You will not be a believer unless your love for Allah and His Messenger is above all other love, and that your desires, motivations and thoughts are according to the message. Think of those you love and obey in this world – your love and obedience to Allah must be above these, such that you even put your own desires aside for what Allah wants.
Abdullah ibn Hisham (RA) reported: We were with the Messenger of Allah (SAW, and he was holding the hand of 'Umar ibn Al-Khattab. 'Umar said to him, “O Messenger of Allah, you are more beloved to me than everything but myself.” The Prophet said, “No, by the one in whose hand is my soul, until I am more beloved to you than yourself.” 'Umar said, “Indeed, I swear by Allah that you are more beloved to me now than myself.” The Prophet said, “Now you are right, O 'Umar.” (Bukhari)
These Companions exemplified the message. They did not study Islam for the sake of academic titles, but rather to live out its message in their daily dealings. Similarly, we must be ready and willing at all times to serve Allah with our money, time and energy.
Allah has posed the following question:
"So, have you seen him who has taken his desires as his god, and Allah has let him go astray, despite having knowledge, and has sealed his ear and his heart, and put a cover on his eye> Now who will guide him after Allah? Still, do you not take lesson?" (Al Jathiya verse 23)
How many of us attend one Islamic study circle after another, find the talks entertaining and then carry on with our lives without a single dot of improvement? How many of us attend tazkirah but when asked to extend a hand or commit something for the sake of Allah, we turn a deaf ear or make excuses? How many of us would refuse a good deed because we have to send our children to dance classes or friends' birthday parties, and simply don't want to make the time? We have come across Muslims who are willing to spend thousands on their children's music and ballet classes, but when asked, are averse to spending even one dollar to buy provisions for the poor.
Consider how much of our time and income we spend on Allah in proportion to our other activities in life. Calculate how much we allocate a year on ourselves, families, dunia, material life, tuition fees, savings, mortgages, car repayments and vacations, and children's trust funds, relative to how much we spend for Allah. These figures will emphasise our willingness to sacrifice our earnings for Allah. Now use this formula for how you spend your time.
When we fail to give for the sake of Allah, we are not depriving Allah in the least. Allah is self-sufficient – He is the one who provides for us, and is not in need of our donations. We are not denying the poor when we refuse to give, because their provision is from Allah through the tools and means He elects. We are effectively denying ourselves and our families the benefits of the rewards from Allah, and all the accumulation and unspent amounts will destroy us in this life and the hereafter.
Once in the realm of the afterlife, we would wish to return to this life, so that we can re-live it by performing good deeds and spending generously. However, by then it will be too late. We only live once, the second chances only happen when we are alive, and there is no turning back the clock after the angel of death takes our souls.
Sacrificing for Allah is the clear choice for the rightfully guided. However, because of their distance from Allah, some people are so blind they cannot spend. They calculate every penny, and are tight fisted. A dollar in the path of Allah causes them enormous discomfort, because they are spiritually impoverished. Even if they received a gift of one million dollars, they would hoard it for their future because they fear poverty above the promise of Allah. They do not have the ability to give to Allah or for the sake of Allah, ultimately to their own detriment.
Remember that all your wealth is a trust from Allah. How come you are willing to spend on luxury brands for your children, but your stomach tightens when spending for Allah? How can you spend a hundred dollars on an evening out at the movies with the family, and think that ten dollars is too much to spend on charity? Imagine how tongue tied you will be trying to explain it to Allah!