Episode 10: Why Genuine Giving Is an Amazing Way to Achieve Success


Assalamu Alaikum Warahmathullahi Wabarakathuhu, 

Welcome to the Best Versions Podcast, where I help you unlock your fullest potential to move from average to excellence in Worship, Energy, Love and Legacy.  

I’m your Host, Rushdhi Ismail. A computer engineer turned nutrition and life coach. I’m going to use my experience of over 25 years in the personal and spiritual development field to provide you with practical tools to move from average to excellence.

Alhamdulillah, I’m super excited to greet you again in a new episode. And this episode is quite special for me because this is the tenth episode of our Best Versions podcast.  

We’ve been consistent in releasing weekly episodes so far. Alhamdulillah

I pray to Allah subuhanawuta’la that this is just the beginning of an amazing journey. I plan to release at least 100 episodes, and if Allah gives me life and energy, who knows, I may end up recording more than 1000 episodes, bi’idnillah

That’s because I believe in the power of giving. The more I give, the more I’ll get back in this world and, more importantly, in the Aakhira. 

And that’s a great segue to talk about today’s fantastic tool, “generosity”.

So today, we’re going to look at how genuinely giving away will, in fact, help us achieve success not only in the Aakhira but also in this world. 

Yet, for some people, whenever they hear the word giving, it sounds like “losing”. “Oh, when I give 100 $, I lose 100$“!

But the reality is, you don’t lose when you give away because the Prophet ﷺ said in a hadith recorded in Muslim, “Giving in charity doesn’t decrease your wealth in the slightest“.

On the contrary, your wealth will increase, insha Allah. Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said, “Allah said, ‘O son of Adam! Spend, and I shall spend on you.” (Sahih al-Bukhari)

Do you have any doubt about the promise of Allah subuhanawuta’la?

So be assured that your generosity is your best investment for your Hereafter’s success. 

Yes, Islam unequivocally confirms that genuine generosity is the best form of investment for our success in the Hereafter. 

That may not be news for you. 

However, what I’m going to say next may be news for you. 

Science also confirms that giving is actually a stepping stone to our worldly success, both in business and life. 

Professor Adam Grant has an interesting take on this. He is the youngest full professor at the Wharton School of Business. And his book “Give and Take” looks at the power of giving in a highly scientific manner. In it, he says there are three fundamental styles of interacting with others: “Givers”, “Takers”, and “Matchers”.

“Takers” use other people solely for their own gain. They focus on their self-interest. “Givers”, on the other hand, focus on acting in the interests of others, even when the benefits to others exceed the cost to themselves.

Then, there is another group called “Matchers”. They operate on the principle of fairness by seeking reciprocity. So when they give something, they expect something in return, or when they take something, they give back.

His research was about finding out which style of relating is most likely to end up at the top of the success ladder. 

Any guess who the winners are? 

He says the data unequivocally shows the top performers were “givers”. They even averaged 50 per cent more annual revenue than the takers and matchers. In the short run, givers may look like they are losing, but the author says, in the long run, they are the ones who climb the ladder of success.  

Grant also says that giving can be more powerful and less dangerous than most would believe. He explains that “givers reverse the popular plan of succeeding first and giving back later, raising the possibility that those who give first are often best positioned for success later“.

Having said that, he does differentiate between successful and “failed givers”. He describes “failed givers” as those who make others better off but sacrifice their own success.

Research also says that failed givers are, in fact, at the bottom of the success ladder because they burn themselves by being a doormat for others. 

So Professor Grant says that if you want to win at life and business, be a successful giver.

Now, what does it take to be a successful giver?

According to him, we should focus on two key motivations: self-interest and other-interest.

Self-interest involves pursuing power and achievement, and other-interest focuses on being generous and helpful towards others. 

Now, how do you combine these two qualities? Adopt an “otherish” mindset. 

I had to laugh when I first saw that attribute. 

He says takers are selfish, failed givers are selfless, and successful givers are “otherish”. That is, they care about benefiting others but also have ambitious goals for advancing their own interests.

I think it’s a truly win-win situation for a successful giver. 

Perhaps, let me give you two simple examples of how this otherish mindset helps you succeed in life. 

Let’s say you are a business owner. If you adopt an ascetic selfless attitude, you’ll probably lose all your money and go bankrupt in the business. 

Why? Because you focus on others’ interests alone, without taking care of your interests. 

However, if you adopt an otherish mindset, where you combine your own goals while also truly wanting to benefit others in a big way, then it’s a win-win situation. 

In such a mindset, the goal isn’t just making a profit. Rather it’s benefiting others while also making some halal money, bi’idnillah! The more you make, the more you give. So it’s a win-win situation for you and the receiver. 

Or to provide another example. You are a teacher who is poised to make a difference in your students’ lives. You work hard 24/7, but don’t take care of yourself. You don’t sleep, eat or move well. 

What will happen to you in a few years? 

You’ll burn out. 

However, if you take care of yourself well while helping your students, you and your students win. 

That’s why I say a believer should be a lighthouse, not a candle.

Being a candle, you can give some light to others, but you are burning yourself in that selfless giving. Both you and the receiver may not benefit as much as you think. Your generosity becomes a short-term project. 

However, if you want to make your generosity a long-term project, you must become a lighthouse. Being a lighthouse means you have an abundance of energy for yourself, and you can also give an abundance of light to others. 

You don’t burn yourself by giving light to others; rather, you energize yourself so well that you’ve enough light to provide to hundreds and thousands of people. 

It’s a win-win situation for you and the receiver. However, that requires you to first work on yourself. 

And this concept is actually Islamic. 

Islam never says to abandon your or your family’s well-being while being generous. On the contrary, there is a hadith that Prophet ﷺ forbade a Shahabi who was trying to give everything in charity.

The hadith is recorded in Sahih Muslim. The narrator, Mus’ab bin Sa’d said that his father asked permission to give away all his property in his will. The Prophet ﷺ refused and allowed him to give away a maximum of one-third of his wealth.

The scholars say the reason is that your family’s rights shouldn’t be adversely affected by giving away everything. 

The goal is that you or your family shouldn’t become a taker by giving everything away because being a taker isn’t a healthy state. 

The Prophet ﷺ said: “The upper hand is better than the lower hand (he who gives is better than him who takes). One should start giving first to his dependents. And the best object of charity is that which is given by a wealthy person (from the money left after his expenses). And whoever abstains from asking others for some financial help, Allah will give him and save him from asking others, Allah will make him self-sufficient.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari)

There we go. We should aim to be successful givers while maintaining our self-sufficiency. We don’t want to end up relying on others for our needs.

So the summary of the message is, let’s strive to become successful givers. According to science, that’s what brings success in business and life. 

Let’s now switch gears and see what Islam has to say about successful givers. What do they gain in this world before the Hereafter? 

The Prophet ﷺ said that charity indeed increases your wealth.  

There is a beautiful hadith al-Qudsi that is recorded in Sahih al-Buhari; the Prophet ﷺ said that “Allah said, ‘O son of Adam! Spend, and I shall spend on you.”

Subhanallah! Imagine what happens when Allah spends on you? 

In another hadith in Muslim, the Prophet ﷺ said, 

Giving in charity doesn’t decrease your wealth in the slightest, and the person who pardons is not increased except in honour, and there is no person who is humble for the sake of Allah, except that Allah will raise his rank.” (Muslim)

But that’s not all. An angel makes du’a for you whenever you give charity,  O’ Allah! Give to the one that spends a substitute. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim).

So these are some of the rewards you receive for being generous in this world. 

However, the reward of generosity in the Aakhira is way too many to count. For the sake of brevity, let me mention just the three most important benefits of generosity in the Aakhira. 

Benefit #1: Generosity is a means for us to come closer to Allah subuhanawuta’la and achieve His love.

The Prophet ﷺ said, “Verily, Allah Almighty is magnanimous, and He loves magnanimity. He loves the highest morals, and He detests pettiness.” (Sahih  according to Al-Albani, Ḥilyat al-Awliyā’)

In another amazing hadith, the Prophet ﷺ said, “The generous one is near to Allah, near to Paradise, near to the people, and far from the Hellfire. The miserly one is far from Allah, far from Paradise, far from the people, and near to the Hellfire. An ignorant, generous person is more beloved to Allah Almighty than a stingy scholar.

(Sahih according to Al-Suyuti, At-Tirmidhi)

We all know the high status of scholars in Islam. However, a stingy scholar becomes less beloved to Allah than an ignorant generous person. 

That is truly something to ponder over! Subhanallah

If you are generous, you are aware that you give away something you like for the sake of Allah. You know, whatever you spend on His path is the greatest investment for your Aakhira. 

It also shows that your imaan is strong. You spend in expecting Allah to reward you, and you are 100% certain that you’ll be abundantly blessed in your wealth when you spend in His path. 

Benefit #2: Generosity extinguishes sin

The Prophet ﷺ said, “charity extinguishes sin, just as water extinguishes fire.” (At-Tirmidhi)

Benefit #3: Generosity protect you from the fire of Hell

The Prophet ﷺ said, “save yourself from Hell-fire even by giving half a date in charity.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari) 

As I said, the benefits of generosity are way too many. However, I hope these three most tremendous benefits should inspire us to be more generous in our life. 

Also, we talk about moving from average to excellence, right? 

So it’s not befitting for us to be stingy in any way. 

That’s why in another beautiful hadith, Abu Hurayrah reported Allah’s Messenger ﷺ as saying, “The believer is simple and generous, but the wicked person is deceitful and ignoble.” (Hasan, Sunan Abi Dawud)

It’s as simple as that. The believer is simple and generous. He is not stingy. 

This reminds me of what Hasan al-Basri said when asked about good character. He said, “Good character is generosity, charitable giving, and loving-kindness towards people.”  

So a believer is someone who takes care of others by whatever means possible. 

That’s why the Prophet ﷺ said, “The believer is not the one who eats when his neighbour beside him is hungry” (Al-Adab Al-Mufrad)

Let’s insha Allah raise our bars and try harder to be more generous in our life. 

Especially now, when we are approaching the last ten days of Ramadan, being generous is more befitting and important. 

Our ultimate role model and most beloved person, the Prophet ﷺ was the most charitable person on the face of this earth. No one before him and no one after him will be able to be as generous as he. He gave basically everything he owned to others. 

That’s why when ibn Abbas was asked about the most memorable quality of the Prophet ﷺ, the first thing he said was that the Prophet ﷺ was extremely charitable. 

In an authentic hadith that is recorded in Bukhari and Muslim, Ibn Abbas said, “The Messenger of Allah was the most generous of all people, and he used to reach the peak of his generosity in the month of Ramadan. He was more generous than a strong uncontrollable wind [in readiness and would haste to do charitable deeds].” (Sahih Bukhari and Muslim)

And he was a man of giving in his entire life. 

What did the Khadeeja radiyallah anhu say when the Prophet ﷺ ran to her with fear, when he received the first revelation? 

The first thing she said was, “Nay! But receive the good tidings! By Allah, Allah will never disgrace you, for, by Allah, you keep good relations with your Kith and kin, speak the truth, help the poor and the needy, entertain your guests generously and assist those who are stricken with calamities.” (Sahih Buhari)

The Prophet ﷺ was generous in every imaginable way, and he was a man of giving from very early on.

If we want to walk in his footsteps, we should do everything to maximise our efforts to be more charitable this month. 

Allah subuhanawuta’la in His Endless Mercy rewards us seventy times more for our charities in Ramadan than on any other day. So there is no better month than Ramadan to be charitable. 

As you probably know, charity isn’t just spending your money. It comes in many other forms too. 

So, today I want to share five practical tips with you to increase your charity in Ramadan. 

#1. Create a list of things you can donate to the needy – It can be money, but it can also be food, clothes, books or anything beneficial to the needy. 

#2. Give iftar to the fasting person – The Prophet ﷺ said: “Whoever helps break the fast of a fasting person, he will have the same reward as him without decreasing anything from the reward of the fasting person”. (At-Tirmidhi)

When inviting others for iftar, it doesn’t need to be a lavish banquet. Even small things count, a fruit or a date or whatever you can afford. Allah rewards a person according to his ability and intention. 

#3. Give to causes that will outlast you (Sadaqah Jariyah) – Although there is no set rule as to where you should be donating your money, it’s definitely a good idea to put your money where you will get more rewards. 

Just as we want the best deals when shopping, why don’t we get the best deal out of our charity? Water wells, masjids and orphan sponsorships are excellent places to start.

#4. Help your immediate family – As important as giving Sadaqah to others, do not neglect your family, for they have more right over you. We may have distant or even close family members who could be struggling to make ends meet. The Prophet ﷺ would always look after his family first as they have a greater right than others.

#5. Set your intention straight – Did you know that feeding your family, i.e. spouse and children, is a form of Sadaqah? Set your intentions straight to get an abundance of rewards, insha Allah! 

Make sure to purify your intention, again and again. Why are you being generous? Is it truly for the sake of Allah, or do you want to be praised for what you give away? 

Listen to this authentic hadith from Sahih Muslim. 

Abu Dharr reported that the Prophet ﷺ said, “There are three to whom Allah will not speak on the Day of Resurrection: one who does not give anything in charity unless his generosity is praised, a hypocrite who sells goods upon a false oath, and one who trails his garment in pride.”

May Allah subuhanawuta’la help us purify our intention every time we do good deeds.

And I also pray that Allah subuhanawuta’la accepts every little generosity and rewards us abundantly. 

So that’s all from me today. 

If you want to read the transcript of this podcast, you can find it at https://bestversions.me/podcasts/10. 

Thanks so very much for listening to my podcast. I sincerely pray that this episode helps you go from average to excellence in worship, energy, love and legacy. 

And last but not least, please subscribe to my podcast, and share the podcast with your family and friends. I’m confident you can make a difference in others’ lives by sharing this information with them.

Until we meet in the next episode insha Allah next Friday, I pray that Allah subuhanawuta’la showers his choicest blessings on you and your family. 

And let me end the podcast with the greetings of Jannah, Asssalamu Alaikum Warahmathullahi Wabarakathuhu.