Ramadan, the Prophet Muhammad’s (ﷺ) Generosity, and Sadaqa al-Fitr
The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) was the most generous of the people. He (ﷺ) always met the needs of people around him as if he was living for the others. He won most of the hearts with his munificence. If something was demanded from him, he would give it if he had, and if he did not have it he would promise to provide it. Sometimes, the only clothes he was wearing were demanded and he would never hesitate to give it away as a gift immediately.
He (ﷺ) kept describing generosity as one of the best manners that can get people closer to Allah:
“He who is generous is close to Allah, Heaven, and people while distant from Hell. The stingy is distant from Allah, Heaven, and people while close to Hell.”Tirmidhi, Bir 40
Our Prophet (ﷺ) always encouraged his ummah to reach these high morals and humane vision: “O, people! Allah has chosen Islam as the religion for you. Then, complement your friendship with Islam by generosity and good morals.” “Protect yourself from the Hellfire even if it is half a date!” and “O Muslim women! Do not underestimate any favor even if it is a sheep’s trotter for good deeds.”
This event that we will relate is an obvious example that the Prophet did not only give alms but also encouraged his companions to do so on every occasion:
The respected Jabir (may God be pleased with him) narrates: “A group of people, all from Mudar, came to the Messenger of God (ﷺ) scattered, with barefoot, in Bedouin clothes like tiger skin or gabardine and with their swords hung on their necks. The blessed face the Messenger of God (ﷺ) grieved as he saw their poor and miserable states. He went to his room and came back again. He asked for the respected Bilal (may God be pleased with him) to recite the adhan. He recited the adhan and then the iqamah. They performed the prayer.” The Messenger of God (ﷺ) addressed the community as follows after the prayer and recited the verse: “O people! Fear your Lord, who created you from one soul and created your wife from it and He created many men and women from them both. And fear Allah, through Whom you demand your mutual (rights), and (do not cut the relations of) the kinship. Indeed Allah is ever an All-Watcher over you.” 1. After that, he recited this verse in the Surah al-Hashr: “O you who believe! Fear Allah’s (torment). And let every soul look to what it has put forth for tomorrow and fear Allah’s (torment). Verily, Allah is All-Aware of what you do.”
Then, the Messenger of God continued his words and commanded: “Give your dinar, dirham, clothes, one sa’ of barley, one sa’ of dates as alms. Those who do not have anything should absolutely try to donate even if it is half a date”
At that moment, a person from the Ansar came with a fardel so heavy he almost could not carry it. Then the people came in (everybody started to bring something). It was so that after a while I saw that two piles arose, one from food and the other from clothes. The Messenger of God (ﷺ) was satisfied, I saw his blessed face was shining as if gilded. He told as follows: “In Islam, whoever opens up a beneficial way, he is rewarded with this good deed and with the same amount of reward those who gain by doing that beneficial deed after him. This does not diminish their rewards. And whoever opens up a bad way in Islam, he is given the sin of that bad deed and the sins of those who commit that bad deed after him. That does not diminish their sins, either.” 2
Another hadith in this regard is: “When a Muslim dresses a Muslim, the dresser person is absolutely under the protection of Allah as long as that dress stays on that person, even if a tiny cloth from that dress.” 3
The Prophet’s Charity in Ramadan
The Messenger of God stood close to Allah, people, and Heaven like a “monument of grants.” He sought refuge in Allah from stinginess, lived in the shade of the “generosity tree” that had branches stretching away to the world and looked for the ways of teaching people generosity until the time he would reach Heaven by holding one of those branches.
With the testimony of his Companions, he was more generous than the wind blowing for good deeds and more munificent than any humans that the human beings had seen until that time. He would would get sad at times because he could not distribute anything to put a smile on people’s faces; he would feel peaceful and happy when he could give away. He bestowed in a feeling of complete belief and adorned his blessed life with examples of the spirit of altruism and self-sacrifice in the way of being embellished with the good morals of Allah as he recalled numerous blessings of Him.
Yes, he was exactly passionate about granting. People knew more or less about generosity until they met with Him but they used to use it as a means of pride and honor. The Messenger of God was an exceptional person who could educate in this regard as well, as well as in all other matters. It was so much that a companion who had training and education in His school, would almost turn into an addict of granting and he was so much believing in this matter that he would put half of the two palms of dates he had earned as daily wage before the Messenger of God in the evening. If need be, they were giving half of a date palm as alms and thus were trying to protect themselves from the fiery Hellfire.
Representation always came before communicating the message in the our Prophet’s life. When he commanded something, he used to implement it himself first and when forbade, he refrained from it first. Encouraging giving alms and grants from the first years of Islam, the Messenger of God almost spent all wealth of his wife the respected Khadijah (may God be pleased with her), mother of the believers, in this aim. That great wealth was spent in the path of Al-Haq in a few years; the happiness given by the excitement of winning hearts did not make them feel the material losses at all.
Our Prophet (ﷺ) did not like to save and accumulate goods; he in fact deemed it a duty to give away his things at the earliest to the people in need. It was such that sometimes he could not sleep because of this and his discomfort was reflected on his blessed face. As he gave grants, the black clouds over him would disperse and a breeze was felt nearly over him.
He (ﷺ) depicted himself as a poor traveler who benefits from the station of the world as needed and then continues his eternal journey. That’s why he never put aside the things he took possession of. He was a Prophet who was happy when giving away and did not like to keep and save. He wished his students to be like that, sought refuge in Allah from stinginess, and communicated that stingy people will fall apart from Heaven. He used to say that Allah will give new things to the givers and the things hidden by the avoiders will be destined to nonexistence. He put some distance between the world or wealth and himself from the beginning; he was never fascinated by their deceitful glamour. Coming to the fore especially with his good morals and generosity, the Messenger of God built the Messengership that he represented like a monument over these two high manners.
The Messenger of God (ﷺ) always behaved generously and with the coming of Ramadan, he would augment it. With the narration of Ibn Abbas:
“His generosity would reach the peak in the month of Ramadan when Jabrail (peace be upon him) met him… During those days, the Messenger of God was more generous than the strong winds bringing mercy to humans.” That is to say, he would distribute even the last things that remained in his hands.Bukhari, Badu’l-Wahy 5, 6, Sawm 7; Muslim, Fadail 48
Our Prophet (ﷺ) said: “The sadaqah given in the month of Ramadan is more virtuous.”4 and encouraged people to grant more especially this month. In Ramadan, the hearts of believers are already opened up more; they become more generous in those days; they use every opportunity for benefaction and goodness; and they bestow continuously in the names of Zakah, alms, and sadaqa al-fitr. All of these are other blessings of Ramadan. A person who utilizes these opportunities does not regret it when Ramadan passes because he made use of the month of Ramadan well and was honored with the forgiveness of Allah Almighty. He will become a proper person who will not be brought down to earth and will not be told “Woe to you!” He feels one of the two joys at the iftar table each evening; and will feel the other joy when he meets his Lord.
Ramadan and Sadaq al-Fitr
One of the types of grant and worship peculiar to Ramadan is “sadaqa al-fitr.” This type of alms has been long-named “fitre” in Turkish; and it is a thanksgiving as a type of grants in return for Allah’s blessings of living, reaching the month of Ramadan and utilizing its blessings. Sadaqa al-Fitr is also called “the Zakah of the head” or “the Zakah of the body.” These names are based on their feature of being personal and namely a financial responsibility put on every person.
Sadaqa al-fitr was commanded during the second year of Hijra when the Ramadan fasting was made fard on the 28th of the month of Ramadan. According to Abdullah ibn Umayr’s narration: “The Prophet made payment of Sadaqa al-fitr fard to every freeman or slave, male or female, young or old people with the amount of one sa’ of dates and one sa’ of barley and ordered to be given before performing the Fitr Prayer.” 5
Narration from Abu Sa’id al-Khudri (may God be pleased with him) is as follows:
“During the time of the Messenger of God, we used to give the sadaqa al-fitr as one sa’ in kinds of food. At that time, our food was barley, dried grape, date, and kash (fat-free cheese).”Bukhari, Zakah 74
Therefore, sadaqa al-fitr is obligatory for every Muslim, who possesses the nisab (a minimum amount of wealth), be it a child or be it an insane. If their custodians do not give these alms from their possessions, they will be responsible to pay these alms when they reach puberty or are cured. This is according to Imam Azam and Imam Abu Yusuf. If we express it by generalizing, the person must give fitr for each individual he is responsible to provide subsistence in his family. Again, the father gives the fitr for the insane child. The grandpa is on the lineage of father. Therefore, it is obligatory for a grandpa to give fitr for his grandsons in case their father is dead.
A fasting person, being a human being, may behave, speak or even think in a way that does not fit him, especially as a fasting human. These are deficiencies in fasting service. Correcting these deficiencies is necessary for complete and perfect worship. From this point of view, fitr is worship that complements our deficiencies in fasting service. As a matter of fact, some scholars drew a parallel between fitr and sujud al-sahw (prostration of forgetfulness). As it is known, sujud al-sahw is a deed that corrects the deficiency which occurs due to a mistake in the Prayer. Of course, we mention this as wisdom. Otherwise, it is also obligatory for a person who cannot fast due to a compelling reason in Ramadan to give sadaqa al-fitr. Likewise, a patient, passenger, and old person, who cannot endure fasting…
The fitr alms that have not been given before the Eid al-Fitr Prayer can be given in the upcoming days. The fitr can be given before its time, as well. Notwithstanding that there are scholars who limit this time with fifteen days, one month, etc., according to Imam Azam it can be given even before a year.
Fitr can be given to every type of person who can take the Zakah. Namely, the poor, the needy, the Zakah officers, those whose hearts will be brought to Islam, captives, those in debt, those in the path of Allah, and travelers.6 Pure people with good morals whose income does not cover expenditures or needy students whose hearts are full of Islamic love, passion, and excitement should be preferred among those to whom fitr can be given.In summary, sadaqa al-fitr is solidarity even if it is not much. It is a cause for the acceptance of fasting and for salvation from suffering in the grave. It is assistance for meeting the needs of the poor and for their participation in the joy of the day of eid.