Generosity is one of the ethics of the Prophets, a pillar of faith and a ray of the light of firm faith. The Noble Prophet (s.a.w) has said: “The ‘auliya’ (friends) of Allah are, essentially and inherently, generous.” Hence, in order to acquire this attribute, a Mu’min should endeavor hard to be munificent and generous towards relatives, deserving ones and the like, for the pleasure of Allah.
It is better that a person’s generosity be associated with a thing that is dear to him – eatables, clothes, money etc. – and that no obligation is placed upon the person towards whom generosity has been exhibited; man should only view himself as a trustworthy person, whose responsibility is to pass on Allah’s things to deserving and needy individuals.
As such, he should stay away from frugality and refrain from withholding the Divine trusts; this is because it is not known whether or not they would yield any benefit, if given after his death, and whether or not his inheritors would expend them in a correct and appropriate manner?
In the following you can see some simple acts which help you cultivate this characteristics in your personality:
- Give from the heart. If you truly want to be generous, then you have to give just because you want to give, not because you have ulterior motives and want something in return. You should give simply because you want to give, because you’ve found something you believe in, and because you want to do good in the world. If you’re only giving to impress other people or to ingratiate yourself with someone in some way, then you’re not really being generous.
- Know that being generous will make you happier. Though you shouldn’t be generous for the sake of furthering your own needs, you should know that people who are generous are known to be happier than those who are not: Being generous helps people feel more compassionate towards others, gives a stronger sense of community, and to establishes a higher self-image. While you are being generous towards others, you can also be generous toward yourself as well.
- Notice what would make someone’s life easier. Whether you’re interacting with your neighbors or your best friend, take a look at the person you’re talking to and see how you’ll be able to help that person out. Maybe your coworker is really stressed and needs someone to look after her dog while she’s visiting her sick mother in a different town. Maybe your best friend’s car broke down and she needs a ride to school. Maybe your mother is overworked and doesn’t even realize how much help she needs until you give it. When you talk to someone, start wondering about how you could help them instead of always thinking about how they can help you.
- Give your time to a friend. If your friend is down and needs some company, then you should be generous with your time and should hang out with that person. Make room in your schedule to spend time with that person, whether you’re taking a walk, going to the movies, or having a long talk over a cup of tea. No matter how busy you are, there should always be room in your life for hanging out with friends.
- Give to a cause you believe in. You don’t have to make a fortune to donate money to a reputable charity. Even if you’re only giving ten dollars a month, you’ll be doing good in the world and will feel good about yourself. You should give this amount right when you get your paycheck, instead of at the end of the month, when you see how much money you have left. You’ll be surprised by how little you’ll miss this money. Even putting some loose change in a tip jar can be a generous act.
- Volunteer. Volunteering your time is a great way to be generous. If you want to be generous, then spend at least an hour or two a week volunteering at a soup kitchen, tutoring adults or children, cleaning up a community park, or doing some other good out there in the world. You can do different tasks, such as volunteering in a bookstore, or helping at a fundraising campaign for charity. Find something that gives you meaning while expanding your generosity.
- Share your things. If you’re with friends, share your food, your clothes, your car, your home, or any of the things that mean something to you. If you’re just sharing something you don’t care about, then it’s not as meaningful. If you have just two delicious chocolates left and give one to a friend, that means more than giving your friend one of a hundred candy bars you don’t care about.
- Give away something you love. Give your favorite sweater to your little sister. Give your favorite novel to a friend. Give a beautiful notebook to a friend and encourage her to start writing poetry. Giving away something you don’t care about isn’t really generous because you’re not making a sacrifice. But giving away something that means something to you, which you know will do good for others, is the height of generosity.
- Call a friend who’s having a hard time. If you can’t be there in person, give your friend a call to check in, to say hi, and to show that you care. If you can just spare a few minutes to show that person that you’re thinking of him or her and to be kind and sincere, then you’ll be making that person’s day better, even if he or she is still struggling. Spending time trying to cheer up a person who is in need over the phone is very generous.
- Donate your stuff. Don’t just let those old sweaters or clothes sit in your closet for years. Take the time to sort through them and to donate them to charity so that someone else can find a good use for them. It won’t take long to sort through them or to drive them down to where they need to go, and you’ll feel good just thinking about someone else finding a better use for your clothes.