The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Give charity without delay, for it stands in the way of calamity.” — Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 589
“They ask thee what they should spend (In charity). Say: Whatever wealth ye spend that is good, is for parents and kindred and orphans and those in want and for wayfarers. And whatever ye do that is good — Allah knoweth it well.” — Al-Baqara ( The Cow) 2:215
After a long time in exile, I went back to Somalia in 2005 to see my father for the first time in fourteen years. It was a heartfelt reunion: I had grown up; he had grown older. But there was nothing much I could find to say to him. I had mixed emotions: I was frightened yet excited to meet and get to know relatives who I did not know before.
My father often had visitors in the afternoon, most of them long term friends. Some of them were internally displaced and had no income. Although not in a great position to help others financially, my father always shared the money sent to him by his children (us). I noted my father’s particular care to his old friends as much as his relatives.
There was one man who would never ask for help but came to my father’s house each week. He was pleasant. He had lost his family in the war and later remarried. He had two young sons. I got to know him better. As there were other people asking for financial help, I hardly had any money left, so was incapable of providing him with any financial support. I got back to London. But his face stuck out in my memory. Subsequently, I sent him $50 through my father. My father took it as a gesture of genorosity. No, I did it for myself —to lift my sadness about the man’s plight. Yes, selfish (we help others to help ourselves in whatever way you look at it).
A year later I went back to Somalia again. I saw the man, charming as ever. He visited just as we (my father and I) were about to depart to the airport. I had $20, which I divided between him and a cousin of mine, Abdullahi. The man informed me that he was recently diagnosed with Hipatius, and that he would insha’Allah be cured if he purchased the medication. He said the $10 would do it. I wished him all the best.
I made a promise to myself that I would send some money to the man and to my cousin Abdullahi as soon as I got back to London and started working. In February 2007 news reached me that my cousin had been killed in the outskirt of Kismayo. Sadness overtook me for a while, but life had to go on. I never stopped wanting to send money to the man. I had to save it.
Meanwhile, my father fled the country to Nairobi, Kenya. Although I kept telling my mother that I saw so and so man ( she knew him) and that I would like to send him $100 for medication, I barely made a concious effort to find him…until one day. I telephoned my father and asked the whereabouts of the man. He replied: ‘I will enquire about him’. It took him about a month to find out any information. Sadlly, the man had passed away a few months earlier.
Had I tried harder to send him the money, I would not have felt so guilty about not acting quickly enough. Had I not bought that expensive perfume, perhaps I would have been able to save the $100 earlier.
While I cannot turn the clock back, I learnt to act quickly and timely. I may not be able to help everyone but I try to be charitable in my voice.
“Kind words and the covering of faults are better than charity followed by injury. Allah is free of all wants, and He is Most Forbearing.” — Al-Baqara ( The Cow) 2:263.
Guest Post by Nimo Shire