The Comprehensiveness of Ṣadaqah
As mentioned previously, Ṣadaqah is a comprehensive term that is used to refer to many acts of kindness and good deeds. It may refer to something as small as removing a harmful thing from someone’s path or helping a person mount his ride. The opportunities are numerous and are available even to those without wealth. This is evident in several well-known aḥâdîth of the Prophet ﷺ. The Prophet said,
Every small bone of everyone has upon it a charity[due] for every day upon which the sun rises. Bringing about justice between two [disputants] is an act of charity. Helping a man get on his mount, lifting him onto it or helping him put his belongings on to it, is a charity. A good word is a charity. Every step you take towards the prayer is a charity. And removing a harmful thing from the path is charity. (Bukhâri and Muslim)
Allah’s Messenger ﷺ also said,
In the morning charity is due from every bone in the body of every one of you. Every utterance of Allah’s glorification (tasbîḥ) is an act of charity. Every utterance of praise (taḥmîd) of Him is an act of charity, every utterance of profession of His Oneness (taḥlîl) is an act of charity, every utterance of profession of His Greatness (takbîr) is an act of charity, enjoining good is an act of charity, forbidding what is disreputable is an act of charity, and two rakʿahs which one prays in the forenoon will suffice. (Muslim)
Allah’s Messenger ﷺ also said,
Never a Muslim plants a tree, but he has the reward of charity for him, for what is eaten out of that is charity; what is stolen out of that, what the beast eats out of that, what the birds eat out of that is charity for him. (In short) none incurs a loss to him but it becomes a charity on his part. (Muslim)
Some poor people came to the Prophet and said,
The wealthy people will get higher grades and will have permanent enjoyment and they pray like us and fast as we do. They have more money by which they perform the Hajj, and Umrah; fight and struggle in Allah’s cause and give in charity.
The Prophet responded,
Shall I not tell you a thing upon which –if you acted– you would catch up with those who have surpassed you? Nobody would overtake you and you would be better than the people amongst whom you live except those who would do the same. Say ‘Subhana Allah,’ ‘Alhamdulillah,’ and ‘Allahu Akbar’ thirty-three times each after every (compulsory) ṣalaḥ.” The Companions said, “We differed and some of us said that we should say, “SubḥânAllâh” thirty-three times and “Alḥamdulillâh” thirty-three times and “Allâhu Akbar” thirty-four times. So we asked the Prophet who said,
Say, ‘SubḥânAllâh’ and ‘Alḥamdulillâh’ and ‘Allâhu Akbar’ all together for thirty-three times. (Bukhâri)
Also, the Prophet ﷺ said,
Whoever says ‘Lâ ilâha illa-Allah –waḥdahu, lâ sharîka lah. lahul-mulk, wa lahul-ḥamd, wa huwa ʿala kulli shay’in qadîr’ one hundred times a day, it will be as if he freed ten slaves, and one hundred ḥasanât (good deeds) will be recorded for him, and one hundred sayyi’ât (bad deeds) will be erased from him, and it will be a protection for him against Satan all that day until the evening comes. No one can do anything better than that –except one who does more. (Bukhâri and Muslim)
From these aḥadîth comes the understanding that there are two main categories of Ṣadaqah or charity. The first category includes acts of kindness that are performed for other human beings. They may include such things as enjoining good and eliminating evil, not harming others, teaching others about the Dîn, helping someone mount his ride, smiling at someone, and so forth. Some scholars point out that many times these types of charity are more beneficial than financial assistance.
The second category includes acts of goodness that are done for oneself. These, of course, will run over and be beneficial to others as well. In this category are those acts that fulfill the responsibility that a person has toward his or her own soul. This includes such things as performing dhikr or remembrance of Allah, supplicating to Allah, and so forth.
As noted in the ḥadîth, saying “SubḥânAllâh,” “Alḥamdulillâh,” “Allâhu Akbar” are acts of charity toward a person’s own soul. This is due to the fact that there is great benefit in saying these words and remembering Allah. The effects will also extend to others because the more pious a person becomes, the more he will be willing to assist and benefit others. The interconnection of the various elements in Islam is truly amazing.
Benefits of Ṣadaqah
There are many benefits for the believer who performs Ṣadaqah for the sake of Allah and with pure intention. To be known as someone who gives Ṣadaqah is one of the favors of Allah. The Prophet ﷺ said,
Do not wish to be the like except of two men. A man whom Allah has given the knowledge of the Book and he recites it during the hours of the night, and a man whom Allah has given wealth and he spends it in charity during the night and the hours of the day. (Bukhâri)
This is because the benefits are magnificent, including numerous and enduring rewards, expiation for sins, protection from the Hell-fire, the Shade of Allah, and Paradise.
Numerous and Enduring Reward
Allah rewards charity beyond its worth and enlarges it for that person:
Whoever comes (at Judgment) with a good deed will have better than it, and they, from the terror of that Day, will be safe. [Sûrat Al-Naml, 27:89]
He also says,
Whoever comes (on the Day of Judgment) with a good deed will have ten times the like thereof (to his credit) … [Sûrat Al-Anʿâm, 6:160]
So whoever does an atom’s weight of good will see it. [Sûrat Al-Zalzalah, 99:7]
Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said,
If one gives in charity what equals one date-fruit from the honestly earned money—and Allah accepts only the honestly earned money—Allah takes it in His right (Hand) and then enlarges its reward for that person (who has given it), as anyone of you brings up his baby horse, so much so that it becomes as big as a mountain. (Bukhâri)
Abû Hurairah narrated that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said,
Who among you is fasting today.” Abû Bakr said, “I am.” He said, “Who among you has attended a funeral today?” Abû Bakr said, “I have.” He said, “Who among you has fed a poor person today?” Abû Bakr said, “I have.” He said, “Who among you has visited a sick person today?” Abû Bakr said, “I have.” The Messenger of Allah said, “These traits are not combined in a person but he will enter Paradise. (Muslim)
Charity is thus a deed that is followed by bounteous rewards and goodness, increasing beyond imagination. It is a means to attain Allah’s pleasure, which is the believer’s ultimate goal in life. It is the path to Paradise.
The rewards of certain types of charity are enduring and continue even after a person’s death, as highlighted in the following ḥadîth. Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said,
When a man dies, his acts come to an end, but for three: recurring charity, or knowledge (by which people) benefit, or a pious son, who prays for him (for the deceased). (Muslim)
This form of charity is known as Ṣadaqah Jariyah, an ongoing, continuous or permanent charity (waqf). Some examples of this include giving someone a proper education, monetary assistance to establish social welfare institutions (such as for the poor, needy, orphans, etc.), helping someone to establish himself in business, digging wells to provide drinking water, etc. Obviously, continuous Ṣadaqah is one of the best things a Muslim can seek as a good deed and useful contribution to the society or humanity.
- Expiation for Sins
In addition to rewards, Ṣadaqah may also provide expiation for sins.
ʿUmar asked the people, “Who remembers the narration of the Prophet ﷺ about affliction?” Hudhayfah said, “I heard the Prophet ﷺ saying, ‘The affliction of a person in his property, family and neighbors is expiated by his ṣalaḥ, fasting, and giving in charity.’ (Bukhâri)
In general, performance of a good deed erases the sins that a person commits and this would certainly apply in the case of charity. It may also ease the suffering of death and the questioning in the grave. The Prophet ﷺ said,
Verily, charity appeases the wrath of Allah and eases the suffering of death. (Tirmidhi)
The Prophet ﷺ said,
Whoever relieves a Muslim of some distress in this world, Allah will relieve him of some distress on the Day of Resurrection Whoever is easy-going with a debtor who is facing hardship, Allah will make it easy for him in this world and in the Hereafter. And whoever conceals a Muslim’s faults Allah will conceal his faults in this world and the Hereafter. And Allah will help His servant so long as His servant helps his brother. (Muslim)
Protection from the Hellfire
In the Hereafter, Ṣadaqah could be the reason for protecting oneself from the Hellfire, even if the Ṣadaqah consisted only of something as small as a piece of date. The Prophet ﷺ said,
There will be none among you except that Allah will take to him/her on the Day of Resurrection, without there being an interpreter between him and Allah. He will look and see nothing ahead of him, and then he will look (again for the second time) in front of him, and the (Hellfire) Fire will confront him. So, whoever among you can save himself from the Fire, should do so even with half a date (to give in charity). (Bukhâri)
So for those who do not have as much to give, even a small amount may be suitable to save them from the Hellfire and that includes a smile at your brother or sister.
In the Shade of Allah
On the Day of Judgment, Ṣadaqah is one of the means through which a person will obtain the Shade of Allah, His Protection, and Pleasure. The Prophet ﷺ said,
Seven (people) will be shaded by Allah’s Shade on the day when there will be no shade except His Shade:
- a just ruler,
- a young man who has been brought up in the worship of Allah,
- a man who remembers Allah in seclusion and his eyes are then flooded with tears,
- a man whose heart is attached to mosques (always wanting to spend time and to offers his compulsory ṣalaḥ in them),
- two men who love each other for Allah’s sake,
- a man who is called by a charming lady of noble birth to commit illegal sexual intercourse with her, and he says, ‘I fear Allah!’
- a man who gives in charity so secretly that his left hand does not know what his right hand has given.
A Gate to Paradise
Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said,
Whoever gives two kinds (of things or property) in charity in Allah’s way, will be called from the gates of Paradise and will be addressed, ‘O servant of Allah! Here is prosperity.’ So, whoever was amongst the people who used to offer ṣalaḥ, will be called from the gate of the ṣalaḥ; and whoever was amongst the people who used to participate in jihad, will be called from the gate of Jihad; and whoever was amongst those who used to observe fasting, will be called from a gate called Al-Rayyan; whoever was amongst those who used to give in charity, will be called from the gate of charity.” Abû Bakr said, “Let my parents be sacrificed for you, O Allah’s Apostle! No distress or need will befall him who will be called from those gates. Will there be any one who will be called from all these gates?” The Prophet replied, “Yes, and I hope you will be one of them.” (Bukhâri)
So, there is a gate in Paradise from which the people of charity will be called, as there are gates from which believers will be called due to their ṣalaḥ, jihâd, and fasting. A person will be called from this gate if they performed Ṣadaqah sincerely during their lifetime with the intention of pleasing Allah. Charity itself then may open the door to you for Paradise.
As the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said,
Cleanliness is half of faith and [reciting in remembrance] Alḥamdulillâh (Praise be to Allah) fills the scale, and SubḥânAllâh (Glory be to Allah) and Alḥamdulillâh (Praise be to Allah) fill up what is between the heavens and the earth, and ṣalaḥ is a light, and charity is proof (of one’s faith) and endurance is a brightness and the Quran 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)
From the Quran and from the aḥâdîth texts of the Prophet ﷺ we learn a great deal about the concept of Ṣadaqah. Ṣadaqah is a comprehensive term that is used to refer to acts of charity that are performed to benefit others or one’s self.
It includes many deeds as outlined in several aḥâdîth of the Prophet and the opportunities for its performance are numerous. These are actions for which a person may obtain bounteous rewards from Allah. Giving Ṣadaqah is strongly recommended and encouraged because it benefits the giver, the recipient, and the society as a whole. Imagine a society in which each person practiced charity on a regular basis. This is the example that we have learned from the Prophet, and it is the best example.
Ṣadaqah reflects the gratitude that a true servant has for his Creator and Master. It becomes part of the personality of a Muslim to treat others with kindness and giving. This is because he realizes the many wonderful blessings that he has received from Allah and he desires to demonstrate his gratefulness.
In thankfulness to Allah, the servant uses the blessings that he has received (such as ability, wealth, health) to assist and improve those around him. He never misses any opportunity to perform an act of kindness because he realizes that no matter how much he performs he can never match the wonderful blessings that he has received from Allah. Ṣadaqah is truly a beautiful component in the religion of Islam and that may be the reason that it is mentioned in so many Qur’anic verses and aḥâdîth of the Prophet ﷺ.