Our 8th Imam, Imam Ali al-Ridha (A), was well known for his generosity. There are many incidents from his life that mention his generous nature. When we study these incidents, we can draw lessons from the Imam (A). Although he is not present in our time, he is still teaching and guiding us through his words and actions. One day a man came to the Imam (A) and begged him to give him according to the extent of his kindness. The Imam (A) said: "I cannot afford that." So he said: "Then give me according to mine," whereupon the Imam (A) asked his servant to give the man two hundred dinars.
The reason why the Imam (A) did not give the man according to the extent of his own kindness, as the man asked him the first time, is probably because he simply did not have as much money as he would have liked to give. The Imam (A) was always mindful of the poor. Whenever he sat to eat his meal, he would first bring a large plate and fill it with the best food on the table. Then, he would order it to be given away to the poor. After that he would say: "Allah knows that not everyone has the ability to free a slave, nevertheless He found means for them to achieve Heaven (by feeding others). The Imam (A) disliked wastage. Yasir, one of his servants, said that the Imam's (A) attendants were eating some fruit one day and they were throwing away a good portion of it uneaten. The Imam (A) saw them and said to them: "Praise be to God! If you have eaten to your fill, there are many who have not; so, you should feed it to them instead." 1
A hadith from the Imam
Indeed Allah has commanded three things (in Quran) which are in proximate with three others. He ordered the prayers & alms. So the one who offers prayer & does not pay alms, his service is not accepted from him. And He ordered His thanks giving with that of the parents. So the one who does not thank his parents has not thanked Allah. And He commanded fear of Allah & connecting with the kinship. So the one who does not connect with the blood relations has not aquired the rank of Taqwa.
1. Allamah Tabataba'i - a Shi'ite Anthology
2. Bihar ul-Anwar Vol. 78, P 356, Note: Six objects have been mentioned here instead of seven.