Interpretation of Sura Cow - Verse 215
215. " They ask you (O' Muhammad) what they should spend; say: 'Whatever you spend that is good, (from your material and spiritual wealth to avail) for parents, relatives, the orphans, the needy, and the traveller; and whatever you do that is good, verily Allah is All-Knowing of it '."
Occasion of Revelation
'Amr-ubn-i-Jamuh was an old man who was rich, too. Once he asked the Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) what he would spend as charity and to whom he could give the charity. Concerning this matter, the above verse was revealed.
There are many verses in the Qur'an which speak about charity in the way of Allah. The Lord of the world has variously encouraged Muslims to spend in charity and help the indigent, but the status of the verse under discussion is different. At the time of revelation, some people wanted to know what kind of property they should spend from. So, it says: " They ask you (O' MUhammad) what they should spend; ..." The verse, in answer to this question, besides explaining what should be spent, points to another problem, too. It adds the situations and persons that charity might be spent on. And, as it was mentioned in the above, the occasion of revelation also shows that both problems (the material which should be spent, and the persons whom charity should be given to) had been questioned about. In reply to the first subject, i.e. the matter that should be dispensed with by the way of charity in the way of Allah, applying the term 'khayr' (good) , there has been given a complete, expressive and inclusive answer to the question. The answer simply is whatsoever good that may benefit the others. Thus, it concludes all beneficial capital, irrespective of material or spiritual.
" ... say, ' Whatever you spend that is good, (from your material and spiritual wealth to avail) ... " In reply to the second subject, i.e. the person and the order in which charity should proceed, a logical series is given. The claim of the parents and of the nearest relatives is made the first concern of the charitable. Then, it refers to the orphans and the indigents before paying to the needy travellers.
" ... for parents, relatives, the orphans, the needy, and the traveller; ..." It is self-evident that making provision for relatives, besides the ordinary effects that any charity has, contains a profound result in firmness of their relationship.
" ... and whatever you do that is good, verily Allah is All-Knowing of it ." The dispensers of charity should not persist on the matter so that others understand their benevolence, and their good actions should be done for obtaining more sincerity. It seems that the secret of that fact lies in this sense that the One Who gives reward knows everything including whatever deed we do. So, the Exalted One in Whose possession is the recompense of all deeds, with Him are the accounts of all human beings, too.
Adapted from the book: "The Light of The Quran - Interpretation of Sura Al-Baqarah (The Cow)" by: "Sayyid Kamal Faghih Imani and A Group of Muslim Scholars"
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