بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Things you need to know about charity:
- Sadaqah is not just about giving alms to the poor. In Islām, it is a much broader concept. You could even be spending on your family and it can count as sadaqah, if you have the proper intention. (Sahih Muslim 1002)
- The word sadaqah can mean more than just monetary charity. It includes things like helping your mom cook dinner, taking care of your cat, or even smiling a lot. So one doesn’t really need to have a lot of money to be able to give charity. The Prophet ﷺ named, among other things, the following as charity: smiling, feeding your wife, ẓikr, enjoining good and forbidding evil, and the Duḥa [Muslim 720].
- Sadaqah has to be given from pure money. If one thinks that one will atone for the sins from one’s unlawful income by giving charity, one is greatly mistaken. That’s because what one earns unlawfully isn’t one’s own money in the first place, then how can they give it to someone else? Rather it should be parted with as soon as possible without expecting the reward of sadaqah from it. Allah ﷻ said: O you who have believed, spend from the good things which you have earned… [Quran, 2:267]
- Charity is invalidated by making the one to whom you’re giving it feel inferior. Allah ﷻ said: O you who have believed, do not invalidate your charities with reminders or injury… [Quran, 2:264]
- Charity doesn’t have to look like charity. You can devise ingenious ways of disguising charity into something else, such as buying some stuff from a poor shopkeeper for a greater price than necessary, topping up the bank account of a brother who is heavily in debt, etc. If done properly, this will help us to keep our intention pure and to preserve the other person’s dignity.
- Sadaqah Jāriyah (“continuing charity”) is a broader term than we imagine. You never know which charity of yours might turn out to continue long after you die. For example, suppose you give a very hungry person some food. This person was so hungry that your food actually saves him from dying. Later on his circumstances improve, and he becomes a great preacher of Islam. Can you imagine your reward on the Day of Judgment? So never think any charity as insignificant. You never know which one will turn into a mountain of hasanāt on the Day of Judgment.
- Charity is not a favour on the needy. It is Allah’s favour on us. Charity is a right of the needy person on the Muslim community. Allah ﷻ says (translation): And from their properties was [given] the right (haqq) of the [needy] petitioner and the deprived. [Quran, 51:19]
- Sometimes we need to seek the needy, rather than the needy seeking us. The Prophet ﷺ said: The poor person is not the one who goes round the people and ask them for a mouthful or two (of meals) or a date or two but the poor is that who has not enough (money) to satisfy his needs and whose condition is not known to others, that others may give him something in charity, and who does not beg of people. [Sahih al-Bukhari 1479]