Ramadan Charity (Sadaqah) Amidst MCO
This year, unlike previous years, Muslims around the world welcomed the arrival of the holy fasting month of Ramadan in a gloomy state. The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic which communities around the world are facing has made Muslims to embrace new normal in their way of doing things and routines. As for this year, there is no iftar (breaking fast), group tadarus (reciting Quran) and tarawih prayers held congregationally in mosques. Due to the Movement Control Order (MCO), Muslims will perform them in their respective houses with close relatives.
The same goes to Ramadan bazaar, Ramadan buffets at hotel and Ramadan shopping. Malaysians of all races and religion can forget about the bazaars. Politicians and corporations can forgo their plan to treat under privilege kids and orphans to berbuka puasa programmes and parents can nicely tell their children that this year there might be no visit to shopping malls for baju raya (of course they still can do online shopping). This year all those activities are not going to happen like they used to.
Apart from the above, another common thing that Muslims do in the month of Ramadan is giving charity (sadaqah) to the deserving and needy. According to the Prophetic tradition, charity is best performed during Ramadan. However, this by no means implies that Muslims should refrain themselves from giving donations outside the month of Ramadan. As a commendable act, sadaqah by default – as promised by Allah – will generate massive rewards (thawab) for those who give with sincere intention for the sake of Allah. This is evident through verse 261 of surah al-Baqarah as Allah says to the effect: “The example of those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah is like a seed [of grain] which grows seven spikes; in each spike is a hundred grains. And Allah multiplies [His reward] for whom He wills. And Allah is all-Encompassing and Knowing.”
Nevertheless, when it is performed during Ramadan, Allah will multiply the rewards of sadaqah manifold. This is a sort of encouragement to Muslims to grab the opportunities available in Ramadan to increase their devotion and good deeds in an effort to improve their taqwa (Allah’s consciousness). This is also what the Prophet Muhammad has exemplified to us in his life. In a hadith narrated by Ibn Abbas: “The Prophet was the most generous of all people, and he used to be more generous in Ramadan when Gabriel met him. Gabriel used to meet him every night during Ramadan to revise the Qur’an with Allah’s Apostle then used to be more generous than the fast wind (in readiness and haste to do charitable deeds).”
However due to the MCO being imposed, Muslims may not be able to donate or give charity as is usually the case. Despite many members of the public are losing their income and some to the extent that their savings have dried up and have nothing to put on the table for their families, the restriction has made it hard for donors to meet face to face with the affected groups to hand over support either financially or materially.
Nevertheless, owing to technological advances in the financial sector, there is an alternative and easier way to do charity. The solution lies in fintech (financial technology). Propelled by internet and the widespread use of smartphones and tablets, fintech has given a new approach for Muslims and non-Muslims alike to help others either financially or materially transcending geographical boundaries and time barriers.
Broadly speaking, fintech means technology can be applied anywere to deliver financial services and products to consumers. Today it is not just the financial sector that benefits from the existence of this fintech. In fact, fintech also helps non-financial institutions such as charitable organisations to facilitate their financial affairs. It becomes an enabler that plays a role in connecting donors with recipients.
In Malaysia, besides financial sectors, the technology has also been embraced by zakat collections centres, the not-for-profit and charitable organisations. The technology empowers these institutions with efficiency and effectiveness in fund management and database upkeep which indirectly improves collection and distribution channels of the respective bodies.
Without any doubt, the MCO has disrupted the routines and schedules we have lived by. It has also made many Malaysians – mainly self-employed – affected. This is supported by a survey by the Department of Statistics which reveals that almost 50% of self-employed are out of work after the government imposed the MCO due to Covid-19 outbreak. 95% of them who were still working experienced a drop income with 35.5% had their incomes contracted by more than 90%.
The stories shared by the mass and social media about the sufferings they endured are enough for us to feel what they have to go through and be grateful for what Allah has given us. One of the ways to show our gratitude to Allah is through sadaqah.
In Islam, it does not require a man to be rich to give sadaqah for it is encouraged upon every Muslim whether they are rich or poor. In a hadith, the Prophet was reported to have said “Shield yourselves from Hellfire even by giving half a date in charity.” Based on this hadith, it is not the quantity that matters in sadaqah but quality i.e. sincerity of intention (ikhlas) in giving sadaqah for the sake of Allah. Besides in Islam sadaqah (or any other good deeds) should be performed consistently. In a hadith, the Prophet was reported to have said: “The most beloved deeds to Allah, The Exalted, are the most consistent, even if they are small.”
Indeed, MCO should not become a reason for Muslims not to continue the practice of sadaqah during Ramadan or any other month. With fintech – from faster streamlined transactions to increased transaction security – it is now easier than ever before for Muslims to do charitable deeds. Thus, taking the merit of the ongoing month of Ramadan which thawab is multiplied manifold, Muslims should take this opportunity to increase their righteous deeds (‘amal salih) and this includes the act of giving charity.