CHARITABLE GIFTS (SADAQAH)
There are two types of sadaqah:
(1) Where it is sadaqah before it is assigned to any beneficiary; this can be either obligatory, like the zakah of wealth and the zakah of fitrah; or this can be recommended, like separating money for general good causes or as donations for particular good causes, such as to spend it on special religious occasions or for a group of believers.
(2) Where it is regarded as sadaqah when it is actually assigned to the beneficiary, such as the obligatory and recommended expiations (kaffarahs) which are given to a specific person. This also includes the highly recommended almsgiving to the needy.
Ruling 575: The first type is a unilateral declaration which does not require acceptance from the recipient. The second type is a bilateral agreement, requiring acceptance.
Ruling 576: Sadaqah requires the intention of qurbah, i.e. seeking to get closer to Allah.
Ruling 577: Hashimites (descendants of Hashim, the grandfather of the Holy Prophet) and non-Hashimites may receive the sadaqah of Hashimites, whether it is obligatory or not. It is not permissible for a Hashimite to receive zakah of a non-Hashimite; but other charitable gifts of a non-Hashimite, whether they are obligatory or recommended, can be received by a Hashimite. As for minor alms given for the purpose of repelling hardships and the like which is generally considered to be lowly for the recipient, its permissibility is questionable; it is best for the non-Hashimite to give it to the Hashimite as a gift rather than charity, in order to avoid depriving him of it and humiliating him, although the intention of qurbah may still be present.
Ruling 578: It is not permissible to take the sadaqah back after giving it to the recipient, even if he is a stranger.
Ruling 579: Sadaqah is not permissible for a person who is not in need, or for the nasibis – those who bear animosity with any of the fourteen Infallibles (peace be upon them) – and it is permissible for Muslims of other sects and non-Muslims, provided that they are in need of it, such as to satisfy their hunger or to quench their thirst. Similarly, it is permissible for those whose situation is not known.
Ruling 580: If the recipient of sadaqah refuses to accept it and returns it, the owner cannot retake ownership of it; rather, he is obligated to spend it on other good causes.
Ruling 581: Spending money generously, without immoderation, on one’s family is better than sadaqah.
Ruling 582: Giving sadaqah to one’s relatives – especially those who are hostile – is more preferable than giving sadaqah to others.
Ruling 583: It is recommended to be an intermediary in delivering the sadaqah to the beneficiary, and it is disliked to ask for sadaqah, even if he is conventionally regarded to be needy.