It has been narrated by Sa’eed ibn Abu Burdah, from his father, from his grandfather, that the Prophet (saw) said: “Every Muslim has to give in charity. The people asked, ‘O Prophet of Allah! If someone has nothing to give (what should he do)?’ He said: ‘He should work with his hands and benefit himself and also give in charity (from what he earns).’ The people further asked: ‘If he cannot even do that?’ He replied: ‘He should help the needy who appeal for help’. Then the people asked: ‘If he cannot do that?’ He replied: ‘Then he should perform all that is good and keep away from all that is evil, and this will be regarded as charity for him.’” (Bukhari)

Any good deed performed by a believer is multiplied in its rewards and serves as expiation for sins. Allah (swt) said: “The example of those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah is like a seed (of grain) which grows seven spikes; in in spike is a hundred grains. Allah multiplies (His reward) for whom He wills, and Allah is all-Compassing and Knowing.” (Qur’an 2: 261)

Some of the typical characteristics of the believers are to be charitable and to be considerate of others. At the same time, they should not give too much away in an irresponsible manner. Allah (swt) said: “And they are those who, when they spend, do so not excessively or sparingly but are ever, between that, (justly) moderate.” (Qur’an 25: 67)

It is a sign of a bad character to be greedy and stingy. On the other hand, no Muslim should give charity for the purpose of showing off or seeking praise from people. Regarding the Day of Judgement, when the sun will be brought near and the heat will be intense, the Prophet (saw) said: “There are seven whom Allah will cover in His shade on a Day when there is no shade except for His shade (one of them being) a man who gives in charity so secretly that his left hand does not know what his right hand has given.” (Bukhari)

Allah (swt) has mentioned: “And whatever good you (believers) spend is for yourselves, and you do not spend except seeking the countenance of Allah. Whatever you spend of good – it will be fully repaid to you, and you will not be wronged.” (Qur’an 2: 272)

The following hadith highlights the advantage of the one who gives, in contrast with the serious consequences for the one who withholds even though has the ability to give. Abu Hurairah (ra) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said: “Every day on which the servants (of Allah) get up in the morning, two angels come, one saying: O Allah, recompense with more the one who spend for the sake of Allah, and the other saying: O Allah, bring destruction to the one who withholds charity from others.” (Muslim)

After the people asked the Prophet (saw) about those who have nothing to give in charity, he told them that such persons should the means to do so by working with their hands to benefit themselves and to give in charity from what they earn. Even if they can give only a small amount of charity, they must not belittle what is earned lawfully. A hadith recorded by Muslim explains that charity as small as a date may grow into a reward greater than a mountain, as long as the money was earned in a pure way.

Sometimes people are not in a position to give from their wealth, yet they can benefit needy persons by offering their time, knowledge or efforts. The Prophet (saw) gave some examples of charitable acts when he said:

To judge justly between two persons is regarded as charity. To help a man ride his mount or lift his luggage is also a kind of charity. And to say a good word is also a kind of charity. Every step taken on the way to the mosque for prayer is also charity. To remove a harmful thing from the path is also a charity.” (Muslim)

If none of this is feasible, one may persevere with good conduct and in the meantime abstain from sins so that

the community will not be exposed to bad influences.

Allah (swt) said: “O who you believed, let not your wealth and your children divert you from remembrance of Allah. Whoever does that – those are the losers. Spend in the way of Allah from what We have provided you before death approaches one of you and he says: My Lord, if only You would delay me for a brief term so I would give charity and be among the righteous. But never will Allah delay a soul when its time has come. And Allah is Acquainted with what you do.” (Qur’an 63: 9-11)

by Abdul Shaheed Drew