(267) يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ أَنفِقُواْ مِن طَيِّبَاتِ مَا كَسَبْتُمْ وَمِمَّا أَخْرَجْنَا لَكُم مِّنَ الأَرْضِ وَلاَ تَيَمَّمُواْ الْخَبِيثَ مِنْهُ تُنفِقُونَ وَلَسْتُم بِآخِذِيهِ إِلاَّ أَن تُغْمِضُواْ فِيهِ وَاعْلَمُواْ أَنَّ اللّهَ غَنِيٌّ حَمِيدٌ
267. "O' you who have Faith! spend (in charity) of the good things that you have earned, and of what We produce for you from the earth, and do not aim at what is bad to spend thereof (in charity) while you yourselves would not accept it except that you connive at it, and know that Allah is Self-Sufficient, Praiseworthy. "
The Occasion of Revelation:
It is narrated from Imam Sadiq (a.s.) that this verse was revealed about a group of people who had earned some wealth from usury at the Age of Ignorance. They usually spent out from it in charity in the way of Allah. Allah (s.w.t.) prohibited them from that action and commanded them to spend out in charity from the good property they had earned.
In Majma'-ul-Bayan Fi Tafsir-il-Qur'an, next to narrating this tradition, it quotes from Amir-ul- Mu'mineen Ali (a.s.) who said: "This verse has been revealed about those who used to mix the dry and bony dates with good dates when they wanted to spend in charity."(1) They were, therefore, commanded not to do that action.
These two occasions of revelation are never contradictory with each other. The verse may have been revealed upon both groups, when one of which is due to spiritual goodness and the other concerns to the appearance and material goodness.
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(1) Majma'-ul- Bayan, Vol. 2, P. 380
What Kind of Property Can Be Given in Charity ?
In the previous verses, the effects of charity, the qualities of givers of charity, and the deeds that may corrupt this godly action and ruin its reward were pointed out. In this verse, the quality of the property, which is to be spent in charity, is explained. In the first phrase of the verse, Allah commands believing people to spend from good of their wealth.
The term /tayyib/, the plural of which is /tayyibat/, in philology means: good, pleasant and agreeable'. This meaning refers to both spiritual and material purity; i.e. to be clean inwardly and outwardly. That is, that part of wealth might be given in charity that is good, useful, and valuable. It must be free from any dubiosity and pollution, either. The above mentioned occasions of revelation attest to the generality of this meaning, too.
The phrase: "...while you yourselves would not accept it except that you connive at it,..." can not be taken as an evidence that the objective meaning here is exclusively outward of cleanliness, because the believing persons also might not accept the things which are apparently polluted or worthless, as well as the doubtful and disapproved materials, but with conniving at it and dislike.
The Qur'anic phrase: /ma kasabtum/ 'that you have earned' refers to the commercial incomes, while the phrase: /mimma axrajna / 'what We produce' refers to the incomes earned from farming, mines and subterranean sources. Thus, it envelops all the kinds of income, because the source of all incomes of man is often from the earth and its different issues . Even, the origin of industries, trades, and the like of them all is the ground. However, this sentence indicates that all these merits are given you by Allah. Therefore, you ought not spare spending a part of it in charity in the way of Allah.
yourselves would not accept it except that you connive at it, ..."
Some of people have the habit of spending out in charity mostly from the worthless and worn out things that they do not use any longer themselves. This kind of charities are neither effective in growing spiritual training of the essence of humanity in the giver of charity, nor is so useful to the needy. It can be counted sort of disgrace and scorn unto them, too.
This sentence explicitly prohibits Muslims from doing that. It says how they spend in charity from those things which they themselves do not like to accept, but hatefully. Must their Muslim brothers, and beyond that, the Lord, in Whose way they spend out in charity, be considered, in their view, lower than themselves ?
Indeed, the verse points to a precise fact. It is that the charities given in the way of Allah have two ends. On one end there are the needy ones, and on the other end there is Allah, for Whose sake the charity is spent. In this case, if the charity is taken from the low and worthless things, from one hand, it is counted an aspertion to the high rank of the Lord that the giver of charity has not regarded Him eligible for a 'good' thing . On the other hand, it is a disgrace to the needy ones who, in spite of their poverty, mostly have a high level of faith and humanhood, whose soul may be injured because of such a disagreeable charity.
By the way, it should be noted that the term /la tayammamu / ' do not aim ' may be a hint to this fact that can be something of undemanded quality which unattentively is given among the material spent in charity. This aspect is not involved in the contents of this statement. The statement is about those who intentionally accomplish it.
This sentence intends to say that you must be aware that the Lord in Whose way you spend in charity is the One Who never needs your charity, and Who is worthy of all praise. It is He Who has bestowed the whole bounties upon you.
The term /hamid /, 'praiseworthy, may be used in the sense of 'adorer'; i.e., while He is Self-Sufficient, He adores the charities you spend. Therefore, do try to spend out from good things in charity.