If I ask someone like a shopkeeper to distribute charity on my behalf and he does not distribute completely. Will I get the complete reward, or was it my duty to ensure that it was distributed honestly? And especially if the amount was big and I could not wait for it to be distributed completely? (Or otherwise as well?) Does it make any difference if the shopkeeper was a Muslim? (Like in the Haram)
All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger.
We have explained in a previous fatwa that the person earns the reward for offering charity when he gives it out and the poor person receives it and that the person appointed to give out the charity on his behalf acts in the stead of the one offering the charity. Muslim jurists have contended that when someone appoints another person to offer charity on his behalf, he has the right to retract his charity as long as the poor person has not yet received it.
Sharh Al-Muntaha (a Hanbali book) reads, “When someone offers a charity or appoints someone to offer charity on his behalf but retracted his decision, then it is recommended for him to offer the charity so as to go against the enticement of the Devil and sinful self. However, it is not incumbent on him to offer it in this case because it is not yet owned by the recipient except after he receives it and takes it into his possession...”
If it is permissible for the one offering the charity to retract his act of charity in this case, this means that he does not earn the rewards for offering charity except after the recipient receives it and takes it into his possession. Hence, if you had appointed someone to give out charity on your behalf and he offered a portion of it only, then you earn the rewards of the portion that has been offered and was taken into possession by the recipient. Hopefully, you shall be rewarded for your good intention regarding the portion that has not been offered in charity as was arranged. The Muslim earns rewards for his intention to carry out a good deed, but these rewards are not equal to those earned for actually performing the good deed. Ibn ʻAbbaas reported that the Prophet, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, said, “Whoever intended to perform a good deed but did not do it, then Allaah writes it down for him as a complete good deed. And if he intended to perform it and then did perform it, then Allaah writes it down for him as ten good deeds up to seven hundred times, up to many times multiplied.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
Moreover, the person offering charity hopefully earns the rewards in full in case the whole charity or part of it was offered to ineligible recipients, Allaah willing. Maʻn ibn Yazeed reported, “My father set aside some dinars for charity and gave them to a man in the mosque. I went to that man and took those dinars. He said, ‘I did not intend you with it (the charity).’ So we went to the Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, and put forth the matter before him. He, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, said to my father, ‘Yazeed, you have been rewarded for what you intended.’ And he said to me, ‘Maʻn, you are entitled to what you have taken.’” [Al-Bukhari]
Ibn Hajar commented on the hadeeth, saying, “It is deduced from the hadeeth that the one offering charity earns the rewards in full regardless of whether it is given to eligible or ineligible recipients.”
Abu Hurayrah reported that the Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, said:
“A man expressed his intention to give charity; he came out with charity and placed it in the hand of an adulteress. In the morning, the people were talking and saying, ‘Charity was given to an adulteress last night!’ He (the giver of charity) said, ‘O Allaah, praise be to You, I gave (my alms) to an adulteress!’ He again expressed his intention to give charity; he went out with the charity and placed it in the hand of a rich person. In the morning, the people were talking and saying, ‘Charity was given to a rich man last night!’ He (the giver of charity) said, ‘O Allaah, praise be to you, I gave (my alms) to a rich man!’ He again expressed his intention to give charity; he went out with charity and placed it in the hand of a thief. In the morning, the people were talking and saying, ‘Charity was given to a thief last night!’ He (the giver of charity) said, ‘O Allaah, praise be to you, I gave (my alms) to an adulteress, a rich man, and a thief.’ So (there came an angel to him and) he was told, ‘Your charity has been accepted. As for the adulteress, perhaps she will restrain herself from adultery with it (your charity). The rich man might perhaps learn a lesson and spend from what Allaah has given him, and the thief might thereby refrain from committing theft.’” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
An-Nawawi allocated a chapter in his book entitled “Reward for whoever offers charity even if given to an ineligible recipient.”
Ibn Hajar commented on the hadeeth saying, “It is deduced from the hadeeth that if the intention of the person offering charity is sound, his act of charity is accepted (and he earns the rewards for it) even if the charity is given to an ineligible recipient.”
Allaah knows best.
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