“And who spend unrequitedly from both the physical and spiritual sustenance of life that We have provided for them for the sake of Allah.”
The word ‘sustenance’ has a very broad meaning, entailing all things that can be eaten, used, consumed and benefitted from, as well as one’s children, partner, work, knowledge and spiritual states…
Charity (infak) on the other hand means to spend from yourself to give to another. There are two types of charity. The first is to spend from the sustenance that you’ve been given, whatever portion it may be… The second type is defined as ‘albirra’, which the following verse references:
“Never will you experience the essence of reality (albirra) until you unrequitedly give away that which you love.”
As can be seen, the condition is that you give away ‘that which you love’, not just random things.
When this verse was revealed, the companions of the Rasul (saw) immediately gave away their favorite possessions… Surely this verse is addressing all Muslims of all times until Doomsday, not just of that time.
But why must we give away from that which we have been given?
The prominent reason for charity is to rid one’s self from the concept of ownership by sharing one’s possessions with others. We’re all going to have to give up the things we own at some point anyway, we’re all going to leave this world and everything in it behind. So, the smart thing to do is to live conscious of this truth and not get possessive over anything. That which attaches man to this world most are the things he thinks he owns. Jesus says, “The heart of man is with the things he owns, so then give up the things you own for the sake of Allah that your heart may be with the Kingdom of Heaven!”
The biggest cause of suffering at the point of death, or transformation, is the feeling of losing one’s possessions and loved ones. Islam provides the formula to prevent this suffering by telling you to give up everything you own for the sake of Allah and to realize it is He who gives and He who takes, and there is always wisdom in both cases. Islam tells us to live with this consciousness and to realize everything is given as a trust and thus to neither get overjoyed with what you’re given nor distressed by what is taken from you.
Essentially, sustenance is completely determined by Allah, none has the right to ask how and why. He gives to whom He will as much as He wills and takes from whom He will as He wills…
A smart person is one who knows the giver and taker is always Allah and thus does not feel a sense of ownership towards anything!
He may inspire you to give to me and inspire me to give to another, whoever the seeming giver and taker may be, the real cause and determiner is always Allah, all else is only a vehicle.
None can give what is not determined and none can withhold what is. Once we understand this truth, giving charity will become very easy. Whether you understand charity as alms-giving or donation or as giving a gift, the important thing is to share with others without expecting something in return.
The underlying reason for expecting a return is again due to the feeling of ownership and thus the ego. If you give something that you think belongs to you then surely you will expect a return, but when you know you’re not the owner then you cannot expect a return. If you return something that was given to you as a trust, can you expect a return? Obviously not! Thus, the only way to prevent expectation is to realize you’re merely the keeper and not the owner.
Therefore, those who want to protect themselves must give charity, for the only way to prevent the suffering of loss is to practice the art of giving now.
A more profound degree of this is denoted in the above verse regarding albirra.
The only way to reach albirra, or to experience the essence of reality, is to abandon one’s self or ego. If one is not identified as a person, then surely one cannot feel a sense of ownership, everything will become His. Wherever and with whomever your beloved may be, you will know that in reality they are with you, for they are always with Him! The sense of being a separate unit of existence will be removed and Allah will be sufficient.
Due to this, to physically give up the things you love is by essence giving up your ego and sense of personhood. And this is the key that opens the door to true union.
To sum it up, if you want to prevent the pain of loss during death, you must give charity, at least as the amount defined by almsgiving (zakah) or as much as you can to provide service to your community.
“He who does not thank the people cannot thank Allah!”
Give up your self for the sake of Allah!
 Quran 3:92