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Recession Got your Sadaqah? Try This!

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For many families, these hard economic times have reduced their ability to give sadaqah regularly. If you’re a student, you may be feeling the pinch a little more than others. One of the beautiful aspects of our religion is that Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) commands the believers to do good, but He leaves the “how” open to us. Allah (ta’ala) out of His Mercy did not specify all good deeds, because the capability and opportunity are different for all Muslims.

During the time of the Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam), companions that were not capable of giving sadaqah would ask the Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam) how they could give sadaqah like the wealthy. The Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam) gave them options so that everyone would have some way of giving charity.

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The following is a compilation of narrations from the Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam) highlighting different ways we can give sadaqah with commentary from Imam Nawawi (rahimahullah) as well as specific ideas on how one can give sadaqah with their time.

Importance of Giving Sadaqah

Abu Musa Al-Ash`ari (may Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam) said, “Giving in charity is an obligation upon every Muslim. It was said (to him): “What about one who does not find (the means) to do so?” He said, “Let him work with his hands, thus doing benefit to himself, and give in charity.” It was said to him: “What if he does not have (the means) to do so?” He said, “Then let him assist the needy, the aggrieved.” It was said: “What about if he cannot even do this?” He said, “Then he should enjoin good.” He was asked: “What if he cannot do that?” He said, “He should then abstain from evil, for verily, that is a charity from him.” [Bukhari and Muslim]

Imam Nawawi (rahimahullah) says, “This Hadith emphasizes two things. Firstly, it induces one to work hard so that he can fulfill his own needs and also spend in the way of Allah. Secondly, it points out a great variety of virtues and good deeds so much so that even to abstain from sin also comes in the category of sadaqah.”

Abu Dharr (may Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam) said, “When you get up in the morning, charity is due from every one of your joints. There is charity in every ascription of glory to Allah; there is charity in every declaration of His Greatness; there is charity in every utterance of praise of Him; there is charity in every declaration that He is the only true God (worthy of worship); there is charity in enjoining good; there is charity in forbidding evil. Two rak’ah of duha (forenoon prayer) is equal to all this (in reward).” [Muslim]

Imam Nawawi (rahimahullah) says, “There are three hundred sixty joints in a human body. It is these joints which enable him to work and make all kinds of movements. If man’s body did not have these joints, it would have been impossible for him to sit, stand, lie, move, and make use of the different organs of his body. Thus every joint is a blessing for which one must express gratitude to Allah. It is yet another blessing of Allah that He has also told man a very easy way of thanksgiving which can be practiced even by the poorest man in the world. This means of thanksgiving is recitation of tasbih (subhaan Allah), tahmid (alhamdulillah), takbir (Allahu Akbar), tahlil (la ilaha illallah), and to preach virtue and forbid wrong or unlawful conduct, etc. If one is unable to do even this, then he should perform two rak’ah prayer. If one wants to enlarge the number of rak’ah, he can increase them to eight with the condition that the eight are divided into four couplets.”

Ways You Can Give Sadaqah

  • Any good deed. “Every good deed (ma’ruf) is charity.” [Bukhari]

We learn from this hadith that whatever good action and deed is done by a Muslim, he gets a reward of sadaqah on it. The word ma’ruf stands here for every virtue and noble deed. Renunciation of evils is also a virtue (mar’uf).

  • Dhikr/Remembrance of Allah. Abu Dharr (may Allah be pleased with him) reported: Some people said to Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam): “O Messenger of Allah, the rich have taken away (all the) reward. They observe salat (prayers) as we do; and give sadaqah (charity) out of their surplus wealth.” Upon this he said, “Has Allah not prescribed for you (a course) following which you can (also) give sadaqah? In every declaration of the glorification of Allah (i.e., saying subhaan Allah) there is a sadaqah, and in every takbir (i.e., saying Allahu Akbar) is a sadaqah, and in every celebration of praise (saying alhamdulillah) is a sadaqah, and in every declaration that He is One (la ilaha illallah) is a sadaqah.” [Muslim]

Imam Nawawi (rahimahullah) says, “This hadith highlights two important points. Firstly, the enthusiasm of the companions of the Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam) for surpassing each other in good actions. Secondly, it tells that virtue has a vast meaning in Islam and it includes every action which is done with good intention, provided it does not involve disobedience of Allah. So much so that it covers even natural activities of man which fall in the category of mubah (that which is permissible and may be omitted without fear of sin) and one is rewarded for them. Not only that, one is rewarded even for abstaining from a sin on the condition that the abstention is for the obedience of Allah. Then abstention rises to the level of an act of obedience and is rewarded likewise.”

  • Good Speech. “A good word is a charity.” [Bukhari and Muslim]
  • Walking to the masjid for prayer. “Every step that you take (towards the masjid) for prayer is a charity.” [Bukhari and Muslim]
  • Removing something harmful from the road. “Removing harmful things from the road is a charity.” [Bukhari and Muslim]
  • Being just. “Administering justice between two men is a charity.” [Bukhari and Muslim]
  • Helping someone with their luggage. “Assisting a man to mount his beast, or helping him load his luggage on it is a charity.” [Bukhari and Muslim]
  • Spending on your family. “O son of Adam, if you spend the surplus, it will be better for you; and if you retain it, it will be bad for you. You will not be reprimanded for keeping what is enough for your need. Begin with those who are your dependents, and the upper hand (i.e., the one that spends in the way of Allah) is better than the lower hand (i.e., the one that receives charity).” [Muslim]
  • Assisting the needy. “Then let him assist the needy, the aggrieved.” [Bukhari and Muslim]
  • Enjoining good. “Then he should enjoin good.” [Bukhari and Muslim]
  • Abstaining from evil. “”He should then abstain from evil, for verily, that is a charity from him.” [Bukhari and Muslim]
  • Planting a tree. “When a Muslim plants a tree, whatever is eaten from it is charity from him and whatever is stolen is charity and whatever is subtracted from it is charity.” [Muslim]
  • Feeding others. A man asked Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam), “Which act in Islam is the best?” He (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam) replied, “To feed (the poor and the needy) and to greet those whom you know and those you do not know.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
  • Using any resource (time, food, knowledge) to spend on others. “And whatsoever you spend of anything (in Allah’s Cause), He will replace it.” (34:39)

Although the economy has put many Muslims in financial hardship, we should remember the saying of the scholars: “The reward is according to effort of the deed.” If a person only has $5 in their pocket and gives $3 in sadaqah or all $5, then his reward is greater than a millionaire who gives $1000 in charity. The above list is only meant as motivation for us to race to do all types of good deeds because the Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam) said:

“Allah will surely speak with everyone of you without an interpreter. He (the man) will look at his right side and will see nothing but (the deeds) which he had done before, and he will look to his left side and will see nothing but (the deeds) which he had done before. Then he will look in front of him and will find nothing but Hell-fire facing him. So protect (yourselves) from (Hell) Fire, by giving in charity even half a date; and if he does not finds it, then with a kind word.” [Bukhari and Muslim]

Social Service Projects

One specific way a Muslim can engage in acts of sadaqah is by working in the social work field. Social services is not only something recommended in the Qur’an and Sunnah, the Prophets of Allah were social workers for their nations. The righteous of this ummah were not only known for their knowledge and their deeds, but they also were community workers and reformers. The Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam) assisted in the building of his masjid, Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) would clean the house of a blind woman, Zain al Aabideen would deliver food to the houses of the poor in the dark of the night.

You may not be able to donate financially, but one way that you can give sadaqah is to spend your time helping with various social service projects and activities within your community.  There are many websites like http://www.volunteermatch.org/ that post many activities and projects you can volunteer with. Here are some ideas:

  • Volunteering at a soup kitchen or distributing food. For example: http://www.projectdowntown.org/
  • Inviting a needy Muslim family over for dinner. You can also help needy Muslim families in your area by providing them with food or basic necessities. If you do not know of any families, ask at your masjid and you can even pass on the items to someone else if you would like to give it anonymously.
  • Visiting sick Muslims in your community. Ask around at your masjid and find out if anyone is sick.
  • Keeping snacks, non-perishable food items, and water in your car or bag to give out to the homeless.
  • Cleaning and beautifying the masjid by vacuuming, straightening the bookshelf, and picking up any garbage.
  • Sponsoring an orphan. Contact organizations like Islamic Relief and Al-Amaanah.
  • Assisting your elderly neighbors with various things like shoveling their sidewalk, carrying groceries, or household maintenance.
  • Volunteering with an animal shelter or an animal adoption agency to visit the animals. Remember the example of the man who gave water to a thirsty dog and was granted Jannah because of that deed.
  • Visiting a nursing home. Nursing homes are more accessible than hospitals when it comes to volunteering because nursing homes don’t have many visitors. Many nursing homes allow groups to visit together so try to visit with a group of brothers, sisters, or family.
  • Helping with janaazah preparations in your community. A brother from our masjid once said, “It’s expensive to die these days.” Funeral arrangements are very expensive, easily costing more than $5000. If you cannot assist financially, then learn (or even organize a workshop to teach) how to wash and shroud a body according to the sunnah and let people know you are available to assist with this.
  • Volunteering at a library to read books to young children. Many libraries have these programs. If you are really ambitious, make it a weekly or bi-weekly activity at your masjid for young children.
  • Organizing a canned food drive at your masjid or school and drop off donations at a local food bank.
  • Organizing a clothing drive. This is especially helpful during winter when many homeless individuals do not have the proper attire for the weather.
  • Organizing an outing or event for the young Muslims. Many of us are products of the public school system, and we all know how that environment sucks the emaan out of you. Befriending the youth and being a mentor for them will inshaAllah bring them good companionship as well as provide an antidote to their struggles of attending public school. Something as simple as organizing an ice cream social with a lecture on the Qur’an or another topic is a great way to start a relationship with the younger generation. All you need is word of mouth advertising and a masjid to hold the event.

These are just a few ideas you can work on. Remember that the best way that you can help this ummah is to do what you are GOOD at. Imam Bukhari knew what his strength was (his memory) and he utilized it. He became a muhaddith (scholar of hadeeth) not a mufassir (scholar of Qur’anic tafseer). Find your strength and use it to help the ummah. Every individual has a different role; find yours and embrace it.

Have any more ideas for ways to assist the community? Share in the comments inshaAllah.

I’d like to end with something a dear friend of mine once said: “The goal of social service activities shouldn’t just be doing ‘random acts of kindness’ but to actually ease people’s loads and make a concrete, measurable difference in the community.”

May Allah ta’ala grant us the opportunity to assist our ummah and the Muslims, and may He (azza wa jal) make us among those who constantly spend in charity.

Keep supporting MuslimMatters for the sake of Allah

Alhamdulillah, we're at over 850 supporters. Help us get to 900 supporters this month. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Amatullah is a student of the Qur'an and its language. She completed the 2007 Ta'leem program at Al-Huda Institute in Canada and studied Qur'an, Tajwid (science of recitation) and Arabic in Cairo. Through her writings, she hopes to share the practical guidance taught to us by Allah and His Messenger and how to make spirituality an active part of our lives. She has a Bachelors in Social Work and will be completing the Masters program in 2014 inshaAllah. Her experience includes working with immigrant seniors, refugee settlement and accessibility for people with disabilities.

16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. mirza shahbaaz

    February 2, 2010 at 7:54 AM

    assalamualaikum,

    well, you are spot on. barak Allaah feeki.

    the ayah 3:134 explains as one of attributes of the one who does ihsaan is to spend from what you are given, even if your condition is tight or easy. subahan Allaah.

    wassalam

  2. ummahmed

    February 2, 2010 at 8:24 AM

    Mashaallah..Jazakillahu khairaan for all the excellent reminders.

  3. TheAlexandrian

    February 2, 2010 at 9:43 AM

    Awesome reminders!! Most of us have come across the individual hadiths and points you mentioned at one time or another, but seeing them compiled in an easy to digest format is very helpful.

    JAK!

  4. Ameera

    February 2, 2010 at 1:35 PM

    Jazakillah! That was beautiful advice, especially all those Hadith about charity. A timely reminder!

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  6. ayesha

    February 3, 2010 at 12:03 AM

    barakAllahukfeeki sister….and jazakAllahukhairan for the post…whoever is encouraged to give sadaqah after hidaya from Allah and then after reading your post….bi ithnillah kul fi meezan hasanatik

    you highlighted the different ways of doing sadaqah…and that sadaqah is not jus something dealing with money…very important!!

    however how I would like to advice everyone and the sisters in specific….regarding sadaqah through “Social Service Projects”….yes this is no doubt an excellent way out for those who dont earn …but sisters before getting ourselves involved into social work, we must also keep in mind-“our wajibaat” …

    I say this with experience of my own mistake and what I see of others…sometimes…we get really hitched up with other social responsibilities(which is only from the nawafil) that we endup forsaking our wajibaat like if one is single (serving their parents(mother in specific) ) and for the ones who are married their husbands..

    say for example…A few sisters get really engaged with daawah work outside but neglect the dawaah they are supposed to be doing at home- of tarbiyah of their children and serving their parents/husbands…we need to realize that we will be questioned for the latter not the former…and afterol a waajib act if not done is punished for and if carried out is highly rewarded!!….

    so let’s not occupy ourselves with social work at the cost of neglecting our family….let’s keep a check on our priorities……towards the end its all about earning rewards…

  7. ayesha

    February 3, 2010 at 12:16 AM

    also…while giving any kind of sadaqah…it’s better that we prefer our own relatives…look out for the needful within our relatives…as they have more haqq of our sadaqah…any kind of sadaqah be it in terms of money, ilm or even an advice…this is something really clever to do coz we get the reward of both the sadaqah and silat-al-rahm!!!

    • Amatullah

      February 3, 2010 at 4:10 AM

      jazaaki Allahu khayran Ayesha for your nice comments! Definitely sisters, as well as brothers, should take care of the obligatory before the nawafil.

      very true about giving to family first, in many of the ayat where Allah mentions sadaqah, He states to give it to: dhil qurbaa, the close relations.

  8. Sadaf Farooqi

    February 3, 2010 at 1:07 AM

    Excellent, excellent post, Amatullah! May Allah reward you for posting these invaluable suggestions. Ameen. I loved the practical tips you gave in bullets in the end, along with relevant links.

    Zain al Aabideen would deliver food to the houses of the poor in the dark of the night

    Sorry for my ignorance, but Zain Al Aabideen who?

    • Amatullah

      February 3, 2010 at 4:16 AM

      Ameen, jazaki Allahu khayran Sadaf! :)

      Zain al Aabideen was the grandson of Ali ibn Abi Taalib radi Allahu anhu, that was his ‘nickname’.

  9. Amatullah

    February 3, 2010 at 4:17 AM

    jazaakum Allahu khayran for the comments!

  10. Sayf

    February 3, 2010 at 2:49 PM

    JazaakAllah Khair!
    Don’t forget to smile for some contagious sadaqah! =D}

  11. Ibnu Ameen

    February 4, 2010 at 4:13 AM

    Jazakallah Khair, good articel thanks for sharing with us :)

  12. Hena Zuberi

    September 29, 2013 at 3:24 PM

    Love this MashaAllah what a beautiful reminder!

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