مَّثَلُ الَّذِينَ يُنفِقُونَ أَمْوَالَهُمْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ كَمَثَلِ حَبَّةٍ أَنبَتَتْ سَبْعَ سَنَابِلَ فِي كُلِّ سُنبُلَةٍ مِّائَةُ حَبَّةٍ ۗ وَاللَّهُ يُضَاعِفُ لِمَن يَشَاءُ ۗ وَاللَّهُ وَاسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ
It’s fascinating how Allah likens charity to a seed:
- You bury a tiny object into dirt. Superficially, you have just conducted a wasteful & meaningless transaction with no obvious reward. In reality, you are sowing the seed of endless multiplication.
- The seed itself has little value, even in abundance. It makes sense that you plant it in order to make the most use of it, as that is where it’s key value lies. By planting it, you benefit from the sweetness of the fruits which come from it, the beauty and fragrance of the flowers which blossom, the shade of the trees which grow, and the thousands of others seeds which emerge for you to replant again. This is precisely the same as money; its value lies in what you do with it, not in the coin itself.
- Planting the seed is not enough. It takes weeks of irrigation and hard work before any results are seen. Similarly, for charity to be effective, we shouldn’t just throw money around and hope it achieves something. We need a vision and strategy of what we hope to achieve followed by careful action to ensure it is effective.
- The growth of the seed lies beyond just your effort. The climate, animals, soil and countless other factors are at play. Some of these you can affect more than others; some through simple measures like fencing whilst others with expensive or even compromising techniques like pesticides. Similarly, charity is affected by countless factors beyond your control, and the measures which can be taken vary just as much.
- When the first shoot sprouts, only a fool will think this is the end of the road. With charity, we often only seek the short term satisfaction of a smile or thank you without aiming for the long-term change that is needed.
- The greater the target, the longer it takes to get there. Individual flowers may grow in a few months, but a grand oak tree will take generations before it is realised. But whilst the flowers will only last a summer, a tree will last for centuries. Aim big and aspire for the long lasting change, regardless of whether you see that change or not.
- When the fruits finally grow, you leave a visible legacy and benefit for your community. The short-sighted will only look to consume what is on the tree. Smarter people will realise the importance of looking after the tree itself. But only the wise will realise that the fruit of the tree bare the very seeds to help grow the next generation of trees.
There’s a lot more to say, and all that is just from one word used in the Qur’an: حبة