If Charity Is So Important, Why Is It So Hard To Give?

As Muslims, we’ve grown up being told the importance of charity. We’ve been quoted āyāt mentioning the importance of spending from our wealth numerous times.

So, why is it that we still face a reluctance in giving? Why is it so difficult for us to part with $25 to an organization doing good, but we easily put that into streaming services (Netflix, Amazon, Disney+) monthly? Why can we watch a two hour movie, but not take two hours weekly to volunteer in our communities?

The answer lies in our hesitancy to truly believe that Allah (SWT) is the provider of our rizq, our sustenance.

Imām Jaʿfar aṣ-Ṣādiq (ʿa) has said, “Everything has a key, and the key to sustenance is charity.” (Biḥār ul-Anwār, Vol. 47, P. 38).

Fearing what the future looks like, we hold on to things that we think belong to us, like our wealth and our time. We insist upon saving every extra penny “for the future” or “for our children” and forget that when we give, we are actually securing our future and our families’ future in the hereafter. 

And Allah (swt) knows that we are reluctant to give. He tells us in the Qurʾān about our behavior: “Your wealth and children are only a test, but Allah alone has a great reward. So, be mindful of Allah to the best of your ability, hear and obey, and spend in charity—that will be best for you. And whoever is saved from the selfishness of their own souls, it is they who are truly successful. If you lend to Allah a good loan, He will multiply it for you and forgive you. For Allah is Most Appreciative, Most Forbearing.” (Noble Qurʾān, 64:15-17). And He again reminds us, “The person who lends to Allah, a good lending will receive many times more.” (2:245 ). 

It’s worth a reminder that most things cannot be accomplished in this world without money. And most charitable organizations doing good work primarily rely upon donations, especially religious charities that don’t have access to government grants. It is up to our community members to invest in any cause they can to elevate our communities at home and abroad. When we give, it allows others to do the work that needs to be done. And whether literally or figuratively, the Noble Prophet (ṣ) has reaffirmed that “Charity does not decrease wealth.” When our communities prosper, so do we.

So, how can we encourage monetary ṣadaqah amongst ourselves?

First, we need to be mindful. When a cause comes up, often our gut reaction might be to look for an excuse not to give. The most common excuses sound a lot like these: “I don’t know the person in need;” “Someone else will donate;” “It’s not a cause I have knowledge about.” We need to take a moment to process these thoughts and refute them by reminding ourselves of the following points:

  • Allah (swt) has given me this wealth. Right now, I can use it for good, and giving it will not reduce my wealth. 
  • Our Noble Prophet (ṣ) and his family gave their wealth even when they knew they did not have enough food to eat. 
  • Imām ʿAlī (ʿa) gave his ring as charity during his rukūʾ without seeing the person in need and without assuming someone else (who was not in the state of prayer) would give to the man. 

Once we’ve pushed through the many excuses we are inclined to make, it is good to make charity a part of our routines. From donating our no longer used clothes, toys, and household appliances, to physically putting money aside in a ṣadaqah jar, when we model acts of charity in front of our families, it creates a culture of giving. It’s also important to have conversations with our families about giving. Discuss what your monthly giving plan looks like, what your budget can handle, and how you might deal with big fundraisers that come up. Involve your children in the discussions, too! How can they contribute? Can they do chores around the house to earn money to donate to an important cause? Is there a cause they might be excited about, like donating Islamic books for kids to a public library?

And lastly, if remembering to donate to a cause is tricky, consider setting up automatic monthly donations at a giving level that is comfortable for you. Many organizations are able to do more if they have a steady, predictable stream of donations each month. Most donation pages have the option for a monthly donation at checkout. You can invest in non-profit organizations like Kisa Kids, Al-Kisa Foundation, or 2nd Chance on a monthly basis.