Parsimony and generosity according to Islamic ethics.

Allaj(j.j) indicates in his holy book about the kind of people who can not see beyond their firm grasp of worldly possessions:

And let not those who covetously withhold of the gifts which Allah Hath given them of His Grace, think that it is good for them: Nay, it will be the worse for them: soon shall the things which they covetously withheld be tied to their necks Like a twisted collar, on the Day of Judgment. To Allah belongs the heritage of the heavens and the earth; and Allah is well-acquainted with all that ye do. (Aal-E-Imran 3/180)

Both of these concepts of parsimony and generosity are like the polar opposites in one soul, sadly enough, while parsimony operates in a stealth manner and the soul denies such act, generosity operates for the most of the time in one soul’s in an non-stealthy manner.

It should be the opposite unfortunately.

The stingy, ungenerous person never accepts his state. His parsimony is slithering in his soul like a delusion-whispering snake and he constantly rationalizes his ungenerous behavior with myriad number of excuses, ranging from “difficulties of earning a living in a modern society” to simple blissful ignorance about what is going on around the world and his neighborhood. However, according to Islamic ethics, one can not sleep comfortable if he knows his neighbors are starving.

On the other hand, the generous one usually wants to boosts his ego by showing off his philanthropic skills. Now the “devilish whispers” are still at work but trying to distort the generous persons “nafs” by forcing him to publicize and feed upon his works of charity.

Both of these state of minds is frowned upon according to Islamic taqwa. In Islamic Sufism, parsimony can never be accepted and “showing off” generosity is also highly criticized.

How can a sufi likes a certain type of person when Allah(j.j) despises them clearly:

(Nor) those who are niggardly or enjoin niggardliness on others, or hide the bounties which Allah hath bestowed on them; for We have prepared, for those who resist Faith, a punishment that steeps them in contempt;- (An-Nisa 4/37)

Prophet Muhammad’s(saw) life story is full of incidents where his modest generosity enthuses the public.

In most cases, when a sufi becomes highly interested in Islamic tasawwuf, one of the first stages would be to get rid of “most of the useless” worldly possessions. So it is very easy to reach the conclusion that a stingy, ungenerous person can never become a sufi, can never become truly connected to Islamic mysticism, or different degrees of taqwa.

Should he? One can object to the assumption above by saying that “why would a person be in such needs”

Yes, there is no “existential mandatory” reason for a person to educate his soul to refrain from parsimony and be generous and keep his generosity to himself. But when most of the society is filled with such individuals, that society will start to crumble and rot from inside.

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