Image: A spread from a 9th century (Hijri) manuscript of the Ihya

Imam Ghazali on the excellence of sadaqah

July 2023, 15 minute read

Among the hadith [on the excellence of sadaqah, are the following]: The Messenger (sallallahu alayhi wa-sallam) said, “Give in charity, though it be only a single date, for it satisfies the hungry and extinguishes sins just as water extinguishes fire.” (Ibn Mubarak)

And he (sallallahu alayhi wa-sallam) said, “Beware of the fire, if only [by giving] half a date [in charity] and if you lack even that, then by a kind word.” (Bukhari)

And also, “There is no Muslim servant of Allah who gives in charity [even] a date that he has earned in a pure and lawful way – for Allah accepts only what is pure – except that Allah will take it in His right hand and raise it up as one of you would raise a baby camel or a colt, until it becomes as great as Mount Uhud [in recompense].” (Muslim)

And he (sallallahu alayhi wa-sallam) said to Abu Darda (radiallahu anhu), “If you prepare a stew, add plenty of water, then see those whose homes neighbor yours and invite them to share it.” (Muslim)

And also, “There is no servant of Allah who is generous in giving charity except that Allah will be generous to his heirs in what he leaves them.” (Ibn Mubarak)

And also, “[On the day of judgment] each person will stand in the shade of his charity until Allah completes the reckoning for all.” (Ibn Hibban, Abu Nuaym)

And also, “Charity closes seventy gates of evil.” (Tabarani)

And again, “Charity in secret extinguishes the wrath of Allah.” (Tabarani)

And also, “The one who gives from his wealth does not have a reward more excellent than the one who accepts [it] out of need.” (Tabarani) It may be that what is meant here is someone who accepts charity in order to stave off his needs and so better devote himself to his religion. In that case, he would be equal to the one who gives charity for the sake of his religion.

And the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alayhi wa-sallam) was once asked, “Which charity is best?” to which he replied, “It is what you give while you are still in good health, avid for what you have, and fearing want – not what you ignore until the moment your soul has reached your throat [on your deathbed] and then say, ‘To this person, give this, and to that one, give that and it was already theirs.’” (Bukhari)

And the Messenger (sallallahu alayhi wa-sallam) also said to his Companions, “Give in charity!” A man among them said, “I have one dinar,” and the Messenger (sallallahu alayhi wa-sallam) said, “Spend it on yourself.” Then he said, I have another," and the Messenger (sallallahu alayhi wa-sallam) said, “Spend it on your wife.” The man said, “I have another,” and the Messenger (sallallahu alayhi wa-sallam) said, “Spend it on your child.” Again, the man said, “I have another,” and the Messenger (sallallahu alayhi wa-sallam) said, “Spend it on your servant.” Finally, when the man said, “I have yet another,” the Messenger (sallallahu alayhi wa-sallam) said, “You can see best what to do with it!” (Abu Dawud, Nasai, Ibn Hibban, Hakim)

And he (sallallahu alayhi wa-sallam) said, “[Receiving] charity is not lawful for the family of Muhammad, for it is the impurities of human beings.” (Muslim)

And he (sallallahu alayhi wa-sallam) said, “Respond to a beggars disgrace if only by a morsel of food no bigger than a bird’s head.” (Uqayli)

And also, “If a beggar is honest [about his need], no one who turns him away will prosper.” (Tabarani)

And Isa (alayhis salaam) said, “If someone turns a beggar away from his house with nothing, the angels will not enter that house for seven days.”

There were two tasks our Messenger (sallallahu alayhi wa-sallam) would not entrust to another: He would get his own water for ablution at night and cover it, and he would give charity to the poor with his own hand. (Ibn Majah)

And he (sallallahu alayhi wa-sallam) said, “The needy person is not the one you respond to with a date or two or a morsel of food or two. The needy person is the one who is too shy to beg. Read, if you will, [the words of Allah], ‘They do not ask people persistently [or at all] [2:273].’” (Bukhari, Muslim)

And he (sallallahu alayhi wa-sallam) also said, “There is no Muslim who clothes a fellow Muslim except that he will stay in Allah’s protection as long as a shred of that garment remains.” (Tirmidhi)

And from the sayings [of the saintly]: Urwah bin Zubayr (radiallahu anhu) said, “Aisha (radiallahu anha) gave fifty-thousand dirhams in charity and yet she wore a patched headscarf.” (Ibn Mubarak)

And commenting on the words of Allah, “And they give food for the love of Allah to the needy, the orphan, and the captive [76:8],” Mujahid (rahimahullah) said, “Even while they themselves crave it.” (Tabari)

And Umar bin Khattab (radiallahu anhu) said, “O Allah, grant Your bounty to those of us who are generous that they might pass it on to those of us in need.”

And Abdul Aziz bin Umayr (radiallahu anhu), “The prayer brings you halfway down the path, fasting brings you to the gates of the King, and charity puts you in His presence.” (Dinawari, Ibn Asakir)

Ibn Abil Jad (rahimahullah) said, “Charity closes seventy gates of evil, giving it in secret is seventy times better than in public, and it breaks the jaws of seventy devils.” (Tabarani, Ibn Mubarak)

Ibn Masud (radiallahu anhu) said, “There was a man who worshiped Allah for seventy years and then committed fornication, and all his practice was annulled. Then he passed by a poor man and gave him a loaf of bread, whereupon Allah forgave him his sin and restored to him the seventy years of worship.” (Maruzi, Ibn Abi Shayba, Abu Nuaym)

And Luqman (alayhis salaam) said to his son, “When you commit a transgression, give in charity.” (Maruzi)

Yahya bin Muadh (rahimahullah) said, “I know of no seed that weighs as much as all the mountains of this world except the seed of charity.” (Thalabi)

Abdul Aziz bin Abi Rawwad (rahimahullah) said, “It used to be said that there were three things among the treasures of heaven: Being silent about ones illness, [being] silent about ones charity, and [being] silent about hardships.” (Abu Nuaym) This is also related as a hadith.

Umar bin Khattab (radiallahu anhu) said, “A person’s good works vie with one another, and charity says, ‘I am the best of you!’”

Abdallah bin Umar (radiallahu anhu) was wont to give a very sweet variety of fresh date in charity and said, “I heard Allah’s words, ‘Never will you attain the good [reward] until you spend [in the way of Allah] from that which you love [3:92]’, and Allah knows that I really love this kind of date!” (Suyuti)

Nakhai (rahimahullah) said, “If something is for Allah it displeases me that it should have any flaws”

Ubayd bin Umayr (radiallahu anhu) said, “People will be gathered on the day of judgment as hungry as they had ever been, as thirsty as they had ever been, and as naked as they had ever been. Then those who gave the hungry food to eat for the sake of Allah, Allah will sate [them], and those who gave the thirsty to drink for the sake of Allah, Allah will quench their thirst, and those who clothed the naked for the sake of Allah, Allah will clothe [them].” (Ibn Hanbal)

Hasan [Basri] (rahimahullah) said, “If Allah had so willed, He could have made you all wealthy with not a single poor man among you, but He tests some of you by way of others.” (Ibn Abi Shayba)

And Shabi (rahimahullah) said, “Someone who gives charity should see himself as more in need of Allah’s recompense than a poor man in need of that charity. If he does not see this, then his act of charity is in vain and it will strike him in the face.”

And Malik (rahimahullah) said, “We see nothing wrong with a wealthy man’s drinking some of the water he gives in charity and distributes in the mosque, because it is for all who are thirsty and not just the indigent and poor.”

And it is said that a slave trader once passed by Hasan [Basri] (rahimahullah) with a bondwoman to sell. Hasan asked, “Would you accept a dirham or two as her price?” When the trader said no, Hasan told him, “Then go! For Allah Himself accepts even some coins and a morsel of food in exchange for one of the huri of paradise!”

The Book of Charity, Revival of Religous Sciences, Imam Ghazali (rahimahullah)