What is the ruling for the committee or other people who take home a lot of the food donated to a mosque’s congregation, denying the rights of those who come afterwards?
Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.
In our society, we seldom see people putting sadaqah (donation) items in mosque or surau. This exemplary practice has benefitted many people. Among the things that are commonly be given as sadaqah (donation) are foods. The donator will put the items at one corner of the mosque and informing his intention to the committee. It is generally known that needy and poor people are eligible to receive the sadaqah as mentioned in the verse of the Quran:
إِنَّمَا الصَّدَقَاتُ لِلْفُقَرَاءِ وَالْمَسَاكِينِ
“Verily, sadaqah (Zakah) expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy,”
Surah al-Tawbah (60)
As for the rich or those who do not need to take the Sunnah sadaqah, we have answered this issue in Al-Kafi #1397: Hukum Memberi Sedekah Kepada Orang Kaya (The Ruling of Giving Sadaqah to the Rich). It can be concluded that it is permissible for them to take it, where they do not beg or argue over it. This means, if they take the sadaqah, then it is their right to consume it. This is strengthened by a legal maxim which says:
كُلُّ مَنْ سَبَقَ إِلَى مُبَاحٍ فَهُوَ أَحَقُّ بِهِ
“Whoever precedes in permissible things, then he is the most rightful towards them.”
Refer al-Bayan fi al-Mazhab al-Syafie (7/508)
Sheikh Abdul Muhsin al-Zamil Hafizahullah said: “This maxim includes many things…among them is those who precede others in public places” Refer Syarah Qawaid as-Sa’diyyah (1/179-180)
This maxim originates from hadiths with the same meaning as what is narrated by Asmar bin Mudharris RA where the Prophet PBUH said:
مَنْ سَبَقَ إِلَى مَا لَمْ يَسْبِقْهُ إِلَيْهِ مُسْلِمٌ فَهُوَ لَهُ
“Whoever precedes in things not preceded by other Muslims, then he is the most rightful of those,”
Narrated by al-Baihaqi (11779) in Sunan al-Kubra
Shafi’ite scholars put this hadith under the chapter of ihya’ al-mawat (enlivening dead land), the right of using water, the right of taking stuff, abandoned baby and so on. We have already discussed this in Bayan Linnas Siri Ke-180: Fiqh Jalan Raya Sempena Hari Raya (Bayan Linnas Series 180: Fiqh of Traffic in Conjunction with Eid) on the issue of wrongfully overtaking other cars on the road.
However, if they ask or beg for the food, then it is haram (prohibited). So, it is Sunnah for the rich to abstain themselves from receiving sadaqah items and it is makruh (undesirable) for them to try to get them.
In fact, if they ask for sadaqah and showcasing themselves as needy, then it is prohibited (haram). Imam al-Nawawi said in al-Majmu’ Syarh al-Muhadzdab (6/239): “It is impermissible for the rich to receive a Sunnah sadaqah where they manifest themselves as needy people.”
This is in accordance with a dalil narrated by the Prophet PBUH:
أَنَّ رَجُلًا مِنْ أَهْلِ الصُّفَّةِ مَاتَ فَوُجِدَ لَهُ دِينَارَانِ فَقَالَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ كَيَّتَانِ مِنْ نَارٍ
"Verily, a man from ahli suffah passed away. Then, two gold dinars were found under his possession. The Prophet PBUH then said: 'Two gold dinars of the hellfire'’
Musnad Ahmad (22275)
In fact, this is in accordance with the verse of al-Quran:
يَوْمَ يُحْمَىٰ عَلَيْهَا فِي نَارِ جَهَنَّمَ فَتُكْوَىٰ بِهَا جِبَاهُهُمْ وَجُنُوبُهُمْ وَظُهُورُهُمْ ۖ هَـٰذَا مَا كَنَزْتُمْ لِأَنفُسِكُمْ فَذُوقُوا مَا كُنتُمْ تَكْنِزُونَ
The Day when it will be heated in the fire of Hell and seared therewith will be their foreheads, their flanks, and their backs, [it will be said], "This is what you hoarded for yourselves, so taste what you used to hoard."
Surah al-Tawbah (30)
Imam al-Nawawi also states the opinion of Shafi’ite scholars like al-Mawardi that it is prohibited (haram) for the rich to ask for sadaqah. In fact, Imam al-Ghazali is of the opinion that it is haram for those who are able to work to ask for sadaqah. However, those who ask for sadaqah while having needs and not being able to work or other action that may fulfil the need is permissible and not makruh.
Imam al-Nawawi in Raudhah al-Tolibin (3/343) said:
“Meanwhile, when one asks for sadaqah, the writer of al-Hawi (which is al-Mawardi) and others said: If he is a needy person, then it is not haram for him to ask for it. However, if he is rich (which means having enough) of property or career, then asking for sadaqah is haram, and it is also haram to give them. According to us (Shafi’ite scholars), there is a wajh (our ashab’s opinion) which is weak as stated by the writer of al-Kitab (al-Syirazi) and others, but in the chapter al-Nafaqah: It is not haram”.
Syeikh Taqiuddin al-Hisni states in Kifayah al-Akhyar (pg. 196): “and whoever has a good career, then it is haram for him to ask for sadaqah, and every single donation upon him is also haram.”
Based on the above facts and judgments, we can conclude here that the ruling of taking sadaqah excessively is bound to the following situations:
- If he who takes it is among the needy or takes on behalf of other needy persons like family members whom he provides sustenance, or a welcomed guest, then this is permissible and not forbidden by Syarak.
- If he who takes it is among those who have enough or are rich, then the ruling of taking sadaqah is permissible but is makruh because rich people are not forbidden from taking them, but it is Sunnah to abstain oneself from them.
- If he who takes it is among those who have enough or being rich while those sadaqah items are specified for the poor, or are trusted to be given with specific conditions, then the ruling of taking sadaqah is haram if not given following the stated conditions. This may result in denying the rights of others. What is meant by denying others’ rights is the rights of the needy when sadaqah is given to them like zakat, nazar and etc.
- The stated prohibition should exclude those with the purpose of taking sadaqah to avoid them being rotten or bad like food or drinks, or to avoid excessiveness of food due to being left for too long at particular place.
We are of the opinion that the above issue takes place due to misunderstanding and should not be taken seriously. This is because, the action of taking more food may be interpreted as having reasons like dire need, taking on behalf of others and afraid of the food being wasted. However, if it is seen as taking others’ rights like the right of the needy and poor for example, then it is wajib to avoid it especially when it is related to the committee of the masjid. The best solution is to set a meeting between those who made the complain to hear their explanation and exchange advices with honesty and harmony. By Allah’s will, goodness will surely prevail from Shura and honesty. Wallahua’lam.