Guidelines for Spending in the Path of Allāh ta‘ālā

By Shaykh Mawlānā Muhammad Saleem Dhorat hafizahullāh

Spending in the Path of Allāh ta‘ālā is one of the key Commands of Allāh ta‘ālā, and something highly recommended and emphasised many times over in the Qur’ān and ahādīth.

Spend in the way of Allāh… (2:195)

Who is it that will lend to Allāh a goodly loan, so that He may multiply it for him many times? Allāh withholds and extends, and to Him are you to be returned. (2:245)

O you who believe, spend of the good things you have earned, and of what We have brought forth for you from the earth, and do not opt for a bad thing, spending only from it, when you would not accept it [if such a thing were offered to you], except with eyes closed [in disdain]; and know well that Allāh is Free of all Wants, Ever-Praised. (2:267)

And spend out of what We have given to you before death overtakes one of you and he says, ‘My Lord, would you not give me respite to a near term, so that I should pay Sadaqah and become one of the righteous?’ (63:10)

The Prophet sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam was himself extremely generous in spending in the path of Allāh ta‘ālā:

… He [the Prophet sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam] was the most generous of people, and he was most generous in Ramadān…  (Al-Bukhārī)

Spending on others and feeding and helping the destitute were among the first teachings of Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam. When a group of the early Muslims migrated to Abyssinia, Ja‘far radhiyallāhu ‘anhu explained to the king what the Prophet sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam taught:

…He ordered us to worship only Allāh, and not to ascribe partners to Him; and he ordered us to offer salāh, to give charity, and to observe fasting… (Ibn Hishām)

When Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam migrated to Al-Madīnah Al-Munawwarah, he advised the people:

…Spread salām and feed [people]… (At-Tirmidhī)

When Abū Sufyān radhiyallāhu ‘anhu was summoned by Heraclius and asked about the Prophet sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam, he said:

… He orders us to observe salāh and charity and truthfulness and chastity and the joining of ties… (Al-Bukhārī)

Heraclius recognised the qualities of a prophet of Allāh ta‘ālā, one of which is charity.

Due to its importance in Islām, spending selflessly has remained a speciality of this Ummah, and to this day Muslims spend millions if not billions in charity throughout the world. Alhamdulillāh, in recent times the readiness to spend has further increased, and it is pleasing to note that the younger generation is also, to some degree, keeping up this tradition and good practice of spending in the Path of Allāh ta‘ālā.

There follow a number of points that will, inshā’allāh, benefit readers with regards to spending in the path of Allāh ta‘ālā:

1. Maintain the Enthusiasm of Spending Selflessly

The command of spending stated in the various verses and ahādīth is to spend solely and purely for the Pleasure of Allāh ta‘ālā, and to have no worldly motive or gain. Allāh ta‘ālā states:

The example of those who spend their wealth to seek the pleasure of Allāh and to make firm [their faith] from [the depths of] their souls is like a garden on a foothill on which came a heavy rain, and it yielded its produce two-fold. Even if a heavy rain does not come to it, a light drizzle is enough; and Allāh is watchful of what you do. (2:265)

Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam has said:

On the Day of Judgement a so called generous person will be called. Allāh will say to him, ‘Did I not give you in abundance, to the extent that you were independent from everyone?’ The person will reply, ‘Of course, My Lord!’ Allāh will ask him, ‘What did you do with what I had granted you?’ The person will reply, ‘I used to join ties and spend in charity.’ Allāh will say, ‘You have lied!’ The angels will say to him, ‘You have lied!’ Allāh will say, ‘But you had intended that it is said: “Such a person is generous,” and it was said,’… and he will be thrown in to the fire of hell… (At-Tirmidhī)

Regrettably, for Muslims in the twenty-first century this attitude of selflessness is in danger of being lost as we gradually pick up modern attitudes and trends. Charity bazaars, charity dinners, charity events and even charity Dīnī programmes are examples of ways in which the soul and spirit of spending selflessly is being destroyed. If this trend continues, the Ummah will slowly lose this selfless attitude, and a time may come when no one will spend even a pound in the Path of Allāh ta‘ālā without expecting something in return, be it fame or something material.

Therefore, we should strive to maintain the spirit of spending without any worldly return, so that we may receive the full remuneration in the Hereafter.

2. Value Relief Organisations

Charity organisations that do relief and humanitarian work are worthy of support. We should value their efforts and commitment in this cause. They help hundreds and thousands of individuals on an international scale, and bring aid to people in all sorts of conditions and situations, such as the ill, the disabled, those affected by natural disasters, poverty etc.

Whilst helping those who are in need, they also help us by assuming the responsibility we have of getting our wealth to the needy.  We should realise this and offer them our financial and moral support.

3. Discharging Your Duty

It must be understood though, that the actual obligation of getting our zakāh to the eligible recipients ultimately lies with us. It is unfortunate to note that we have taken a back seat in ensuring our wealth reaches the right people effectively. Many people just regard their zakāh as a burdensome responsibility from which they need to absolve themselves, and the first organisation that comes their way is handed their wealth without the slightest thought. Such people look for an opportunity to just dump their obligatory charity somewhere, and believe that they have absolved themselves of their duty to Allāh ta‘ālā.

We must remember that if we do not show due diligence in this regard, we will not be absolved in the Court of Allāh ta‘ālā; rather we may find ourselves convicted of two crimes: non-fulfilment of the obligation to spend, and also wasting wealth. Charities, madāris and organisations are our agents, so it is important to understand who we are entrusting with the payment of our zakāh and other charitable spending. As our spending will only be valid when what we give reaches eligible recipients, we should take into consideration the following guidelines when spending and giving to charity organisations and relief agencies:

a.  Research the organisation and verify its methodology of distribution.

b.  Research and see whether the people at the organisation are well versed in the masā’il of zakāh and distribution of wealth.

c.  Research to see who and what their source of Shar‘ī guidance is.

d.  How quickly is money distributed to the poor, needy and eligible?

e.  How much zakāh is surplus and for how long does money sit around without it being distributed?

4. Thoughtful Spending

One point worthy of consideration when giving in charity is to try and make the best use of one’s wealth. We should keep in mind benefit and need, and also the overall impact of what we spend. Heartrending pictures and scenes displayed by relief organisations may make us feel that all our money should be spent on that one cause. This is an emotional reaction, whereas there are many and varied needs of the ummah that all need to be fulfilled. It is for this reason Allāh ta‘ālā has mentioned eight categories of people as recipients of zakāh, not just one. Allāh ta‘ālā states:

The Sadaqāt (prescribed alms) are only to be given to the poor, the needy, to those employed to collect them, to those whose hearts are to be won, in the cause of the slaves and those encumbered with debt, in the way of Allāh and to a wayfarer. This is an obligation prescribed by Allāh. Allāh is All-Knowing, Wise. (9:60)

One example of not being thoughtful about where we spend is our lax attitude to giving to madāris (religious schools) operating in poor countries, and even locally. The madāris play a major role in the safeguarding of Dīn. Whilst relief organisations look after the physical well-being of people, the madāris play a role in looking after the spiritual well-being and Īmān of the masses. If all our wealth were channelled in only one direction, the madāris would suffer tremendously, and the Muslim Ummah would face harm globally. So diversity in spending, including relief work and supporting madāris is needed.

5. Don’t Forget Local Needs

When spending, many people fail to grasp local needs. They assume that seeing as a whole masjid can be built in a poor country for ten thousand pounds, a fraction of the cost of building a masjid in this country, it is more rewarding to do so. This reasoning is incorrect, as the reward attained is relative to one’s intentions, and need also plays a vital role. If we all thought that way, no masjid would be built in our country, and the needs of local Muslims would be left unfulfilled.

There are many important avenues we must contribute to locally, such as masājid, madāris, schools, care, drug counselling, social work etc., which are desperate needs of our time. Schools are finding it increasingly difficult to operate due to a shortage of funding from Muslims. It is time to recognise the importance of our local needs and to spend thoughtfully and effectively, keeping in mind the overall benefit of Muslims. I heard Shaykh Mawlānā As‘ad Madanī rahimahullāh say, ‘In our country [India], life is in danger but not Īmān, and in your country [The UK] life is safe but Īmān is in danger, therefore spend in your own country first.’ It is sad to see that many masājid, madāris, schools and institutes in this country are of a very poor standard, while with donations from this country grand masājid and madāris are constructed in other countries. We should ask ourselves how much of our charity every year goes abroad and how much is spent in this country?

Many people tend to think that only institutes abroad are needy, local institutes must be well off because the population is well off. Just because people are wealthy does not mean that institutes are wealthy as well, especially if wealthy people suffer from this misconception. The reality is that many institutes in this country face difficulty in running.

So spend in the path of Allāh ta‘ālā selflessly, thoughtfully and responsibly, keeping the many and varied needs of humanity in mind.

6. The Responsibility of those who Collect Charitable Donations

The institutes also have a responsibility to spend money wisely. Relief organisations should make sure they work under the supervision of ‘ulamā and muftīs well-versed in the masā’il of zakāh, and strictly follow their guidance, ensuring that the duty of paying zakāh is discharged correctly and on time. Madāris and schools should not take more zakāh than necessary; they should only accept the amount of zakāh appropriate to the number of eligible students studying in their institutes. It is a great responsibility upon relief organisations and charitable institutes to discharge the funds entrusted to them by the public correctly, as they will be questioned about every penny on the Day of Qiyāmah. 

As far as lillāh is concerned, it too must be spent wisely by masājid, madāris, schools and institutes, making sure not a single penny is wasted. Our pious predecessors, from the time of the Sahābah radhiyallāhu ‘anhum to this day, have always been very particular in this regard, and many astonishing incidents are related in books about the pains they took to ensure funds were handled correctly.

© Riyādul Jannah 

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