In the Quranic verse 57:10 Allah (swt) says:
‘And what is the matter with you that you spend not in the Cause of Allah? And to Allah belongs the heritage of the Heavens and the earth. Not equal amongst you are those who spent and fought before the conquering (of Makkah) (with those amongst you who did so later). Such are higher in degree than those who spent and fought afterwards. But to all Allah has promised the best reward’.
In this Quranic verse Allah (swt) has Commanded us again to spend in His Way. Prior to the Conquest of Makkah, the Muslims were in a minority and they were not well-established. Their financial position was weak and therefore, they were quite weak as a community.
In such circumstances, spending and struggling in the Way of Allah (swt) was a Herculean task. However, this dismal scenario changed after the Conquest of Makkah. The later Muslims were better placed in the society and their population also grew by leaps and bounds. In the above mentioned Quranic verse Allah (swt) says that the charity or struggle done by the Muslims belonging to these two (diametrically opposite) phases cannot be the same. The Muslims who had accepted Islam during its infancy stage had to face lots of adversities and challenges. Yet they obediently followed the Commands of Allah (swt) of spending and struggling in the way of Islam despite all hardships.
This verse also shows that the people who are noble and virtuous in their deeds should be given a higher status than the rest. This is the reason why Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddique (ra) is considered to be most superior amongst all the men after the Prophets. Prophet Mohammad (saw) had chosen Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddique (ra) to lead the prayers in his place when he could not longer do so, during his last illness. Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddique (ra) was the one who accompanied the Prophet (saw) in the cave of Thawr where both of them had taken refuge before leaving for Medinah. So it is due to his most superior service to Islam that Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddique (ra) was chosen as the first Caliph.
This verse shows that though Allah (swt) shall Reward every Muslim who spends in His Way but the ranks of those people who follow Islam in adversities, difficulties or in a hostile environment will be higher than those who follow the Commands of Allah (swt) in a favorable environment.
In the present times, when materialism has crept into the society and has given birth to negative traits such as selfishness, cut-throat competition and lust for more wealth, offering a donation to a charitable institution or offering help to someone in need is also a greatly rewarding deed. Giving away money out of one’s wealth for donation, in the present day society, is indeed going against the tide, and therefore, more rewarding because materialism teaches the people to become egotists.