How Does Sadaqah Remove Difficulties?

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Does giving sadaqah ease hardships?

Yes, sadaqah, eases hardships for its believing giver in this life and, most crucially, on the Day of Judgment. 

Allah has said:

These are the ones who … spend charitably from what We have provided them, secretly and openly, and who avert what is evil with what is good.” (Surat Al-Ra‘d, 13:22)

The opposite of sadaqah’s preventing something bad with its good is also true. Parsimony (uncharitable faithlessness) leads to ruin.

Allah said:

So as for one who gives charity and is ever God-fearing, and confirms his faith in the reward of Allah, We shall then ease him into ease.” 

“But as for the miserly one who withholds charity and claims self-sufficiency, and rejects faith in the reward of Allah – We then shall ease him into hardship.” (Surat Al-Layl, 92:5-10)

The Prophet, on him be peace, has furrther informed us of the hidden Heavenly forces daily at work in our world that verify these divine processes of alleviation and privation. Relief from difficulty comes through our sadaqah, and our hoarding causes desolation:

Never is there a single sun that rises but two angels dispatched at either side of it both cry out – and all earth’s inhabitants, except the two [morally] burdened ones [men and jinn], hear them: ‘O you people! Come quickly to your Lord! For, indeed, what is little yet sufficing is better than what is much yet unmindful [of God].’ 

"And there is no single sun that sets but two angels dispatched at either side of it both cry out – and all earth’s inhabitants, except the two burdened ones, hear them: ‘O Allah! Give the charitable replacement and give the weatlh withholders destruction.” (Ahmad)

The greatest perils that sadaqah diverts from us, of course, are the ones coming to us at our divine judgment in the Hereafter: Of this, the Prophet, on him be peace, said:

One who relieves a believer from a disress of the distresses of the this world Allah will deliver from a difficulty of the Hereafter.” (Muslim)

How do you give sadaqah to gain this ease?

When you give sadaqah – which may be something of material value, or a physical effort, or an emotional kindness – and you do so (1) believing in Allah as the true and only God and in His last Messenger, Muhammad, on him be peace, and you (2) dispense it with the intention of seeking only Allah’s Sublime Face and pleasure to (3) help or gratify someone or something in need of (4) the wholesome and lawfully earned or possessed thing you are (5) freely giving without condition, brag, or hurtful reminder for (6) righteous and godly ends, then your sadaqah will cause a cascade of good to befall you.

These divine benefits for the charitable include easing, removing, blunting, or blocking a difficulty you are in or that is destined to beset you for what your hands have put forward into the world.

Not a single affliction strikes you human beings but that it is for what your own hands have earned – and He pardons much.” (Surat Al-Shura, 42:30)

This does not mean that the divine tests that come to us in our lives as believers indicate we are being punished for sins. Rather, Allah tests our faith with trials to purify and elevate us. But we do sin, knowingly and unknowingly (and most of us sin much), and some of this does bring about distressing consequences in our lives.

Sadaqah is an antidote to our sins’ bad effects on us, including the accumulation of our sins growing so great that they lead us to a bad death.

The Prophet, on him be peace, encouraged us to wash these sins and their bad outcomes from ourselves, as well as Allah’s anger with us, with sadaqah. He said:

Indeed, sadaqah most surely extinguishes the Lord’s wrath and repels the evil death.” (Muslim)

He said also:

Envy consumes good deeds just as fire consumes wood. And sadaqah extinguishes wrongdoing just as water extinguishes fire. And the salah-prayer is the light of the believer and fasting a shield from the Fire of Hell.” (Ibn Majah)

For this reason, Muslim scholars have urged us to give sadaqah immediately after committing any sin. For Allah has told us:

Thus duly establish the Prayer at both ends of the day, and at the near hours of the night. Indeed, good deeds remove misdeeds. This is a remnder for those who would be mindful.” (Surat Hud, 11:114)

(See What Are the Benefits of Sadaqah?)

What other hardships of life can sadaqah relieve?

Illness is among the greatest difficulties we experience in this world. The Prophet, on him be peace, advised us, in a report whose authenticity is established by other prophetic narrations:

Heal your sick with sadaqah.” (Abu Dawud)

As with all acts of worship, your sadaqah should be given purely for the sake of Allah as your exclusive intention, knowing that Allah in His mercy may bestow on you or your loved one healing, and for your fulfillment of this prophetic instruction.

(See How to Give Sadaqah for Illness)

Financial difficulties also commonly plunge us into hardship. Allah reminds us that He blights all ill-gotten gain but magnifies by His divine grace all sadaqah

Allah obliterates all blessing from riba-interest and increases generously the reward for charity.” (Surat Al-Baqarah,2:276)

(See What is Riba and Why Is It Forbidden in Islam? and How Many Types of Riba Are There?)

Does sadaqah reduce our wealth?

This, in fact, is part of the paradox of sadaqah (or its marvel, more accurately). We spend but it never depletes our wealth. Rather, it adds to it.

Allah said, in a Divine Pronouncement, according to the Prophet, on him be peace:

Spend, O Son of Adam, and I shall spend on you.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

The Prophet, on him be peace, said:

Never does sadaqah diminish anything of wealth. Nor does Allah increase a servant giving pardon save in dignity. And none lowers himself to another for the sake of Allah but that Allah elevates him.” (Muslim)

We give away sadaqah to help others in need, but it comes back first and wholly to us, such that we ourselves always become our own charity’s primary and due beneficiaries.

Allah said:

And know that whatever good you believers spend, it is for the good of your own souls. So whatever you spend in charity, do so seeking only the Face of God. Thus whatever good you spend shall be rendered to you in full – and never shall you be wronged in the least.” (Surat Al-Baqarah, 2:272)

Giving sadaqah from our own wealth, in our logic of with and without, should make us feel more vulnerable and steep us in sadness for our loss. Instead, it fills us with security and joy:

Those who spend their wealth in the path of Allah – then do not follow up what they have spent in charity with boastful reminders or any harm – they shall have their reward with their Lord in full. And there shall be no fear upon them. Nor shall they ever grieve.” (Surat Al-Baqarah, 2:262)

The last two promises of deliverance from fear and grief are especially in regard to how we will feel on the Day of Judgment – the time we should be in utmost anguish and sorrow! – if we strive in life to give sadaqah for the sake of Allah 

What is meant by hardship?

All our human needs constitute difficulty in the time of their restriction or loss (and Allah tells us that this, in fact, is the real nature of the human condition – utterly impoverished in our complete need of Him).

To this end, the Prophet, on him be peace, said in an authentic report:

Allah unfailingly meets the need of the servant (al-‘abd) so long as he meets the need of his brother.” (Tabarani)

Is the commonly reported hadith on Muslim websites that sadaqah blocks calamity true?

The sentiment is true, but the proliferation on good Muslim websites (including, in places, on this one) of this particular report is somewhat misleading and is widely misattributed to the great hadith complier Tirmidhi.

A more correct rendering of this report attributed to the Prophet, on him be peace, by some scholars of prophetic reports (hadith) may be:

Race in [the giving of] sadaqah; then, indeed, tribulation cannot outstrip it.” (Tabarani, Al-Mua‘jam Al-Wasit, No. 5639, cited also by Suyuti, Haythami, and Mundihri)

Other hadith scholars, including the great Ibn Hajar, say this is a statement of the noble Companion Anas, Allah be pleased with him, who would have been communicating a lesson learned from the Prophet, on him be peace, but perhaps in his own words. Still, we can take its message to heart.

This statement (sourced just previously to the hadith scholar Tabarani, among others) in its common misattribution to the hadith scholar Tirmidhi is also often translated in this way:

Give sadaqah without delay, for, indeed, calamity cannot overcome it.”

The statement can, perhaps, hold both of these senses. But what has proliferated on Muslim websites is the meaning that charity blocks affliction from coming to its giver.

Again, the sentiment may be true, but this particular statement’s more likely meaning is hasten in giving your sadaqah immediately before you are overtaken by a calamity that will prevent you from giving it.

It presents sadaqah and tribulation (calamity) as two horses racing one another knee to knee – so that no matter the calamity destined to come to you (be it your death, illness, loss of wealth, or other disruptive disaster), your sadaqah will already have irreversibly beaten any affliction to the finish line of doing a righteous deed for the sake of Allah if you give it as soon as you have it. Your sadaqah, once given, will have secured its win before a coming trial in your life could preempt your donating that charity.

The point of the report in each interpretation is to hasten in giving sadaqah immediately, and this sense and habit is unmistakably borne out in the confirmed practice of the Prophet, on him be peace, and of his wives and Companions, God’s pleasure upon them.

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