In these twisted times we live in, the word “charity” usually conjures an image in our minds that is – in reality – as far as can possibly be from the truth. After decades of distorted media messages and even more years of stereotyping, charity is now associated with fancy events, shimmery gowns and tuxedos, television coverage and thousands – if not millions – in donations. In many cases, an immediate image of a charity ball, with all its glitz and glamour, pops into our heads. How sad…
Truth be said, now-a-days we relate charity to money.
If it’s not in the form of money, we hardly ever call it charity or philanthropy. But, in reality, monetary donations are merely one of millions of ways for humans to be charitable.
Whatever happened to acts of kindness?
It is taught in all religions under the sun that acts of charity and kindness are the road to Heaven. We are encouraged to make charity a part of our daily lives and to endorse it as an integral part of our children’s upbringing. It is also taught in all religions that charity may be in the form of money, but is not necessarily so.
In Islam, a well-known hadeeth portrays that smiling at your fellow Muslim is an act of charity. This natural human gesture is an act of kindness that can be a step towards our pursuit of Heaven in the hereafter.
Very simple actions are charitable ones. Treating the less fortunate nicely, slowing down your car to allow people to cross the street or removing debris from the road that might harm passersby are all acts of charity. They are acts of charity that you will be rewarded for and that do not involve you having to reach for your wallet.
These days, we hear a lot about karma and about how “what goes around comes around.” Let’s say that, one day, you chose to ignore an old lady who needed a ride when you were completely capable of helping her. When the day comes, you will find yourself in a situation where you need help with a flat tire or something, and you will also be ignored by someone who is perfectly capable of helping you.
The balance of this Earth is divine. Give good and you shall receive good in return. It doesn’t have to be in the form of money. If you can spare the time, contribute to the eradication of illiteracy. If you like to read, donate time by reading to the elderly in a home or hospital. If you like children, babysit and give an exhausted mother a few hours to herself.
These are all acts of kindness and, thus, acts of charity.
It was never about the money.