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Etiquette of Giving/Receiving Gifts
I have a question in case any Muslim knows the answer to this.
I'll try to make the story short .......about a year ago, a brother at our
masjid gave me a pair
of new coveralls, I don't know why, I would never wear them-
but I accepted them thankfully. Last Friday at Jummah, this brother
asked me about them. I had to admit to him that I had appreciated
them, but a long time after I had given them to a guy in my apartment
building who could use them at his work, and he really appreciated them.
Well, the brother was very angry and said in Islamic custom you never,
never give away a gift without first checking with the person who gave it to you.
I said I was sorry and didn't know. He called it something in Arabic and said it
carried a very heavy punishment in Islam. The brother was extremely angry.
I'm sure I broke some Arab tradition but does anyone know the ruling on this?
Jakak Allah khair.
- Yusuf, 23 May 2004
There is no basis in Islam for the behavior demonstrated by that brother. It is not correct that one who receives a gift will need the permission of the giver if he wants to give that gift to someone else. A gift is something that one gives out without seeking anything in return or putting any condition on it. Otherwise, this is not a gift but a transaction. A person who is making a gift, must have a pure and sincere intention that he/she is giving it out as a good gesture without excepting anything in return. The moment he gives it out, the receiver becomes its sole owner who can do anything with it as he/she wishes. The giver cannot ask for that gift to be returned to him or put any other condition on it. The Prophet (p) said:
"One who takes back his gift is like a dog that swallows its vomit." (Bukhari)
On the other hand, your behavior was praiseworthy as you have done the right thing in every step. Islam teaches us that when someone gives one a gift, he/she should accept it thankfully no matter how insignificant that gift might be. The Prophet (p) said:
"I shall accept the invitation even if I were invited to a meal of a sheep's trotter (i.e. fleshless part of legs), and I shall accept the gift even if it were an arm or a trotter of a sheep." (Bukhari)
In another hadith, he said:
"O Muslim women! None of you should look down upon the gift sent by her neighbor even if it were the trotters of the sheep." (Bukhari)
A further good thing you have done is by giving away the garment to one who will find it useful. You did not have a need for it, and thus it is better that it be given to someone who needs it or will find some use for it. You will have double reward from Allah (swt) – first, for accepting the gift and thanking him, and second, for giving it out to another person as a gift.
The Prophet (p) himself accepted gifts and then gave them out to others as gifts. There are quite a few examples of this in the hadith. He once received some cloaks as gifts and then distributed them out among his companions. In one case, he received a gift and gave it out immediately.
Therefore, please rest assured that you have not done anything wrong.
It will be better if you can politely correct the brother’s understanding in the light of what we have discussed above.
- Mushfiqur Rahman, 23 May 2004
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