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Something that is given voluntarily and without compensation. Or a thing given willingly to someone without payment; Gift is basically a present. A gift is not necessarily given to a poor person, rather it may be given to rich or poor; the intention is to show friendship and to honour the recipient. Gift-giving is one of the good manners that maintains and strengthens relations between the giver and the recipient.


Islamically, a gift or 'hiba' in Arabic would mean a present one gives to one's relative, brethren, or friend, or colleague to cement their ties or bond of friendship. [1]


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The leader of mankind, the Seal of the Prophets and Messengers, our Beloved Muhammad , despite his high status and lofty position, would accept a gift even if it was a sheep’s foot or a drink of milk.  


It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah رضي الله عنهthat the Prophet said:  “If I were invited to a meal of a sheep’s foot I would accept, and if I were given a sheep’s foot as a gift, I would accept.”  Sahih Al Bukhaari (5178).


Scholars view

Al-‘Ayni رحمت اللهsaid in ‘Umdat al-Qaari (13/128): Ibn Battaal said: The Prophet referred to sheep’s feet in order to encourage us to accept gifts no matter how small in value, so that one would not be discouraged from exchanging gifts by the scorn of the one to whom the gift is given.


Exchange of gifts

Exchange of gifts is one of the best manners in Islam. Narrated by ‘Aa’ishahرضي الله عنه said: The Messenger of Allah would accept gifts and reciprocate for them. Sahih Al Bukhaari (2585). [2]


Forbidden to refuse a gift

‘Abd-Allah ibn Mas’ood رضي الله عنهnarrated that the Prophet said:  “Accept invitations, do not refuse gifts and do not beat the Muslims.”  Ahmad in al-Musnad (1/404), and classed as hasan by the editors of al-Musnad. It was classed as saheeh by al-Albaani رحمت اللهin Irwa’ al-Ghaleel (6/59).


The Prophet enjoined responding in kind to favours, as he said in an authentic narration: “Whoever does you a favour, respond in kind, and if you cannot find the means of doing so, then keep praying for him until you think that you have responded in kind.” [Abu Dawood]


Difference between charity and gift-giving

Charity is given to the poor and the needy to meet their needs, and is done with the intention of seeking the Pleasure of Allah  سبحانه و تعالى. Its intention is not limited to a specific person; rather it is given to any poor or needy one. 


On the other hand, a gift is not necessarily given to a poor person, rather it may be given to rich or poor; the intention is to show friendship and to honour the recipient. 


Both of them – charity and gift-giving – are righteous deeds for which a person will be rewarded (and please his Lord), but which is better? 


Ibn Taymiyah رحمت اللهstated that Sadaqah (charity) is that which is given for the sake of Allah سبحانه و تعالىas an act of worship, without intending to give it to a specific person and without seeking anything in return, rather it is given for charitable causes, such as to the needy. A gift is given with the intention of honouring a specific person, either because the recipient is your friend whom you love, or because you want something in return.


Hence, the Prophet used to accept gifts and reward people for them, so that no one could remind him of their favours, but he ﷺdid not accept the “refuse” of people that they gave to purify themselves of sins, namely charity. He did not accept charity for this and other reasons. Once this is understood, then charity is better, but there is a sense in which a gift is better than charity, such as giving a gift to the Messenger of Allah ﷺduring his lifetime out of love for him.  Also, gifts which a person gives to a relative in order to uphold the ties of kinship or to a brother in Islam may be better than charity. Based on this, giving to one of your relatives may be better than giving charity, because it is more befitting to uphold the ties of kinship. [3]




[2] [3]


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