Home | Publications | Al Jamiat Volume 7 No. 2 | Are we unintentionally engaging in minor shirk?

Are we unintentionally engaging in minor shirk?

Intention is the most important factor in a Muslim’s actions. Incorrect intention will result in loss, whilst correct intention will earn the pleasure of Allah Ta’ala.

Rasullullaah Sallallaahu alaihi wasallam was asked, “What is Imaan (faith)?” He replied, “Another name for Imaan is sincerity.” Just as an action is useless and void of reward if performed without Imaan, likewise it is useless and void of reward if it is done without sincerity.

Rasullullaah Sallallaahu alaihi wasallam said to his companions, “The thing I fear most in your actions, is minor polytheism.” His companions asked, “What is minor polytheism?” He answered, “Show (of one’s good deeds!).”

 Another Hadeeth says, “Whosoever has made a show of his prayer, fasting, or charity has committed polytheism.” In yet another hadeeth pertaining to insincerity of actions Nabi Sallallaahu alaihi wasallam has said, “There is a pit of sorrow in Jahannam  from which Jahannam itself seeks the protection of Allah Ta’ala. Those worshippers who make a show of their worship, will be thrown in it.”

Hadrat Anas Radiyallaahu anhu narrates that Rasullullaah Sallallaahu alaihi wasallam said that when Allah Ta’ala created the earth, it was unstable. Thereafter Allah Ta’ala created the mountains which gave the earth stability. The angels were amazed at the strength of the mountains and enquired, “O Sustainer, is there any creation of yours stronger than the mountains?” Allah Ta’ala replied, “Yes, iron.” The angels then asked, “Is there any creation that is more powerful than iron?” Allah Ta’ala replied, “Yes, fire.” The angels then asked, “Is there anything that is mightier than fire?” Allah Ta’ala responded, “Yes, water.” The angels then asked, “Is there anything stronger than water?” The answer was given that it was wind. And thereafter Allah Ta’ala informed them that a stronger force than wind is a man’s spending secretly in the path of Allah Ta’ala in such a way that what the right hand spends, the left hand is unaware of. (Tirmizi)

From the above Ahadeeth we realize the importance of sincerity.

In vogue nowadays is the concept of fund-raising dinners, fetes etc. to overcome financial constraints in organizations. Outwardly this may seem to be a worthwhile and rewarding act but a deeper analysis would reveal that, the reward of the person buying the ticket for a fund-raising dinner is diminished, if not totally lost, because charity must be given solely for the pleasure of Allah Ta’ala and no other motive – not even for a bowl of soup nor a plate of food. Giving anything in order to gain something in return destroys the spirit and Sawaab of the act of charity. Organizers of such events should reflect whether they are truly assisting in good or whether they are destroying the spirit of sacrifice and resigning themselves to the fact that the only thing that would motivate the modern Muslim to contribute to a good and noble cause is a plate of food?

The Ulama have also explained that our good deeds should not be contaminated with worldy motives. For example, a person keeping fast (saum) for the pleasure of Allah Ta’ala and also with the niyyah of dieting is an example of tainted intentions.

Similar is the case of the “fund-raising” dinner that is creeping into our society. We should be asking ourselves, “Do we have to be fed before we give Sadaqah?”

Likewise the organizers of these events should also be questioning their intentions, “Are we inviting a prominent member of our community for the Hidaayah and guidance of our community or is it that we have our eyes fixed on the pockets of the rich.”

“The speaker should also do some soul searching and ask himself, “Am I concerned about the Hidaayah of only those who pay to hear my advices or is my concern for the salvation of mankind at large?”

Harms of Fund-Raising Dinners

Fund-raising dinners and “Islamic” fairs etc. are an imitation of the ways of the disbelievers. “He who imitates the ways of the disbelievers, shall be with them on the Day of Qiyaamah.” (Hadeeth) Our pious predecessors throughout the history of Islam  had always adopted the sunnah method of fund-raising which is both simple and laden with barakah.

At times, pupils parents and staff are coerced through various pressure tactics, both open and covert, to buy and sell tickets, often against their will. For fear of victimization, they give in to these pressure tactics. This is both un-Islamic and unethical.

Furthermore, the primary draw-card in fund-raising dinners and fairs is entertainment. It is this fundamental point that adds to the transgression. One may argue that a person’s only intention of going to such events is to contribute, donate or financially boost the organization. If one is truly and honestly sincere in his purpose then he can anonymously donate the money without being present. In fact, if such people contributed their monies before-hand, it would have saved many Mulsim organizations from resorting to a practice that is in open emulation of the non-believers. Due to these and other factors, there is no barakah in these functions and the income generated thereof is also void of barakah. Obviously when help of Allah Ta’ala is removed this could have a very adverse effect on the institution in the future.   

A Pre-Islamic Custom

The pre-Islamic Arabs indulged in a certain practice with the objective of charity. They would slaughter a camel and distribute its meat by means of a draw. The person who did not win would be compelled to pay for the camel and all the meat would be distributed to the poor. Those who did not participate in this well-advertised event were regarded to be miserly. Islam banned this practice. Charity and Sadaqah was a duty and doing it to show off was equated with shirk, the sin of joining partners with Allah Ta’ala. The fund-raising dinner is a double-edged sword as it may provide much needed funds but it is also distorting our idea of charity and spending in the path of Allah Ta’ala. A Muslim gives in charity out of concern for his Hereafter, not for name, fame or a plate of food for that matter. A Muslim knows that the reward for his donation depends upon the sincerity upon which it was given. Without sincerity, a Muslim full well knows that his charity will bring disaster let alone any rewards. A person concerned about his Deen and Aakhirah would be very wary of going to a fund-raising dinner, let alone organizing such functions.

The Sunnah way of “Fund-raising”

From the Seerah of Nabi Sallallaahu alaihi wasallam it is clear that “fund-raising” for the needs of Allah Ta’ala’s Deen was conducted in the most practical and simple manner. Nabi Sallallaahu alaihi wasallam would gather the Sahaaba Ridwaanul laahi alaihim ajmaeen in the Musjid, address them, motivate them, recite the verses of the Qur’aan regarding spending in the path of Allah Ta’ala and exhort them about various issues. He would also lead by his own blessed example by contributing generously. This would encourage Sahaaba; young and old, men and women, who would vie with each other in contributing to Allah Ta’ala’s cause and reap the rewards of the Hereafter. In this simple but effective way, Allah Ta’ala would fulfill the needs of all the missions undertaken.

This traditional sunnah method is the way that Muslims ought to follow when raising funds for a worthy Islamic cause. In essence, the Ummah must go back to the original, or sunnah method of fund-raising which has been tried and tested and which has proved successful. There is absolutely nothing to match the sunnah way.

Other forms of fund-raising contain the dangers of insincerity and other motives rather than for the pleasure of Allah Ta’ala and for the worthiness of the cause itself.

May Allah Ta’ala grant every Muslim a clear and true understanding of the Islamic way at all times, Aameen.

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