Charity can be given in many ways and in many forms, but today let us take a look at the best Charity.
1 | Giving to a hungry person
In one reported ḥadith, we find that the Prophet (ﷺ) stressed the importance of feeding the hungry:
“The best charity is to satisfy a hungry person.”
This ḥadith specifically describes a particular recipient of charity and his condition which makes him qualify for a Muslim’s charity.
He (ﷺ) also said,
مَا نَقَصَتْ صَدَقَةٌ مِنْ مَالٍ
“No wealth (of a servant of Allah) is decreased because of charity.” [Muslim – 2588]
The value of giving is weighed heavily through the assurance that the giver’s wealth will not be reduced in return.
We all know that eating adequate meals is a basic human need. When we miss a meal, we’ve under-eaten, or even when we are fasting, we learn to appreciate this even more. Although we don’t fast for this reason, the hunger pangs and the lack of energy and restlessness are all enough for us to understand the bare minimum of what a hungry, poorer person may endure.
This makes it a moral imperative to give to the hungry, as advised by the Prophet (ﷺ). In turn, the giver will not only build awareness of the situation of people who are deprived of food and drink, but they will also develop a sense of empathy for them, and grow in gratitude for their own provision in comparison to the state of the many that are suffering from hunger.
2 | Giving a drink of water
In another ḥadith, we are informed about the consumption of water by the recipient as the ‘best’ type of charity.
It was narrated that Hadhrat Sa’d ibn ‘Ubadah RA said,
“I said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, my mother has died. Shall I give charity on her behalf?’ The Prophet (ﷺ), said, ‘Yes.’ I asked, ‘Which charity is best?’ The Prophet (ﷺ) said,
قُلْتُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ أَىُّ الصَّدَقَةِ أَفْضَلُ قَالَ سَقْىُ الْمَاءِ
‘A drink of water.’” [Nasai – 3665]
The significance of water being the best type of charity is further emphasised by the situation the Prophet (ﷺ) advised this in: when giving charity on behalf of the deceased. Though this act is not limited to giving on behalf of the one who has passed, it’s interesting to find that a necessity that gives life could simultaneously benefit the one who no longer lives, through the spiritual impact of giving.
Moreover, there are profound benefits through giving water, and its purpose reflects being the ‘best’ type of charity. Water is a necessity to live. It’s a crucial necessity for both health and sanitation.
And yet, millions of people suffer from a shortage of water, or even unsafe water, in impoverished areas. Contaminated water is at high risk of diseases such as cholera, typhoid, polio, and many others. The impact water has on a global level therefore sheds importance on giving this drink as charity.
3 | Giving to an estranged relative
The Prophet (ﷺ) also stressed the importance of giving charity to one’s family members. In response to being asked about the ‘best’ type of charity, it was reported by Hadhrat Hakim ibn Hizam RA that,
أَنَّ رَجُلًا سَأَلَ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ عَنِ الصَّدَقَاتِ أَيُّهَا أَفْضَلُ قَالَ عَلَى ذِي الرَّحِمِ الْكَاشِحِ
“A man asked the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ), ‘What act of charity is best?’ “The Prophet (ﷺ) said, ‘One given to an estranged relative.’” [Musnad Aḥmad]
By connecting with relatives through the act of charity, the Prophet (ﷺ) expressed this also as a way of upholding ties with family.
It was narrated from Hadhrat Salman ibn ‘Amir RA that the Prophet (ﷺ) said,
“Giving charity to a poor person is charity, and (giving) to a relative is two things, charity and upholding the ties of kinship.” [Nasai]
The emotional and physical responsibility here brings one closer to their family members, hence an act that benefits the family in the long-term. Through the act of charity within one’s family, family ties are strengthened, family bridges are maintained, and the recipients are aware of the care and awareness given to them.
Giving ongoing charity (Sadaqah Jariyah)
One of the blessings of being able to give charity in Islam is that a Muslim is able to give a charity in which its benefits are continuous, even after one has passed away. In Arabic, the term is described as Sadaqah Jariyah and there are many different ways of giving charity in this way.
The Prophet (ﷺ) said: “When a man dies, all his good deeds come to an end except three: ongoing charity (Sadaqah Jariyah), beneficial knowledge, and a righteous son who prays for him.” [Nasai]