A Sacred Institution to Facilitate the Poor “Sadaqah” Part I [Archives:2008/1182/Culture]

August 18 2008

Qazi Dr. Shaikh Abbas Borhany
Today, the Muslim society is a victim of many social evils, due to a lack of awareness of religious education. Narrow mindedness is the result of this attitude, because education of Islam opens many windows. Educated upper class considers Shariah as an out-dated code of life. Ignorance of the Science of Islam is the core reason for the mutilation of the faith. This situation allows people to accept the influence of their surroundings, which later on become part of their faith. Today Muslims follow customs and rituals more punctually and strictly while forgetting the original teachings of Shariah. Due to this negative attitude, no discrimination between right and wrong exists for them, and the benedictions of the institution of Sadaqah seem to have lost their importance. This divine gift, which was conferred through the institution of Wahi, for the elevation of the less-fortunate class of the society, has become a forgotten chapter. In Southeast Asia, Muslims practiced Sadaqah in the same manner as the Hindu ritual of “D'an & Darakshna”. The Hindus believed that something should be donated to the priest-class and in return hoped that ones misfortune or difficulty will be removed. Unfortunately, our people at large treat charitable institutions of Islam in the same manner, as it is explained in the “Hindu Mythology”. Plunderers of the faith)the so-called clergy, are largely responsible for undermining the real spirit of this institution. They exploit the masses and lead them to serve their own interests. It is a pity that the people have forgotten this institution of their own welfare, and are being exploited by the clerics in the name of religion. These clerics try their best to snatch valuables in the name of Allah. “It is worth-mentioning what people do to 'drive away their misfortunes':

– To avoid misfortunes and troubles, people would put the head of a goat, on the corner of a street.

– To cure an illness and other needs, people feed pieces of meat to kites and crows.

– To fulfill hopes and good wishes, a lemon punctured with a clove inside is thrown on the street.

– To protect a baby from evil-eye, an egg is waved around the head and thrown outside.

– 'Ulama al Su', to satisfy their selfish desires ask for different costly items, such as gold, silver, Musk, Aud-Aloes wood, Saffron, and other valuables, other then money, according to the status of the needy person in the name of Sadaqah & Khair'aat”.


It is necessary to examine the root causes of misinterpretation of the term “Sadaqah” by our people. People influenced by their surroundings donate Sadaqah just to remove their problems. It becomes a habit, which has turned into their faith. On the other side, the clergy pursue a luxurious life style. They indulge in money-minting and non-constructive activities. Instead of a scientific research, in the studies of Qur'an and Islam and welfare of the community, they love to spend time in profligacy.

Today, people treat the item donated in the name of Sadaqah with a social stigma as something meant for the poorest of the poor. No one would like to even touch it, as people think that the Af'aat of the person attached to it on whose name it is donated may come upon them. The cultured class is also unaware about the spirit of Sadaqah. One giving the Sadaqah tries to give it away as early as possible, as it is believed that it is not good to carry the same, and is considered a bad omen. The innocent people are amazed when advised them to carry Sadaqah till any deserving person available. They fear if they carry it with them perhaps face any kind of trouble. The reason for such superstitious beliefs is only due to lack of correct information from the right source. There is no reference in the Fiqah-literature that the receiver of Sadaqah will face any harm or problem, as is wrongly believed. Such beliefs are the result of the ignorance of the people about the divine philosophy. The charlatans and the perfidious clergy have misled the masses away from the truth. People have forgotten the original Talim and remain busy in absurd customs and rituals taught by the clerics. Traditions and rituals have no concern with the religion, but unfortunately they are treated as part of religion.


Those who divide Islam, politics and economics in three different categories, can not find the solutions of the financial crises of the Ummah. The shortsighted clergy can not help in building a welfare society, which Islam has ordained. Social and economic crises of the Ummah can be solved if people practice according to the advice of Qur'an. Presently, it is only a neglected lesson, which exists without its original spirit. Raghib Isfahani wrote in his famous book: “Mufarradat al Qur'an” as follows:

“The meaning of the word Sadaqah in the language of Shariah is to grant or donate with free-will to others”.

Meaning of Sadaqah is explained in “Qamus al Fiqahi” as follow:

“Sadaqah is that which is donated to others only to please Allah and to get His nearness”.

The word Sadaqah is from the word Sidq, which means truth and sincerity, the truth and sincerity, which are expressed to others with true intention to help a needy deserving class. Any kind of help which you give to others in cash or in any form is an act of Sadaqah. This act demands sincerity, because it is Allah alone who in return removes or lesson the problems which a person faces. Sadaqah is a very wide term and is used in the Qur'an to cover all kinds of charity. Ahadith literature provides us following Talim in this regard:

– “Your smile for your brother is Sadaqah”.

– “Enjoining what is right & forbidding what is wrong is Sadaqah”

– Giving a smile or a glass of water to a thirsty person or even a word of kindness and so on.

– Planting something from which a person, bird or animal afterwards takes benefit also counts Sadaqah

– Your removal of stones, thorns or bones from the paths of people is Sadaqah

– Guiding a person who is lost is also Sadaqah.”

– Helping someone to establish himself in professional life, assisting someone acquire good learning; monetary assistance for the treatment of the sick; looking after the orphans and the destitute; giving scholarships to students, all such charitable works, come under Sadaqah-Jariyah–that is why so many traditions are available which explain the reward of this practice and attracts the community to promote it. “The reward for giving Sadaqah in secret is seventy times superior to that of giving it publicly”.

The highest degree of Sadaqah is that which should be given secretly so that the other hand may not know of it. It is however not restricted to pay Sadaqah openly, but according to the Talim of the Qur'an and Sunnah, and guidance of Ahl al Bait and Ash'ab it is preferable that Sadaqah be given secretly, that is superior in practice. According to Abi Abdillah Imam Jafar Assadiq, except 'Bani Hashim', Sadaqah can be given to any needy Mumin.

Qur'an describes pious as follows:

“And in their wealth there was the right of the “Sa'el”-needy person and the “Mahrum”-poor who does not approach others”.

Good conduct is frequently termed Sadaqah in the Hadith. In this extended sense, acts of loving, kindness, even greeting one another with a cheerful face, is regarded as Sadaqah. In brief, every good deed is Sadaqah. This should start at home, as per Hadith:

“When one of you is poor, he starts with himself. If anything is left, he spends it on his dependents. If anything is (still) left then on his relatives, and then, if more is left, he spends it here and there.”

Qazi Dr. Shaikh Abbas Borhany is attorney at Law & Religious Scholar PhD (USA), NDI, Shahadat al A'alamiyah (Najaf, Iraq), M.A., LLM (Shariah), Member, Ulama Council of Pakista. Email: [email protected].

This paper was prepared on the request of the Chairperson, “Council of Islamic Ideology Pakistan” (Constitutional Institution of Pakistan) a few years ago to answer the question: “How can an individual or an institution contribute to upgrade the quality of life of the less fortunate ones? With this discussion on the 'Institution of Sadaqah', an attempt has been made to re-establish an institution, to facilitate the poor class of the Ummah and improve their quality of life.