السَّخَاءُ مَا كَانَ ابْتِدَاءً، فَأَمَّا مَا كَانَ عَنْ مَسْأَلَةِ فَحَيَاءٌ وَتَذَمُّمٌ۔

Generosity is that which is by one's own initiative, because giving on being asked is either out of self-respect or to avoid rebuke.



Generosity is that which is by one's own initiative, because giving on...

— Imam Ali a.s.
(Nahj al-Balagha — Peak of Eloquence: Hadith #53)

Personal Reflection

In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. Praise be to Allah, the Lord of all the worlds. May peace and blessings be upon our beloved Prophet Muhammad (), his pure progeny, and his noble companions.

The Hadith of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) highlights the concept of generosity and distinguishes between two types of giving: one that is initiated by oneself and one that is in response to a request. Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) states,

Generosity is that which is by one's own initiative, because giving on being asked is either out of self-respect or to avoid rebuke.

To understand the profound wisdom behind this statement, let us delve into the meanings of some key words. The word (السَّخَاءُ) "sakhā" refers to generosity, which encompasses acts of giving, sharing, and selflessness. It is a quality highly praised in Islam and is considered a virtuous trait. The word (ابْتِدَاءً) "ibtidā'an" means initiating or starting something. It implies that true generosity is not prompted by external factors but stems from the pure intention of the giver.

Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) further explains that giving in response to a request is driven by two motives: self-respect (hayā') and the desire to avoid rebuke (tadhammum). Self-respect refers to the dignity and honor of the giver, who may feel uncomfortable or embarrassed to be in a position of needing to be asked for help. On the other hand, the desire to avoid rebuke arises from the fear of being criticized or judged by others for not fulfilling their request.

To support the wisdom behind Imam Ali's (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) statement, we can turn to the Quran. In Surah Al-Baqarah (2:263), Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) says,

Kind speech and forgiveness are better than charity followed by injury. And Allah is Free of need and Forbearing.

This verse emphasizes the importance of giving with kindness and forgiveness, rather than giving begrudgingly or with ill intentions. It highlights the significance of initiating acts of generosity without being prompted, as it is a reflection of one's sincerity and selflessness.

Another verse that sheds light on the concept of generosity is found in Surah Al-Isra (17:80), where Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) says,

And say: My Lord! Cause me to come in with a firm incoming and to go out with a firm outgoing. And give me from Thy presence a sustaining Power.

This verse emphasizes the importance of seeking sustenance and blessings from Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) directly, rather than relying solely on the requests of others. It encourages individuals to have trust in Allah's provision and to strive for self-sufficiency.

Imam Ali's (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) statement serves as a reminder to Muslims that true generosity stems from a genuine desire to help others, without the need for external prompting. It encourages believers to be proactive in their acts of kindness and to cultivate a spirit of selflessness. By initiating acts of generosity, we not only fulfill the needs of others but also experience the joy and blessings that come with giving.

Moreover, Imam Ali's (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) words highlight the importance of maintaining one's dignity and honor. While it is commendable to respond to requests for help, it is equally important to recognize the value of self-respect and to avoid situations where one feels compelled to give out of obligation or fear of rebuke. This does not mean that we should refrain from helping others when asked, but rather that we should strive to develop a proactive mindset of generosity.

In conclusion, the Hadith of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) teaches us that true generosity is not limited to responding to requests but rather involves initiating acts of kindness and selflessness. It reminds us to give with sincerity and without the need for external prompting. By doing so, we uphold our dignity and honor while also fulfilling the rights of others. May Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) bless us with the ability to embody the spirit of true generosity and may we always strive to emulate the noble qualities of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ).

. : . (Readers are advised to verify the sources mentioned above, and to independently research for an accurate understanding of Hadith. Remember, personal research and seeking guidance from scholars are essential in gaining a better insight. Please, do contact us if you find any wrong citations or explanations.)

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