Hakim ibn Hizam, may Allah be pleased with him. narrated that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: «The hand which gives is better than which takes and start giving first to your dependents. And the best object of charity is that which is given by a wealthy person (from the money which is left after his expenses) [out of surplus]. And whoever abstains from asking others for some financial help, Allah will give him and save him from asking others, Allah will make him self-sufficient» (1).
It was reported in Sahih Muslim on the authority of `Abdullah ibn `Umar that the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, was sitting on the pulpit and talking about charity and abstention from begging, he said: «The upper hand is better than the lower one, the upper being the one which bestows and the lower one which begs» (2).
Explanation of vocabularies (3):
(out of surplus) i.e., the best kind of charity is that a person gives after he keeps the amount which he shall use to meet his needs.
Lessons gained from the Hadith (4):
1- The Hadith contains exhortation to charity because the upper hand is the giver and the lower hand is the beggar and it is known that a giver is better than the taker.
2- The best kind of charity is the charity of a person to himself or to whom he must support.
3- A Muslim has to start by obligatory spending due on him such as spending on his wife and children then he may spend thereafter on whatever he wants.
4- The Hadith contains an instruction to start with the most important then the important in Shari`ah matters.
5- Exhortation to abstaining from begging people.
6- The permissibility of seeking money so as to spend on himself and those whom he supports then he may spend his money in the different channels of charity and righteous actions so that he may be one of the upper-handed people.
(1) Sahih Al Bukhari No. (1427) and Muslim No. (2433).
(2) Sahih Muslim No. (2432).
(3) The commentary of An-Nawawy on Muslim (3 / 485).
(4) Fathul-Bary of Ibn Hajar (5/26).