Generosity is a noble trait, and Allah loves those who possess it. It is sign of strength and true human feeling, and it wins the hearts of the people. Generosity comes in many forms. We can be generous with our wealth, our time, our knowledge, and our labour.
And it comes in many degrees, some greater than others:
1. Being generous with your life:
This is where a person lays down their life in the defence and protection of others. This is the greatest expression of generosity there is.
2. Being generous in a position of leadership:
Leadership is a test. A generous leader puts the people first and strives for their welfare at all times. If the interests of the people are best served by stepping down and surrendering power to someone else, then that is what a generous leader must do.
3. Being generous with your wealth:
We work hard to earn, save, and protect our wealth. When we give it to the poor, the destitute, or someone who asks for charity, knowing that they did not work to earn it, we achieve a high level of honour. Allah says:
“Those who are saved from the covetousness of their souls, they are the successful ones.”
(Sūrah al-Hashr: 9)
4. Being generous with your knowledge by imparting it:
This is better than being generous with wealth. Knowledge is nobler than money, since wealth disappears when it is used while knowledge persists. When someone asks a question, a generous answer is one which is complete and comprehensive. It is not generous to disclose only the minimum amount of information possible.
5. Being generous with your status:
This is to use your influence to help others fulfil their needs, like when you mediate with an official on someone else’s behalf.
6. Being generous with your physical strength:
Prophet Muhammad (SalAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) said:
“Charity is due upon every joint of the body for every day the Sun rises. Brokering justice between two people is charity. Helping a man with his animal and lifting his luggage upon it is charity. A kind word is charity. Every step that you take towards the mosque is charity, and removing harmful things from the road is charity.”
[Sahīh al-Bukhārī (2989) and Sahīh Muslim (1009)]
7. Being generous with your honour:
This is where you pardon those who infringe your honour, rather than demanding redress. This is the charity of a pure heart.
Prophet Muhammad SalAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) once said:
“Can’t anyone of you be like Abū Damdam?”
The Companions asked, “Who is Abu Damdam, O Messenger of Allah?”
He replied, “When he gets up in the morning, he says, ‘O Allah, I offer my honour and life to You?’ On account of this, he would not abuse those who abused him, nor would he wrong those who wronged him, nor hit those who hit him.”
[Sunan Abī Dāwūd (4887)]
8. Being generous by showing patience and overlooking others’ wrongs:
This is more rewarding for the giver than giving money. Only the best and strongest of people are capable of it. Those of us who are unable to be generous with money must strive to be generous in this way, for it bears its fruit for the giver in this world as well as the next.
Allah describes the righteous as:
“Who spend [freely] during ease and hardship and who restrain anger and who pardon the people, and Allah loves those who do good.”
(Sūrah Āl `īmrān: 134)
He also says:
“Whoever waives redress out of charity, it is an expiation for him.”
(Sūrah al-Mā’idah: 45)
9. Being generous through good behaviour. being friendly, well mannered and kind is a form of charity. Those who are generous in this way can attain the reward of one who spends the day fasting and the night standing in prayer. The benefits of good manners are innumerable. None of us, not even the wealthiest, can spread their wealth among all people. However, we can all share our good behaviour with everyone.
10. Being generous by not coveting what others have:
This means you do not look longingly at what people possess and fixate on it. `Abd Allah b Mubārak said that this quality is better than spending from your wealth.
Generosity is one of Allah’s noble attributes. One of his names is al-Jawād, the Most-Generous.
Prophet Muhammad (SalAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) said:
“Allah is magnanimous and generous, and He loves those who are magnanimous and generous. He loves exemplary manners and hates bad behaviour.”
[Mustadrak al-Hākim (1/48)]
Prophet Muhammad (SalAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) informed us that Allah says:
“O My servants! If the first of you and the last of you, every human being and jinni from among you, gathered together in one place and beseeched me, and I gave every person what they asked for, it would not diminish what is with Me, any more than dipping a pin in the ocean and taking it out again diminishes the water in the ocean.”
[Sahīh Muslim (2577)]
Ibn ‘Abbās (RadiAllahu Anhu) tells us:
“Allah’s Messenger was the most generous of people, and he was at his most generous in Ramadan when Gabriel met with him. He would come to him every night in Ramadan and review the Qur’an with him. Allah’s Messenger was more generous in charity than a nurturing wind sent from the sky.”
[Sahīh al-Bukhārī (6) and Sahīh Muslim (2308)]
Safwān b. Umayyah (RadiAllahu Anhu said: “I swear by Allah that Allah’s Messenger gave me all that he gave me when he was the person I hated more than anyone else. He continued to give to me until he became the person I love the most.”
[Sahīh Muslim (2313)]
The Prophet (SalAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) had given Safwān a valley full of camels, to which Safwān had said: “I bear witness that only someone with the heart of a prophet would be willing to give such a gift.”
The Prophet’s generosity was all for Allah’s sake. He sought his Lord’s pleasure alone. He gave charity to the poor and needy , and spent money to win the hearts of people to Islam, when he would often give gifts that kings would find difficult to offer, all the while living the life of an extremely poor person himself. He would sometimes go a month or two without a hearth fire in his house. He sometimes had to tie a stone around his waist to relieve the hunger he was suffering from.
Once, his daughter Fatimah (RadiAllahu Snha) complained to him that she wanted a servant to help with the housework. He told her to seek help in the remembrance of Allah before going to sleep at night and explained: “I will not provide you with a servant and leave the people who are staying in the mosque with their stomachs turning in hunger.”
[Musnad Ahmad (596, 838)]