What you give need not cost an arm and a leg. It can be something baked in your oven, grown in your garden or made with your own hands.
“The best of alms is that, which the right hand gives and the left hand knows not of.” [Bukhari]
When you read this Hadith what are the questions or thoughts that arise in your mind? To me it seems to be implying that the most excellent form of giving is that which we do in private; secretly with no one, not even our own selves in some way, knowing about it.
We all know that charity is a part of Islam. There are numerous mentions of it in the Qur’an and there is yet more said about it in the ahadith. All forms of benevolence are permissible and even encouraged: “Charity is a duty unto every Muslim. He who hath not the means there to, let him do a good act or abstain from an evil one. That is his charity.” [Bukhari]
Safety from riya
So if all forms of giving are acceptable why is one type, namely anonymous giving, seen to be the best kind? It would seem that this is because it is the purest form. By doing something that no-one else knows about or even sees, implies that the only reason it is done is for Allah (SWT). Giving secretly protects us, insha Allah, from riya and from doing things in search of praise.
Once, the Prophet (SAW) heard a man praising another, and he responded to him, ”May Allah’s Mercy be upon you! You have cut the neck of your friend.” [Bukhari]
Praise can be poisonous as it can spoil good intentions and the related deeds. If someone hears praise for their actions it can affect them so that the focus and reason for what they are doing changes. The main desire is now to hear those words again so that the ego can be fed and we can be made to feel special.
Another very important dimension of not knowing the source of a gift is that it leaves the beneficiary free of indebtedness to anyone other than Allah (SWT). They can still make du’a for you because we do not need to know who someone is to pray for them. It can also cause a person to feel special and grateful when they realise that someone, potentially a stranger, is willing to do something for them without expecting thanks or reward. An altruistic and selfless act can help restore faith, usually in humanity, at a time when we seem to be living in an individual-orientated world where a person’s rights are more important than their responsibilities.
Incognito giving is harder than it sounds as there are not so many ways of doing something charitable that enable you to remain nameless. Most things we do can be seen by at least one other being, the person we are performing a kindness towards.
But for the person who manages to give alms in this manner, he/she will be one of the seven types of people that will attain Allah’s I shelter on that Day when there will be no other shelter. [Bukhari and Muslim]
Ideas for some Anonymous Giving
In this digital era, we have the means of anonymous giving literally at our fingertips. You can donate to any number of charities and causes through various giving pages (e.g. justgiving, ummahgiving and virgin giving). You have the choice on such sites to leave a message with or without disclosing your identity. The premise of a lot of these sites is to encourage others to donate by getting your nearest and dearest to make large donations (as they are most likely to give more), but I have noticed that this works very well with sizeable ‘anonymous’ donations too. Sponsoring people has never been easier!
Sending Anonymous Gifts
This one can be a nice thing to do for loved ones as well as those you do not know so well. It doesn’t just have to be flowers nor does it have to be expensive. You can make something yourself and send it through the post without putting a return address on it. Husbands can make wives feel very special (and vice versa) by sending gifts without signing their names to it. Also a word to the wise: know your recipient and the people they live with; it’s best to keep gifts as inoffensive as possible.
What you give as mentioned earlier need not cost an arm and a leg. It can be something baked in your oven, grown in your garden or made with your own hands. These can be left on doorsteps for those that live in walking distance from you. How about if you know that someone needs or wants something? For example when you are out with your friend and you notice she doesn’t buy the dress she loves because she doesn’t have enough money, why not return at a later date and buy that very same garment for her and have it sent to her address? Or if you’ve realised that your neighbour’s childrens’ shoes are worn out and you know that they are struggling financially, perhaps you could post some vouchers for a shoe shop through their letterbox one day?
Paying off someone’s debt or bill
If someone that you know is struggling with debt, through no fault of their own and you know who that money is owed to you could, should you have the means, pay off the debt. When you do this it is important to make it clear to the person who has been paid that you do not want the individual whose arrears you have just cleared knowing that you have paid it, only that the unpaid sum has been fulfilled. Or why not, when you are at a restaurant with some friends, surreptitiously satisfy the bill as you go to powder your nose? Again clue in the person who has accepted payment otherwise you may not remain the mysterious and unknown patron for long.
It can be quite fun thinking of ways to carry out the task of being a nameless benefactor. Be creative and enjoy, remembering that ‘All praise and thanks belong to Allah (SWT)’!
In keeping with the spirit of the article, the writer wishes to remain unknown but she hopes you will remember her in your du’as if it has been of benefit to you.