THERE ARE so many mentions in the Qur’an and in hadith on the importance of giving charity and helping others. But when you’re still a student, it seems difficult to do these great deeds since your resources are very limited. You don’t have money, and you’re still in the processes of gaining skills and qualifications.
Or you may feel you don’t yet have the authority or confidence to volunteer in the community. All this can be frustrating when you know how rewarding it is to give in charity. It can feel as though an important door of good deeds is closed to you.
In contrast, when you are no longer a student and if you are earning, the door of sadaqah and Zakah opens for you. Your job can become an act of worship if your earning is coming from halal means and if you use that wealth to please Allah. Allah tells us in the Qur’an: “For those who give in charity, men and women, and loan to Allah a Beautiful Loan, it shall be increased manifold (to their credit), and they shall have (besides) a liberal reward” (Qur’an 57:18). The most profitable venture you will ever make is an investment in the akhirah. Moreover, the reward is not only reserved for the next life, but the blessings are felt in this dunya too – for the Prophet (saw) said: “wealth never decreases with charity” (tirmidhi).
However, a point of reflection: giving sadaqah is not only for those who are earning.
When we see the word ‘sadaqah’ or charity, we immediately think of money – donating to alleviate poverty, to build a mosque, a school etc. But sadaqah comes in non-monetary forms too. To the working person: it’s important not to fall into the trap of merely giving financially (as rewarding as that is), while neglecting other types of sadaqah that might in fact be more important and also more challenging in certain circumstances.
It depends on how you define ‘wealth’. If you see it only in material terms, then your understanding of sadaqah will be limited. But if you recognise that wealth can refer to anything that is valuable, then your potential for giving in sadaqah rises exponentially.
One of the greatest forms of wealth, far greater than money, is in fact Time.
Sacrificing your time for others – helping them, listening to them, teaching them, offering a kind word, making others happy, supporting another person’s project, are all acts of sadaqah. Sometimes, those who were once active volunteers as students completely disappear off the radar when they enter the world of work because their jobs take up all their time…but true to the hadith, you will find that when you give, you will get more back inshaAllah; your time, which is a form of wealth, will become more productive. And your work-life balance and mental health will be better for it too.
To the student, stay-at-home parent, carer or job-seeker: when you hear that the Prophet (saw) said: “Sadaqah extinguishes sin as water extinguishes fire” or that “the believer’s shade on the Day of resurrection will be his [or her] sadaqah”*, know that the rewards in these ahadith apply as much to you as they do to those who can give money.
Remember, Allah is Al-Shakur, the Appreciative, which means He sees and values even the smallest of good deeds, and multiplies the rewards just because of your sincere intentions and effort. No deed is insignificant to Allah. This is why even a smile counts as charity, because it is still an act of giving – you are sharing your good will and kindness with another person. It is a reflection of selflessness, because instead of being absorbed by your own thoughts and problems, you are recognising that someone else is deserving of attention too.
Those who are homeless often say being treated as though they are invisible by passers-by is the most hurtful thing they have to go through – even more than the poverty. If you don’t have anything to give, just stopping for a few seconds to speak to them or to make a silent du’a for them, is still an act of giving.
Or you could find out where your local shelter is and give half an hour of your time, or visit an elderly neighbour – even if it’s just once a month. Though it may seem very small to you, a small kindness could change a bad day into a good one for another person. And this means a lot in the sight of Allah.
The Prophet (saw), said:
“Allah the Exalted will say on the Day of Resurrection: O son [or daughter] of Adam, I was sick but you did not visit me. He will say: My Lord, how can I visit you when you are the Lord of the worlds? Allah will say: Did you not know that my servant was sick and you did not visit him, and had you visited him you would have found me with him?
O son of Adam, I asked you for food but you did not feed me. He will say: My Lord, how can I feed you when you are the Lord of the worlds? Allah will say: Did you not know that my servant asked you for food but you did not feed him, and had you fed him you would have found me with him?
O son of Adam, I asked you for drink but you did not provide for me. He will say: My Lord, how can I give you drink when you are the Lord of the worlds? Allah will say: My servant asked you for a drink but you did not provide for him, and had you given it to him you would have found me with him.” (Muslim & Bukhari)
From this hadith, we can see that it’s not just about giving food and drink, but even the time spent visiting someone is special to Allah.
So if you are working, seek to find that opportunity to give your time, not just money. And if you are not working, recognise that you are in fact wealthy, just in different ways, and that you can also gain the rewards of sadaqah. Alhamdulillah.
*Both hadith in Tirmidhi