22.2 Going out to Meet Quraysh
The Supporters agreed to give their share of this land to the poor of the Emigrants, those who had left their money and possessions in Mecca. About the Supporters the Koran says,
And those settled in the home and in faith before them,
love those who emigrated to them,
and find no envy in their hearts
because of what the latter are given.
They prefer them to themselves even if they are in need of it.
Those spared their own niggardliness, those are the successful. (59:9)
Just as it teaches the Muslims everything by degrees, the Koran teaches them charity by degrees. They are first taught that to give of what you have been given is a sacred duty. Give what you do not need. Then they are taught that you do not give things in poor condition but in a condition that you yourself would accept. The third stage is to give what you like and cherish. The holy verses say:
You do not attain benevolence,
until you give of what you love. (3:92)
The fourth and finest stage is to give what you need. Few people are able to reach that stage, but those early Muslims whose faith was new and pure, who had the example of Mohamed before them, were able to attain it. The Supporters were happy to give the Emigrants land that they themselves needed and desired, as the verses above point out.
Mohamed was continually giving. One of those who knew him said that he gave way as if he could never become poor.
Once a woman gave him as a present some material that he needed to make a garment. A little later someone came and asked if he had anything to wrap the dead in and immediately he produced the new material. He could not bear to see anyone need something that he had without giving it to him, preferring him to his own family. When he came to die, his armor was pawned with a Jew to provide food for his own family. He used to take much in loot and ransom, but all went to the poor.
One day Umar ibn Al-Khattab found him sleeping on a hard mat which left marks on his side. Umar had tears in his eyes for he loved Mohamed. The Messenger said,
"Whatever makes you cry, Ibn Al-Khattab?"
"Caesar and Chosroes of Persia sleep on soft feathers while you, who are the Messenger of Allah, sleep on this hard mat."
"Wouldn't you like them to possess this world and have us possess the eternal world."
"Certainly," said Umar.
"Then so shall it be," answered Mohamed.
Abu Bakr also lived and behaved in the same manner. Though he was a rich merchant, most of his money went to the poor or in freeing slaves. When asked why he did not live more leniently, he said,
"I would hate to allow myself what the Messenger of Allah does not allow himself."
Years later, when Umar had become the Khalifa and his realm had expanded into a vast empire, he was asked why he would not be less severe with himself and he said,
"I have two friends who have taken this road before me. I fear that should I deviate from them I would lose the way."