Dr Qari Muhammad Asim, MBE
Chief Imam, Makkah Mosque Leeds
22 March 2015 is “Sadaqa Day”: a Muslim led day of social action. It is a day in the year when people of all backgrounds can come together and do good in their communities. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) has taught, “Even a smile is charity [sadaqa]” Sadaqa Day is a day focused on bringing smiles to people’s faces – whether that smile is achieved by donating cash, baking cakes, helping others with their shopping, painting a nursery garden, feeding a homeless, cleaning up the streets or sitting by the side of a sick person. It is about doing good, reaching out, giving of your time and yourself and helping others.
A Good Action in Islam
In the current climate, when violence is associated to Islam and Muslims are labelled as terrorists, or they are being considered as the “fifth colum”, it may sound strange to many that Islam’s core values include giving, sharing and caring for others. The Glorious Qur’an re-defines the concept of “virtue”:
“Virtue is not that you turn your faces towards the East and the West [searching for God], but righteous is the one who believes in Allah, and the Last Day, and the angels and the Book and the prophets, and gives away wealth out of love for Him to the relatives and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and to those who ask and to set slaves free and keeps up prayer and pays the Zakah (poor-rate)” [Qur’an 2: 177].
A number of sayings of the Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him) emphasise the benefits of giving charity, commonly known as “Sadaqa”. It is considered a duty of every Muslim to give whatever he or she can: “Sadaqa is due on every joint of a person, every day the sun rises”, says the Prophet [Bukhari]. In other words, “Sadaqa” is a social action to bring about happiness in the lives of others.
Generosity of British Muslims
Polls have shown that British Muslim are more generous than other communities, and many millions are raised and donated each year. JustGiving, an online charity platform, has reported an increase in digital giving by British Muslims, particularly during Ramadan, over the last few years. The charity noted that “Muslims also gave large amounts of Zakat to non-religious charities such as Macmillan, British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research UK.”
Sadaqa is more than donating Money
Sadaqa is much more than just giving money to charity, it is also about giving up time and making effort, reaching out to other, working with others – from all backgrounds, faiths or none – to bring about positive change in society. Islam emphasises tremendously on the importance of caring for neighbours, the need to look after others around us and to be there for the vulnerable and the sick.
Sadaqa, in Islam, is definitely the best investment for this world and the next.
Much of the raised funds are spent on relief aid in developing countries and many social actions of Muslims tend to focus on improving the lives of those suffering abroad. Although, an increasingly growing proportion is also being raised for a wide variety of causes and concerns at home, which is extremely encouraging and something that many British Imams have been campaigning for a few years, but it is not enough. More and more British Muslims should be involved in social actions in this country and the Sadaqa Day provides the momentum for that.
Examples of Social Actions
The principle of “charity begins at home” needs to be implemented in its true spirit. Many British Muslims are already actively involved, throughout the country, in giving, sharing and taking care of others. In our hometown, many charitable initiatives are organised by Muslims. The ‘Give a Gift’ scheme in Leeds, has seen hundreds of Muslims donating toys and gifts for youngsters being treated in hospitals.
‘Leeds With the Homeless’ is another Muslim volunteered based project with the ethos of people helping each other. Every last Friday of the month, there is a gathering outside Leeds Town Hall or inside Trinity church where young Muslim volunteers bring food/clothes/charitable items and help the needy, the homeless.
‘I’m a Muslim & I give blood’ and many other such like campaigns are run by Muslims to urge people to donate blood.
On the national Sadaqa Day, (22 March 2015) British Muslims will give up their time, themselves and money and be involved in many social action; to name a few, these are:
– working with homeless charities
– collections of items for womens’ shelters
– park and street clean-ups
– food bank initiatives
– hospital and elderly people visits, befriending, outreach
British Imams urges individuals, families, madarasahs, mosques, offices, and such like groups of people to be involved, in a collective way, on Sadaqa Day and make a difference to lives of many around them. British Muslims are urged to create and support social actions in their localities; such social actions will indeed bring about positive and lasting change in the lives of those around them and strengthen their faith too.