By Shaikh Ahmad Kutty
“When a person dies, all works stop except three: ongoing charity one has set up; beneficial knowledge one has passed on, and righteous offspring who will pray for him/her.” (The Prophetic tradition reported by Muslim)
Ramadan is the perfect time for us to prepare provisions for our journey to Allah, including setting up ongoing charities and all other forms of Sadaqah. Now that we are already in the 2nd half of Ramadan, soon to embark on the last ten days, let’s maximize its blessings.
The Prophet has told us that any act of virtue we perform during this month would merit multiple rewards; and of all the good deeds, Sadaqah, done with the sincere intention of pleasing Allah during the blessed days of Ramadan is unsurpassed. This isn’t at all surprising, for the Prophet described Ramadan as the month of charity. His companions tell us that though he was the most generous person they knew, in the month of Ramadan, he was even more generous; he was more generous than winds that blow freely.
While describing the significance of the various pillars of Islam, the Prophet referred to Prayer as light, and Sadaqah as evidence or proof of faith. The word Sadaqah comes from Sidq, which means truthfulness. Thus, Sadaqah is what testifies to one’s sincerity of faith.
No one can describe the benefits of charity in a few words. The Qur’an refers to it as a means of purification for sins; the best way to cleanse one’s heart of greed – which like a predatory animal overtakes a person and makes one act arrogantly, and is also a way of ensuring one’s wealth becomes a source of blessing.
Furthermore, the Prophet has reiterated the many blessings and benefits of Sadaqah. He said, “Seek treatment for the sick by offering charities on their behalf.: ‘Sadaqah prevents tragedy, wipes out sins, guards against divine wrath, and serves as a protection from the fire of hell, and blesses one’s life span.” The Prophet also made an oath by Allah saying: “Sadaqah never diminishes one’s wealth (instead it will only enhance and bless it).”
As an Imam serving the Muslim community for over 40 years, I have experienced people who have responded to the call for Sadaqah in various capacities and later came testifying that they witnessed these words of the Prophet.
Allow me to recount a few: one man responded to a request for monthly pledges without his wife’s knowledge. Upon hearing of it, she was upset as it was beyond their monthly budget. However, when he showed up for work the next day, his boss called him in to inform him that they had decided to give him a raise!
In another instance, a woman extended herself by dipping into her vacation funds for Sadaqah. Not three weeks later, she got a tax refund that was double what she was anticipating!
The Quran also warns us against putting off or delaying giving: “Give out of what We have provided for you (in the way of Allah), before death comes to one of you and he says, ‘My Lord if You would only reprieve me for a little while, I would give in charity and become one of the righteous.’” (Qur’an: 63: 10)
The Prophet has also narrated the story of Prophet Yahya wherein is a beautiful metaphor that illustrates the effects of charity:
The Prophet Yahya once addressed the children of Israel saying: “I order you to give charity, for a person who offers charity is like one held in shackles by an enemy. He (or she) is at the brink of being executed when he offers to ransom himself by giving up everything he has. When the offer is accepted, he attains his freedom!”
The lesson here is that charity is a means by which we can seek freedom from hellfire; it is also a way to remove the shackles that constrict our life and prevent us from achieving real freedom.
Fortunately, there is no shortage of avenues for us to give in charity to achieve our salvation. The millions of poor all over the world deserve our help daily.
However, at the same time, let’s not forget the institutions that work to serve us and our future generations. Such institutions, including the Islamic Institute of Toronto, disseminate authentic Islamic knowledge and are consequently a very real option befitting your Sadaqah Jariyah. By choosing it, you will join the ranks of those who help pass on the legacy of the Prophet (peace be upon him). May Allah accept our good deeds, forgive our sins, and save us all from all deadly diseases and tragedies. Ameen.