First and foremost, it does not befit a true Muslim to have suspicious thoughts about the persons infected with AIDS, for this disease is transmitted in many ways and infection does not necessarily occur through illicit sexual relationships. Almighty Allah says: (O ye who believe! Shun much suspicion; for lo! Some suspicion is a crime…) (Al-Hujurat 49:12).
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have said: “Beware of suspicion (about others), as suspicion is the falsest talk” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim).
Even if a person is infected with AIDS through an illegal relationship, people are not to increase his or her plight by disdaining him or her. Prophet Jesus (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Do not judge people’s sins as if you were Gods; rather, look at your sins as humble bondsmen. People are of two kinds: one is afflicted (with plights, diseases, etc), and the other is free from such afflictions, so have mercy upon people of affliction and praise Allah for being affliction-free.”
Hence, we are required to treat AIDS patients kindly and not to add to their ordeal by depriving them of our support and thus leading them to despair of Almighty Allah’s mercy. Rather, we should seek to alleviate their pain and guide them to the path of repentance and Allah’s mercy.
As for giving sadaqah to the societies or groups that take care of those patients, there is no doubt that this is a good deed that draws one close to Almighty Allah if one does it for Allah’s sake, and He Almighty will generously reward one for doing so.
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have said: “Almighty Allah will give shade to seven persons on the Day when there will be no shade but His (i.e., the Day of Judgment). Of those persons is “one who gives sadaqah so secretly that his left hand does not know what his right hand has given (i.e., nobody knows how much he has given as sadaqah)” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim).
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) also said: “If one gives sadaqah as equal as one date-fruit from the honestly earned money, and Allah accepts only the honestly earned money, Allah takes it in His right (hand) and then enlarges its reward for that person (who has given it), as anyone of you brings up his baby horse, so much so that it becomes as big as a mountain” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim).
So, giving sadaqah to the AIDS patients, especially if they are poor, will be accepted, Allah willing, so long as its giver means to give it for Almighty Allah’s sake. Furthermore, one may give zakah to the poor among those patients. Moreover, one may give sadaqah to a non-practicing Muslim on condition that this non-practicing person is poor and that the sadaqah will not help him continue his disobedience of Almighty Allah’s teachings.
On these issues, Dr. Muhammad Ahmad Al-Musayyar, professor of Islamic creed and philosophy at Al-Azhar University states that: In the beginning, keep in mind that a Muslim who commits sins is not to be regarded an apostate by so sinning, so long as he does not commit these sins out of considering them lawful (though he knows they are not so in Allah’s Law).
According to an authentic hadith, any person who believes that there is no god but Almighty Allah and dies with this belief will be admitted into Paradise, even if he has committed adultery and usurped others’ properties. This person’s case is up to Almighty Allah on the Day of Judgment to decide upon; He Almighty is free either to punish him for his sins or forgive him all of them.
Reviewing the authentic hadiths reported about giving sadaqah, one finds that they clearly indicate that Allah Almighty rewards sincere givers of sadaqah even if the sadaqah is placed in the hands of a person who is not really worthy of receiving it.
For example, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have said: “A man expressed his intention to give sadaqah, so he came out with sadaqah and placed it in the hand of an adulteress. In the morning, the people were talking and saying ‘Sadaqah was given to an adulteress last night.’ He (the giver of sadaqah) said, ‘Praise be to Allah that I was able to give sadaqah (even though it went) to an adulteress.’ He then expressed his intention to give sadaqah; so he went out with the sadaqah and placed it that time in the hand of a rich person. In the morning the people were talking and saying ‘Sadaqah was given to a rich person last night.’ He (the giver of sadaqah) said, ‘Praise be to Allah that I was able to give sadaqah (even though it was given) to a rich person.’ He then expressed his intention to give sadaqah, so he went out with the sadaqah and placed it in the hand of a thief. In the morning, the people were talking and saying ‘Sadaqah was given to a thief last night.’ The giver then said, ‘Praise be to Allah that I was able to give sadaqah (even if it was placed in the hands of) an adulteress, a rich person, and a thief.’ Then there came (an angel to him) and he was told ‘Your sadaqah has been accepted. As for the adulteress, the sadaqah might become the means whereby she might restrain herself from fornication. The rich man might learn a lesson and spend from what Allah has given him, and the thief might thereby refrain from committing theft.’”
It is to be taken into consideration also that according to the Qur’an, the recipients of zakah include those whose hearts are to be reconciled to the Truth. Those are either non-Muslim people who are to be given so as to be attracted to Islam, or those who have recently embraced Islam but it is not yet strong in their hearts, or harsh influential people who are to be given so that their harshness be avoided.
`Umar ibn Al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) reported: Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) distributed something. Upon this I said, “Oh Messenger of Allah, other people were more deserving than those to whom you have given.” He (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “They had, in fact, left no other alternative for me but (that they should) either beg importunately from me or they would regard me as a miser, but I am not a miser” (Muslim).
There is another hadith reported in the same connection, according to which the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “By Allah, I may give to a man and ignore another, although the one whom I ignore is more beloved to me than the one to whom I give. But I give to some people as I feel that they have no patience and no contentment in their hearts, and I leave those who are patient and self-content with the goodness and wealth which Allah has put into their hearts.”
Concerning participating in educational campaigns to awaken people to the seriousness of HIV/AIDS, it falls within the Muslims’ duty of enjoining the right and forbidding the wrong. In fact, this disease has proliferated widely owing to Muslims’ negligence of this duty. The Muslim nation was worthy of being described by Almighty Allah as the best among nations when it accomplished this duty heart and soul. This is what is referred to by Allah’s words: (Ye are the best of peoples, evolved for mankind. Enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong, and believing in Allah.) (Aal `Imran 3:110).
Hence, one who is able to contribute to guiding people, for Allah’s sake, to the seriousness of this disease and the protective measures to take against it should spare no effort in this respect. Allah Almighty says: (And whatever good ye send forth for your souls, ye shall find it in Allah’s Presence, yea, better and greater, in Reward) (Al-Muzammil 73: 20).
In conclusion, people should learn lessons from what takes place to others and bear in mind that one who commits a sin [without seeking repentance] incurs its shame upon oneself both in this world and in the Hereafter.