April 12, 2010

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Importance of Giving Sadaqah

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., sayingsubhaan 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 insadaqah 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 amuhaddith (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..
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