One may think that charity is as simple and straightforward as offering money, goods or services to those in need and underprivileged. However, it is beautiful to learn of what Islam constitutes as charity (sadaqah). Beyond mere financial donation, we are taught that Islam even deems smiling as charity.
In this way, the act of charity or giving becomes non-exclusive to the wealthy. Anyone can seek the favour of Allah s.w.t and gain the rewards He promised for those who do good.
There are many different deeds and acts that Islam deems as charity. Some include:
Acts of service or being helpful towards others
“…To help a man with his mount, lifting him onto it or hoisting up his belongings onto it, is charity… And removing a harmful thing from the way is a charity."
“…Your giving directions to a man lost in the land is charity for you. Your seeing for a man with bad sight is a charity for you, your removal of a rock, a thorn or a bone from the road is charity for you. Your pouring what remains from your bucket into the bucket of your brother is charity for you."
Saying good things to one another
“…And the good word is a charity..."
Smiling towards one another
“…Your smiling in the face of your brother is charity..."
Effort taken towards prayer
“…And every step taken towards prayer is a charity."
Spending on your family
“A man's spending on his family is a deed of charity."
Providing food to a fasting person
“Whoever feeds a fasting person, then he will get a reward like the reward of the fasting person, without reducing the reward of the fasting person in the slightest."
When we say, “it is the small things that matter”, truly, Islam is ahead of us. We can see how Allah s.w.t loves those who perform their prayers, enjoin in doing good, and takes care of the people around them.
For those who do a good deed, Allah s.w.t. promises ten times the reward. As stated in the Quran:
مَنۡ جَآءَ بِالۡحَسَنَةِ فَلَهٗ عَشۡرُ اَمۡثَالِهَا ۚ وَمَنۡ جَآءَ بِالسَّيِّئَةِ فَلَا يُجۡزٰٓى اِلَّا مِثۡلَهَا وَهُمۡ لَا يُظۡلَمُوۡنَ
“Whoever comes (on the Day of Judgement) with a good deed will have ten times the like thereof (to his credit), and whoever comes with an evil deed will not be recompensed except the like thereof; and they will not be wronged.”
(Surah Al-An’am: 6:160)
Those who spend their wealth in the cause of Allah s.w.t, He promises up to 700 times the reward or more:
مَّثَلُ ٱلَّذِينَ يُنفِقُونَ أَمۡوَٰلَهُمۡ فِي سَبِيلِ ٱللَّهِ كَمَثَلِ حَبَّةٍ أَنۢبَتَتۡ سَبۡعَ سَنَابِلَ فِي كُلِّ سُنۢبُلَةٖ مِّاْئَةُ حَبَّةٖۗ وَٱللَّهُ يُضَٰعِفُ لِمَن يَشَآءُۚ وَٱللَّهُ وَٰسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ
“The example of those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah is like a seed (of grain) which grows seven spikes; in each spike is a hundred grains. And Allah multiplies (His reward) for whom He wills. And Allah is all-Encompassing and Knowing.”
(Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:261)
Besides the multiplication of rewards for charity, in various hadith, our Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. has conveyed that there are benefits for those who give in charity. Some of which are:
“Charity can extinguish sin as water extinguishes fire."
"Save yourself from Hellfire even by giving half a date-fruit in charity."
Such is the abundance of rewards and benefits that Islam has promised for charity. As Muslims, should we not then race to do as much as we can?
As we are still in the month of Ramadan, let us learn from the example of Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. He was known to strive more in worship in Ramadan than in other times of the year. In fact, he further increased his acts of worship as he reached the last ten days of Ramadan.
It was reported that Aisyah r.a. said:
كانَ رَسولُ اللهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عليه وسلَّمَ يَجْتَهِدُ في العَشْرِ الأوَاخِرِ، ما لا يَجْتَهِدُ في غيرِهِ
“The Prophet s.a.w. used to strive hard (in worship) in the last ten nights of Ramadan as he never did at any other time.”
This is due to the great significance of these last ten nights, most notably, the search for Laylatul Qadr (the night of decree). The Prophet s.a.w. advised:
تَحَرَّوْا لَيْلَةَ الْقَدْرِ فِي الْوِتْرِ مِنَ الْعَشْرِ الأَوَاخِرِ مِنْرَمَضَانَ
"Search for the Night of Qadr in the odd nights of the last ten days of Ramadan."
In a Tafsir of the Quran, prominent Islamic scholar, Ibn Kathir r.h.m explained that the reward of spending Laylatul Qadr or the Night of Qadr (Power/Decree) in worship will be greater than worshipping Allah s.w.t for a thousand months. This is akin to 83 years, and for some, ibadah (worship) worth their entire lifetime.
لَيلَةُ القَدرِ خَيرٌ مِن أَلفِ شَهرٍ
“The Night of Decree is better than a thousand months.”
(Surah Al-Qadr, 97:3)
Ramadan is the time to gradually strive our best in hopes to develop the best version of ourselves. In this spirit, not only did the Prophet s.a.w. increase his ibadah in Ramadan with the recitation of the Quran, his nightly worship (qiyamullail) and fast. Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. also increased his works of charity.
كانَ رَسولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عليه وسلَّمَ أجْوَدَ النَّاسِ، وكانَ أجوَدُ ما يَكونُ في رَمَضَانَ حِينَ يَلْقَاهُ جِبْرِيلُ
“Rasulullah s.a.w was the most generous of all the people, and he used to reach the peak in generosity in the month of Ramadan when Jibril met him...”
Zakat is the only charity or giving (in the form of wealth) that has been obligated upon Muslims. Unlike sadaqah/infak or wakaf, Zakat is wajib (obligatory).
Understandably, with the immensity of rewards in Ramadan and Laylatul Qadr, many aim to maximise their ibadah (worship) within it, including with Zakat. Scholars including Imam Ahmad agreed that it is permissible to hasten or fulfil your Zakat on Wealth (Zakat Harta) in advance to take advantage of the blessings of Ramadan.
Fulfilling your Zakat on Wealth in advance refers to fulfilling Zakat before the condition of Haul (period of 1 Hijri year or 355 days) is met. To do this, you will have to estimate your savings amount for the year.
If the actual amount falls short, the remainder should be paid before the next Haul begins. If you overpaid, you can niat (intend) for it to be carried forward as part of the following year's Zakat, or to intend it as sadaqah. However, this intention (niyyah) needs to be done when you are fulfilling your Zakat and not as an afterthought.
The spirit of giving should not just remain in Ramadan. Instead, Islam teaches us to be consistent in our ibadah including charity. In a hadith, a man asked the Prophet s.a.w. what charity would bring the greatest reward. Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. answered:
أَنْ تَصَدَّقَ وأَنْتَ صَحِيحٌ شَحِيحٌ تَخْشَى الفَقْرَ، وتَأْمُلُ الغِنَى
“To give in charity when you are healthy and feeling miserly, hoping for a long life and fearing poverty.”
This hadith encourages us to give charity especially in times of ease when we are in good health and hoping for a long life, and even when we fear poverty and feel miserly. We should do so in remembrance of Allah s.w.t and to seek His pleasure and the rewards of the hereafter.
May Allah s.w.t accept and increase the rewards for our ibadah, Zakat and charity this Ramadan. Amin.
To fulfil or learn more about Zakat, visit www.zakat.sg.