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Ṣadaqa (Arabic: الصَدَقَة) or alms refers to money or property donated to poor people for the sake of God. According to Islamic doctrines, it is not permissible to acquire money or property by every means, as it is not permissible to spend money in every way. One of the most recommended ways to spend one's money is to give it as "alms". According to verses of the Qur'an, there are two sorts of alms: obligatory and recommended. Qur'anic verses have also specified ways in which alms should be spent. According to hadiths, giving one's money as alms does not lead to a decrease in one's possessions; rather it leads to its increase.
Alms is the money spent for the sake of God, such as zakat, however, the term "sadaqa" is used for the money spent as a recommended action, whereas zakat is used for the money given as an obligatory duty. Giving one's money for the sake of God is called "taṣadduq" (Arabic: التصدق) and the money spent in this way is called "sadaqa".
According to the Qur'an 9:104, God Himself receives the alms:
|“||أَلَمْ يَعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّـهَ هُوَ يَقْبَلُ التَّوْبَةَ عَنْ عِبَادِهِ وَيَأْخُذُ الصَّدَقَاتِ وَأَنَّ اللَّـهَ هُوَ التَّوَّابُ الرَّحِيمُ"Do they not know that it is Allah who accepts the repentance of His servants and receives the charities, and that it is Allah who is the All-clement, the All-merciful?"||”|
According to Tafsir-i nimuna, "this verse shows the significance of alms. It encourages all Muslims to give alms and tells them to respect people to whom they give their alms and zakat, since they are received by God. According to a hadith from Imam al-Sajjad (a), 'Alms goes to the hand of the person in need only after it goes to the hand of God'."
There are two types of alms:
- Obligatory: in this type of alms, the person has the religious obligation to give a specific portion of his or her possessions to specific people under certain conditions. Zakat, khums and Fitriyya are instances of such a alms.
- Recommended: this sort of alms has no specified amount; it is recommended to give any amount of one's money to any person in need for the sake of God.
Features and Conditions
- It should be from one's legitimate possessions and property.
- Alms had better be secret.
- It should not be accompanied by reproaching the person who is given the alms.
- It should be out of pure intentions for God.
- It should be from the possessions that one likes (rather than the ones that one wants to get rid of).
- The person who gives alms should never take him or herself to be a real owner; rather they should take themselves to be intermediaries between God and His people.
Who is Eligible for Alms
According to the Qur'an, there are eight classes of people who are eligible for alms:
- The poor people (fuqara)
- The needy people (masakin)
- Those who are employed to collect zakat
- Those whose hearts have been (recently) reconciled to Islam (al-mu'allafa qulubuhum).
- The emancipation of slaves.
- Those in debt if they have not committed any crimes.
- In the cause of Allah. That is, in ways to spread Islam.
- To the wayfarer (ibn al-sabil), that is, travelers who do not have enough money to go back home.
How to Give
God has forbidden giving the alms in the following two ways:
- Giving it out of pretentiousness; such a alms is invalid.
- Giving the alms, followed by reproaching the person to whom it is given or telling them that one is generous. Such a alms will not be rewarded by God.
These two sorts of alms are invalid because they are not given for the sake of God, or if they were given for His sake, one's intention failed to remain purely for God.
On the other hand, there are two ways of giving alms that are praised and adored by God:
- Secret alms: if one gives the alms secretly, then he or she will be immune to pretentiousness and the needy person will not feel humiliated. Since Islam always emphasizes on pure intentions for God, an action that is more purely done for the sake of God is more virtuous. This is why God preferred a secret alms to a disclosed one:
|“||If you conceal the alms, that is best for you.||”|
|— the Qur'an 2:271|
- Disclosed alms: this is praised because it is a public encouragement of others to give alms, as it is a relief for the poor and the needy in that they see that there are people in the community who are thoughtful about their conditions; it helps them overcome their despair.
One should be moderate in the amount of alms; on the one hand, one should not be mean, and on the other hand, one should not give too much so that he or she falls into financial trouble. The minimal amount of alms depends on one's financial ability. According to some hadiths, even a cup of water counts as alms.
There are many hadiths concerning the virtues of, and blessings followed by, alms; including:
- Being immune to catastrophes and terrible kinds of death: Imam al-Baqir (a) said:
- Sadaqa protects one from 70 sorts of catastrophes as well as terrible death. For a person who gives alms will never undergo a terrible death.
- Longevity: the Prophet (s) said:
- Sadaqa and family ties (silat al-rahim) liven up cities and bring longevity.
- Healing of the sick: according to a hadith,
- Heal your sick relatives by giving sadaqa.
And there is another hadith recommending that a sick person give sadaqa with his or her own hand.
- Removing poverty: according to a hadith from Imam al-Baqir (a),
- Beneficence and sadaqa remove poverty.
According to the Qur'an, giving alms for the sake of God is a beneficial transaction with God, since many divine rewards are given to people who give alms; it guarantees their going to the Heaven, protects them from the fears of the Dooms Day, and saves them from divine tortures.
- Removing bad luck: according to a hadith from the Holy Prophet (s),
- Whenever you go through a night to the morning, give a alms to remove the bad lucks of that day from you, and whenever you go through a day to the night, give a alms to remove the back luck of that night from you.
- I sought the way to cross the Sirat Bridge and I found it in alms.
- A guarantee for the Heaven: Imam 'Ali (a) said
- I guarantee the Heaven for six classes of people: a man who puts aside some alms but he dies; this man goes to the Heaven.
The other classes are: a person who visits a patient, one who goes to jihad, a person who practices hajj rituals, a person who goes to the Friday Prayer, and a person who goes to a funeral. If they die and never return home, then they will be guaranteed to go to the Heaven.
- The material for writing this article is mainly taken from صدقه in Farsi WikiShia.