Building a new habit is not spontaneous. Certain requirements are needed to make a new habit part of us or our second nature.
The best way to illustrate these requirements is to give an example:
Giving or sharing is a high social value. Wealth, property, time, effort, and even ethical feelings and conduct like mercy and compassion, are different forms of assets and possessions that can be given and shared. How can we make the value of giving part of us? Quran says, “So he who gives and practices taqwaتَقْوى) ), and believes in what is better, we will indeed make smooth for him the path to what is easier.” [92:5-7]
The act of giving is difficult and challenging in the beginning. However, it becomes easier and easier as it is more and more practiced. Such an outcome is realized as we repeat the action with an incentive. In the case of giving, taqwa is the incentive and the driving force. Taqwa, in essence, is protection. Sharing or giving protects us and liberates us from the prison of avarice. This is obvious, but it also liberates us from the prison of giving itself. How come? Although giving is a noble act, it has the potential to enslave us if it is practiced as a destination and prevents us from reaching a higher goal. “O you who believe! Cancel not your charity by reminders of your generosity or by injury- like those who spend their money to be seen of men, but believe neither in Allah nor in the Last Day.” [2:264]
This brings to our consciousness another important factor that helps a certain habit stick: Believing in what is higher and better, “and believes in what is better” [92:6]
It is important to believe that giving leads to freedom and internal transformation. “But those who mostly practice taqwa shall be freed and removed far from it- those who spend their money to increase their self-purification and goodness.” [92:17-18]
It is important to believe that giving is better than the piling up and accumulation of material things. The consequences of giving cannot be compared with the consequences of avarice or greed. Listen to the outcome of the greedy who imprison themselves in the world of things they have earned and withheld, “Who piles up wealth and lays it by,” [104:2] hellfire will engulf them and “it shall be made into a vault over them” [104:8], and they will be engulfed by what they withheld. “Soon the things which they covetously withheld will be tied to their necks like a twisted collar in Judgment Day.” [3:180]
The strongest incentive for giving and sharing is to believe in Allah and His perpetually Beautiful Names. Allah is the highest qibla (قِبْلَة) or goal humans take for themselves in this life, and undoubtedly, giving brings us closer to Allah, the Most Generous- Al-Kareem and Al-Akram.
By Dr. Walid Khayr