Rashidah, a single-mother of two, works two jobs to support her children. She recently divorced her husband after months spent fighting over money. That ended in the family's eviction from its home. She now has a good job, but whispers of possible layoffs have been hissing around the office water cooler these past months.
The family's sole breadwinner, Rashidah cannot risk losing her apartment or transportation. She has cut back significantly on the amount of money she spends for household expenses. She has even stopped paying sadaqah altogether for now in order to build up more savings and financial security.
Sadaqah offerings in masajid throughout the country are diminishing-a direct result of the tanking economy, no doubt. Charitable giving plummets while the demand for financial assistance skyrockets. More and more families desperately seek the necessary funds to maintain basic living. Many of them once regularly contributed to those in need. Now the tables have turned, and the helpers now find themselves on the receiving end of charity, often for the first time in their lives.
The recession is hobbling communities across the country. Fewer of us can offer the assistance to others we used to. In fact, many of us are now in need ourselves. For the very first time, we know the struggle of keeping a roof overhead and food across a table-spread. We worry about whether we can hold the job that sustains so many close ones. We all know others whose work left them months ago, despite their advanced degrees, topnotch experience, and seniority. Homes, cars, and other possessions steadily slip from under our feet like slowly snatched carpets.
In the midst of such worldly loss, and despite our own urgent neediness-is it realistic for us to keep on adding to the gain of others? Absolutely.This is, in fact, the way of the faithful who have preceded us most illustriously in Islam.The Qur'an commands us: "You shall believe in God [alone] and His Messenger! And you shall spend [charitably] out of that [wealth] over which He has made you trustees. Then [as to] those of you who have thus believed and spent, [know that]for them there is a great reward [awaiting in the Hereafter]" [57:7].
The Truth About Sadaqah
Ah, yes, sadaqah! That great pillar of real belief. It is obligatory for every Muslim to give charity to help the needy. It confirms one's devotion and service to Allah. Yet, most of us automatically think of giving money when it comes to charity. It can be hard to part with even a dollar when you are trying to scrape together enough to keep the lights on. But, sadaqah is not just financial charity. It can be given through our efforts, a kind word, even a smile, as the Prophet of Islam, sallallaliu alayhe wa sallam, has famously taught the world.
Abu Musa Al-Ash'ari recounts that the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, once said: "There is a sadaqah due on every Muslim. If he cannot give because he has no money, let him work. Then he can support himself and give charity. If he is unable to work, then let him help someone in need of his help. If he cannot do this, then let him enjoin good. If he cannot do that, then he should do no evil nor harm others. [Even] this shall be written for him as sadaqah" (Ahmad).
When you are just getting by, hand to mouth, how easy it is to be caught up with the here and now. Charity may be the farthest thing from your mind. Yet continuous, simple acts of generosity can have lasting effects. The Prophet Muhammad, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, stated that the rewards of giving and sharing with others benefit us greatly in this life and the next. Your finances do not incapacitate your ability to meet this important obligation and reap the benefits.
Four kinds of sadaqah with a reward that money cannot buy
A simple smile
Ever notice how contagious an ordinary smile can be? When you meet a friendly, smiling face, you cannot help but surrender a smile of your own. The Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said that even a smile to your brother is sadaqah. According to the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, having a good attitude is an important characteristic that pleases Allah: "The most beloved to me and the closest to me on the Day of Resurrection will be those of you who have the best attitude (toward others)" (Fath al-Bari, 10/4-56, Kitab al-Adab, bab husn al-Khuluq; Muslim, 15/78).
Giving sincere advice to another is also an inexpensive form of sadaqah we can surely spare. Good advice could be anything from helping someone secure employment to providing them ways of becoming more disciplined and organized in daily life. Caring enough about others to make sure they make wise decisions that will truly benefit them is a rare gift.
Spending time to help those in need
Feeding the homeless, organizing a clothing drive, visiting the sick and shut-in, inviting neighbors and family members into your home for a meal-all are great ways to give sadaqah.
Praying for others
"The quickest prayer to be answered is one's supplication for his brother in his absence" (Bukhari). So said our Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam- and what a great sadaqah, indeed. Keeping others in our sincere duaa requires selflessness, the very kernel of brotherhood and community.
Virtue-The Final Verdict
Giving sadaqah is one of many ways we show our belief in Allah. You give the best of what you have, whether it is money, advice, time, or a kind word. Even if you have less than you did in years past, if you have a home, loving family, and friends, and can meet your basic necessities, thank Allah and continue to share your wealth through actions and deeds with others. Recognizing our responsibility to those who are truly less fortunate are the ties of a living faith that bind our community.
This is virtue, and how wonderfully its stunning vitality-and the breathtaking dynamism of its incalculable reward-Surah Al-Insan captures in motion. Take a moment to read and release:
"As to the virtuous, they shall, [in the Hereafter], drink from a chalice [of a wine, tinged with] a mixture of camphor, [flowing from] a spring from which the. [worthy] servants of God [alone] shall drink-and which they [themselves] shall cause to gush, [at their command,] in fountains. [Such is for those] who fulfill their vows, and who fear a Day whose evil [is on the wing,] flying far and wide. Thus they feed with food-despite their own desire for it-the indigent, and the orphan, and the captive [of war, saying]: We feed you purely for the sake of God. We desire no reward from you, nor thankfulness. Indeed, we have fear of our Lord [and His punishment], on a Day [Hereafter, when faces shall be overspread] with frowns and intense gloom. So God will shield them against the evil of that Day and will confer upon them radiance and great gladness. And He will reward them for their patience with a Garden [of Paradise] and [clothing of] silk. They shall recline therein on [canopied] couches. They see therein neither [blazing] sun nor [bitter] cold. Moreover, so very near above [them] are its [boughs of] shade- their fruit-clusters lowered close in easy reach. Passed round among them are vessels of silver and cups bright as crystal- crystalline of silver-that they measure out with perfect measure. They are given to drink of a chalice [of wine tinged with] a mixture of ginger, [from] a fountain therein that is named Salsabil. Going round [serving] them are immortal youths. If you see them, you shall think them [to be] strewn pearls. And wherever you so look, there shall you see pure delight and a great kingdom. Enrobing [the Heavenly inhabitants] shall be green silk and brocade. And they shall be adorned therein with bracelets of silver. Thus their Lord shall give them to drink a pure drink. [It shall be said:] Indeed, all this is for you in reward! For your [lifetime of] striving has been graciously accepted" [76:5-22].
Article provided by Al Jumuah Magazine, a monthly Muslim lifestyle publication, which addresses the religious concerns of Muslim families across the world. To subscribe please visit https://www.aljumuah.com/subscription