“Never will you attain the good [reward] until you spend [in the way of Allah ] from that which you love. And whatever you spend – indeed, Allah is Knowing of it.” [Quran 3:92]
The concept of charity is so rooted in Islam that Allah SWT sent incessant reminders in the Quran on the importance of charity and its beautiful rewards. Being charitable and providing for the needy are important features of the Muslim character. Giving charity has obvious benefits in Islam and it is also a helping hand to uplift the ummah.
The existence of countless starving, poor, hungry and destitute Muslims and non-Muslims in the world points to the need for this essential teaching to be put into practice. Affluent Muslims may not realise how their wealth could strengthen whole communities. Giving charity correctly is crucial to both the well-being of the needy as well as the ultimate happiness of the wealthy. The Prophet emphasised this principle repeatedly.
Charity in the Quran
Allah mentions in the Quran, “O you who have believed, spend from that which We have provided for you before there comes a Day in which there is no exchange and no friendship and no intercession. And the disbelievers – they are the wrongdoers.” [Quran 2:254],
Allah (SWT) also promises great rewards and atonement for our sins, multiple times in the Quran for the charity we give.
“Indeed, the men who practice charity and the women who practice charity and [they who] have loaned Allah a goodly loan – it will be multiplied for them, and they will have a noble reward.” [Al-Quran 57:18]
Charity and Sunnah
Giving to the needy is also a sunnah of the Prophet (Peace be Upon him). Prophet Muhammad (Peace be Upon him) has lived his life as an example of giving.
The Prophet Muhammad (Peace be Upon him) said: “If I had (a mountain of) gold, I would love that before three days had passed, not a single (coin) thereof remained with me if I found somebody to accept it (as a charity), excluding some amount that I would keep for the payment of my debts.” – Sahih Al-Bukhari
He (Peace be Upon Him) taught us the necessity of giving charity without delay, how it saves us from hellfire and also how it acts as a purifier.
“Give charity without delay, for it stands in the way of calamity.” – Al-Tirmidhi
Forms of Charity in Islam
There are many forms of charity in Islam, Zakat, Sadaqah, Lillah, Fitrana, Qurbani, and Kaffarah to name some. The two most essential are Zakat (Obligatory charity) and Sadaqah (voluntary charity).
Zakat (obligatory charity) is the third pillar of Islam and it is obligatory on all abled Muslims. It is a payment of 2.5 % of one’s total cumulative wealth for a year and it has to be distributed to one of the eight eligible groups of people.
It is mentioned in the Quran, “And establish prayer and give Zakat, and whatever good you put forward for yourselves – you will find it with Allah. Indeed, Allah of what you do is Seeing.” [Al-Quran 2:110]
Fulfilling Zakat strengthens our faith and is a mean of self-purification, soul and wealth.
Sadaqah relates to any form of giving, which can be money, food, clothing, or even a smile. It can be any form of acts of kindness to other humans or animals too. Sadaqah expiates our sins and makes our faith stronger, every act of ours is counted as an act of worship when we give for the sake of Allah (SWT).
A Protection From Calamity
By sacrificing part of one’s wealth and giving it in charity, the individual is guaranteeing protection for themselves from tragedy and misfortune.
The Prophet said: “Give charity without delay, for it stands in the way of calamity.” (Al-Tirmidhi)
On the day when all other shade will be gone, Allah will shade and shelter those who give charity and care for the poor. The Muslim’s sacrifice in this life will be their protection on the Day of Judgment.
“The believer’s shade on the day of resurrection will be his charity” – Al-Tirmidhi
Charity serves as a way to bring justice, balance and kindness to every society and community. It is our hope that the Muslim community fulfils their charitable duty correctly and does its part in eliminating poverty in communities everywhere.