Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "The example of a miser and the one who give in charity is like the example of two persons wearing iron cloaks on them from their breasts to their collar bones, and when the one who gives in charity wants to give in charity, the cloak becomes capacious till it covers his whole body to such an extent that it hides his fingertips and covers his footprints (obliterates his tracks).And when the miser wants to spend, it (the iron cloak) sticks and every ring gets stuck to its place and he tries to widen it, but it does not become wide." (1)


Explanation of vocabulary (2)

(wearing iron cloaks on them) It means armor.

Explanation of the Hadith:

Al Khattaby and others said: This is an example given by the Prophet (peace be upon him) for the miser and the charitable person whom he compared to two men who want to wear armors to protect them from their enemies. So, they began to wear the armors starting with the head down to the chest until one person was able to put his arms therein. The Prophet (peace be upon him) likened the one who gives in charity with the one who wears an armor that covers his chest as well as his entire body. However, the miser is like a man whose hands were tied to his neck and whenever he tries to wear it, it sticks to his neck. The meaning is that when the one who gives in charity intends to give a charity, his chest becomes wide and happy and he loves charity, whereas when the miser intends to give in charity, his self becomes miser, his chest becomes narrow, and his hands become tightened.

Al Muhallab said: The meaning is that Allah guards the one who gives in charity in this world and in the Hereafter unlike the miser whom Allah exposes to the people.

It was said that the Hadith is a comparison between the growth of money by charity and miserliness. It was also said: It is a comparison between generosity and miserliness, and when the spender gives in charity, his hands become generous and he gets used to that, however if he refuses to give in charity, it will become a habit. At-Tayyib said: The Prophet (peace be upon him) compared charity to iron in order to illustrate that miserliness is one of the dispositions of man, and compared the one who gives in charity to the generous in contrast to the miser to show that generosity is commanded and exhorted to by the Law-Giver. (3)


Lessons gained from the Hadith:

1- The Hadith shows the condition of the one who gives in charity as well as the condition of the miser because the chest of the giver is pleased with charity, but the miser feels sad about it, his chest becomes tight, his hands refuse to pay it, so he is like the one whose hands are tied to his neck.

2- The money of the one who gives in charity grows and is blessed, whereas the money of the miser is decreased and afflicted with calamities or may be a cause for his misfortune.

3- The legitimacy of wearing an armor in war and explaining that wearing it is not against reliance on Allah because that was authentically proven by the Prophet's action.

4- The excellence of charity and spending in charitable ways and dispraising miserliness and stinginess.

Ibn Al Qayyim said: "When the miser was prevented to give in charity by his nature, his punishment was as the same as his action. So, his chest is tight and always sad, little joy, much sadness, distress, and worry; rarely his needs are met, and does not receive help from the people. So, he is like a man wearing an iron cloak and his hands were tied to his neck where he cannot get them out or move them. Whenever he wants to get them out or wants to expand this cloak, its iron rings become stuck; likewise the miser when he wants to give in charity, his miserliness prevents him from doing so, thus his heart remains locked as it is.

Whenever the charitable person gives in charity, his chest becomes wide and happy, so his armor or cloak becomes wide whenever he spends for charity. If there is no benefit in charity except this quality, the person should give more and more in charity and hasten to it. Allah (may He be Exalted) says: "And whosoever is saved from his own covetousness, such are they who will be the successful." [Surat Al Hashr: 9]. (4)

(1) Sahih Al Bukhari No. (1443) and Sahih Muslim No. (1021).

(2) Fathul-Bary of Ibn Hajar, 3/ 306, An-Nihayah Fi Gharib Al Hadith,1/495.

(3) Fathul-Bary of Ibn Hajar Al `Asqalany, 3/306 - 307.

(4) Al Wabil As-Sayyib 1 / 49. 

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