Who Gets My Charity?

Egypt's Dar Al-Ifta

Who Gets My Charity?

Who Gets My Charity?

A man approached the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to inquire about an important issue. He had just given a large amount of charity to the mosque to be distributed and he did this for the sake of God, but when he arrived home, he found that his son had gone to the same mosque, collected the money and taken it for himself!

Ma'n ibn Yazid ibn Akhnas (May God be pleased with them) reported: “My father set aside some dinars for charity and gave them to a man in the mosque. I went to that man and took back those dinars. My father said: ‘I had not intended you to be given.’ So we went to the Messenger of God (peace be upon him) and put the matter before him. He said to my father, ‘Yazid, you have been rewarded for what you intended.’ And he said to me, ‘Ma'n, you are entitled to what you have taken.’”

One might be able to imagine the feeling of this father, a man who had just given his money in charity only to find out that his own son had taken it for himself. Some parents might react in anger, confusion or, in some cases, sadness. The beauty in this disagreement is that it led to a moment of education for all of those who follow in the way of Muhammad and believe in God. We are taught by God: “O you who have believed! Obey God and obey the Messenger and those in authority among you. And if you disagree over anything, refer it to God and the Messenger, if you should believe in God and the Last Day. That is the best way and best in result” (Qur’an 4:59).

This verse highlights the importance of turning towards God’s decree when one is confused and uncertain about the path that they should take. By directing oneself back to God one will be enlightened by His words and the life of the Prophet Muhammad. In this particular case, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) tells the man that he will be rewarded for the action that he intended. The intention is the single most important step that one should take before going through with any task. It is the intention that God will judge and if the intention is sour then it renders the entire action sour.

The Messenger of God (peace be upon him) said, “Actions are [judged] by motives (niyyah), so each man will have what he intended. Thus, he whose migration (hijrah) was to God and His Messenger, his migration is to God and His Messenger; but he whose migration was for some worldly thing he might gain, or for a wife he might marry, his migration is to that for which he migrated” (Bukhari & Muslim).

The father of Ma’n set aside the money for the sake of God and so the Prophet Muhammad assures him that, though his son has taken the money, he will still receive the reward for that intention. The issue has now been resolved and in a way that did not break family ties.

On a more important and contextual note, many will have the question, “But what if the person I give my charity to doesn’t deserve it?” Sometimes people will refrain from giving in charity because they do not know who to give it to. This is a question that can be answered by this hadith.

The father in this hadith went to the masjid in order to give his charity, he went to a place that he trusted and to a location that he knew those in need would be found. He did his due diligence in ensuring that the location he would give his charity to was the best location. That is the task that anyone giving charity should do, make sure that they are in fact giving their money to an organization or to a person that is in need. Having said that, sometimes people are skeptical for reasons that are unfounded. Sometimes people question, “Why is it that this person is homeless?” There are many reasons for homelessness such as health issues, or mental complications which prevent a person from caring for themselves. Yet, these people still need the love and support of the community and so we should do our utmost best to help them, not to question continuously why they are in their God given state.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Give in charity because there will come a time on the people when a person will go out with his charity from place to place but will not find anybody to accept it” (Bukhari).

This is a reminder to all of us that eventually we may lose the opportunity to give, that the chance to seek the reward of God is upon us, and that we have been bestowed with many opportunities. We need to make the sincere intention for the pleasure of God and follow through. May God facilitate us with the ability to win His pleasure.

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