We learn two important things from this hadith; the first is that we are encouraged to give Sadaqah Jariyah on behalf of a deceased loved one, the second is that the best form of Sadaqah Jariyah we can give is water.
Here are some reasons why water is the best charity:
1. Water is Fundamental to Life
Water is one of the most important substances on Earth. Laced throughout the Quran are countless ayahs where Allah (SWT) emphasises how He sent water down to Earth for the creation and maintenance of life on Earth. In the Quran Allah (SWT) says:
Today science has proven that water was essential in the formation of the solar system and that the Earth is the only planet known to have stable bodies of water on its surface and is therefore the only planet able to support life.
"And we made every living thing of water” (Quran 21:30).
Water is an essential component to human, animal and plant life. It makes up 60% of the human body circulating through the body to facilitate nearly all bodily systems essential for survival including, regulating temperature, absorbing nutrients as well as excreting waste. We simply would not exist without it.
2. Water is a Blessing from Allah
Allah (SWT) describes water as a gift from the heavens to support the sustenance of human life.
Water is essential in sustaining the ecosystem; water transports the nutrients in the soil up through the roots of the plants helping them grow. Animals then feed on the crops and in turn other animals feed on those animals creating a whole ecosystem supported by water. Without water the land would be barren, and all life would cease to exist.
3. Water Purifies the Body and Soul
The Messenger of Allah (SAWS) said: “Cleanliness is half of Iman (faith).” (Muslim & Bukhari).
Water is an important element of spiritual purity. Performing wudu and ghusl is an essential pre-requisite to performing prayer and failure to do so negates the prayer.
Wudu and ghusl wash away the believer’s sins. The Prophet (SAWS) said: “When a Muslim or a believer washes his face (in the course of Wudu’) every sin he has committed with his eyes is washed away from his face along with water, or with the last drop of water; when he washes his hands, every sin they wrought is erased from his hands with the water, or with the last drop of water; and when he washes his feet, every sin towards which his feet walked is washed away with water, or with the last drop of water, with the result that he comes out cleansed of all sins” (Sahih Muslim)
4. Giving Water Earns Allah’s Mercy
The Prophet (SAWS), said, “A prostitute had once been forgiven. She passed by a dog panting near a well. Thirst had nearly killed him, so she took off her sock, tied it to her veil, and drew up some water. Allah forgave her for that.”
This hadith teaches us that a simple act of kindness such as giving water can be our salvation on the Day of Judgment.
5. Giving Water Benefits Future Generations
When the early Muslim’s migrated from Mecca to Medina, there was a severe water shortage. There was only one sweet water well known as ‘The Well of Rauma’, owned by a Jew who charged astronomical prices for water. The Prophet (SAWS) promised paradise to whoever bought the well and dedicated it to the believers. After many negotiations with the owner, Uthman Ibn Affan (R.A) bought the well for a hefty price of 35,000 dirhams and made the water free for all Muslims.
The well continues to pump water till this day, over 1400 years later. Due to the abundance of water the surrounding area has become fertile and developed into a farm of over 1550 palm trees producing the highest quality dates. The profits produced by the well are still intact till this day in a bank account in Medina in the name of Sayedina Uthman Ibn Affan (R.A). The Saudi government have decided to build a hotel with this money, expected to yield an annual return of 50 million Saudi Riyals, and are planning to spend half the profits on the poor and depositing the remaining half bank in the account. All of this is possible due to Uthman Ibn Affan’s (R.A) initial Sadaqah Jariyah investment in the well of Rauma. This story is a great example that shows how far an investment in water can go to benefit society far into the future, Ma Sha Allah.
6. There is a Critical Need to Give Water.
Today 785 million people worldwide do not have access to clean water. An estimated 842,000 people die each year from diarrhoea due to unsafe drinking water and every minute a new-born dies from infection caused by lack of safe water.
Lack of clean water is not only one of the leading causes of death and disease around the world it is also the reason why many people are trapped in poverty. Women and children spend 200 million hours a year collecting water, this is a colossal waste of time and a missed opportunity for work and study, this keeps them locked in a cycle of poverty unable to earn and save for a brighter future.
How Can You Help?
Put the Prophetic teaching into practice and give water to a needy community. You can serve a whole community of 200 people by gifting a Dig-a-Well. This provides access to clean water for drinking, washing and cooking, as well as keeping livestock hydrated. A gift so vital could really save an entire community and help it to thrive for many years to come, giving you all the rewards.