As-Sunnah Vol. 2 Issue No. 3


Moderation in Charity Page 2

Some people claim Islam, yet, prefer to take their understanding of charity, simplicity, asceticism and zuhd, from misguided monastic religions. They have adopted many false ideas from monasticism, and selectively quote the Book and the Sunnah in order to justify their misguided ideas. When it comes to matters like giving more than one is required in charity, not hoarding one’s wealth, not seeking worldly possessions, etc. they selectively quote the actions of certain Sahabah (radhi allahu anhu), thereby, giving the incorrect impression that like monastic religions, Islam too, teaches its followers to do away with all one’s wealth. Needless to say, those who reads such books on the 'virtues of charity' never implement what they read in their practical life, if at all, it makes them less enthusiastic about persuing their education, careers and goals.

It is sufficient a refutation to say to the promoters of such books, that those from the pious predecessors (salaf) who exceeded in giving their wealth, did not also run away from their financial obligation towards the dependants and they certainly did not depend on begging and charity for their livelihood. Following are some incidents of the remarkable sacrifices by our pious predecessors and what the scholars understood of their actions.

It was narrated that Ka'b Ibn Malik (radhi allahu anhu) related, 'I said, 'O Messenger of Allah, as a sign of my repentance, I will give away some of my wealth in charity to Allah and His Messenger.’ The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu aliahi wa-sallam) said, 'Keep some of your wealth for yourself, that will be better for you.' [Saheeh al-Bukharee (2552) and Saheeh Muslim (4973)]

Ash-Shawkani (rahimahullah) said, 'The Hadeeth of Ka'b indicates that it is prescribed for the one who wants to give all his wealth in charity to keep some of it. This does not imply that if he wanted to go ahead with it, he would not be able to do so. It was said that giving all one's wealth in charity varies according to one's situation. If a person is strong and knows that he will be able to bear the consequences with patience, then there is no reason why he should not do that. Based on that, we may interpret the action of Abu Bakr al-Siddeeq (radhi allahu anhu) and the way in which the Ansar y preferred others to themselves, even though, they were in need. [See, Soorah al-Hashr (59): 9] However, if a person is not like that, then he should not do it (i.e. give away all one’s wealth in charity). This is how the words, 'There is no charity except when one has the means' should be interpreted. According to another report, 'The best of charity is that which is given when one has the means.' [al-Nayl (8/288)]

It was narrated that Anas Ibn Malik (radhi allahu anhu) said, 'Abu Talha was the richest man among the Ansar in Medina in terms of date palm trees, and the most beloved of his wealth to him was the garden of Bayruha. It was opposite the mosque and the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu aliahi wa-sallam) used to go there and drink its water, which was good.' Anas added, 'When the verse, 'By no means shall you attain Al-Birr (lit. piety, righteousness - here it means Allah's reward, i.e. Paradise), unless you spend (in Allah's Cause) of that which you love' [Soorah aal-Imran (3): 92] was revealed, Abu Talhah stood up and went to the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu aliahi wa-sallam) and said, 'O Messenger of Allah, Allah says, 'By no means shall you attain Al-Birr, unless you spend (in Allah's Cause) of that which you love…', The most beloved of my wealth to me is the garden of Bayruha, and I am giving it in charity to Allah, hoping to find reward for that with Allah. So dispose of it, O Messenger of Allah, as Allah shows you.' The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu aliahi wa-sallam) said, 'Bravo! That is a good deal, that is a good deal. I have heard what you said and I think that you should give it to your relatives.' Abu Talha said, 'I will do that, O Messenger of Allah.' So Abu Talha shared it out among his relatives and cousins (sons of his paternal uncles).' [(Agreed upon) Saheeh al-Bukharee (1368)]

Ash-Shawkaani (rahimahullah) said in al-Nayl (3/36), 'This indicates that it is permissible to give more than one third of one's wealth in charity when one is alive and not suffering from terminal illness, because the Prophet (sallallahu aliahi wa-sallam) did not ask Abu Talhah how much he wanted to give in charity, but he said to Sa'd ibn Abi Waqqas when he was sick, 'A third is a lot.’

Taken from As-Sunnah Newsletter -


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