I read about a strange method of charity practiced in India. It concerns feeding the hungry. At meal times, destitute and hungry men squat outside restaurants, waiting (& pining) for affluent people who pass by in their cars, to notice them. Once noticed, the benefactor rolls down his/her window and hands some money to a restaurant worker. Then, these famished men are allowed to walk in and satiate their hunger with a simple meal of rice & lentil gruel.
The reporter described this scene of (apparent) gratification with such sensitivity & depth of perception that it touched & shocked me to my core:
“He sat alone, plunging his fingers into the yellow mush on his plate. He ate quietly and quickly. When you eat like this, with your dependence exhibited to the world, a meal no longer feels like something to linger over.” [New York Times]
Ya Allah! They are human beings like me. Their body craves food just like mine. The hunger is the same. The need is the same. Yet, unlike me they have to bitterly swallow their dignity before each morsel. There is no joy or comfort in that food. Its akin to throwing a discarded blanket to douse fire. It extinguishes the fire but still cause burning & scars.
الْحَمْدُ للهِ الَّذِي أَطْعَمَنَا وَسَقَانَا، وَكَفَانَا، وَآوَانَا، فَكَمْ مِمَّنْ لَا كَافِيَ لَهُ وَلَا مُؤْوي.
“Praise is to Allah Who has provided us with food and with drink, sufficed us and gave us an abode for how many are there with no provision and no home.” [Muslim 4/2085]
From the refinement & perfection of our deen is that it not only cares for the material & physical well-being of poor people but also their feelings. This is why we are encouraged to:
1. Give charity secretly
2. Search & give also to the needy who don’t beg due to their self-respect.