Saturday, September 17, 2011

Really hard to say 'no' to someone

Is it easy to refuse to help someone?

Is it easy to say 'no'? Does it give us a sense of power to refuse someone's request or appeal or cry for help? Having that power or ability is a heavy responsibility. It doesn't have to be something very important but if we have to make a decision it may mean responsibility and accountability in some cases.

Like when students appeal for scholarships, people who ask for credit because they need to put food on the table for their children, people who cannot pay for their car instalments though they need the car for their work.

Why do I accept this responsibility?

Some of us take on the challenge or rather, burden of accepting donations and zakat contributions from friends. They ask us to distribute them to genuine needy cases, people who do not know how to apply for help at official avenues, such as Bait ulmal or the local religions departments. We do this because we are seeking Allah's pleasure and rewards.

Great Responsibility

It is such a heavy responsibility. It feels real bad to say no to someone when we do actually have some cash in our pocket for charity. If its for zakat we need to make sure its given to the eligible recepients or else we are guilty of misappropriating the funds. If its just normal charity then we can give to anybody, even those who are not yet Muslim. Or obvious non believers, in the hope it can alleviate their hardship and soften their hearts. Just any needy person.

A lot of tension in trying to say 'no'

The past few days I had been getting many sms from 2 particular persons. Among the many people we distributed zakat and seqedah, these two received the most, perhaps 4 times as much as some others. I gave them my own and my family's zakat and sedeqah. Since its my own contribution I felt free to give to whoever I want. I gave to them because I know them and really feel sorry for their difficult situation. As they do not earn much and have so many responsibilities, once is never enough.

Besides that I also gave when I received extra from friends. In Ramadhan both of them were recommended to receive zakat from a bank, via an ngo. They claimed they received only rm500 and not rm1000 which I was led to believe.

It is still a huge amount, considering most of the others received only perhaps rm200 for the whole of Ramadhan, except for the 10 or so people who probably all received rm500. This is certainly much more than one can ever hope for from Bait ulmal during Ramadhan. They have to give a lot more to many thousands of people.

A great deal of whining?

It sounds a lot of whining but what I am trying to say is its really stressful when these people keep on asking for more and more even through Shawal. They feel that they have a right to receive and so they are very persistent.

It is good to help whenever they genuinely need assistance but that is the duty of Bait ulmal, the official body that collects zakat from all over the country. We are just individuals who try to help out in a small way.

If we have only rm1000 for distribution, and there are 50 people out there, what can we do? RM100 cannot pay for much these days. I realise its not much help but its still a means to meeting some expenses. Even I have to juggle my own expenses each month and who do I go for help?

What reason do I need?

When I still have extra zakat and sedeqah in my purse, I feel I ought to give it to them because they genuinely need it. Yes, I can give it for that reason.

But what about the many others whom I just discovered? Many of them also have good reasons why they need the extra help. And they did not ask or bother their friends about their money problems.

A test from Allah

In Islam we are supposed to seek out such humble and dignified people and offer them help. They try their best not to burden others and are shy to put their hands out to receive. Alhamdulidllah! They still accept their hardship with patience and carry on working and striving to improve their livelihood. They know it is all a test from Allah to see who are best in their deeds and action.

Dignified in times of calamity

Dignified even in hardship. How I admire such patient people. May Allah help them and reward them.

Do I need to toughen myself up?

Should I say 'no' to those who insist on asking for more all the time? Should I think of their poor innocent kids and relent? Or should I toughen myself up and keep on saying 'no' so that I can extend a helping hand to some other brother and sister?

Giving In is easy

Or should I just give, because we are supposed to help anyone who asks for help? Do we want for our brother what we want for ourselves? If I can afford to have a proper meal daily, should I decide to deprive my brother the right? If I give it to A, am I fair to B and C and D?

I had to say 'no' to two people today

Today I had to say no to two persons. They had received the most zakat and sedeqah for the whole of Ramadhan. Including the bank zakat ,they must have received around Rm1500 each, not counting zakat from other ngos etc. Yet they are the only ones who are asking again and again in Shawal. I feel very disturbed and sad to say no but I am thinking of some stranger who is out there, crying to Allah and waiting for someone to stretch out his or her hand to help someone in need. It may be someone whom we can motivate and show that someone cares.

Different situations, different needs

Many women with children need help because the husband left them, or had fallen ill, or lost his job and business. Today a friend mentioned a lorry driver who lost his lorry and business suddenly. He has 5 children to support. Another lady has a useless and mean revert husband who beat her and ate from her earnings and yet did not appreciate her at all. Yet another revert is in depression because the husband is irresponsible. A revert brother who has 9 kids had been in hospital because of heart trouble. All these people need help too. if I try to help A, what about B, C and D?

Is helping people spoiling them? Don't we spoil our loved ones?

Is that the same? Or different?

Had I been spoiling the both of them for the past many years until they become so dependant ? I know they also received zakat from others but they cleverly kept quiet about it. Now they want more, sometimes for genuine reasons but the point is they did not plan wisely and save for their needs. Telling me to pity his two daughters because he could not pay their bus fare for sekolah agama is supposed to make me feel guilty. Yes, I do feel extremely guilty. He succeded the last time when I gave in to his demands.

He is repeating it again. Many people earn about the same and yet did not get any extra help from friends. They still managed. They survived and they did not have to resort to multiple sms requests and reminders to put money into their bank accounts via atm.

Yes, they do not even bother to come to ask. Its all via sms and telling us which bank to go to.All of them have different banks, and I have to accommodate. It never occurred to them that we are only volunteers and do not have the time to drive all over the place to find parking etc. I have two personal cheques that needs to be banked into my own account for weeks and I still have not found time to do it. Yet I have to do it for them on demand. Ironic isn't it?

Mental Strain

I do feel mentally tired by all this. To make it easy I guess I will just have to give the whole amount that's been entrusted to one single needy person and not bother to answer such sms demands for some time.

Sometimes someone may say things like their family situation is so bad, all the burden is on them, children are disobedient and husband manipulative, on and on. Whenever I say no they say they feel like ending their lives because they see no future or way out.

Like a vicious circle I have to advise them and hope they do not do anything really foolish or desperate. Reverts have no help or support. They do not know where else to go. I am just afraid if I did not respond I may have to answer for my lack of response. How am I going to live with that? A great challenge and test....

I need to take time out.


  1. Salam Sis.

    There is a saying that goes; "It is easier to mold children than to mend broken men.".

    One can also get weary, because by saying yes, it drains you, physically, mentally, financially and at times, spiritually.

    In the end one has to let them know that Allah will not help them if they would not help themselves. To break that cycle, they must make the effort to improve themselves and possibly, to eventually become one of those who help others instead.

  2. Sad to say, the same old people are singing the same old song. They just do not seem to want to seriously change their lives or have fallen so many times that they have forgotten how to be independant again.

    I feel sorry for them as they do not aspire to become different, they just want to survive.