The Charity of a Muslim Community
Charity is a central tenet of Islam: everything one has belongs to God, and therefore, a Muslim is obliged to share wealth with those less fortunate. There are three primary forms of charity in Islam: Zakat, sadaqah, and waqf. Sadaqa is voluntary charitable giving and appears several times in the Qur’an.
SADAQA (Voluntary Charity)
By the Qur’anic verse, “To every people we have appointed rites (of sacrifice) that they may celebrate the name of Allah over the sustenance He gives them from animals (fit for food). For your God is one God; so, call upon Him using His Name” [Quran 22:38], the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) offered a two-rak’ah prayer to commemorate every act of charity. A hadith narrated by Abu Hurayra says that sadaqah is anything one voluntarily gives beyond what is obligatory, even if it is just a smile [Sahih Muslim].
Charity in Islam is based on three principles:
- Charity begins at home; one must ensure that his own family has food and clothing before giving to others. The Prophet said, “The perfect believer in faith is he who is best in manners and kindest to his wife” [al-Bukhari].
- Charity should not necessarily be monetary; indeed, the Prophet gave gifts from his possessions and encouraged Muslims, ‘If you have nothing with you, then be charitable with your tongue. Charity is even more rewarding in the sight of Allah’ (al-Bukhari).
- Charity must not only benefit a person or community directly; it should also contribute to society as a whole. The Prophet established many foundations for this purpose: providing water wells and public baths, digging canals and roads, etc.; he also frequently asked his companions to undertake voluntary work on such projects. Charity does not necessarily need to be money, either. The importance of giving one’s time was highlighted by encouraging the Muslim community to celebrate Eid instead of leaving it solely as a day off!
ZAKAT (The Formal Charity Tax)
Zakat is the third pillar of Islam and is often referred to as the Charity Tax. Charity in Islam goes back to before the time of Muhammad (peace be upon him), howbeit it was then a general term used for all good works, but later was restricted by revelation from Allah: “They ask you (O Prophet) what they should spend in charity. Say: Whatever you spend with a good heart, give it to parents, relatives, orphans, the needy, and travellers in need. Whatever good you do, God has full knowledge thereof” [Quran 2:215]. Hence, Zakat frequently appears in the Qur’an.
Every adult Muslim who owns property or wealth above a certain minimum amount known as nisab.
Also learn about Qurbani Donation here.