(Religious Affairs Expert)
`Adi bin Hatim narrated that the Prophet ﷺ said:
“Save yourselves from the Fire even if with one half of a date fruit (given in charity), and if this is not available, then (save yourselves) by saying a good pleasant word.”
(Bukhari, chapter on Good manners, 34)
The Prophet of Allah finally reached Madina after a long and tough journey during the migration. The Muslims were gathered at the Ranuna valley and waiting with excitement on their first Friday prayer. The Prophet stood between the crowd and started his speech by praising and thanking Allah and then continued: “O people, send forth some things to the next world before you leave this world”. He explained the hardship and restlessness mankind will have when they stand in front of their Lord. Then he spoke of the Hell Fire and turned away his face as if he felt the heat of the fire and then came his famous words: “Save yourselves from the Fire even if with one half of a date fruit (given in charity), and if this is not available, then (save yourselves) by saying a good pleasant word.” (Bukhari, chapter on Good manners, 34; Ibn Hisham, sirah, III, 30.)
A remarkable point is the fact that the Muslims were tested on their faith during the migration and the very first speech of the Prophet was an encouragement on giving alms. Giving alms is a way to earn the pleasure of Allah and at the same time shows the effect of belief on deeds, sincerity and honesty. The Prophet used the words “Alms giving is proof” (Muslim, chapter on Purification, 1). People will be ask to what they spent their wealth, and their giving of alms will come as proof and as a beautiful answer to the question. Alms giving, protects one from the temptations of our ego’s that would lead as to Hell; Alms giving is a means to stay on the path which is detested by our ego, a path leading to Paradise. Our ego’s never get satisfied, but despite all the hardship, learning ourselves to share with others and to help each other without expecting anything in return is one of the most important deeds.
The Prophet explains that all Muslims should give alms: “For every day the sun rises, people should give alms for all their joints [in the body]” (Muslim, chapter on alms giving, 56). That is why we feel the duty on our shoulders of giving alms on a daily basis as gratitude to our Lord. However, a question about the financial capability of a person to give alms on a daily basis may arise in our minds. When we look at all the sayings of the Prophet, we will see that he did not restrict giving alms on a financial way, he mentioned that every kind word or deed to another person is considered giving alms.
The Prophet sees all kind and good deeds as alms giving (Bukhari, chapter on Good manners, 33). Smiling to other people, saying kind works, greeting, advising the good and warn against the bad, honoring the guests, educating oneself and sharing his knowledge with others, restore relations between people, help the one who is lost, staying away from harmful matter, removing obstacles from the roads, taking care of his family, helping the disabled, planting a tree so people can benefit from its fruits, providing water and all good deeds are regarded as alms giving by the Prophet (See Bukhari, Book on military expeditions, 12; Muslim, Book on alms giving, 55-56; Tirmidhi, chapter on Righteousness, 36; Ibn Majah, chapter on Sunnah, 20; Ibn Hanbel, V, 285.). Earning Allah’s pleasure by doing good has many simple roads. The example of giving away half a date to protect oneself from the Hell Fire shows that giving alms with sincerity – no matter how small – can protect oneself from the Hell fire, For Allah does not look at the quantity of the alms, he looks to what someone is able to give and share with sincerity. That is why the Prophet said that alms giving should never be regarded trivial even if one gives a small amount, that all good words and deeds no matter how simple they are have a great value with Allah. Allah accepts the alms giving and he is able to make a small bite of food worth like the mountain of Uhud (Tirmidhi, chapter on alms giving, 28). This is how the prophet emphasized that one should not refrain from giving even if it’s small.
Just as alms giving aids both in this world and in the next to gain the pleasure of our Lord, likewise, it aids the improvement of mankind’s good conduct. Curing from the worst sicknesses such as greed and materialism is possible by giving alms regularly. A person who always cries “My wealth, my wealth!” should not forget that nothing benefits him except that what he consumes, wears and gives alms for in the next world (Muslim, Zühd, 3). Besides giving alms to the needy, all kind words and deeds fall under alms giving and all of these lead to a helpful and solidarity society. Therefore, even the smallest of good deeds such as a smile to another person should be seen as trivial (Muslim, Book on Righteousness, 144).
Someone who wants to do good and seeks the pleasure of his Lord will find ways to do good. One of these ways is giving alms. Since the Prophet ﷺ mentioned that all good deeds are alms giving, then we should not leave these good deeds because they are little. Allah ﷻ says that he will reward all good even if it’s of the weight of an atom (al-Zalzalah 99/7). The ones who hinder people from doing good, even if it’s just a little, are criticized heavily in the Qur’an (al-Ma’un 107/7). When we know that all good is alms giving and we strive with sincerity; a person should not belittle a small deed for it brings one closer to Paradise and distances one from the Hell fire.