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On the authority of Abu Dharr (RA): “Some people from amongst the Companions of the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said to the Prophet (PBUH), ‘O Messenger of Allah, the affluent have made off with the rewards; they pray as we pray, they fast as we fast, and they give [much] in charity by virtue of their wealth.’ He (PBUH) said, ‘Has not Allah made things for you to give in charity? Truly every Tasbeeh [saying Subhanallah] is a charity, and every Takbeer [saying Allah-u-Akbar] is a charity, and every Tahmeed [saying Alhamdulillah] is a charity, and every Tahleel [saying La-ilaha-ill-Allah] is a charity. And commanding the good is a charity, and forbidding an evil is a charity, and in the sexual act of each one of you there is a charity.’ They said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, when one of us fulfills his sexual desire, will he have some reward for that?’ He (PBUH) said: ‘Do you not see that if he were to act upon it [his desire] in an unlawful manner, then he would be deserving of punishment? Likewise, if he were to act upon it in a lawful manner, then he will be deserving of a reward.'” [Muslim]The complaint in this hadith was raised by sahaba who had poor means and could not afford to give in the way of Allah, but clearly, the Prophet (PBUH) puts them at ease by specifying ways in which everyone, even the poor, can give charity. Charity is of two types; one through which one benefits others and the other through which one benefits one’s own self. The former includes the commonly practiced acts of charity like financially someone in need, educating someone, praying for others, smiling at a Muslim brother/sister, taking care of parents and many more.

On the other hand, the latter form of charity is more spiritual in nature because it is one in which a person benefits himself. Thought provoking, isn’t it? It means to protect others from one’s own evil. How’s this possible? It’s easy. Protect others from your own malice and ill will and this will benefit others, so this is a form of charity because through this, one not only saves himself but also others from committing sins which in turn yields great rewards.

Interestingly, Prophet (PBUH) instead of mentioning the ways of charity told his companions to do zikr (remembrance of Allah). Why did he ask them to do Zikr? Zikr actually purifies one’s soul. It’s a great way of tuning one’s mind religiously as were the minds of the Prophet (PBUH)’s companions. Zikr is extremely fruitful if done in the correct manner with utmost concentration and contemplation instead of just repeating the words over and over. A person who makes the habit of doing zikr regularly will automatically feel the urge of doing good and charitable acts and staying away from sins, which is why Prophet (PBUH) correlated zikr with charity.

Furthermore, why did the Prophet (PBUH) specifically mention these specific four words – SUBHANALLAH, ALHAMDULILLAH, ALLAH-O-AKBAR & LA ILLA ILLALAH? It is said that the life of a true believer revolves around these four words. LA ILLA ILLLALAH is the foundation of Islam. SUBHANALLAH signifies that our Lord is free from all defects and whatever happens whether good or bad is according to His will and not by chance or coincidence. ALLAMDULILLAH denotes associating all positive attributes for Allah and is a way of expressing our gratitude towards Him. ALLAH-O-AKBAR means understanding the greatness and love of Allah. All these makes a believer, a true practicing Muslim without which he is not worthy of being called a true believer.

In addition to this, Prophet (PBUH) also specified that commanding the good is also charity. Commanding good is the summarized version of Islam because it was the basis of all the teachings of Jibrail (AS) to Prophet (PBUH). Therefore a Muslim should always propagate good in any and every possible way. According to Imam Nawawi, commanding the good and forbidding an evil is the highest form of charity.

In another narration of the same hadith by Abu Huraira R.A., it is added that the poorer companions came to the Prophet (PBUH) again and told him that our affluent brothers came to know about these acts of charity and are now practicing them, again reaping more reward than them, to which the Prophet (PBUH) replied, “This a blessing of my Lord on them, He grants who He wishes”. Based on this answer by the Prophet (PBUH), the muhaditheen have deduced that being rich and thankful is a much better station in life, rather than being poor and patient, but keeping in mind that poverty with the remembrance of Allah is a million times more precious than the wealth that makes one forget Allah.


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