Aspects Of Islamic Faith — 87: Charity Given Without Permission
Islamic Perspectives - Muslim Journals
Arab News & Information - By Adil Salahi
Islam places strong emphasis on helping the poor in
whatever way we can. It promises rich reward for those
who often help the poor and the needy so as to
alleviate their troubles. Needless to say, charity
should come from one's own money or property. One
cannot give charity from another person's money, even
though he has access to it, unless the owner has given
him instructions to do so. A question arises as to the
position of a wife giving away something that belongs
to her husband: can she do so? Who receives the reward
of such charity?
The answer is given in a Hadith reported by Ayesha who
quotes the Prophet as saying: "If a woman gives away
something of the food of her home, causing no
misfortune, she earns a reward for what she has given
away. Her husband receives the reward of what he has
earned, and the storekeeper receives a similar reward.
None diminishes the reward of the others in any way."
(Related by Al-Bukhari).
This Hadith opens the door wide to increase charity
and giving it in different forms. It also opens a
window of opportunity for wives, servants and
employees to do good and earn reward, and facilitates
the way for the owner to earn reward when he is too
busy to attend to some good deeds personally. We know
from other Hadiths that a person who points out to
another a way of doing something good he has a share
of the reward of that good deed when it is done. Here
we are told that a person who serves as the
facilitator of a good deed also shares in its reward.
The shares of the reward are different in each case.
What is important for the wife, or an employee, to
know is that they should first obtain the owner's
permission. The wife should know that her husband
would approve of her charity if he knew of it, and
would be willing to give it if he was present. The
permission could be a general one, not related to the
particular object or amount given in charity, but
there should be a realization that the owner will not
object to the charity when he knows of it. Again, the
employee, whether a servant or a storekeeper, may give
away something that belongs to his employer, if he is
certain that the latter will not object. He should
inform him of the fact, withholding no relevant
information. In this way, the reward will be given by
God to the person who gave the charity and to the
owner of what has been given. Each will have their
reward without diminishing the reward of the other in
When we consider the wording of the Hadith, we note
that it mentions giving away food. There are other
versions of this Hadith, which are equally authentic,
that mention charity in general, or feeding in
general. Hence, scholars have different views on what
is given and to whom.
What we gather from all these versions is that giving
food to the poor does not require a special prior
permission, because it is normally and traditionally
accepted that husbands approve of it. The important
thing is that the charity does not result in a
misfortune, which means that a wife should not give
away what causes a shortage of something necessary at
home, or what her husband would consider excessive.
Should she want to do that, she should seek his prior
permission as the owner.