Abu Hurairah, radiyallahu ‘anhu, reported that the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, said :
“On every person’s joints or small bones (i.e. fingers and toes), there is sadaqah (charity) every day the sun rises. Doing justice between two people is sadaqah; assisting a man to mount his animal, or lifting up his belongings onto it is sadaqah; a good word is sadaqah; every step you take towards prayer is sadaqah; and removing harmful things from pathways is sadaqah.”
[Al-Bukhari & Muslim]
The content of this hadith is the same as the previous one, Hadith 25. One possibility why this is so is that Al-Imam An-Nawawi wanted to emphasise the importance of sadaqah (charitable acts) so he decided to repeat the meaning of the previous hadith. Another possibility is that this hadith may contain more examples of sadaqah than what was mentioned in the previous one. A third possibility is the influence of Al-Imam Muslim on Imam Nawawi, who has written commentaries on Sahih Muslim. Imam Muslim recorded many hadiths which address the issue of sadaqah. It can be concluded that what has happened is due to the influence of Imam Nawawi’s involvement in this great scholarly research on explaining and interpreting Sahih Muslim.
Ibn Rajab quotes other hadiths with similar meanings. Two were recorded by Imam Muslim. From this a possibility of influence can be derived. A third hadith is recorded by Imam Al-Bukhari and Imam Muslim where the hadith mentions the number of bones as 360. In this hadith the number is not mentioned. It only mentions every small joint (bone).
In one of these hadiths, the performance of the Duha prayer is mentioned as a substitution of some charitable acts. The Prophet Muhammad, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, said that the praying of al-Duha has the same reward of doing these charitable acts. In the hadith that is related by Imam Al-Bukhari and Imam Muslim, it mentions something that is not mentioned in the previous hadith. One more charitable act that is mentioned by Ibn Rajab is helping the one who is in need. Prophet Muhammad, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, emphasized this idea: if a Muslim cannot help the one who is in need, he should abstain from evil and not harm others.
The hadith shows the great creation of man which has been emphasised in many surahs in the Qur’an. Ibn Rajab says when the Prophet Muhammad, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, mentions these small bones or joints, he is emphasizing their structure and creation which are great bounties of Allah subhana wa ta’ala. The Prophet Muhammad, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, calls upon us to be thankful to Allah by doing charitable acts for each one of these bones.
Al-Ustaz Jamaludin Zarabozo highlights the significance of the word ‘salameh‘, the small bone, when he refers to the small bones in the hands and feet and how they are put together. Once again, we notice how scholars may be influenced by each other. It is not strange to notice that Ustaz Jamaludin is influenced by Ibn Rajab since he translated most of his work. He asks the Muslims to see how these bones are magnificently put together. It is their interaction that allows the dexterity and speed that the creatures possess in their hands. It also gives proper balance to the feet.
Al-Shaikh Al-Bitar, one of the commentators on An-Nawawi’s Forty Hadith, states that these bones are some of the keys to the progress and civilization of man. These bones enable human beings to move, grasp, construct and build things. Most of what people perform and what has been manufactured is due to these small and minute bones that have been created by Allah in this impressive and marvelous way. Therefore, he continues to say, these are great blessings for which a Muslim must be thankful to Allah. We can be thankful by doing the above mentioned charitable acts: to do good deeds, to help others, and to benefit the community.
Ibn Rajab mentions that doing these charitable acts mentioned in the hadith is an obligation upon each Muslim. Moreover, he classifies thankfulness to Allah into two categories:
- Obligatory (wajib) thankfulness. Muslims are required to fulfill the obligations (wajibat) and refrain from the prohibitions (muharramat). This is the minimum level of being thankful to Allah. To be thankful to Allah requires one to refrain from disobedience (ma’siah) to Allah, to strongly disapprove sin, and not to misuse or abuse any of our limbs (jawareh) or whatever Allah has bestowed upon us. Man has been given one of the most important bounties from Allah and that is sight. Man must not use it in disobedience. Allah bestowed us with the bounty of hearing and we should use it in a beneficial way.
- Preferable (mustahab) thankfulness. This is for Muslims who seek to be among the righteous and competing believers. This type can be classified into subcategories:
- What is beneficial to the community such as what is mentioned in this hadith.
- Limited to the person who performs it, as mentioned in Hadith 25.
Though the above mentioned classifications may be perceived positively or negatively, it should not take us away from the great meaning of the charitable acts where we can look at them from a different angle. Not from the angle of whether they are preferable (mandoub: if we do it, we will be rewarded and if we do not do it, we will not be blamed) or obligatory (wajib). Sometimes preferable things become obligatory. For instance, if a blind man wants to cross the road and you are the only one to help him, helping him becomes obligatory. If every one of us is expecting someone else to help the blind man, he will end up with nobody willing to help him. This sort of attitude will weaken the bonding within the community. There are many negative examples that can be seen today. The recklessness of some Muslims who do not help needy people is often noticed in the Muslim community these days. As a result, the Muslim is blamed when he is the only one who is capable of doing that action but does not do it.
This hadith aims to emphasize the charitable acts that benefit the society since they are great deeds and the people who do them are rewarded. Most Muslims forget these charitable acts. Another hadith emphasises that Muslims are like one body where they care for each other. We should set ourselves as models in our morality, behaviour, values and qualities in order for others to follow our steps and listen to us. Only by this will the level of confidence be increased in the community. People will listen to each other when they see good examples and this is what meant by the verse that the Prophet Muhammad, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, is a good model for Muslims
As Muslims, we have to observe the charitable acts. We should do as much as we can without making any commitment to any of them. These charitable acts are not done regularly as the 5 prayers. We do them on our convenience and according to our ability. By performing these acts regularly, we will be closer to Allah. When every Muslim exercises these charitable acts, we will end up with a harmonious and cooperative society. By doing this, we contribute to the increasing of goodness and the minimising of evil – this is the main purpose of da’wah.
This hadith emphasises the significance of certain deeds: bringing about justice between two people and reconciling them. Getting people who deviated in their thoughts back to the community is part of islah (reconciliation). When the Khawarej started thinking of fighting their own community, Abdullah bin Abbas, radiyallahu ‘anhu, went to them and had a dialogue with them. He tried to remove any misconceptions. He was successful in getting two-thirds of them into the Muslim community. This is one meaning of charitable acts. Another meaning is to give help to those who are in need for help. We should not wait until we are asked. We have to offer help when we see people in need. This is what is meant by wala’ (loyality) to the community.
Saying a good word is a charitable act, as mentioned in Hadith 25. There are many ways that we can do this. For example, when we notice that someone is unhappy, we can bring pleasure to him by saying a good word to him and relieving his sadness or worry.
Another deed is the step to prayer. We know that prayer is obligatory, but by walking to prayer we perform a charitable act in every step. When Muslims keep this in their minds, they will be encouraged to do such deeds.
The last charitable act that is mentioned in this hadith is removing a harmful thing from the road or from someone’s pathway. Some people may look at this as insignificant or unimportant. But this does not mean that the act is degrading. In the sight of Allah it is a great act and we will be rewarded for doing it. Doing such an act may prevent a terrible accident from happening. For example, omitting a nail from the street may prevent car accidents and consequently keep the safety of our community. We should not care about the comments of others because we are doing it for the sake of Allah. The more we have the intention that we are doing these charitable acts for the sake of Allah, the more will be the reward from Allah subhana wa ta’ala.
Islam calls for and encourages its followers to build a caring society, where members of the society care for one another, support one another and help one another. Social charitable acts discussed above are considered obligatory daily activities which form ways and means of being thankful to Allah. This concept needs to be promoted in the classroom, masjid and the media in every possible way.
Unfortunately, contemporary media plays a negative role in this sense. Movies promote negative values which lead to an uncaring society, resulting in, for example, selfishness, greediness and ego-centric personalities.
One way of changing this negative role to a positive one is to change the existing concept of entertainment. Another alternative is to initiate new branches of communication such as educational communication and psychology of the media.
Dr. Jamal Ahmed Badi