On the authority of Abu Dharr (RadhiAllahu Anhu): Some of the Companions of the Messenger of Allah (SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) said to the Prophet (SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam):
‘O Messenger of Allah, the affluent have made off with the rewards. They pray like we pray, fast like we fast and they also give in charity from their extra wealth.’
He, SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, said:
“Has not Allah made things for you to do in charity? Verily, every tasbeehah is a charitable act, every takbeerah is a charitable act, every tahmeedah is a charitable act, every tahleelah is a charitable act, ordering good is a charitable act, forbidding evil is a charitable act, and you having sexual intercourse [with your wife] is a charitable act.”
‘O Messenger of Allah, when one of us fulfills his desire, he will be rewarded for that?’
He, SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, said:
“Tell me, if he were to do it unlawfully, would he bear that sin? Similarly, if he fulfills it lawfully, he will have a reward.”
[Recorded in Muslim]
“Some of the Companions of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said..”
This hadith is one of the many examples that demonstrate how eager the Companions were to perform acts that were pleasing to Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala). They were not jealous of the wealthier Companions because of their nice clothes or houses, rather, they were worried that the wealthy would get more rewards from Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) due to their giving of wealth in charity. They had heard the verses of Qur’an that emphasised the importance of giving charity and they were keen to please Allah in this way, but they were limited by their means.
This should be the way in which all believers compete, for the goal of the Hereafter. They should race one another to good deeds in order to please Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala), and not compete in the life of this world. As Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) says:
“Nay, you prefer the life of this world although the Hereafter is better and more lasting.”
Unfortunately, many Muslims today compete for the life of this world and this can cause jealousy, pride and enmity in the hearts. We should remember that the pleasures of this world are fleeting and can lead to loss and destruction, but the pleasures of the Hereafter are for eternity. As the Prophet (SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) said:
“By Allah, it is not poverty that I fear for you. But I fear that the world will be spread out before you as it was for the people before you. Then you shall compete in it as the people before you competed in it and it shall destroy you as it destroyed them.”
[Recorded in Bukhari and Muslim]
“O Messenger of Allah, the affluent have made off with the rewards. They pray like we pray, fast like we fast and they also give in charity from their extra wealth.”
We can see from the statement above that the poorer Companions specifically noted that the richer Companions gave charity out of their ‘extra’ wealth, meaning the wealth left over after they had met their own needs. This is an important principle when giving charity in Islam. Many people are responsible for their own well-being as well as for the well-being of others. Islam does not allow them to squander their wealth or hurt the people they responsible for, even if they want to use that wealth for good purposes. The needs of those under your care must be met first.
The believer should only give in charity that which is beyond their needs. As the Prophet (SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) said:
“It is enough of a sin for a man to allow to be destroyed one who he is [financially] responsible for.”
[Recorded in Ahmad]
When giving wealth to others we should begin with those whom we are financially responsible for, then those who are in need who are close to us and within our community. The Prophet (SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) said:
“The upper hand [that gives] is better than the lower hand [that receives]. One should start giving first to his dependents. The best object of charity is that which is given by a wealthy person. And whoever abstains from asking others for some financial help, Allah will give him and save him from asking others. And whoever is satisfied with what Allah has given him, Allah will make him self-sufficient.”
[Recorded in al-Bukhari]
We can see from this last hadith that it is not liked to beg in Islam, or even to ask others for financial assistance. We should trust in Allah and strive to meet our own needs. If we put our trust in Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) He will suffice us. He is Ar-Razzaq, the Provider, and He is the only One who provides. When we are in need (and even when we think we are not!) we should turn to Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) to ask Him (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) to provide for us. He (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) will provide for us from means we could not have imagined.