The early Muslims made monumental sacrifices for Islam, and one of the clearest examples is the emigration or Hijrah. The Muslims of Mekah (the Muhajireen) were commanded to emigrate to Madinah for protection from their persecutors and to forward the propagation of Islam. They were forced to abandon everything that they could not carry with them – their houses, crops, cattle, wells and date trees, including their potential income from these.
Take time to grasp the magnitude. Imagine that you have to vacate your only house, and you can only pack what you can fit in your bag. How will you feel about all the family heirlooms, clothes and furniture that you have to leave behind? Would you leave the comfort of your home with just what you can carry if Allah commanded you to do so? Once the Muhajireen evacuated Mekah, the property they left behind was confiscated by the Quraysh. The Muhajireen no longer had access to their precious property and income – in other words, all their rights were violated by the Quraysh.
Today, would we be able to uproot ourselves for Allah? Or would we linger behind, because we are worried about the car payments, strangers occupying our abandoned houses, and the inability to pay for our children's college fees? Would we willingly live in an unknown and dangerous location for the sake of Allah (note that Madinah at the time was a dirty, violent and disease infested town)?
Meanwhile, Allah tested the Ansari, who were the residents of Madinah, to share their wealth with the Muhajireen. It is noted that most of the Ansari were not wealthy either, but they were commanded to share half their capital and land, and even marry off their women, with the Muhajireen in order to help them establish themselves in the new society.
What if we were commanded today to distribute half of our life savings for the sake of Allah? Would we gladly submit, or would we worry about our loans, children's education and fear poverty? Look at the global refugee crisis and the Muslim diaspora. Are we willing to spend even one per cent of our income to sponsor a Muslim refugee for a year? Would we be willing to accept a refugee into our own homes or societies? Many of us are happy to pass on links for donation appeals, but how many of us sincerely dig into our pockets to support the very links we are spreading?
This was a colossal sacrifice on the part of the Ansari, but the sincere ones rose to the challenge. They gave up what was beloved to them without a second thought, even when some of them were in need themselves, purely for the love of Allah and His messenger.
And [also for] those who were settled in al-Madinah and [adopted] the faith before them. They love those who emigrated to them and find not any want in their breasts of what the emigrants were given but give [them] preference over themselves, even though they are in privation. And whoever is protected from the stinginess of his soul - it is those who will be the successful. (Al Hashr, verse 9)
I remember a mother, recounting years later, that she always told her children that she loved the bony parts of the chicken. It was not true, but she did it so that her children would eat the delicious and fleshy bits and leave the bones to her. She could not afford more, so she gave them the best of what the household expenses could afford and sacrificed her portion, without making them feel guilty about it.
The indication of love is sacrificing for your beloved to gain the pleasure of the one you love. This is true of every single relationship that we cherish. Everyone will be tested according to what they have, whether time money or ability.
The Qur'an repeatedly reminds us about the trade or transaction with Allah, where in exchange for our belongings and effort as the purchase price, Allah will grant us a piece of jannah.
Some merchants are so trustworthy that we give them full upfront payment because we trust that he will deliver the merchandise. What about Allah? Is there one more trustworthy than Allah? If you believe in His promise, when you transact with Him, would you doubt Allah's ability to deliver your portion of jannah once you have paid your upfront portion in dunia? In the case of the honest merchant, events might occur that he is not able to deliver – such as death, illness, failed crops etc. But in the case of Allah, His promise is true – and various passages of the Qur'an state this loud and clear.
Allah in His wisdom, to allay any anxiety when asking us to part with our wealth, talks about the "goodly loan" to Allah (which is to spend in the path of Allah). Similarly, the way we lend to a trusted borrower, with Allah, we do not need to doubt His ability to repay us in akhirah.
"Who is he that will lend to Allah a goodly loan, then (Allah) will increase it manifold to his credit (in repaying), and he will have (besides) a good reward (i.e. Paradise)." (Al Hadid, verse 11)
However, even more importantly, whatever amount we are repaid with will be hundreds of times over that what we have "lent" to Allah. In this life, a brilliant investment manager might give you a yield of 20 or 30 percent, if you're lucky. In the case of Allah, the starting point is 700 times your original principal, which shall be repaid to you in jannah. Is there anyone on earth who can guarantee these kinds of returns?
"The example of those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah is like a seed [of grain] which grows seven spikes; in each spike is a hundred grains. And Allah multiplies [His reward] for whom He wills. And Allah is all-Encompassing and Knowing." (Al Baqarah, verse 261)
Alternatively, if you don't enter into that important transaction with Allah, the same purchase price will be channelled to dunia and to Shaitan. If so, you will redirect Allah's bounty to the enemy of Allah and become an oppressor against yourself.
Allah has provided His advice, but also gave us the complete freedom to implement or ignore it. Love of Allah has to come from within, and cannot be threatened or coerced. But the rest is up to you, and whatever you choose will bear corresponding consequences.