Charity in Islam, or “zakat” in Arabic, is an essential aspect of Islamic faith and practice. It is considered one of the Five Pillars of Islam and is mandatory for all Muslims who meet specific financial criteria. The purpose of charity in Islam is to purify one’s wealth, promote social justice and equality, and provide assistance to those in need. It is viewed as a form of worship and an act of obedience to God, and a way to show gratitude for blessings and share the wealth with those less fortunate. Charity in Islam is about giving money and helping others through acts of kindness, compassion, and generosity.
What is Charity in Islam?
Giving money (charity) to the poor is an emblem of Islam and a sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). He was never asked for anything except that he gave it. And he would give without fearing poverty. People said he was more generous than the “sent wind” that brings the rain clouds.
ٱلَّذِينَ يُنفِقُونَ أَمْوَٰلَهُم بِٱلَّيْلِ وَٱلنَّهَارِ سِرًّا وَعَلَانِيَةً فَلَهُمْ أَجْرُهُمْ عِندَ رَبِّهِمْ وَلَا خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ
“Those who spend (in the cause of Allah) privately or publicly. By night and day, they have their reward with their Lord. And (on the Day of Resurrection) they shall neither fear nor grieve.”
Allah says in the Holy:
وَأَقِيمُوا۟ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ وَءَاتُوا۟ ٱلزَّكَوٰةَ ۚ وَمَا تُقَدِّمُوا۟ لِأَنفُسِكُم مِّنْ خَيْرٍ تَجِدُوهُ عِندَ ٱللَّهِ ۗ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ بَصِيرٌ
“And be steadfast in prayer and regular in charity: and whatever good ye send forth for your souls before you ye shall find it with Allah; for Allah sees well all that ye do.”
Charity in Islam for Women:
A woman lost her husband through death. She decided to give to charity in Islam on his husband’s behalf. One Friday night, she cooked some food and asked her son to deliver it to a poor man who lived near their house. While sending the food, the son of the dead man’s felt very hungry, but he controlled himself after delivering the charity in Islam. He returned home hungry and went to bed.
The following Friday, the women cooked food to deliver to the poor man. On the third Friday, the orphan sent the food to the poor man, who could not control himself and ate the whole food on the way. That night the widow saw his dead husband in a dream who told her that: “That night was the first night whence he received the reward of the charity she had given. While the charities she had given before had not reached him.”
The widow got up and doubted that her son had committed a mistake, so she investigated the situation. Her little son said I delivered the food to the poor man. I had fulfilled my duty during the last two Fridays, but I ate the food this Friday because I was starving.
It was then that the widow understood that her son needed the food more than the poor neighbor. Thus we need to give charity to our near kith and kin before we look further.
Almighty Allah (SWT) says in the Noble Qur’an:
فَلَا ٱقْتَحَمَ ٱلْعَقَبَةَ
But he has not broken through the difficult pass.
وَمَآ أَدْرَىٰكَ مَا ٱلْعَقَبَةُ
And what can make you know what is [breaking through] the difficult pass?
It is the freeing of a slave
أَوْ إِطْعَٰمٌ فِى يَوْمٍ ذِى مَسْغَبَةٍ
Or feeding on a day of severe hunger
يَتِيمًا ذَا مَقْرَبَةٍ
An orphan of near relationship
أَوْ مِسْكِينًا ذَا مَتْرَبَةٍ
Or a needy person in misery
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) also said:
“Charity is given to a relative serves a double purpose, being both charity and a connecting link.” (Tirmidhi)