Maulana Wahiduddin Khan | Speaking Tree Weekly Blog | Nov 17, 2020
Abu Hurairah reported Prophet Mohammad as saying: “The greatest charity is for a Muslim to learn something, and then teach it to his Muslim brother.” (Ibn Majah, Hadith No. 243)
What is charity? One might define it as an expression of sincere goodwill towards one’s fellow men–a genuine act of brotherly love. This goodwill manifests itself in various ways–sometimes in the form of a material gift, sometimes as a piece of good advice. Whatever form it takes, the goodwill that wells up in one person’s heart towards another is a sign of God’s own munificence. The noblest form that it can take in the human world is the imparting of knowledge.
Knowledge–by which we mean realization of truth–is the most wonderful thing in the whole universe. That is why there is nothing greater than knowledge that one human being can impart to another. All true knowledge has come from God. To hand it on to others means that one desires the very best for them; one wishes them to share in a gift of God.
To give knowledge to others often requires a spirit of self-denial. It is a question of sympathizing with the plight of others–then striving to improve their condition. One puts oneself in others’ shoes–seeing things from their point of view and then approaching them from the appropriate angle. And an individual has to do something more which, for some, is in the nature of a great sacrifice: he has to put an end to all bones of contention that exists between himself and others. If he feels that he has something to give to others–some knowledge to impart, then he cannot stop for differences of opinion or simply wait for others to take the initiative. He has to do so himself, taking unilateral action in order to create a harmonious atmosphere, conducive to communication of ideas.
To give to others, frequently we have to make sacrifices. This is true of knowledge–the greatest charity–just as it is true of material charity. But it is this sacrifice that people are usually not ready to make. Unable to resign themselves to any loss, they fall far short of giving others the benefit of what they themselves possess.