Since we are in the blessed month of Ramadan and Allah the Exalted has promised those who work hard during this month to multiply the rewards of their good deeds, Muslims are challenged by this overwhelming opportunity and are striving to do as much good as they can. Therefore, it would be important to highlight the virtues of one of the important topics of this month: “Charity”, as well as some of the Islamic etiquettes and manners of giving charity.
Islam encourages the Muslim to spend his money for the sake of Almighty Allah whenever he is capable of doing so, and it stresses the great virtues of giving in charity.
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “The upper hand is better than the lower hand. The upper hand is the one that gives, and the lower hand is the one that takes”. (Al-Bukhari)
Almighty Allah says:
(The likeness of those who spend their money for Allah’s sake, is as the likeness of a grain (of corn), it grows seven ears, every single ear has a hundred grains, and Allah multiplies (increases the reward) for whom He wills, and Allah is All-Sufficient for His creatures needs, All Knower) (Al-Baqarah 2: 261).
And He also says:
(Whoever works righteousness, man or woman, and has Faith, verily, to him will We give a new Life, a life that is good and pure and We will bestow on such their reward according to the best of their actions) (An-Nahl 16: 97)
In this life, charity enlarges the blessings in one’s fortune. Unlike what most people think, money increases as long as the person is giving in charity. This is as the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) stated, “Charity does not lessen one’s money…”
As we know, the amount of money we have is not what counts; it is the value of the money and the things you can get with it. When the believer feeds his money with charity, this enlarges the blessings in his money. With a certain amount of money he would be able to do more than what he used to do before; not to mention the harm that would be averted from his money, so that the money will not be wasted by one of many ways (for example, a car accident, health problems and so on).
Furthermore, charity has an amazing effect in averting calamities and harm that afflicts the Muslim. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Cure your sick people with sadaqah ( charity)!” (Abu Dawud)
That is why righteous Muslims used to cure themselves in times of sickness by giving in charity! One of the early righteous Muslims whose name is Ar-Rabe’e was afflicted with Hemiplegia and was suffering from that disease for some time. One day his wife cooked him a chicken and baked some fresh bread, which was something that he used to really enjoy. Resisting the temptation of his favorite dish, he asked her to give the food to one of the poor people in charity, saying: “I would like to give the poor what I love most, so that Allah may accept my charity and reward me with what is better than that”.
His wife suggested that she would keep the food for him, and instead give some money to the poor which equals the same price of the food. Ar-Rabe’e asked her to bring the money, and when she did, he asked her to put them all together (the money, the grilled chicken and the fresh bread) and give them all to the poor!
This was the attitude of Muslims about giving in charity, while many people nowadays spend enormous amounts of money on doctors and medications neglecting the importance of charity that might not even make a noticeable difference to their wealth.
In the Hereafter, charity could be the reason for a person being protected from Hell even if it was as small as a piece of date! The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “There will be none among you but will be spoken to by Allah 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) in front of him, and (only) Hell Fire will confront him. So, whoever among you can save himself from the Fire, should do so even with one half of a date (meaning: even if all you can give in charity is one half of a date)”. (Al-Bukhari)
Almighty Allah has praised those who make it a habit to give a portion of their wealth to the poor and has promised them multiple rewards for their charity. He says:
(Who is he that will loan to Allah a beautiful loan which Allah will double unto his redit and multiply it many times?) (Al-Baqarah 2: 245).
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) also said, “If one gives in charity what equals one date-fruit from money that is earned in a lawful way, and Allah only accepts what is lawful, Allah shall take it in His right (hand) and then enlarge its reward for that person (who has given it), just like any of you who brings up a foal, so much so that it (i.e. the charity) becomes as big as a mountain”. (Al-Bukhari)
What we now spend in charity for the sake of Almighty Allah is what remains with us after death; however, what we spend for our worldly pleasures vanishes. `A’ishah (the Prophet’s wife, may Allah be pleased with her) reported that they once slaughtered a sheep, and then distributed all the parts of the sheep in charity except for the shoulder which she kept for them. When the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) asked her about what remained from the sheep (after distributing it), she said, “Nothing remained except for the shoulder”, so the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) commented, “Everything remained except for the shoulder!”
However, for charity to be accepted and to achieve its goals, the believer must consider some essential manners when giving it.
First of all, the charity must be given from money that is earned in a lawful way. Almighty Allah says:
(O ye who believe, spend from what you (lawfully) earned) (Al-Baqarah 2: 267)
Also, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Allah is Tayyib, and He only accepts what is Tayyib”, (the word Tayyib means lawful, pure, and good) (Muslim)
Second, when giving in charity, the believer must purify his intention and make his purpose just for the sake of gaining the pleasure of Almighty Allah and His reward; not anything else (such as worldly benefits, fame, and good reputation) The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “All deeds are based on intention and everyone will be rewarded according to what he intended (from his action.)” (Al-Bukhari)
Also, he (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Nothing that you spend for Allah’s sake but you will be rewarded for it, even the food that you raise up to your wife’s mouth”.
Almighty Allah praised those who give for His sake without expecting any benefit from the people who receive the charity. He says:
(And they give food (in spite of their love for it) to the poor, the orphan and the captive. Saying; we feed you seeking Allah’s countenance only, we wish for no reward nor thanks from you) (Al-Insan 76: 8,9).
Any of our daily actions could be turned into an act of worship if it is done purely for the sake of Almighty Allah, and any act of worship could be rejected by Allah if it is done for any other purpose except for pleasing Him.
Third, the believer should hasten to give in charity and should not delay it without a specific reason. It is also much better for the Muslim to give charity during his life when he is in need of money, rather than wait until death comes to him, then he commands his inheritors to give charity on his behalf. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was once asked about the best of all charity, so he said, “The best charity is what you give during your life while you are in need of it.”
Fourth, it is more fitting for the Muslim to give the charity from the best of his possessions; that which he loves the most. This is actually the opposite of what many people do nowadays; as they only give their old unwanted possessions as if they are trying to get rid of them! Almighty Allah says:
(By no means shall you attain righteousness unless you give (freely as a charity) from that which you love; and whatever you spend Allah knows it well) (Aal `Imran 3: 92).
However, this does not mean that one should lessen the value of his charity if he only has a little to give.
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) once said to his companions, “One Dirham could be better in reward than one hundred thousand Dirhams!”
A man asked, “And how is that, messenger of Allah?”
He (peace and blessings be upon him)) replied, “A wealthy man takes one hundred thousand Dirhams which is one part of his wealth and gives it in charity, while a poor man who only has two Dirhams pays one of them in charity.”
Also, it was reported that `A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) once gave a piece of date in charity when this was all she had. Whatever you do, big or small, will be put in your account, even if it was as tiny as the weight of an atom. Almighty Allah says:
(Whoever does an atom weight of good he shall see it (in his book), and whoever does an atom weight of evil he shall see it) (Az-Zalzalah 99: 7- 8).
Fifth, the believer must hide his charity and do his best not to let anyone know about it in order to avoid falling into showing off one’s good deeds to others and doing the good deeds for other than the sake of Almighty Allah. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Seven (types of) people will be covered with Allah’s shade on a day when there is no shade but His Shade, (from among them) a man who gives charity hiding it, so that (even) his left hand does not know what his right hand has spent” (Al-Bukhari)
Saying that your left hand does not know what your right hand has spent is a form of expression that indicates how careful you should be when giving charity. You should not let anyone notice what you are doing. It would be even better to hide your identity from the one who is receiving the charity, if this is possible, so as to protect the receiver’s dignity and save him from feeling shameful or humiliated. One of the righteous successors used to give constant charity to the scholars who were known to be poor during his time. In order to hide his identity and protect them from embarrassment, he used to wait until they entered the mosque for one of the daily prayers, then he would put the money inside their slippers! The scholars never knew his true identity until he died and they found that the charity they used to receive on a constant basis stopped all of a sudden.
Sixth, the believer must not follow his charity by harming the one who receives it, nor should he keep on reminding him of his generosity. Hurting the one who receives charity in any way would only nullify (cancel) the reward of the charity, as Almighty Allah indicated in His Glorious Book: (O you who believe, cancel not your charities by reminders of your generosity, or by harm). (Al-Baqarah 2:264)
Seventh, when one can not (or does not want to) give charity to a person who is asking for it, he should only say a kind word to him, and should not by any means hurt his feelings. Almighty Allah says: (Kind words and forgiveness are better than a charity followed by injury) (Al-Baqarah 2:263).
May Allah lighten our way and help us to use the golden opportunities of this blessed month. Ameen.
By Mira El-Deeb