On the Etiquettes of Giving and Receiving Gifts
Gift is a form of transaction in a civilized society. The holy Prophet has laid a great stress on it in his Traditions and indicated that it is helpful in the promotion of mutual love and affection and conducive to the growth of friendly relations which, doubtlessly, are a great blessing.
A gift is an offering made as a token of goodwill, and with the object of making the other man happy and winning the good graces of the Lord. If the present is made to anyone younger in age, it is a gesture of affection; if to a friend, it is a means of strengthening the bond of love; if to a needy person, it is a source of solace and comfort; and if to a superior, it is a mark of regard and respect.
In case something is given to anyone for the sake of God and with the intention of earning the reward of the Hereafter, considering him to be poor and indigent, it will be charity (Sadqa), not a gift (Hadiya). It is only when an offering is meant to be an expression of love and fellow feeling, and, through it, the good pleasure of the Lord is to be sought, that it becomes a girt. If, however, a gift is made with sincerity, the reward, on it, is no .Jess than on charity, and, sometimes, even greater. It was owing to this difference between Hadiya and Sadqa that the holy Prophet accepted a Hadiya (gift) with prayer and thankfulness and made use of it, while in case of a Sadqa (charity), his practice was that though he accepted it, too, with gratitude and blessed the giver, he did not use it himself, but gave to others.
Unfortunately, the habit of giving presents to one another, with an earnest heart, is fast disappearing among the Muslims, as a whole, and though it is still done, to some extent, in relation to holy men, it is seldom that one offers a gift to a friend, relative or neighbour despite the fact that it is an unfailing recipe handed down to us by the Apostle of God of happiness and good social relations and a sure means to earning the countenance of the Lord.
(1) It is related by Ayesha that the Apostle of God said: “Exchange presents with one another. Presents remove ill-will from the hearts.”
(2) Abu Hurairah relates, saying that the Apostle of God said: “Give presents to one another. Presents remove malice from the hearts, and a female neighbour should not regard the gift of a part of the feet of a goat to another female neighbour as of no value.”
(3) Narrates Ayesha that “the practice of the Apostle of God was that he accepted a gift and offered (one) himself in return for it.
(4) It is related by Jabir that the Apostle of God said: “If a present is made to anyone, and he has something to give in return, he should offer it, and if he has nothing to give (in return), he should praise him (by way of gratitude), and say a good word in his behalf. Whoever did it, fulfilled the claim of gratitude, and whoever did not. And concealed a favour (done to him), was guilty of ingratitude, and whoever flaunts a virtue that, has not been granted to him is like a man who wears a double croak of deception.”
– Tirmizi and Abu Dawood
(5) It is related by Abu Hurairah that the Apostle of God said: “Whoever failed to give thanks to anyone who did a favour to him failed to give thanks to God.”
– Musnad-i-Ahmad and Tirmizi
(6) It is related by Osama bin laid that the Apostle of God said: “Whoever did a favour to anyone and the recipient prayed for his benefactor, saying Jazaak Allah Khaira (May Allah give thee a good reward for it), he (the recipent), also, praised him fully (through it).”
(7) Anas related to us that when the Apostle of God migrated to Medina, (and the Mahajirs had an experience of the hospitality and unselfishness of the Ansars), they, one day, said to the Apostle: “We have not seen people like them, i.e., the Ansars of Medina anywhere, (They spend generously on us) if they are well-provided, and even those that are not in good condition help us and take care of our needs. They have taken all the responsibility for toil and labour upon themselves, and, (yet), made us a sharer in the profits. (As a result of the unique self-denial and liberality on their part), we fear that they took all the reward and recompense, (and we remained empty-handed in the Hereafter).” “No,” the Apostle of God replied. “It will not be so as long as you pray for them and express a sincere appreciation (of their goodness and magnanimity).”
(8) It is related by Abu Hurairah that the Apostle of God said: “Whoever is offered a sweet-smelling flower should accept it, and not reject it because it is a very ordinary thing. Its fragrance is a thing of joy.”
(9) It is related by Abdullah bin Omar that the Apostle of God said: “There are three things which, particularly, should not be refused: a pillow, oil (used for applying to hair etc.,) and milk.”
(10) (Both) Abdullah bin Omar and Abdullah bin Abbas related to us, saying that the Apostle of God said: “It is not proper for anyone of you to offer something to a person, as a gift, and, then, claim it back. Of course, if a father gives anything to his children, he is exempted from it. (He can take it back) for a father has every kind of claim on his children.” (Explaining the wretchedness of the act), the Apostle of God, further, observed that “whoever claims back a gift, after giving it, is like the dog who ate something and when its stomach was filled to capacity, vomited it, and ate up the vomit.”
– Abu Dawood, Tirmizi, Nissai and Ibn-i-Maja
(11) It is related by Jabir that the Apostle of God said: “Gifts (accepted by) the ruler are Ghuloo1, i.e., an excess and a transgression. (It is similar, in a way, to bribery, embezzlement and oppression).”
(12) It is related by Umama that the Apostle of God said: “Whoever interceded for anyone, and the person on behalf of whom he interceded made him a present, in consideration of the intercession, and he accepted the present, was guilty of a worst form of usury.”
– Abu Dawood