Hadith 25: Charitable Acts
By Imam 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 wa sallam, is His Messenger
Abu Dzarr al-Ghifari (radiyallāhu'anhu), reported that some of the Companions of the Messenger of Allāh, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam), said to him:
“O Messenger of Allāh! The rich have taken away all the rewards. They observe solāt as we do, and they keep the fasts as we do, and they give sadaqah (charity) from their surplus riches.” Upon this the Rasūlullāh, Sallallāhu alayhi wasallam) said: "Has Allāh not prescribed for you (a course) by following which you can also do sadaqah? Verily in every Tasbihah (i.e. saying Subhanallāh) there is a sadaqah, every Takbirah (i.e. saying Allāhu Akbar) is a sadaqah, every Tahmidah (i.e. saying Alhamdulillah) is a sadaqah, every Tahlilah (i.e. saying Lāilāha illallāh) 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 Allāh! Is there reward for him who satisfies his sexual passion among us?" Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) 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."
Abu Dzarr Al-Ghifari (radiyallāhu’anhu) reported: The Allāh’s Messenger (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “When you get up every morning charity is due from every joint bone of the body of every one of you. Every utterance of Allāh's Glorification (i.e., Subhānallāh) is an act of charity, and every utterance of praise of Him (i.e., Al-hamdulillāh) is an act of charity, and every utterance of profession of Faith (i.e., Lā ilāha illallāh) is an act of charity, and every utterance of His Greatness (i.e., Allāhu-Akbar) is an act of charity; and enjoining good is an act of charity and forbidding what is disreputable is an act of charity; and Two rak’ah of Solāh which one offers in the forenoon (Ad-Dhuha) will suffice for all this.”' [Recorded by Muslim]
Abu Dzarr Al-Ghifari (Jundub bin Junadah) (radiyallāhu’anhu) was one of the earliest Muslims, being perhaps the fifth person to embrace Islam. He (radiyallāhu’anhu) moved to Madinah after the Hijrah, and was present at many of the battles of the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam). Abu Dzarr (radiyallāhu’anhu) narrated approximately 281 hadiths.
In another hadith recorded by both Muslim and Al-Bukhari (rahimahullah), it is mentioned that the questioners were the poor companion (Sahabah) of the Muhajruun or immigrants from Makkah. Ibn Rajab (rahimallāh) says that this hadith shows that those poor people thought that giving sadaqah (charity) can only be done through money, something which they could not afford. The Prophet, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam), told them that all good deeds are considered as charitable acts (sadaqah).
There are other versions this hadith of Abu Dzarr (radiyallāhu 'anhu), as well as some other hadiths which show similar meanings. One of them is in Sahih Muslim which says that: “Every good act is an act of charity”. In another version the hadith, it says: “Your smile to your brother is a charitable act. Ordering good is a charitable act. Forbidding evil is a charitable act. Helping a man who has bad eyesight to see things is a charitable act. Removing a stone, rubbish or bones is a charitable act. Emptying your cup in the cup of your brother is a charitable act.”
Also in the Sahihayn (Al-Bukhari and Muslim) it is mentioned that “A man spending money upon his wife is charity”. In another hadith in the Sahihayn it is mentioned that “No Muslim plants a plant or soils a seed and has it eaten by a bird, animal or human except that it will be a charitable act for him”.
According to Ibn Rajab (rahimallāh), the hadith proves that the Companions of the Prophet, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam), were so eager to do good acts and charitable deeds. They had very strong desires to do al-khayr and charity in order to please Allāh subhānahu wa ta'ala. They were sad when they could not afford to donate their money to charity especially as it was being done by some other people. They had a strong desire to spend they wealth and to do good deeds when they saw some members among the Companions doing it. They wanted to be like them in terms of rewards and tawab. They were able to do solāt, fasting and other ‘ibadah but one thing they could not do was giving money or sadaqah because they did not have any. But they were told to do more dzikir which is equal to giving money or charity in terms of rewards.
The sahabah were so keen to do all forms and acts of ibadah in order to please Allāh (subhānahu wa ta’ala). This should be the case with every Muslim. We should be eager to do every good deed which pleases Allāh. At least we should have the will and desire to do it even if we cannot do it.
Allāh (subhānahu wa ta’ala) says:
“Nay, you prefer the life of this world although the Hereafter is better and more lasting.” (Surah al-A’la, 87:16-17)
Unfortunately, many Muslims today compete for the life of this world and this can cause jealousy, pride and enmity in the hearts. We should remember that the pleasures of this world are fleeting and can lead to loss and destruction, but the pleasures of the Hereafter are for eternity.
As the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:
“By Allāh, it is not poverty that I fear for you. But I fear that the world will be spread out before you as it was for the people before you. Then you shall compete in it as the people before you competed in it and it shall destroy you as it destroyed them.”
(Recorded in Bukhari and Muslim)
Ibn Rajab (rahimallāh) states that the Islamic concept of charity in its broad sense can be divided into two types:
1. The acts of goodness and kindness one can have towards other humans. Ibn Rajab (rahimallāh) gave some examples such as education and teaching people, teaching the Qur'ān, removing anything that harms people in their paths, and also doing whatever that contributes to the well-being of the Muslim community. This also includes making du'a (supplication) and istighfar (forgiveness) for the other Muslims.
2. Keeping any harmful action away from others. This means that we must not perform a harmful act towards other people if it does not benefit them. It is the minimum thing that one can afford to do to benefit others.
Charitable acts are rewarded even without niyah(intentions). This can be understood from the first impression or the general observable meaning of the text of the hadith. But it seems that Ibn Rajab (rahimallāh) is not happy with this interpretation. He says that a charitable act, according to many scholars, is conditional to a good intention. That is we must do it for the sake of Allāh only and to seek His Pleasure. According to Ibn Rajab (rahimallāh), this view is supported by two evidences:
1. In another version of the hadith good intention was mentioned and hence it applies to the other places where good intention was not mentioned.
2. In Surah al-Nisa,4: 114, Allāh says: "There is no good in most of their secret talks except one who exhorts to a good deed of charity or goodness or conciliation between people. To him who does this seeking the pleasure of Allāh, We shall soon give him a reward of high value." Ibn Rajab (rahimallāh) says that in this verse it is mentioned that the reward is conditional to a good intention only.
The believer should only give in charity (sadāqah) that which is beyond their needs. As the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:
“It is enough of a sin for a man to allow to be destroyed one who he is [financially] responsible for.”
(Recorded in Ahmad)
When giving charity (sadāqah) to others we should begin with those whom we are financially responsible for, then those who are in need who are close to us and within our community. The Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:
“The upper hand [that gives] is better than the lower hand [that receives]. One should start giving first to his dependents. The best object of charity is that which is given by a wealthy person. And whoever abstains from asking others for some financial help, Allāh will give him and save him from asking others. And whoever is satisfied with what Allāh has given him, Allāh will make him self-sufficient.”
(Recorded in al-Bukhari)
Each of the phrases of dzikrullāh such as al-tahmid, al-tahlil, and al-tasbih is a charitable act (sadaqah). This show us the importance if dzikrullāh. There are general types of dzikir and there are specific types of dzikir. Muslims should remember Allāh all the time. The recommended time to do dzikir is during the morning and the evening and after the salawāt. Every Muslim should maintain and observe the dzikir in order to become among those who are described as al-dzakirun.
The acts of pleasing Allāh are very wide and affordable to everyone. People differ in their ability, preference, potential, etc. There is room for all where every one has the ability to perform some act of charity. Therefore a Muslim should take this advantage and do good deeds which are more convenient and suitable for him or her. However, we are encouraged to do as much of good deeds and charitable acts as we can.
In the second hadith of Abu Dzarr Al-Ghifari (radiyallāhu’anhu), states that the performance of the Solāt Duha is a substitution of some charitable acts. The Prophet Muhammad,(sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam), said that the solāt of al-Duha has the same reward of doing these charitable acts. In the hadith that is related by Imam Al-Bukhari and Imam Muslim (rahimahullāh), it mentions something that is not mentioned in the previous hadith.
Imam al-Dhahabi (rahimallāh) related about a dialogue between Ibn Al-Juwairiyah (rahimallāh) and Imam Malik (rahimallāh). He said that Ibn al-Juwairiyah (rahimallāh) wrote a letter to Imam Malik (rahimallāh) about ‘ibadah and advised him to do more acts of worship. Imam Malik (rahimallāh) was well known for his lectures in the Masjid al-Nabawi where he used to disseminate ilm (knowledge) and the sunnah of the Prophet, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam), that he learned. Ibn Juwairiyah (rahimallāh) was known of his piety and devotions to worship. Imam Malik (rahimallāh) replied Ibn al-Juwairiyah's letter saying that Allāh has divided the acts of deeds among people as He divided rizq or wealth among them. Some are given talents in knowledge and how to spread it while others are given talents in jihad, fasting and so on. So, what Imam Malik (rahimallāh) was given is not less than what Ibn al-Juwairiyah (rahimallāh) have been given and he hoped that both of them are on the right track and do the things that please Allāh subhānahu wa ta'ala.
In the stories of the Sahabah we can find that every one was good at doing some specific acts. This means talents are divided among people. Ibn Mas’ud (radiyallāhu 'anhu) said that fasting the sunnah prevented him from reciting the Qur'an. It made him weak. So he chose the recitation of the Qur'ān over the non-obligatory fasting. This is mentioned by Al-Shatibi (rahimallāh) in his al-I'tisam.
So people have choices and preferences in doing acts of ‘ibadah according to their ability and this is acceptable in Islam. Only a few people may have the ability to do many things together. One of them was Abu Bakar as-Siddiq, (radiyallāhu 'anhu). He was given the talents to perform all forms of ‘ibadah and was good at doing them.
Ibn al-Qayyim (rahimallāh) mentions said that it is recommended to compete towards good deeds as mentioned in the Qur'an. People are allowed to compete for goodness and for the acts of charity in accordance with their talents and ability.
There is a story of a man who was in Madinah who usually goes to solāh with some money in his pocket. After the solāh and on his way back, he would give the money to any needy person that he met. He was well known for doing this kind of charity. Then there is the story of an old man who was over 80 years old who used to do many good activities for the people of the village. He used to walk around the streets of the village and cleaned the roads and streets. Every morning after the Solāt Fajar he would go to the school and clean the muddy and dusty road to that school. He was an illiterate man but yet he did a lot of good jobs for the villagers which other people did not bother to do. This is indeed a great deed in the sight of Allāh. It is a good opportunity to get the pleasure of Allāh. Therefore every Muslim should be doing this kind of action which is actually easy and simple but has great rewards.
We cannot do all charitable acts at one time but we have to do whatever we can do. We have to have the intention to do any charitable act. The hadith that says: "Your smile to your brother is a charitable act" is a good example of this type of ‘ibadah. It is common now to see many people who have the habit of smiling at other people. They are in fact good at this kind of charitable act. They are blessed with this behavior. It has a positive influence on other's behavior. When you smile to your brother and say “As-Salāmu ‘alaykum” to him, you are in fact making him happy and this act will create a good environment among the Muslim community.
Scholars have emphasised the distinction between "Ghibtah" and "Hasad". Al-Ghibtah means to have the desire to achieve the good qualities that others have. Al-Ghibtah is a positive behavior which motivates you to do good, as good as other people do. For example, when you see a knowledgeable person, you admire and wish to be knowledgeable like him; when you see someone who do a lot of ibadah, you wish to do the same; when you see a rich person who pays charity, you admire him and wish to be like him. So you admire these people for their good actions and hence you wish to be like them. Al-Ghibtah, then, is actually good and desirable. It influences our attitude and behavior in a positive way.
Al-Hasad, on the other hand, means 'envy'. It is a negative behavior which is prohibited and condemned in Islam. The Prophet, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam), said that al-Hasad demolishes the rewards. It is envy and jealousy that occurs when you see someone who is given some privileges that you do not have. It is Allāh who gives His Bounty to anyone He choses. So we should not feel any objection to Allāh's plan. That is why al-Hasad is considered a very bad behavior and a major sin.
We are encouraged to perform the acts of ordering good things and prohibiting evils because when we do it we contribute to the well-being of the society. We do not do it to offend or put down someone. We do it in order to help them. Carrying out this concept will always contribute to the betterment of the whole society. We have to do it with tolerance and patience so that the other party may accept it. When we do this act with good intentions, the other person sees it positively. He sees it as caring and concern from our side. So most likely, he will accept it. We should not do it in a harsh or aggressive way that it may offend others.
Scholars state that permissible acts can be turned into ‘ibadah. These acts can be rewarded with the condition of having good intentions. So every normal activity that we do in our everyday life can be turned into ‘ibadah and we will be rewarded for doing it with good intentions. For example, when you are driving or putting petrol into your car with the intention of benefiting your family or relatives, you will be rewarded and this act will be considered as ‘ibadah. Also, when you make a telephone call to your family or relatives with good intentions, you will be rewarded for that. Hence, these simple acts of our everyday life can be turned into ‘ibadah and be rewarded. We need to train ourselves with this habit and insha Allāh we will get a great reward from Allāh.
Allāh Almighty says: "Verily, the Abrar (pious and righteous) will be in Delight (Jannah).And verily; the Fujjar (the wicked, disbelievers, sinners and evildoers) will be in the blazing Fire (Hell)." [Al-Infitar, 82:13, 14]
Thus the believers must constantly supplicate to Allāh Almighty for his guidance to the straight path, righteous in our deeds and steadfast in ad-Deen (Religion).
The Prophet, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) taught the ummmah to seek Allāh’s forgiveness, guidance, steadfast and hasanah.
‘Abdullāh Ibn ‘Umar (radiyallāhu’anhu) said: We counted Messenger's saying a hundred times during one single sitting: ‘Rabb ighfir li wa tubb ‘alayya innaka antat-tawwābul ghafūrur-raheem’ (O Allāh, forgive me and accept my repentance, for You are the Accepter of Repentance, Oft-Forgiving Most Merciful). [Recorded by Abu Dawud and At-Tirmidzi].
‘Abdullāh bin Mas`ud (radiyAllāh u‘anhu) reported that the Prophet (Sallallāhu`alayhi wasallam) used to say: "Allāh umma inni as `alukal-huda wat-tuqa wal-‘afafa wal-ghina (O Allāh ! I ask You for guidance, piety, chastity and self-sufficiency)". [Recorded by Muslim].
Guidance (Al-Huda) here means guidance at every turn of life and steadfastness on the path of truth. Fear of Allāh (Taqwa) is the greatest means of piety and strongest defense against sins. Chastity (Al-‘Afaf) is the state of being free from what is unlawful. Self-sufficiency(Al-Ghina) is the antonym of poverty and here it means the self-contentment. What it implies is that one should not care for what people possess. In view of all these qualities, the do’a of the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) mentioned in this Hadith is very comprehensive and valuable.
Anas Ibn Mālik (radiyallāhu’anhu) who said: “The supplication most often recited by Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam):Rabbana-ātina-fid-dunya hasānah, Wa fil-ākhirati-hasānah, Wa-qina-‘ādzabānnār (O Lord! Bestow upon us in this world that which is good and in the Hereafter that which is good, and save us from the punishment of the Fire).’” (Al-Baqārah 2:201) [This is recorded by Al-Bukhāri, Muslim, and Tarmidzi]. Tarmidzi (rahimullāh) said: “Hasanah is very comprehensive and includes in all kinds of good and benefits of this world and of the Hereafter. Good health, wealth and satisfaction of the world and good status in Jannah, forgiveness from sins and Allāh’s bounties and favours in both worlds are included in this du’ā’” [Recorded in Jāmi’ At-Tarmidzi]
And Allāh Almighty Knows best.
[Excerpted from a commentary on Hadith 25: "Charitable Acts I”, 40 Hadiths Of Imam Nawawi, By Dr. Jamal Ahmed Badi, via IC Truth]