بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
“Kind speech and forgiveness are better than charity followed by injury. And Allah is Free of need and Forbearing.” (Surat al-Baqarah, 2:263)
When we speak of a generous person, we tend to think of generosity in terms of money. A person who gives money to those who are less well off is praised for doing so; and in some ways, because such acts are quantifiable, they are easy to tick off in our checklist of ‘good deeds’.
True submission to Allah, however, is about striving. We are reminded that no matter how much money we give, if that act is followed up with ‘injury’ – meanness, constantly reminding someone of our favors upon them, or arrogance – then our charity is invalidated in the eyes of God. Allah tells us in the verse quoted above that it is better for us to be kind in speech and forgive people than give money and follow it with injury.
The acts most beloved to Allah are not necessarily those that are quantifiable but, rather, those are characterized by quality. In people’s eyes, the millionaire who gives away millions of dollars in charity is a generous person who has done good, even if he is a pompous, arrogant human being. In the eyes of Allah, the person volunteering time at a homeless shelter and uplifts the people around him or her is infinitely more generous.
This verse reminds us that good works are not simply a checklist; our heart, character and intentions matter.