Charity: The Pillar of Islam

Charity: The Pillar of Islam

If we offer anything in charity with the expectation of rewards in return, it will not be considered as Sadaqah but a donation

Offering unconditional kindness and love to others is charity. It is a conscious act, a choice made from the heart, without looking for recognition or compensation. When charity is performed sincerely, it is a one-way act in which the giver does not expect anything in return.
Some believe charity should start at home, while others think it should start from the heart. The first step in practising charity is to acknowledge internally the need to care for others, whether unconsciously or consciously. Everyone faces difficulties and sorrows in life, but charity begins with those who try to minimise their own issues to come up with kindness, compassion, and love for others. Thus, some people put aside their suffering to ease that of others.
“Those who in charity spend of their goods by night and by day, in secret and in public, have their reward with their Lord: on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve” (Qur’an – 2:274).
In Islam, charity or Sadaqah is considered the third pillar of Islam after Tawakal (Belief) and Salaah (Prayer). I believe there is no better way to show concern for humanity than charity. It is the best way by which we can uplift our society. Not only helping others or showing courtesy to one another, but Sadaqah also protects us from calamity and being miserly. It is promised that Sadaqah will save us from Hellfire. Charity is a never-ending good deed that not only elevates status but also will be a shade to the believer on the day of judgement or resurrection.
In Islam, charity is of two forms: Sadaqah and Sadaqah e Jariyah. Sadaqah e Jariyah benefits the person on earth and adds to the person’s rewards after he has left for the heavenly abode. When I gave some pennies to poor people in my childhood, my father told me that this was getting deposited in my account and I would receive it back manifold. He also used to say that I should learn the difference between donation and Sadaqah. Sadaqah should be given without expecting any reward or appreciation in return. If we offer anything in charity with the expectation of rewards in return, it will not be considered as Sadaqah but a donation. It should not be like doing good and expecting good in return. If we are giving anything in charity, we should not speak about it to anyone with exaggeration. My father has taught me that if you give charity with one of your hands, even your other hand should not come to know about it.
According to a Hadith, the first three people entering the jahanum (Hellfire) will be an Islamic scholar, a martyr, and a wealthy man. The Hadith is that a martyr will be brought to Allah, and he will say, I fought for you until I died a martyr. But Allah will say, yes, you died but fought for people to recognise you as a martyr. Then he will be ordered to be dragged and cast into Hellfire.
Then another man will be called who will be an Islamic scholar, who has read and taught the Qur’an. He will say: I studied religion, taught it, and recited the Qur’an for Your sake. Allah will reply: You have lied – you did so but for people to recognise you as a learner, a scholar. Then he will also be ordered to be dragged and cast into Hellfire.
The following person to be called will be a man whom Allah had made rich and given all kinds of wealth, and Allah will say: And what did you do about them? He will say: I left no path in which you like money to be spent without spending it for your sake. Allah will say: You have lied – you did, but so that people will say about you that he is open-handed. “In order to throw him into Hellfire, he will then be commanded to be pulled along on his face thrown into Hellfire..” [Sahi Muslim]
What is this generation up to? No one should have been in poverty, given how much we donate to charity these days. So are we really giving charity to uplift people or we are just flaunting? We have charity events almost every hour but still poor people are all around. The marketing cost for these events is enough to uplift the people around. We should consider if the charity we are giving qualifies to be called as Sadaqah. We nowadays give out charity to get recognised in society and expect promotion of status or fame in return. Even the people who are actually in need of that charity do not come to the forefront because they feel they are being used as a centre of gratification.
Islam puts a lot of value and reward on secret charitable contributions. It safeguards the honour of people who receive the generosity and stops the provider from bragging or seeking attention. Islam teaches Muslims that concealing one’s charity is preferable to making it known. Giving charity in secret is preferable when it is voluntary (Sadaqah). People can provide charity in secret if they are concerned that they would be tempted or show off when doing so or that they may humiliate or disgrace the needy. Giving selflessly, however, sets a positive example for the community as long as the donor can do so modestly and is aware that his objectives are not to brag or show off. It inspires others to donate to charity in the same way the contributor has.

The writer is Assistant Professor at the Civil Engineering Department, SSM College of Engineering. She can be reached at [email protected]



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.