Hadith 26: The Charitable Acts
By Imam An-Nawawi
In the name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful;
All the praise and Thanks is due to Allāh, the Lord of al-`ālameen. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allāh, and that Muhammad, Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam, is His Messenger
Abu Hurairah, (radiyallahu`anhu), reported that the Messenger of Allah, (Sallallāhu`alayhi wasallam), said:
“On every person's joints or small bones (i.e. fingers and toes), there is sadaqah (charity) every day the sun rises. Doing justice between two people is sadaqah; assisting a man to mount his animal, or lifting up his belongings onto it is sadaqah; a good word is sadaqah; every step you take towards solah is sadaqah; and removing harmful things from pathways is sadaqah.”
[Recorded by Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
The content of this hadith is the same as the previous one, Hadith 25. Abu Dharr, (radiyallahu`anhu), reported that some of the Companions of the Messenger of Allah, (Sallallahu`alayhi wasallam), said to him: “O Messenger of Allah, the rich have taken away all the rewards. They observe the solah as we do, and they keep the fasts as we do, and they give sadaqah (charity) from their surplus riches.”
Upon this he (the Prophet, Sallallahu`alayhi wasallam) said: “Has Allah not prescribed for you (a course) by following whom you can also do sadaqah? Verily in every Tasbih (i.e. saying Subhanallah) there is a sadaqah, every Takbir (i.e. saying Allahu Akbar) is a sadaqah, every Tahmid (i.e. saying Alhamdulillah) is a sadaqah, every Tahlil (i.e. saying Lailaha illallah) is a sadaqah, enjoining of good is a sadaqah, forbidding of evil is a sadaqah, and having sexual intercourse with your wife is a sadaqah.” They (the Companions) said: “O Messenger of Allah is there reward for him who satisfies his sexual passion among us?" He said: "Tell me, if he were to devote it to something forbidden, would it not be a sin on his part? Similarly, if he were to devote it to something lawful, he should have a reward." [Recorded by Muslim]
One possibility why this is so is that Al-Imam An-Nawawi (rahimahullāh) wanted to emphasize the importance of sadaqah (charitable acts) so he decided to repeat the meaning of the previous hadith. Another possibility is that this hadith may contain more examples of sadaqah than what was mentioned in the previous one. A third possibility is the influence of Al-Imam Muslim (rahimahullāh) on Imam Nawawi (rahimahullāh), who has written commentaries on Sahih Muslim. Imam Muslim (rahimahullāh) recorded many hadiths which address the issue of sadaqah. It can be concluded that what has happened is due to the influence of Imam Nawawi's involvement in this great scholarly research on explaining and interpreting Sahih Muslim.
Ibn Rajab (rahimahullāh) quotes other hadiths with similar meanings. Two were recorded by Imam Muslim. From this a possibility of influence can be derived. A third hadith is recorded by Imam Al-Bukhari (rahimahullāh) and Imam Muslim (rahimahullāh) where the hadith mentions the number of bones as 360. In this hadith the number is not mentioned. It only mentions every small joint (bone).
In one of these hadiths, the performance of Solah al-Duha is mentioned as a substitution of some charitable acts. The Prophet Muhammad, (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam), said that the Solat al-Duha has the same reward of doing these charitable acts.
Abu Dharr (radiyallāhu`anhu) narrated that Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu`alayhi wasallam) said: “For every bone of the son of Adam a charity must be given each day. Every Tasbihah [saying Subhān Allāh (Glory be to Allāh)] is a charity, every Tahmidah [saying Al-hamdu Lillāh (Praise be to Allāh)] is a charity, every Tahlilah [saying Lā ilāha ill-Allāh (There is no god but Allāh)] is a charity, every Takbirah [saying Allāhu Akbar [Allāh is Most Great]) is a charity, enjoining what is good is a charity, forbidding what is evil is a charity, and two raka`at offered in the mid-morning (Duha) is most rewarding.” [This is recorded by Muslim, 720]
In the hadith that is related by Imam Al-Bukhari (rahimahullāh) and Imam Muslim (rahimahullāh), it mentions something that is not mentioned in the previous hadith. One more charitable act that is mentioned by Ibn Rajab (rahimahullāh) is helping the one who is in need. Prophet Muhammad, (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam), emphasized this idea: if a Muslim cannot help the one who is in need, he should abstain from evil and not harm others.
Abu Hurairah (radiyallahu`anhu) narrated that the Prophet (Sallallahu`alayhi wasallam) said:“A Muslim is the brother of a Muslim: he does not wrong him nor does he forsake him when he is in need; whosoever is fulfilling the needs of his brother, Allah is fulfilling his needs; whosoever removes distress from a believer, Allah removes from him a distress from a distressful aspect of the Day of Resurrection; and whosoever conceals the faults of a Muslim, Allah will conceal his faults on the Day of Resurrection.” [Recorded by Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
The hadith shows the great creation of man which has been emphasised in many surahs in the Qur'an. Ibn Rajab (rahimahullāh) says when the Prophet Muhammad, (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam), mentions these small bones or joints, he is emphasizing their structure and creation which are great bounties of Allah subhana wa ta'ala. The Prophet Muhammad, (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam), calls upon us to be thankful to Allah by doing charitable acts for each one of these bones.
Al-Ustaz Jamaludin Zarabozo highlights the significance of the word 'salameh', the small bone, when he refers to the small bones in the hands and feet and how they are put together. Once again, we notice how scholars may be influenced by each other. It is not strange to notice that Ustaz Jamaludin is influenced by Ibn Rajab (rahimahullāh) since he translated most of his work. He asks the Muslims to see how these bones are magnificently put together. It is their interaction that allows the dexterity and speed that the creatures possess in their hands. It also gives proper balance to the feet.
Al-Shaikh Al-Bitar, (rahimahullāh) one of the commentators on An-Nawawi's Forty Hadith, states that these bones are some of the keys to the progress and civilization of man. These bones enable human beings to move, grasp, construct and build things. Most of what people perform and what has been manufactured is due to these small and minute bones that have been created by Allah in this impressive and marvelous way. Therefore, he continues to say, these are great blessings for which a Muslim must be thankful to Allah. We can be thankful by doing the above mentioned charitable acts: to do good deeds, to help others, and to benefit the community.
Ibn Rajab (rahimahullāh) mentions that doing these charitable acts mentioned in the hadith is an obligation upon each Muslim. Moreover, he classifies thankfulness to Allah into two categories:
1. Obligatory (wajib) thankfulness. Muslims are required to fulfill the obligations (wajibat) and refrain from the prohibitions (muharramat). This is the minimum level of being thankful to Allah. To be thankful to Allah requires one to refrain from disobedience (ma'siyah) to Allah, to strongly disapprove sin, and not to misuse or abuse any of our limbs (jawareh) or whatever Allah has bestowed upon us. Man has been given one of the most important bounties from Allah and that is sight. Man must not use it in disobedience. Allah bestowed us with the bounty of hearing and we should use it in a beneficial way.
2. Preferable (mustahab) thankfulness. This is for Muslims who seek to be among the righteous and competing believers. This type can be classified into subcategories:
2.1 - Those that are beneficial to the community such as what is mentioned in this hadith.
2.2 - Limited to the person who performs it, as mentioned in Hadith No: 25: sadaqah; dzikirullah; enjoining of good; and forbidding evils.
Though the above mentioned classifications may be perceived positively or negatively, it should not take us away from the great meaning of the charitable acts where we can look at them from a different angle. Not from the angle of whether they are preferable (mandoub: if we do it, we will be rewarded and if we do not do it, we will not be blamed) or obligatory (wajib). Sometimes preferable things become obligatory. For instance, if a blind man wants to cross the road and you are the only one to help him, helping him becomes obligatory. If every one of us is expecting someone else to help the blind man, he will end up with nobody willing to help him. This sort of attitude will weaken the bonding within the community. There are many negative examples that can be seen today. The recklessness of some Muslims who do not help needy people is often noticed in the Muslim community these days. As a result, the Muslim is blamed when he is the only one who is capable of doing that action but does not do it.
This hadith aims to emphasize the charitable acts that benefit the society since they are great deeds and the people who do them are rewarded. Most Muslims forget these charitable acts.
Another hadith emphasizes that Muslims are like one body where they care for each other. We should set ourselves as models in our morality, behaviour, values and qualities in order for others to follow our steps and listen to us. Only by this will the level of confidence be increased in the community. People will listen to each other when they see good examples and this is what meant by the verse that the Prophet Muhammad, (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam), is a good model for Muslims
As Muslims, we have to observe the charitable acts. We should do as much as we can without making any commitment to any of them. These charitable acts are not done regularly as the Five Daily solah. We do them on our convenience and according to our ability. By performing these acts regularly, we will be closer to Allah. When every Muslim exercises these charitable acts, we will end up with a harmonious and cooperative society. By doing this, we contribute to the increasing of goodness and the minimising of evil - this is the main purpose of da'wah.
This hadith emphasizes the significance of certain deeds: bringing about justice between two people and reconciling them. Getting people who deviated in their thoughts back to the community is part of islah (reconciliation). When the Khawarij started thinking of fighting their own community, `Abdullah bin `Abbas, (radiyallahu`anhu), went to them and had a dialogue with them. He tried to remove any misconceptions. He was successful in getting two-thirds of them into the Muslim community. This is one meaning of charitable acts. Another meaning is to give help to those who are in need for help. We should not wait until we are asked. We have to offer help when we see people in need. This is what is meant by wala' (loyality) to the community.
Saying a good word is a charitable act, as mentioned in Hadith 25. There are many ways that we can do this. For example, when we notice that someone is unhappy, we can bring pleasure to him by saying a good word to him and relieving his sadness or worry.
Another deed is the step to perform solah. We know that prayer is obligatory, but by walking to prayer we perform a charitable act in every step. When Muslims keep this in their minds, they will be encouraged to do such deeds.
The last charitable act that is mentioned in this hadith is removing a harmful thing from the road or from someone's pathway. Some people may look at this as insignificant or unimportant. But this does not mean that the act is degrading. In the sight of Allah it is a great act and we will be rewarded for doing it. Doing such an act may prevent a terrible accident from happening. For example, omitting a nail from the street may prevent car accidents and consequently keep the safety of our community. We should not care about the comments of others because we are doing it for the sake of Allah. The more we have the intention that we are doing these charitable acts for the sake of Allah, the more will be the reward from Allah Subhana wa ta'ala.
Abu Dharr (radiyallāhu`anhu) reported: The Prophet (Sallallāhu`alayhi wasallam) said:
Abu Dharr (radiyallāhu`anhu) reported: The Prophet (Sallallāhu`alayhi wasallam) said:
"Allāh, the Almighty, says, `Whosoever does a good deed, will have (reward) ten times like it and I add more; and whosoever does an evil, will have the punishment like it or I will forgive (him); and whosoever approaches Me by one span, I will approach him by one cubit; and whosoever approaches Me by one cubit, I approach him by one fathom, and whosoever comes to Me walking, I go to him running; and whosoever meets Me with an earth-load of sins without associating anything with Me, I meet him with forgiveness like that".[Muslim]
This Hadith mentions the infinite Compassion and Mercy of Allāh to His obedient servants and a special expression of which will be made by Him on the Day of Resurrection. On that Day, He will servants at least ten times reward for each good deed. In some cases it may be far more than that, seven hundred times or more, as He would like. Such benevolence on His part warrants that a Muslim should never lose hope of His forgiveness.
Islam calls for and encourages its followers to build a caring society, where members of the society care for one another, support one another and help one another. Social charitable acts discussed above are considered obligatory daily activities which form ways and means of being thankful to Allah. This concept needs to be promoted in the classroom, masjid and the media in every possible way.
Unfortunately, contemporary media plays a negative role in this sense. Movies promote negative values which lead to an uncaring society, resulting in, for example, selfishness, greediness and ego-centric personalities.
One way of changing this negative role to a positive one is to change the existing concept of entertainment. Another alternative is to initiate new branches of communication such as educational communication and psychology of the media.
And Allāh Almighty Knows best.
[Excerpted from Commentary on Hadith 26: “Charitable Acts II, 40 Hadiths Of Imam Nawawi, By Dr. Jamal Ahmed Badi, via IC Truth]