Is it necessary to give away more than what one needs?

The Details of the Question

- It is stated in a hadith that it is good for you to give more than what you need in charity.
- Accordingly, should I give more than what I need in charity, or is it a sin if I do not?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

It is good for us to give more than what we need in charity; it gains us thawabs; and it serves as a shield for us against many troubles and misfortunes. However, it is not obligatory or wajib for us to give away our extra wealth, whose zakah has been given; it is sunnah. Therefore, a person who does not give more than what he needs in charity will not be sinful.

The hadith in question is as follows:

“O son of Adam! It is good for you to give in charity what is more than you need. If you do not give it and keep it, it is bad for you. You will not be held responsible in the sight of Allah for having enough wealth. Start spending from your dependents.” (Tirmidhi, Zakah 32)

We know that human nature is very fond of wealth, property and worldly goods.

One of the most important acts of charity in Islam is infaq, i.e., spending excess wealth in the way of Allah. This charity is both more difficult and more beneficial than some of the daily deeds of worship that a person is obliged to perform because it has an aspect that transcends the individual and involves the whole humanity.

In fact, although all deeds of worship have a dimension that transcends the individual, zakah (alms) and sadaqah (charity) are very different in terms of ensuring social balance.

It is not permissible in our religion to accumulate and store wealth, to hoard gold, silver and money. It is absolutely necessary to make them available for the benefit of society. This benefit should not only be by giving, but also by making halal investments and opening up job opportunities. Opening up job opportunities is even more important as it gives people the opportunity to work. As it is clearly stated in the hadith in question, keeping property and wealth idle is a sin.

Our religion does not regard it as objectionable to have enough property and worldly wealth to meet the needs of oneself and one’s family and not to be in need of others.

It is not forbidden, on the contrary, it is encouraged, and there is no limit to wealth as long as one fulfills his religious obligations.

The most striking examples of it are the famous rich people among the Companions and the generations that followed them. Their lives are good examples for us. Our sources tell us through various examples how each of them was of great benefit to Islam and how they came to the aid of Muslims in times of need.

One should start helping and giving away to those for whom he has to provide sustenance, i.e., his family members. If everyone abides by this principle, there will be an all-encompassing solidarity among people. Thus, cooperation and brotherhood will spread in society and a peaceful society will be established.

Accordingly:

- Giving more of one’s wealth and possessions than one needs in charity is one of the greatest good deeds

- It is haram and sinful to keep property and wealth and not give their zakah and to be stingy.

- It is permissible for a person to save and keep enough money to meet his needs and the needs of his dependents.

- It is permissible to start spending on and giving to one’s family and dependents first. This is because it is fard for a person to provide sustenance for them. It is sometimes fard al-kifaya to take care of other poor people in need, and it is generally sunnah. (see Riyadus-Salihin - Imam Nawawi Translation and Explanation)

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