righteous.” Quran 2:177

The Quran tells us that the righteous is not the one who faces the east or west, the true believers are those who Believe in God, the day of Judgement, the Angels, the Book, and the Prophets that came, give all their wealth and free slaves from captivity.

Basically, Allah here in the verse says, one is a True believer and has Love for God when they choose to free the slaves from bondage.

This concept of freeing human beings is not just one who is in their own possession but also those who are owned by others, that their debt or money should be paid for their immediate freedom. In Short, the Quran tells us, that in the sight of God, the freeing of a human being from slavery is among the most praiseworthy acts a Muslim can do.

I will leave readers with classical to the contemporary exegesis on the Quran 2:177, to get a better understanding.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir:

(…and gives his wealth, in spite of love for it,) refers to those who give money away while desiring it and loving it. It is recorded in the Sahihayn that Abu Hurayrah narrated that the Prophet said: (The best charity is when you give it away while still healthy and thrifty, hoping to get rich and fearing poverty.) Allah said: (And they give food, inspite of their love for it, to the Miskin (the poor), the orphan, and the captive (saying): “We feed you seeking Allah’s Face only. We wish for no reward, nor thanks from you.”) (76:8, 9) and: (By no means shall you attain Birr unless you spend of that which you love.) (3:92) Allah’s statement: (…and give them preference over themselves even though they were in need of that) (59:9) refers to a higher category and status, as the people mentioned here give away what they need, while those mentioned in the previous Ayat give away what they covet (but not necessarily need). Allah’s statement: (the kinsfolk) refers to man’s relatives, who have more rights than anyone else to one’s charity, as the Hadith supports: (Sadaqah (i. e., charity) given to the poor is a charity, while the Sadaqah given to the relatives is both Sadaqah and Silah (nurturing relations), for they are the most deserving of you and your kindness and charity). Allah has commanded kindness to the relatives in many places in the Qur’an. (to the orphans) The orphans are children who have none to look after them, having lost their fathers while they are still young, weak and unable to find their own sustenance since they have not reached the age of work and adolescence. `Abdur-Razzaq reported that `Ali said that the Prophet said: (and to Al-Masakin) The Miskin is the person who does not have enough food, clothing, or he has no dwelling. So the Miskin should be granted the provisions to sustain him enough so that he can acquire his needs. In the Sahihayn it is recorded that Abu Hurayrah said that Allah’s Messenger said: (The Miskin is not the person who roams around, and whose need is met by one or two dates or one or two bites. Rather, the Miskin is he who does not have what is sufficient, and to whom the people do not pay attention and, thus, do not give him from the charity.) (and to the wayfarer) is the needy traveler who runs out of money and should, thus, be granted whatever amount that helps him to go back to his land. Such is the case with whoever intends to go on a permissible journey, he is given what he needs for his journey and back. The guests are included in this category. `Ali bin Abu Talhah reported that Ibn `Abbas said, “Ibn As-Sabil (wayfarer) is the guest who is hosted by Muslims.” Furthermore, Mujahid, Sa`id bin Jubayr, Abu Ja`far Al-Baqir, Al-Hasan, Qatadah, Ad-Dahhak, Az-Zuhri, Ar-Rabi` bin Anas and Muqatil bin Hayyan said similarly. (and to those who ask) refers to those who beg people and are thus given a part of the Zakah and general charity. (and to set servants free) These are the servants who seek to free themselves, but cannot find enough money to buy their freedom. We will mention several of these categories and types under the Tafsir of the Ayah on Sadaqah in Surat Bara’ah ﴿chapter 9 in the Qur’an﴾, In sha’ Allah. … [2:177]

[On Chapter 9]
The Riqab Al-Hasan Al-Basri, Muqatil bin Hayyan, `Umar bin `Abdul-`Aziz, Sa`id bin Jubayr, An-Nakha`i, Az-Zuhri and Ibn Zayd said Riqab means those slaves who make an agreement with the master to pay a certain ransom for their freedom.” Similar was reported from Abu Musa Al-Ash`ari. Ibn `Abbas and Al-Hasan said, “IT IS ALLOWED TO USE ZAKAH FUNDS TO BUY THE FREEDOM OF SLAVES,” indicating that `Riqab’ has more general meanings than merely giving money to slaves to buy their freedom or one’s buying a slave and freeing him on an individual basis. A Hadith states that for every limb ﴿of the servant﴾ freed, Allah frees a limb of the one who freed him from slavery,… for the reward is equitable to the deed, (And you will be requited nothing except for what you used to do.) ﴿37:39﴾
Virtue of freeing Slaves
In the Musnad, there is a Hadith from Al-Bara’ bin `Azib that a man asked, “O ALLAH’S MESSENGER! DIRECT ME TO AN ACTION THAT DRAWS ME CLOSER TO PARADISE AND AWAY FROM THE FIRE.” The MESSENGER OF ALLAH SAID, (EMANCIPATE THE PERSON AND FREE THE NECK (SLAVE).) The man asked, “O Allah’s Messenger! Are they not one and the same” He said, (No, YOU EMANCIPATE A PERSON BY FREEING HIM ON YOUR OWN, BUT YOU UNTIE A NECK (SLAVE) BY HELPING IN ITS PRICE.) (Tafsir Ibn Kathir on Surah 2:177 and 9:60 – online source)

 

Tafsir al-Qurtibi:

“TRUE GOODNESS DOES NOT LIE IN TURNING YOUR FACES TO THE EAST OR THE WEST.
… Qatada said, ‘It was mentioned to us that a man asked the Messenger of Allah, about TRUE GOODNESS (BIRR) and then Allah revealed this ayat.’ Qarada continued, ‘Before the obligatory acts of worship were prescribed, when a man testified that there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is His slave and Messenger and then died affirming that, that was sufficient to assure him of the Garden, and so this ayat was revealed to redress the balance.’ Qatada and ar-Rabi said it is the Jews and Christians who are being addressed because they disagreed about which direction they should turn towards. The Jews faced west towards Jerusalem and the Christians east towards where the sun rose. They spoke about the change of qibla and each group preferred its own direction. They were told that that was not where true goodness lay.
RATHER, THOSE WITH TRUE GOODNESS ARE THOSE WHO BELIEVE
Here ‘BIRR’ (TRUE GOODNESS) is a word which includes all good. Its use on its own here implies: ‘but TRUE GOODNESS IS THE GOODNESS of the one who believes…’ but there is an elision. It is said that the meaning is, ‘But those with true goodness…’ That is because when the Prophet, emigrated to Madina and the obligations were prescribed the qibla redirected towards the Ka’ba, and the statutory punishments (hudud) were established, Allah revealed this in order to say that TRUE GOODNESS DOES NOT LIE IN PRAYING OR DOING ANY OTHER PARTICULAR ACTION, but rather that a person who is truly good is someone who believes in Allah, and ALL THE OTHER THINGS MENTIONED IN THE AYAT [VERSE]. Ibn Abbas, Mujahid, ad-Dahhak, Ata, Sufyan, and az-Zajjaj held that view. … Our scholars point that this is an IMMENSE AYAT [VERSE], one of the matrices of judgement because it contains sixteen different elements:
– the requirement to have faith in Allah and His Names and Attributes
– the Resurrection
– the Gathering
– the Balance
– the Sirat
– the Basin
– the Intercession
– the Garden and the Fire
– the Angels
– the Books revealed by Allah
– the Prophets
– the duty to spend one’s wealth in ways that are both mandatory and recommended
– maintaining ties of kinship and not severing them
– looking after orphans and the poor and not neglecting them
– caring for travellers (or guests) and beggars
SETTING SLAVES FREE …” (Tafsir Al-Qurtubi: Classical Commentary Of the Holy Qur’an [Translated by Aisha Bewley, Dar al-Taqwa Ltd. 2003] volume 1, page 439 – 440)

Tafsir al-Jalalayn:

“It is not piety, that you turn your faces, in prayer, to the East and to the West. This was revealed in response to the claim made by the Jews and the Christians to this effect. True piety, that is, the pious person (al-birr, is also read al-barr, in the sense of al-barr [‘the dutiful person’]) is [that of] the one who believes in God and the Last Day and the angels and the Book, that is, the scriptures, and the prophets, and who gives of his substance, however, despite [it being], cherished, by him, to kinsmen and orphans and the needy and the traveller and beggars, and for, THE SETTING FREE OF, SLAVES, BOTH THE CAPTIVE AND THE ONE TO BE MANUMITTED BY CONTRACT; and who observes prayer and pays the alms, that are obligatory, and what was [given] before [alms were made obligatory], in the way of charity; and those who fulfil their covenant when they have engaged in a covenant, with God or with others, those who endure with fortitude (al-sabirina is the accusative of laudation) misfortune (al-ba’sa’ is abject poverty), hardship, illness, and peril, at the height of a battle in the way of God; these, described in the way mentioned, are the ones who are truthful, in their faith and in their claims to piety, and these are the ones who are fearful, of God.” (Tafsir al-Jalalayn on Surah 2:177 – online source)

 

Tanwir al-Miqbas min Tafsir Ibn Abbas:

“It is not righteousness) it is not all of righteousness; it is also said that (It is not righteousness) means: IT IS NOT FAITH (THAT YE MERELY TURN YOUR FACES) IN PRAYER (TO THE EAST) TOWARDS MECCA (AND THE WEST) TOWARDS JERUSALEM; (but RIGHTEOUS IS) but faith amounts to agreeing with (he who believeth in Allah) and it is also said: the faithful is he who believes in Allah (and the Last Day) in resurrection after death (and the angels) all the angels (and the Scripture) all the revealed Books (and the prophets) and all the prophets; Allah then mentions the obligated duties after mentioning faith, saying: (and giveth his wealth for love of Him) righteousness after declaring one’s faith is that one gives of one’s wealth, despite the fact that one loves and desires it and has only a little of it, (to kinsfolk) relatives (and to orphans) orphans of the believers (and the needy) who shy away from asking for assistance (and the wayfarer) the passer-by, the guest (and to those who ask) you to give them from your wealth, (AND TO SET SLAVES FREE) THOSE WHO MADE A CONTRACT TO PAY FOR THEIR FREEDOM… AFTER MENTIONING THE OBLIGATED DUTIES, Allah mentions the different legal prescriptions, saying: (and observeth proper worship) He says: righteousness, after fulfilling the obligated duties, is to perfect the performance of the five daily prayers (and payeth the poor-due) give the poor what is due to them as well as similar things. (And those who keep their treaty) those who fulfil the pledges that are between them and their Lord or between them and other people (when they make one, and the patient in tribulation) i.e. fear, affliction and hardship (and adversity) illness, pain and hunger (and time of stress) upon engagement in fighting. (Such are they who are sincere) who have fulfilled their pledges. (And such are the God fearing) who refrain from breaking their pledges. (Tanwir al-Miqbas min Tafsir Ibn Abbas on Surah 2:177 – online source)

 

Dr. Muhammad Asad:

“141 Lit., “has been bestowing”. Since the form nazzala implies gradualness and continuity in the process of revelation, it can best be rendered by the use of the present tense.
142 Lit., “who hold discordant views about the divine writ”- i.e., either suppressing or rejecting parts of it, or denying its divine origin altogether (Razi).
143 Thus, the Qur’an stresses the principle that mere compliance with outward forms does not fulfil the requirements of piety. The reference to the turning of one’s face in prayer in this or that direction flows from the passages which dealt, a short while ago, with the question of the qiblah.
144 In this context, the term “revelation” (al-kitab) carries, according to most of the commentators, a generic significance: it refers to the fact of divine revelation as such. As regards belief in angels, it is postulated here because it is through these spiritual beings or force’s (belonging to the realm of al-ghayb, i.e., the reality which is beyond the reach of human perception) that God reveals His will to the prophets and, thus, to mankind at large.
145 The expression ibn as-sabil (lit., “son of the road”) denotes any person who is far from his home, and especially one who, because of this circumstance, does not have sufficient means of livelihood at his disposal (cf. Lane IV, 1302). In its wider sense it describes a person who, for any reason whatsoever, is unable to return home either temporarily or permanently: for instance, a political exile or refugee.
146 Ar-raqabah (of which ar-riqab is the plural) denotes, literally, “the neck”, and signifies also the whole of a human person. Metonymically, the expression fi’r riqab denotes “IN THE CAUSE OF FREEING HUMAN BEINGS FROM BONDAGE”, AND APPLIES TO BOTH THE RANSOMING OF CAPTIVES AND THE FREEING OF SLAVES. By including this kind of expenditure within the essential acts of piety, the Qur’an implies that the FREEING OF PEOPLE FROM BONDAGE – AND, THUS, THE ABOLITION OF SLAVERY – IS ONE OF THE SOCIAL OBJECTIVES OF ISLAM. At the time of the revelation of the Qur’an, slavery was an established institution throughout the world, and its sudden abolition would have been economically impossible. In order to obviate this difficulty, and at the same time to bring about an eventual abolition of all slavery, the Qur’an ordains in 8:67 that henceforth only captives taken in a just war (jihad) may be kept as slaves. But even with regard to persons enslaved in this or – before the revelation of 8:67 – in any other way, the Qur’an stresses the great merit inherent in the freeing of slaves, and stipulates it as a means of atonement for various transgressions (see, e.g., 4:92, 5:89, 58:3). In addition, THE PROPHET EMPHATICALLY STATED ON MANY OCCASIONS THAT, IN THE SIGHT OF GOD, THE UNCONDITIONAL FREEING OF A HUMAN BEING FROM BONDAGE IS AMONG THE MOST PRAISEWORTHY ACTS WHICH A MUSLIM COULD PERFORM. (For a critical discussion and analysis of all the authentic Traditions bearing on this problem, see Nayl al-Awtar VI, 199 ff.) (The Message of The Quran translated and explained by Muhammad Asad, page 63 – 64, online source)

 

Scholar Abdullah Yusuf Ali:

“177 As if to emphasise again a warning against deadening formalism, we are given a beautiful description of the righteous and God-fearing man. He should obey salutary regulations, but he should fix his gaze on the love of Allah and the love of his fellow-men. We are given four heads: (1) our faith should be true and sincere; (2) we must be prepared to show it in deeds of charity to our fellow-men; (3) we must be good citizens, supporting social organisation; and (4) our own individual soul must be firm and unshaken in all circumstances. They are interconnected, and yet can be viewed separately.
178 Faith is not merely a matter of words. We must realise the presence and goodness of Allah. When we do so, the scales fall from our eyes: all the falsities and fleeting nature of the Present cease to enslave us, for we see the Last Day as if it were today. We also see Allah’s working in His world and in us: His Angels. His Messengers and His Message are no longer remote from us, but come within our experience. (R).
179 Practical deeds of charity are of value when they proceed from love and from no other motive. In this respect, also, our duties take various forms, which are shown in reasonable gradation: our kith and kin: orphans (including any persons who are without support or help); people who are in real need but who never ask {it is our duty to find them out, and they come before those who ask); the stranger, who is entitled to laws of hospitality; the people who ask and are entitled to ask, i.e., not merely lazy beggars, but THOSE WHO SEEK OUR ASSISTANCE IN SOME FORM OR ANOTHER (IT IS OUR DUTY TO RESPOND TO THEM); AND THE SLAVES (WE MUST DO ALL WE CAN TO GIVE OR BUY THEIR FREEDOM). SLAVERY HAS MANY INSIDIOUS FORMS, AND ALL ARE INCLUDED.
180 Charity and piety in individual cases do not complete our duties. In prayer and charity we must also look to our organised effort. Where there is a Muslim State , these are made through the State in facilities for public prayer, and public assistance, and for the maintenance of contracts and fair dealing in all matters.
181 Then come the Muslim virtues of firmness and patience. They are to “preserve the dignity of man, with soul erect” (Burns). Three sets of circumstances are specially mentioned for the exercise of this virtue: (1) bodily pain or suffering, (2) adversities or injuries of all kinds, deserved and undeserved, and (3) periods of public panic, such as war, violence, pestilence, etc.” (The Meaning of The Noble Qur’an by Abdullah Yusuf Ali, page 23, online source)

 

Maulana Mufti Mohammad Shafi:

SPECIAL NOTE
A careful look at the text of the verse will show that those on whom wealth has to be spent, that is, the relatives, orphans, the needy, the wayfarer and those who ask, have all been described in one distinct manner, while the last head on the list has been introduced in another manner. It is clear that by adding: ‘Fi’ in ‘and (spends) in (freeing) slaves’, the purpose is to point out that the amount spent will not reach the hands of the slaves owned by somebody as their personal amount which they can spent at will. Instead, the amount has to be spent in buying slaves from their masters and SETTING THEM FREE. Hence, the translation: ‘And (spends) in (freeing) slaves’.’ After that, the statement, …: ‘And observes the prayers and pays the Zakah’ appears in the same manner as everything else has been mentioned earlier.” (Maarif-ul-Quran: Quran Translation and Commentary [Translation by Prof. Muhammad Hasan Askari & Prof. Muhammad Shamim by Maulana Mufti Mohammad Shafi, page 444, online source)

 

Maulana Abdul Majid Daryabadi:

“168. This sums up Islamic belief: belief in God, in his Prophets, in His Books, in the Day of Judgement, and in the Angels.
169. Note the principal motive-force, in the Islamic code, to all acts of merit. Not to win the applause of human beings, nor to achieve good name, but impelled by the love of his Creator, Master and Sutainer, and moved to win His good-will, a Muslim is truly religious in all his acts of charity and benevolence.
170. Not those who make begging a profession, but those driven to beg by sheer need.
171. (of SLAVES AND CAPTIVES). ‘REDEEMING NECKS’ IS FREEING THEM, AND IS IN ISLAM A PRIMARY SOCIAL DUTY.” (Tafsir-Ul-Qur’an – Translation and Commentary Of The Holy Qur’an [Published By Darul Ishaat Urdu Bazaar Karachi: Pakistan] by Maulana Abdul Majid Daryabadi,volume 1, page 110)

Maulana Muhammed Ali:

“177a. While discussing the subject of minor details of the law, a warning is given to the Muslims that they should not fall into the error into which the previous people fell, who sacrificed the spirit of religion for the outward ceremonial. The essence of religion, we are here told, is faith in God and benevolence towards men. The turning of the face to the East and the West refers to the outward act of facing a certain direction when saying prayers. This, though necessary, should not be taken as the real object of prayer, which is in fact meant to enable one to hold communion with the Divine Being and to imbue oneself with Divine morals as explained further on. But the words may also carry another significance. The Muslims were told again and again that all opposition to the Truth would ultimately fail and they would be masters of the land. But temporal greatness was not their real object. They may conquer Eastern and Western lands but their real aim was to attain righteousness and bring others to righteousness.
177b. A belief in angels, while hinted at in the opening verses of this chapter, is clearly spoken of here as one of the basic principles of Islam. The belief in angels may not be as universal as a belief in the Divine Being, but it is accepted generally in all monotheistic religions. As in the case of all other principles of faith, Islam has pointed out a certain significance underlying the belief in angels. Just as our physical faculties are not by themselves sufficient to enable us to attain any object in the physical world without the assistance of other agents — as, for instance, the eye cannot see unless there is light — so our spiritual powers cannot by themselves lead us to good or evil deeds, but here, too, intermediaries which have an existence independent of our internal spiritual powers are necessary to enable us to do good or evil deeds. Now, there are two attractions placed in man — the attraction to good or to rise up to higher spheres of virtue, and the attraction to evil or to stoop down to a kind of low, bestial life; but to bring these attractions into operation, external agencies are needed, as they are needed in the case of the physical powers of man. The external agency which brings the attraction to good into work is called an angel, and that which assists in the working of the attraction to evil is called the devil. If we respond to the attraction for good we are following the angel or the Holy Spirit, and if we respond to the attraction for evil we are following Satan. Our belief in angels carries, therefore, the significance that whenever we feel a tendency to do good we should at once obey that call and follow the inviter to good. That it does not simply mean that we should admit that there are angels is clear from the fact that not only are we not required to believe in devils, whose existence is as certain as that of the angels, but we are plainly told that we should disbelieve in the devils (v. 256). As a disbelief in the devil means that we should repel the attraction for evil, so a belief in angels means that we should follow the inviter to good.
177c. While a belief in all the prophets is stated to be necessary, the Book is spoken of in the singular. The Book therefore stands for Divine Revelation in general or the scriptures of all the prophets. Or, because the Qur’an is a Book “wherein are (all) right books” (98:3), the Book might mean the Qur’an.
177d. The love of Allah is here, as in many other places in the Holy Qur’an, stated to be the true incentive to all deeds of righteousness.
177e. Riqab is the plural of raqabah, which literally signifies a neck, and then comes to signify by a synecdoche, a slave, or a captive (T, LL). Hence fi-l-riqab means ransoming of slaves. THE BASIS WAS THUS LAID DOWN FOR THE ABOLITION OF SLAVERY. 177f. The performance of promise on the part of individuals as well as of nations is one of the first essentials of the welfare of humanity, and hence the stress laid upon it by the Holy Qur’an. Faithlessness to treaties and pledges on the part of nations has wrought the greatest havoc on humanity. Just as no society can prosper until its individual members are true to their mutual agreements and promises to each other, so humanity at large can never have peace unless the nations are true to their agreements.
177g. In the concluding words of the verse, the patient … in the time of conflict, there is a clear reference to the coming conflicts with the opponents of Islam, ultimately leading to the triumph of Islam over those who were bent upon extirpating it.(The Holy Quran Arabic Text with English Translation, Commentary and comprehensive Introduction [Year 2002 Edition] by Maulana Muhammad Ali, page 75 – 77)

Malik Ghulam Farid:

“202. Ala Hubbi-hi means, for the love of God; notwithstanding love of money.
202A. Al-Ba’sa and al-Ba’s are both derived from Ba’usa and Ba’isa, i.e,; he was or became strong and valiant in war or fight; he was or became in a state of great want or poverty or distress. Al-Ba-sa means, might or strength in war or fight; war or fight; fear; harm, etc., al-Darra is especially that evil or affliction which relates to one’s person as disease, etc., and al-Ba’sa is that which relates to property, as poverty, etc (lane).
203. This verse gives gist of Islamic teaching. It begins with the basic Islamic beliefs and doctrines which are the source and basis of all actions and on the rightness of which depends the rightness of human actions – belief in God, in the Last Day, in Angels, Revealed Books and Divine Prophets. After this some of the more important ordinances relating to man’s actions are mentioned.” (The Holy Qur’an – Arabic Text With English Translation & Short Commentary by Malik Ghulam Farid, page 71)

Sayyid Qutb:

“Truly righteous is he who believes in God, the Last Day, the angels, the Book, and the Prophets…“ Taken as a whole, the verse spells out the total sum of GOODNESS, OR RIGHTEOUSNESS. What, then, gives these beliefs and actions their value and meaning? What is the value of believing in God, the Last Day, the angels, the Book, and the Prophets? Belief in God marks a definite turning point in one’s life, at which one is freed from servitude and submission to all manner of powers, forces and desires, and submits to God alone. It is a transformation from chaos to order, from aimlessness to purpose, and from fragmentation to unity. It is a focal point around which all mankind stands equal in the eyes of God and which gives the whole of existence direction, balance, and coherence. Belief in the Last Day is a belief in universal and divine justice. It is a testimony to the fact that human life on earth is not without purpose or value or order, and that good works that seem to go unrewarded shall certainly be rewarded. Believing in the angels is an essential part of believing in a world that is beyond human perception. It is what distinguishes the way humans perceive the world and understand it from the way animals do. Animals perceive the world through their senses and instincts, while man believes in a world that lies beyond the reach of his perception To believe in the Books and the Prophets means to attest, without reservation, to the truth, honesty, and integrity of all the revealed Books and all the Prophets and messengers God commissioned to deliver them at various times of human history. This leads to a belief in the unity of the human race, serving God alone, abiding by one and the same religion and adhering to one universal divine order. This outlook has a profound effect on the personality of the believer, who is seen as custodian of the heritage of God’s messengers and divine messages. The next clement of righteousness is to spend money, dear as it may be, on one’s near of kin, orphans, the needy, the stranded traveller, beggars, and for the freeing of slaves. The significance of this commendable act of charity and sacrifice is that it liberates man from stinginess, selfishness, greed and excessive love of wealth, which cripple one’s ability to give and help those who are in need. It is a highly spiritual act of altruism when someone of means has the courage and the generosity to give away his dearest and most precious possessions. It is an act of liberation for the human soul when man rises above worldly desires and materialistic instincts. It is an admirable achievement, which Islam commends and values very highly. It is characteristic of the Islamic approach that it aims, first and foremost, at liberating man from his own internal prejudices, weaknesses and desires before going on to liberate him from the pressures and influences of the society around him. Unless one overcomes one’s own egotism, one is not likely to stand up to evil and temptation in the world outside. Charity is also a social value that strengthens the bonds of love and trust within the family unit, the vital nucleus of society, and preserves the dignity of its members. Charity towards orphans in society achieves social justice and helps to save the young and the weak from homelessness, corruption and abuse. For the needy and the destitute, charity provides the care and security by which their dignity is preserved, their standing in society may be enhanced, and their contribution to society assured. It ensures that not a single person in the community is lost, or left uncared for. For travellers who, for one reason or another, find themselves stranded in foreign lands or in societies where they feel alienated, charity can be a lifeline. It is an emergency measure to alleviate an unexpected hardship, and by which they are made to feel that they belong to the global human family. Begging is a practice Islam abhors. It is forbidden to those who can earn a minimum of sustenance or have jobs. Charity by those who have the means aims to stop this evil practice. CHARITY HAS PLAYED A VITAL ROLE IN ISLAM’S FIGHT AGAINST SLAVERY. IT PROVIDED THE MEANS TO FREE THOSE UNFORTUNATE ENOUGH TO HAVE BEEN TAKEN PRISONER IN WARS AGAINST ISLAM. THIS IS DONE BY EITHER BUYING SLAVES TO SET THEM FREE, OR BY GIVING A SLAVE MONEY TO BUY HIS OWN FREEDOM, AT A PRICE HE AGREES WITH HIS MASTER. UNDER ISLAM, SLAVES BECAME ENTITLED TO THEIR FREEDOM AS SOON AS THEY DEMANDED IT, AND THEY WERE HELPED TO REGAIN THEIR LIBERTY AND DIGNITY BY ALLOCATING THEM MONEY FROM CHARITY AND ZAKAT. SLAVES WOULD THEN BECOME WAGE EARNERS, ENTITLED TO RECEIVE ZAKAT. EVERY EFFORT WOULD BE MADE TO SPEED UP THEIR TOTAL FREEDOM. (In The Shade Of The Quran (‘Fi Dhilal Al Qur’an’), by Sayyid Qutb volume 1, 187 – 189)

Shaykh Ashiq Ilahi Madni:

SPENDING FOR THE PLEASURE OF ALLAH
After elucidating the fundamental beliefs, Allah outlines the general principles of spending wealth. It is extreme virtue that a person, in spite of having love for his wealth, spends it on his relatives, the orphans, the needy, the travellers, beggars, and such slaves who had transacted the deal of ‘Mukatabah’ with their masters (i.e., they secure freedom upon the payment of a stipulated sum of money.) The phrase, ‘in spite of its love’ may either refer to the love of wealth or, according to others, it refers to the love of Allah. This would mean that they spend because of their love for Allah. However, the first meaning includes the second because the person who spends in good causes, in spite of loving his wealth, will only do so because of his love for Allah.
THE BEST CHARITY
Bukhari (v. 1 p.191) reports that a person asked the Holy Prophet as to which charity earns the greatest reward. He received the reply, ‘When you spend while you are still healthy, desirous of wealth, fearing poverty and aspiring for riches. Do not delay so much in spending until your last breath is pending and then you say, ‘So and so must receive so much, etc. (Then your giving will be of no avail since). It already belongs to so and so.’
Therefore, the best time to spend in charity is when one is healthy (not on one’s deathbed). At this time when one wants to spend, the soul refuses. However, one should suppress it, and still spend. The soul also frightens one to think that one will become impoverished and that attaining prosperity will be delayed. It will entice one to delay spending until one is really wealthy. The true believer takes no heed to these threats and spends. Bequeathing sums to various people at the end of one’s life does not hold the same excellence since the estate already belongs to the heirs by then. …
SPENDING ON THE EMANCIPATION OF SLAVES
The final recipient mentioned in this verse are the ‘Riqab’. This is the plural of ‘Raqaba’, which literally means ‘a neck,’ referring to a slave. In his exegesis (v.1 p. 208), Allama Ibn Kathir writes that this refers to the FREEING of those slaves who are called ‘Mukatibs’. These are those slaves the masters of whom have promised freedom upon the payment of an agreed sum. It is also considered AN ACT OF VIRTUE AND GREAT REWARD TO ASSIST THESE PEOPLE FINANCIALLY. The commentator Baydawi writes (v. 1, p. 124) that the general application of this verse includes paying the RANSOM OF PRISONERS OF WAR, as well as the buying and subsequent FREEING OF SLAVES. …” (Illuminating Discourses on the Noble Quran – Tafseer Anwarul Bayan – by Shaykh Muhammed Ashiq Ilahi Muhajir Madni (r.a), volume 1, page 196 – 199)

 

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