So, before I get started with this post...any feedback on the new layout? Love it? Hate it? ...did you even notice it lol?
Anyways, last night was great, alhamdolillah! I went to the community iftar and there was lots of yummy food again, and I got to chat with some really nice sisters (including one Bengali sister from Scotland who recently moved here...ahhhh she had the coolest accent and the cutest little daughter who loved playing peekaboo mash'Allah!!)
The one thing that was a big downside to the evening, and that I wished I had been prepared for was a fundraiser that was happening between the iftar and isha. It was for a really nice charity, mash'Allah...it's just that the way in which it was carried out...quite frankly...made me feel EXTREMELY uncomfortable. First I'll talk about the charity, because mash'Allah I think it's a really good cause and whatnot, and it deserves mentioning. It's called MCSS (Muslim Community Support Services). Its mission is to assist individuals and families in the New England area who are in desperate need of social or financial help. Services include one time payments of rent, utility bills and car repair bills, free medical consultation, funeral costs, and student grants. They also have programs in which you can sponsor a family for $25 a month, or help them out if they are in danger of being evicted. You can also donate your car. If you're interested in learning more, insh'Allah you can visit the website here.
Anyways, here is what disturbed me about how this fundraiser took place. After iftar people were basically ushered into the prayer hall for a "presentation." I mistakenly thought that it was going to be another Islamic lecture, so I was really excited and eager to listen to what the speaker had to say. Unbeknown to me, the "presentation" was a guy with a microphone essentially badgering everyone in the room to donate money to this charity. He did explain for a little bit what the charity was about, and what kind of services it offered, but what struck me as being very odd was that the first thing he said when he was handed the microphone was that "everyone who recognized him would probably want to chase him away from the masjid because every time he comes there all he does is ask people to empty their wallets." This just made me think...okay...WAAA?!?!?!?!? After his very brief introduction, a sister with a box went around the ladies' section basically shoving it in sisters faces waiting for them to drop something in. If the sister didn't happen to have anything, she would recieve a very dirty look from the lady who would then proceed to hit up her next victim. At this point, I was thinking "OH CRIZZAP! I have NOTHING with me *panicpanicpanic* IMGONNAGETADEATHGLARE" So, as you can imagine, I was feeling really uncomfortable at this point...so as discreetly as I could, I slipped out to my car to get something. All the while this was happening, I kept hearing the guy in the background saying, "come on brothers and sisters, this is Ramadan, be as charitable as you can, everything you donate will come back to you, and insh'Allah you'll get rewarded for it as well!"...along with reading off donation ammounts from people..."we have another donation here for $5,000! May Allah(swt) reward you immensely!"...and asking people, "do we have anyone here who will match donations tonight? Raise your hands! Anyone who wants to sign up to sponsor a family tonight? Raise your hands!" To my shock and horror, when I got back inside, the brother on the microphone was shouting "Any more donations? Any more at all? Come on brothers and sisters, let's be GENEROUS!!"...to which one brother then replied, "I gave all of the money that I had in my wallet, but I'd love to come work for you!" Mash'Allah may Allah(swt) reward this brother's spirit...but then the microphone brother insisted that this brother then come up in front of everyone, handed him the microphone, and asked him to repeat what he said. At this point I wanted to go bang my head against the nearest wall. Then the sister with the box started bringing out items for people to bid on. All of the bidding started around $100. I cannot even begin to describe how uncomfortable I was feeling at this point. I felt like running out of the prayer hall, and asking someone to come get me whenever they decided to notice that they were over half an hour late for calling the adhan for isha.
Okay, so at this point some of you might be asking, "Ashley...why do you hate charity so much? Don't you know that it's one of the pillars of Islam?" Astighfirallah, PLEASE do not take this post in the wrong way, I DO NOT HATE THE ACT OF CHARITY. Subhan'Allah, being charitable is one of the most beautiful traits a person can have. I just DETESTED the way in which this fundraiser was being carried out. It was just way too public, in-your-face, money being thrown around everywhere. Charity is NOT supposed to be like this in Islam! The way in which they were going about raising money for this wonderful charity was un-Islamic, and that's why it was bothering me so much! In Islam, the best charity is that which is given as secretly as possible. The Prophet, SAWS said, "Seven people will be shaded by Allah under His shade on the day when there will be no shade except His. They are: (1) a just ruler; (2) a young man who has been brought up in the worship of Allah, (i.e. worship Allah (Alone) sincerely from his childhood), (3) a man whose heart is attached to the mosque (who offers the five compulsory congregational prayers in the mosque); (4) two persons who love each other only for Allah's sake and they meet and part in Allah's cause only; (5) a man who refuses the call of a charming woman of noble birth for an illegal sexual intercourse with her and says: I am afraid of Allah; (6) a person who practices charity so secretly that his left hand does not know what his right hand has given (i.e. nobody knows how much he has given in charity). (7) a person who remembers Allah in seclusion and his eyes get flooded with tears." (Book #24, Hadith #504)
I also want to bring this particular hadith to your attention...which is a hadith that I intend to dedicate an entire post to sometime in the future, insh'Allah: “I heard the Messenger of Allah say, ‘ Verily, the first to be judged on the Day of Resurrection will be a man who had died as a martyr. He will be brought forward. Allah will remind him of the favours He had bestowed upon him and the man will acknowledge them. Then He will ask him: `What did you do to express gratitude for it?’ The man will reply: `I fought for Your Cause till I was martyred.’ Allah will say: `You have lied. You fought so that people might call you courageous; and they have done so.’ Command will then be issued about him and he will be dragged on his face and thrown into Hell. Next a man who had acquired and imparted knowledge and read the Qur’an will be brought forward, Allah will remind him of the favours He had bestowed upon him and the man will acknowledge them. Then He will ask him: `What did you do to express gratitude for it?’ The man will reply: `I acquired knowledge and taught it, and read the Qur’an for Your sake.’ Allah will say to him: `You have lied. You acquired knowledge so that people might call you a learned (man), and you read the Qur’an so that they might call you a reciter, and they have done so.’ Command will then be issued about him, and he will be dragged on his face and thrown into Hell. Next a man whom Allah had made affluent and to whom Allah had given plenty of wealth, will be brought forward, Allah will remind him of the favours He had bestowed upon him and the man will acknowledge them. He will ask him: `What did you do to express gratitude for it?’ The man will reply: `I did not neglect any of the ways You liked wealth to be spend liberally for Your sake’. Allah will say to him: `You have lied. You did it so that people might call you generous, and they have done so.’ Command will then be issued about him and he will be dragged on his face and thrown into Hell. These are the first of Allaah’s creation the Fire will be kindled with on the Day of Resurrection"
Saheeh Muslim, 13/45/1905
Now, ASTIGHFIRALLAH I am in no way implying that this second hadith has anything to do with anyone who was at that fundraiser. I simply included it to bring up the point that our intentions behind our actions are what matter the most, and that even though the people around us might not be able to see our true intentions, Allah(swt) certainly does. Doing a fundraiser in this fashion sets people up for an ostentatious show of wealth and generosity, rather than giving for the sake of Allah(swt).
The last point I kind of wanted to bring up, which is more minor...is that doing the fundraiser in such a public fashion can really make people who don't have thousands and thousands of dollars available to them feel uncomfortable and guilty. Alhamdolillah Allah(swt) has blessed us all, but some of us are more blessed with wealth than others...and the way in which this fundraiser was carried out kind of made me feel a bit crummy : /
So that's all I have to say on that subject...and I'm dissapointed to say that I don't think that this is an uncommon occurance during Ramadan in masjids. I just hope that I don't have to sit through another one of these any time soon...or if I do...I certainly hope that it is carried out in a more private manner. And Allah(swt) knows best.
So...I'm curious to know...what are your thoughts on the whole situation?