Sadaqah

It is mentioned in the hadeeth that one should give sadaqah in a way that his left hand should not know what his right hand gave. Does this mean that giving sadaqah in public is prohibited?

This is a metaphor for secrecy; one’s left hand is unaware of what his right hand gave.[1] This is a recommendation but this is not the only way to give the charity. Charity can be given openly; sometimes it is good. Prophet (ﷺ) has encouraged it on certain circumstances to encourage others.[2] When we have a need and we say who will donate and somebody there stands up and say I will donate so and so. This is halaal and acceptable. This is a means of encouraging others. But danger in those circumstances is one gives seeking the admiration of others. That others will praise them and say how generous they are, honour them etc. respect them because of their willingness to give. This is the danger that enters to our hearts. But if need arises we have to do it anyhow. But one gives in circumstance where nobody knows, when they are calling, they wait for it to over and handing afterwards or contributing to the project afterwards; the one that does that earn that special reward. Because it is our nature, our desire to want to be praised, to want to be thanked; this makes us feel good, and this is why Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said

“Whoever doesn’t thank people doesn’t thank Allah”[3]

He prescribed that thanking people is obligatory. We must thank people because it encourages them to continue giving. It is our nature that if we give something or do something for somebody and they don’t thank us and if on the second occasion if they ask us to do something for them we say Hah! Why should we give them? They were not thankful or grateful or ungrateful so why should we help them. So, Prophet (ﷺ) taking account of that nature required us to thank those who are generous and who help us. But the higher level is to help without seeking any thanks, seeking any reward, to do it purely for the sake of Allah and this principle; the principle of doing act of worship in secret is something encouraged throughout the religion. This is why prophet (ﷺ) have said that

“The best prayers are the prayers of the man in his home with the exception of the compulsory Prayers.”[4]

It is far more preferable to do Sunnah or nawafil in our homes. This is so because, when doing it in the house the chances of  people seeing it is far less and when we do it in such way, it is done sincerely without the intention of showing others and getting praise or respect from others. Secondly, it also encourages the member of the household to establish the prayers in the home, that the children see their parents praying all the time in the home, it further motivates them to follow their elders.

Also the prayer at night that is Tahajjud, for which there is great reward. Why? Because a person wakes up from his or her sleep and turns to worship Allah and no one knows that they are doing so except Allah. So, the reward for such worship is immense because it is performed sincerely with the intention of doing for Allah (سبحانهُ وتعالى).

References:

[1] [Abu Huraira  reported that the Prophet (ﷺ) said, "Seven (people) will be shaded by by His Shade on the Day of Resurrection when there will be no shade except His shade. (They will be) …, a man who gives in charity so secretly that his left hand does not know what his right hand has given."  (Bukhari, Book 8, Volume 82, Hadith 798)]

[2] [It has been narrated from different scholars that when it comes to Zakaat the best thing will be to be to give it openly, See Sharh Sahih Muslim by Imaam An-Nawawi, vol 7, p 123]

[3] [Tirmidhi, vol 4 hadith 1954, classed as sahih by Imaam Tirmidhi]

[4] [Imaam An-Nawawi, Sharh Sahih Muslim, vol 7, p 123]

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