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adaqah (voluntary charity) is a highly virtuous and praised deed in Islam. In fact, it is so significant that the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said it is a proof of one's iman (faith).

Abu Malik al-Ashari [ra] narrated that Allāh's Messenger ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said:  Cleanliness is half of faith. Alamdulillāh (Praise be to Allāh) fills the scale. SubḥānAllāh(Glory be to Allāh) and Alamdulillāh (Praise be to Allāh) fill up what is between the heavens and the earth. Prayer is a light. Charity is proof (of one's faith). Endurance is a brightness and the Qurʾān is a proof on your behalf or against you. All men go out early in the morning and sell themselves, thereby setting themselves free or destroying themselves.” (Muslim)

One of the reasons behind this deed being so virtuous is that we all have a common love for wealth. And it is natural for us to love wealth because that is how Allāh, Al-Khāliq has fashioned us. He has created us with a love for wealth, as He says in the following ayah:

And they give food, inspite of their love for it (or for the love of Him), to Miskin (poor), the orphan, and the captive, (Al-Insan 76:8)

However, usually this love for wealth causes us to be stingy and hoard our wealth, without realizing that there is more virtue in giving it to the poor and the needy. Thus, one of the criteria of those who will be successful in this world and the hereafter is those who have tamed their desire for wealth, as Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) states in the following ayah:

And whoever is protected from the stinginess of his soul – it is those who will be the successful. (Al-Hashr 59:9)

In addition to the ayah, imam Ahmad recorded that Jabir bin `Abdullah said that the Messenger of Allāh ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) also warned us against being stingy with our wealth. He said,

“Be on your guard against committing oppression, for oppression is a darkness on the Day of Resurrection. Be on your guard against being stingy, for being stingy is what destroyed those who came before you. It made them shed blood and make lawful what was unlawful for them.” (Muslim)

The primary psychological reason behind stinginess with wealth is that we do not like to see a loss in our possessions. It does not please us to see a decrease in our wealth. But, either we are ignorant of or we have not internalized the words of our Creator, because this is the exact opposite of what Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) tells us in the Qurʾān.

“Allāh will deprive usury of all blessing, but will give increase for deeds of charity: for He loves not creatures ungrateful and sinner.” (Al-Baqarah, 2: 276)

“That which you give in usury for increase through the property of (other) people, will have no increase with Allāh: but that which you give for charity, seeking the Countenance of Allāh, (will increase); it is those who will get a recompense multiplied.” (Ar-Rum, 30:39)

Our beloved Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) also conveyed to us the same message in the following hadith.

Abu Hurayrah [ra]) reported Allāh's Messenger ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) as saying: “Charity does not in any way decrease the wealth and the servant who forgives, Allāh adds to his respect; and the one who shows humility, Allāh elevates him in the estimation (of the people).” (Muslim)

Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) mentions two groups of people in the Qurʾān in relation to adaqah. The first group is from the ayah quoted earlier on:

And they give food, inspite of their love for it (or for the love of Him), to Miskin (poor), the orphan, and the captive, (Al-Insan 76:8)

These are people who give out of their wealth while recognizing that Allāh has created them with a love and desire for it but it is better for them to give it to the poor and the needy. They do so while expecting to gain reward from Allāh, Al-Wahhāb, seeking a better place in the hereafter and also increasing in righteousness in this worldly life, as described by Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He)in the following ayah:

Righteousness is not that you turn your faces toward the east or the west, but [true] righteousness is [in] one who believes in Allāh , the Last Day, the angels, the Book, and the prophets and gives wealth, in spite of love for it, to relatives, orphans, the needy, the traveler, those who ask [for help], and for freeing slaves; [and who] establishes prayer and gives zakāh; [those who] fulfill their promise when they promise; and [those who] are patient in poverty and hardship and during battle. Those are the ones who have been true, and it is those who are the righteous. (Al-Baqarah 2:177)

However, Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) describes another group of people in relation to adaqah.

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. (Al-Hashr 59:9)

The above ayah refers to a time when the Muhājirīn (immigrants from Mecca) were hosted by the Anṣār (residents of Madinah who hosted the Muhajirin) after hijrah (migration from Mecca to Madinah). The Anṣāshared their wealth and property with the Muhājirīn and also hosted them indefinitely. Moreover, they did this deed with ihsan (excellence) and love for brotherhood in Islam! The Muhājirīn testified to the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) of the remarkable hospitality of the Anṣāin the following hadith:

imam Ahmad recorded that Anas said, “The Muhājirīn said, 'O Allāh's Messenger! We have never met people like those whom we emigrated to; comforting us in times of scarcity and giving us with a good heart in times of abundance. They have sufficed for us and shared their wealth with us so much so, that we feared that they might earn the whole reward instead of us.' He said, 'No they won't, as long you thanked them for what they did and invoked Allāh for them.”'

The virtuous quality of the believers is to give to others even when they themselves are in dire need. This quality was beautifully exemplified in the actions of the sahaabah (companions of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) as can be seen from the account of the Muhājirīn and the Anṣār, may Allāh be pleased with them all. The companions (may Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) be pleased with them all) preferred giving to the needy rather than attending to their own needs, and began by giving to the people before their own selves, even though they too were in need. This is of a higher virtue than those who give wealth, inspite of their love for it, but are not necessarily in dire need themselves, because the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said in an authentic hadith:

“The best charity is that given when one is in need and struggling.”

It is worthwhile to ponder, how can the believers give to others even though they are themselves needy? And the answer to that without a doubt is, complete reliance on Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and extreme love for other Muslims. We learn this from the example from Abu Bakr [ra] from the following hadith:

“The Messenger of Allāh ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) once called upon his companions to give charity. Umar saw that as an opportunity to outstrip Abu Bakr and he said: Today, I am going to surpass Abu Bakr. He said: So I came with half of my property. The Messenger of Allāh ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) asked: What have you left for your family? I answered: As much as this. Then Abu Bakr came with all that he had and the Messenger of Allāh ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: What have you left for your family? He replied: I left for them Allāh and His Messenger. It is then that I said: I shall never compete with him on anything again.” (At Tirmidhi)

Another account that shows the selflessness and the reliance of believers upon their Lord is that of the Anṣāri man [ra] who went out of his way to be hospitable to his guest.

“Bukhari recorded that Abu Hurayrah said, “A man came to the Prophet and said, 'O Allāh's Messenger! Poverty has stuck me.' The Prophet sent a messenger to his wives (to bring something for that man to eat) but they said that they had nothing. Then Allāh's Messenger said, '(Who will invite this person or entertain him as a guest tonight; may Allāh grant His mercy to him who does so).' An Anṣāri man said, 'I, O Allāh's Messenger!' So he took him to his wife and said to her, 'Entertain the guest of Allāh's Messenger generously.' She said, 'By Allāh ! We have nothing except the meal for my children.' He said, 'Let your children sleep if they ask for supper. Then turn off the lamp and we go to bed tonight while hungry.' She did what he asked her to do. In the morning the Anṣāri went to Allāh's Messenger who said, (Allāh wondered (favorably) or laughed at the action of so-and-so and his wife.) Then Allāh revealed, (and they give them preference over themselves even though they were in need of that).” (Bukhari, Muslim, At-Tirmidhi, An-Nasa'i)

Last but not least, it would be unjust to not mention the account of companions like Ikrimah bin Abi Jahl and others (may Allāh be pleased with them all), who risked their lives and offered water to each other first while they themselves were dying of thirst. The following account is heart-wrenching and difficult for us to fathom being in similar circumstances:

Ikrimah (bin Abi Jahl) and two other wounded fighters were offered water when they were injured during the battle of Al-Yarmuk, and each one of them said that the sip of water should be given to another of the three wounded men. They did so even though they were badly injured and craving water. When the water reached the third man, he and the other two died and none of them drank any of the water! May Allāh be pleased with them and make them pleased with Him.

Let us, O Muslims, bring everything back into perspective. Realize that giving charity is not an act to be done only when a person has money. Rather, the most virtuous type of charity a Muslim can give is when they themselves are in dire need of that wealth. This is a sign of our iman and complete reliance on Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and it helps us develop true piety and righteousness.

Action Items: Let us stretch our boundaries of giving adaqah in these last ten days of Ramadan.

  • For those of us who have been blessed with abundance of wealth by Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) let us give as much as we can!
  • For those of us who feel like we are in need of money and the financial situation is tight, let us take heed from the words of our Creator and our beloved Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and give in charity believing that this is the best form of charity and that Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) will increase it multiple folds for us.

May Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) protect us from being miserly with our wealth, allow us to have complete reliance on Him, grant us many opportunities to give adaqah for His pleasure and sake, reward us with good in this world and the hereafter, and protect us from the fire of Hell, ameen ya rabbil alameen.

2 Responses

  1. titani

    Al-Fatihah
    1. In the name of God, the Gracious, the Merciful.
    2. Praise be to God, Lord of the Worlds.
    3. The Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
    4. Master of the Day of Judgment.
    5. It is You we worship, and upon You we call for help.
    6. Guide us to the straight path.
    7. The path of those You have blessed, not of those against whom there is anger, nor of those who are misguided.
    quoted from http://www.ClearQuran.com

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