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CHARITY IS A DUTY

According to the Qur’anic concept, the have-nots have their rights. The haves must give the have-nots their due, otherwise, the haves shall have to pay a heavy price for their negligence in discharging their duties. Philanthropy is a duty rather than simply a charity. 

An event narrated in the Qur’an in the chapter Al-Qalam (The Pen), is the best illustration of this concept:  We tried them as we tried the owners of a certain orchard,  who vowed to harvest all its fruits the next morning, without saying, ‘If it be God’s will.’ A calamity from your Lord befell the orchard as they slept. And by morning it lay as if it had already been harvested, a barren land. So, they called out to each other at the break of dawn, saying, ‘Be quick to reach your orchard, if you want to gather all your fruits.’ So they went off, whispering to one another, ‘Be sure to stop any poor person from entering the orchard today.’ They set out early in the morning, thinking they had the power to prevent. But when they saw it, they said, ‘We must have lost our way. Indeed, we are utterly ruined!’ The more upright of the two said, ‘Did I not bid you to glorify God?’ They said, ‘Glory be to God, our Lord. We have surely done wrong.’ Then they began to heap reproaches on each other. They said, ‘Alas for us, our behavior was beyond the pale. Maybe our Lord will give us a better orchard in its stead; we turn to Him.’ Such was their punishment, [in this life]. (68:17-33)

When one gets a harvest, it is not the fruit exclusively of one’s own labor. There are other natural factors involved in the harvest, without which no harvest is possible. So, nature also has a share in every harvest. And this share should be returned to those people who for some reason have suffered deprivation. What are those natural factors? They are numerous, for example, soil, water, bacteria, air, sunlight, etc. These factors are beyond the ability of the harvester to provide but are externally

made available by nature. So, nature has a share in every harvest. Philanthropy means returning this share to the have-not group. Those who pay this share will be rewarded by God, and those who fail in this duty will be punished. The Qur’anic concept of philanthropy is based on the principle of equitable distribution of natural wealth.

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