Enhancing our Worship Through Gift-Giving | SoundVision.com

Enhancing our Worship Through Gift-Giving

When the month of Ramadan is halfway through, its last ten nights are drawing near, and Eid-u-fitr is in sight, Muslims may not only be thinking about how to increase their worship but also planning how they will celebrate the end of the fasting month. Buying Eid presents is a common way we celebrate and express our happiness with those we love. Giving and receiving gifts are recommended acts in the Islamic tradition, not only for holidays, but all year-round. During Ramadan, however, the essence of generosity is even more pronounced and exchanging presents holds a special significance. Ibn Abbas reported: 

“The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, was the most generous of people and he was even more generous in Ramadan when Gabriel would meet him. He would meet him every night of Ramadan to study the Quran. Thus, the Prophet would be more generous than a refreshing wind.” 

(Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim)

The practice of gift-giving transcends mere material exchange, it is a gesture that promotes brotherhood rooted in the teachings of Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him. There is a wealth of wisdom in the Sunnah, or prophetic teachings, regarding the noble act of giving, whether it is charity or exchanging gifts. It not only fosters love and camaraderie among believers but also serves to enhance our devotion and spiritual connection during this blessed month. Aside from worshipping Allah through fasting, prayer, remembrance, supplication, and reading the Quran, even our plans to distribute gifts can elevate our Ramadan experience through the art of giving.  

Giving to Muslims

It was reported by Aisha, may Allah be pleased with her, that the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, used to accept gifts and used to give something in return (Sahih Bukhari). Human beings are inherently inclined towards generosity and giving, as it fosters a sense of unity, compassion, and satisfaction. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, offered plenty of advice on how to make use of our natural tendency to please others through gift-giving. The following are some hadith that can offer lessons to enhance our worship: 

1. Be giving.

Abu Huraira reported that the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

“Give each other gifts and you will love each other.” 

(Al-Adab al-Mufrad)

The act of giving gifts not only brings joy and satisfaction to the receiver but also instills a sense of fulfillment and spiritual enrichment in the giver. It is a beautiful cycle of generosity where both parties experience the warmth of connection and the blessings of giving.

2. Gifts can be simple.

The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

“If I were invited to a meal of a simple sheep’s hoof or shoulder, I would answer it. If I were given a gift of a simple sheep’s hoof or shoulder, I would accept it.” 

(Sahih Bukhari)

He also advised:

“O Muslim women, do not look down on any gift for your neighbor, even a sheep’s hoof.” 

(Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim)

We have all heard the phrase, “It is the thought that counts” but have we considered that it aligns with the prophetic teaching that deeds are judged by their intentions? Never think of a gift as too insignificant to either give or receive. When the intention is to come closer to Allah by this act, a small gift can carry huge weight on our scale of good deeds. 

3. Gifts can serve many purposes.

Al-Rabia’ bint Mu’awwidh, a female companion, said:

“We would order our children to fast and we would make toys for them out of wool. If one of them cried for food, we would give them those toys until it was time to break fast.” 

(Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim)

Besides bringing great joy to both the person who is giving and the one receiving, a gift can serve many purposes. Consider a gift that has added benefits like food that can aid in someone breaking their fast or clothing that a person can wear to pray. The more useful a gift, the greater the rewards, inshaAllah, God willing. 

In the case of the female companions who gave toys made of wool to their children, the toys served as a distraction for them to continue fasting. Similarly, we can take small toys or goody bags to the masjid before iftar with the same objective, or during taraweeh prayers to calm restless children while their mothers pray. Additionally, toy drives help communities distribute Eid gifts to needy families. 

4. Charity is also a gift.

Al-Bara’ ibn ‘Azib reported that the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

“Whoever donates a gift of milk, or a piece of silver, or who guides others through a strait, he will be rewarded as if he has freed a slave.”

 (Sunan al-Tirmidhi)

Allah says in the Quran:

“Those who spend their wealth in charity day and night, secretly and openly—their reward is with their Lord, and there will be no fear for them, nor will they grieve.” 

(Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:274)

In Islam, sadaqah, or charity, is not merely an act of kindness but the essence of compassion and empathy established within the faith. Giving charity is encouraged throughout the month of Ramadan and it extends into the day of Eid. The act of giving to those in need is considered one of the highest virtues as outlined in various verses in the Quran like the one mentioned. Charity encompasses various forms of giving, including monetary donations, material possessions, volunteering time and skills, and aiding those facing hardships. It serves as a means of purifying wealth, fostering solidarity among believers, and cultivating a sense of social responsibility. 

5. Sending a gift to Masjid al-Aqsa.

Maymunah reported that she asked her husband, “O Messenger of Allah, tell us about the Sacred House in Jerusalem.” The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

“It is the land of the gathering and the Resurrection. Go there and pray, for one prayer in it is like a thousand prayers elsewhere.” She asked, “What if I cannot endure travel to there?” The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said: “Let one send a gift of oil to light its lamps, for whoever does so is as if he has gone there.” 

(Sharh Mushkil al-Atha 610)

The situation in the Holy Land is delicate and as such, many of us have felt hopeless when thinking of how to help our brothers and sisters. The month of Ramadan is the time for prayer and supplication for Allah to relieve the believers all over the world from their distress. The hadith about Masjid al-Aqsa is a relief to the hearts of those who wish to visit and may never be given the chance to do so. If you are thinking about ways to give this Ramadan and Eid, consider sending a gift to the masjid and in this manner, you may reap the reward of praying as if you were there. 

In addition to the above ahadith on giving, the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, enjoined reciprocating gifts. He said: 

“Whoever does you a favor, respond in kind, and if you cannot find the means of doing so, then keep praying for him until you think that you have responded in kind.” 

(Abu Dawud)

Giving to non-Muslims

You may be wondering about whether to extend your generosity to those outside our faith. Ramadan is an optimal time for gift-giving to non-Muslim family, friends, and neighbors. There are additional examples in the Seerah of how believers gave to non-Muslims during the time of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him. Prior the start of Ramadan, I noticed many people posting on social media about how to approach their non-Muslim neighbors with Ramadan goody bags or gift baskets without being offensive or extra. Here are some useful tips:

1. Watch your language!

Some non-Muslims may not understand what "Ramadan Mubarak" means unless they have Muslim friends or relatives. Instead, use "Happy Ramadan!" if you are providing a card with a gift. 

2. Educate but do not preach.

Give a brief explanation of Ramadan and mention it as an important aspect of Muslim life. Never be pushy or preachy about your beliefs.

3. Be mindful of food allergies.

Muslims love to give food items as presents during Ramadan and Eid! Consider going allergen-free or vegan with the goodies you present. Some of the worst culprits for allergy sufferers are milk, nuts, and eggs. 

4. Be creative!

Although food seems to be a universal love language, some people do not like sweets or foods cooked by strangers. Instead of going for candy or baked goods, try giving a thoughtful gift. Some affordable and elegant items are gift cards, handmade crafts, decorations, or candles. 

5. Be brief in your wording.

It is a great idea to include a card explaining what Ramadan is but be brief. Here is an example: 

"Happy Ramadan/Eid from your Muslim neighbors! Ramadan is the 9th month in the Islamic lunar calendar. We spend this month fasting and doing extra good deeds. When the month is complete, the fast is over and a new month begins with the celebratory day of Eid-al-Fitr. As such, we thought it would be nice to share some treats/this gift with you. Enjoy!"

As the blessed month of Ramadan approaches its end and the joyous occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr is ahead, Muslims worldwide not only contemplate ways to deepen their spiritual devotion but also eagerly anticipate celebrating with loved ones. Expressions of happiness and gratitude include the tradition of exchanging gifts, especially for our children. Yet the two are not mutually exclusive; giving gifts is also a form of worship. 

From the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, to the Quranic verses emphasizing the virtues of charity, the significance of giving extends far beyond mere material exchange. It serves as a conduit for fostering love, strengthening bonds of brotherhood and sisterhood, and invoking the mercy and blessings of Allah. As we prepare to bid farewell to Ramadan, we can carry forward the spirit of generosity and compassion that defines this sacred month, not only through the exchange of gifts but through acts of kindness and charity that uplift the hearts of those in need. 

Wendy Díaz is a Puerto Rican Muslim writer, award-winning poet, translator, and mother of six (ages ranging from infant to teen). She is the co-founder of Hablamos Islam, a non-profit organization that produces educational resources about Islam in Spanish (hablamosislam.org). She has written, illustrated, and published over a dozen children’s books and currently lives with her family in Maryland. Follow Wendy Díaz on social media @authorwendydiaz and @hablamosislam.


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