What is Sadaqa?
Abu Hurairah (ra) reported that the Messenger of Allah (sas) said,
"Every joint of a person must perform a charity each day that the sun rises: to judge justly between two people is a charity. To help a man with his mount, lifting him onto it or hoisting up his belongings onto it, is a charity. And the good word is a charity. And every step that you take towards the prayer is a charity, and removing a harmful object from the road is a charity."
Related by Bukhari & Muslim
عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ رَضِيَ اللهُ عَنْهُ قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه و سلم
"كُلُّ سُلَامَى مِنْ النَّاسِ عَلَيْهِ صَدَقَةٌ، كُلَّ يَوْمٍ تَطْلُعُ فِيهِ الشَّمْسُ تَعْدِلُ بَيْنَ اثْنَيْنِ صَدَقَةٌ، وَتُعِينُ الرَّجُلَ فِي دَابَّتِهِ فَتَحْمِلُهُ عَلَيْهَا أَوْ تَرْفَعُ لَهُ عَلَيْهَا مَتَاعَهُ صَدَقَةٌ، وَالْكَلِمَةُ الطَّيِّبَةُ صَدَقَةٌ، وَبِكُلِّ خُطْوَةٍ تَمْشِيهَا إلَى الصَّلَاةِ صَدَقَةٌ، وَتُمِيطُ الْأَذَى عَنْ الطَّرِيقِ صَدَقَةٌ".
[رَوَاهُ الْبُخَارِيُّ] ، [وَمُسْلِمٌ].
This hadith elaborates on the different forms of charity. There are three hundred and sixty joints in the human body and charity is due upon each one as a form of gratitude to Allah (swt). Being able to be just between individuals, walking towards the masjid for prayer, and removing harmful objects from the road are all considered as acts of charity.
Fulfilling Gratitude Through Charity
Every person’s joints and bones have a responsibility on them every day. Thus, performing charity for this blessing extends into the concept of gratitude. Allah (swt) has given us many blessings, including our bones, our joints, and the way our body comes together. The fact that they do so in the most beautiful and amazing way means that there is charity due upon us. This charity is an act of gratitude for what Allah (swt) has given us. Gratitude is not something only said by the tongue or felt by the heart, but something that manifests itself in one’s actions.
Reconciliation Between two People
The Prophet (sas) mentions in this hadith that to reconcile and be just between two people is an act of charity. This can sometimes be difficult because you might be in the middle of a conflict or situation and there are biased considerations because of the people involved. You might have relations or a responsibility to one or the other. Therefore, it becomes more difficult to be just. Maybe one person is richer, one is more powerful, one is a friend, or even one might be from your country. However, putting aside these points and being just between people is an act of charity.
In modern days, helping someone with “their animal” is in relation to our cars. Acts such as opening the car door for a person or carrying something to their car is considered charity. As society spreads out even more and people become more distrustful of others, they may look at these actions as strange. However, as a general principle, if we see someone who could use some help, we should help them. If you can help individuals cross the street or carry some groceries for people, then do so. Keep in mind that this does not apply to strangers only. You should help your family and others you know as well. These are important etiquettes Sheikh Abdel Fattah Abu Ghuddah mentioned in his book, Islamic Manners. He mentions that the people that are the most beloved to you are the ones who are the most deserving of these manners. He also states that most people are lax with the ones they love but they should have the highest standard of character from you. Thus, to assist people is not only for strangers, but also for our families.
A Good Word is Charity
Saying a good word is very powerful and can really positively change people’s lives, as well as their days, just as a bad word can have the opposite effect. Saying a good word is a powerful and noble thing that should be practiced. If we practice the art of saying the right thing at the right time, then eventually we can be that kind of person. If we practice saying whatever we want and whenever we feel like it, without any consideration of the consequences, then we will be that kind of person. Thus, we should seek to engage in saying good words.
Steps Towards the Prayer
Every step we take towards the prayer is considered an act of charity. In the modern context, every rotation of the tire or every bit of road that you cross in order to get to the masjid is an act of charity. This also takes care of the gratitude.
Clearing the Pathways
The last point mentioned in this hadith is that to remove something from the road is considered charity. This is more common than we might think, since there are things that fall onto the road all the time that we can easily remove. If you attend the masjid, a good thing you can do to remove harmful things from the pathway is to take the slippers and shoes out of the hallway. It is a good opportunity to get charity by clearing the pathways in the house of worship.
This hadith is another way that the Prophet (sas) is reminding us of gratitude to Allah (swt). He gives us multiple avenues by which we can show our gratitude and multiple avenues where we can be charitable. These include assisting people, saying something nice, clearing something harmful from the pathway, and more.