By Imam Abu Hamid Muhammad Al Ghazali (R.A.)
There are many amongst the men of substance who are too liberal in spending their wealth on the performance of Hajj. They set out for the pilgrimage regularly year after year as if they have none hungry or in want amongst their neighbours. Abdullah ibn Mas'ud truly said that during the later times quite a large number of persons would perform the Hajj unnecessarily, simply because they would find it easy to travel and would have enough to spend; but they would return from the Hajj without any recompense for they would not help their fellow-travellers whom they would find in trouble.
'Abu Nasr Tammar relates that somebody informed Bishr ibn al-Harith of his intention to set out for the Hajj. Bishr asked: "What have you got to meet the expenses?"
The man replied: "Two thousand dirhams."
"And what is the purpose of your journey?" demanded Bishr again, "Do you want to make a show of your piety, visit the Ka'aba or seek the pleasure of God?"
He replied: "To seek the pleasure of God."
"All right," said Bishr, "but would you agree, if I tell you a method whereby you would attain the pleasure of God without having to go all the way for Hajj? You would undoubtedly spend the money you have, but you would also be satisfied that you have done something that would be liked by the Lord!"
After the man had given his assent Bishr told him:
"Then you should distribute the amount you have set aside for Hajj among ten insolvent persons so that they may pay off their debts, or to paupers who may live on it, or to the orphans or persons in indigent circumstances. If you like, you may give entire amount to a single person because rendering help to the poor or the needy or anyone in trouble is better than performing a hundred voluntary Hajj. Now you should do as I have told you but if you have any hesitation, tell me about it."
"The truth is," the man rejoined, "that I want to undertake the journey."
Bishr smiled and remarked:
"When the money is obtained from prohibited or doubtful sources, the insinuating self of man urges him to gratify its desires which it often brings forth in the garb of virtuous acts to deceive him. God Almighty has, however, decided that He would accept the deeds of only those who fear him."
Another group among the moneyed but niggardly persons is more interested in such devotional acts on which nothing is to be spent. They like to keep fasts, offer prayers or recite the Qur'aan. These persons too are deceiving themselves because stinginess has captured their soul. They ought to spend their money in order to cure themselves of the malady but they keep themselves busy in the acts which are really not required of them. These elements are like the man who is about to be bitten by a snake and of which he would undoubtedly die, but he keeps himself busy in preparing a syrup for relieving his cough. These miserly persons do not stand in need of the aforesaid devotional acts as that foolish man would not be cured of the snake-bite by his syrup. Once somebody told Bishr that a certain wealthy person was profusely keeping fasts and offering prayers. He replied:
"The poor fellow is doing the work of others but has given up his own. He was required to feed the hungry and help the poor. Instead, he is forcing his own self to remain hungry and is trying to help himself by offering voluntary prayers. Along with this, he is also busy in accumulating as much wealth as possible so as to exclude the poor from it."