Charity means willingness to help others. Helping those in need is a noble quality. Charity is preached by all religions. It is a way of bringing justice to society and justice is the essence of religion. Islam has therefore encouraged charity. Islam has rigid laws associated with charity.
Charity goes beyond kindness; it means generosity, empathy, and tolerance as well.
Charity in a Muslim’s life
The best type of charity is to offer food to a hungry person. Spending in the way of Allah, for example to support a pilgrim to perform the pilgrimage, or giving to the poor, to a widow, orphans, or to relatives or friends who are facing difficult times are all excellent ways of charity. The Holy Qur’an encourages Muslims to spend in charity and it mentions that the good deeds of the one who gives in charity are multiplied over and over again.
Charity begins at home
A characteristic of flourishing and highly developed societies is that its members do not spend all of their wealth to fulfill their own desires, but they reserve a portion for the poor and the unfortunate.
He who assists others is a true believer. Serving others always brings more satisfaction and happiness than when doing something for ourselves. To also reap the rewards from Allah, the one giving should have the pure intention to help for the sake of uplifting someone else’s misery and for pleasing Allah, and not for showing off. The one receiving the charity should be deserving of it.
Charity can even be practiced in one’s home by dealing compassionately with and looking out for the needs of those closest to us. Once we begin to encourage sympathy in our relationships, we will find it easier to do so with others as well. Once we begin with our homes, we can gradually extend the scope of our charity to include extended family, neighbors, community members, and people suffering hardships in distant countries.
In order for the charity to be accepted by Allah, the charity given should be lawfully earned or acquired by the giver.
Giving in Secret
This is the signature of the believer who gives only for the sake of Allah, without waiting for praise from others. Giving in secret is often better since it protects against insincerity, and it also preserves the dignity of the one receiving the charity. For a Muslim, charity is given to stave off miserliness and to draw one nearer to Allah. If instead the giver seeks fame, then the act of charity becomes worthless for the giver.
In some specific situations, it is acceptable and even better to give charity in public, so that you can set an example for others to follow and encourage more people to give for a good cause. However, one must be careful and closely watch one’s intentions to avoid any hypocritical notions.
Taunting is to remind a person or take advantage of him for a favor you have done for him. It is hurtful to that person to make it known to others or even to make him feel ashamed of his poverty.
Give of what is good
Charity should be taken from the best of your wealth and from what is dearest to you to increase righteousness and selflessness in the life of a Muslim. When donating clothes, do not choose only the old, tattered clothes to give away, but give away from the finest of your clothes.
Ongoing charity (Sadaqa Jariya)
The best charity is that which continuously benefits people, such as helping to build a school, a clinic, a hospital, or a water supply system, or a mosque, or planting a tree, or helping a poor person start up his own business.
Every Muslim must give in Charity
Muslims are obligated to give in charity. Every act of goodness is charity; enjoining good, forbidding evil, removing harm from the road, supporting the feeble, caring for the elderly, sharing a meal with your neighbor, even the smile of a Muslim is a way of charity.
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is the Best Example
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was never asked for anything, except that he gave it, and he would give without fearing poverty. The Prophet (peace be upon him) was the most generous, and his generosity in Ramadan far exceeded other times in the year.
Zakah, the third pillar of Islam, is obligatory charity. The literal meaning of Zakah is ‘purification’. It means purifying and blessing your wealth by giving a portion of it to those in need. The amount that must be given annually is 2.5% of a Muslim’s total cumulative wealth over the course of the year.
Those eligible to receive Zakah are:
Destitute: people who have no wealth or funds or source of income.
People in debt: people who are in debt but cannot pay it back.
Travelers: Muslims who are in the middle of their journey and have run out of money.
Orphan children: And there is a great reward in supporting orphans.
After the commencement of the month of Ramadan, all Muslims rejoice in Eid and even those living in poverty have a right to celebrate Eid and to enjoy a filling meal with their families.
That is why Zakatul Fitr has been established.
Every year just before Eid, every adult Muslim who possesses food in excess of his needs must pay Zakatul Fitr. It is preferable to pay Zakatul Fitr just before Eid prayer, first thing in the morning so that the poor can enjoy Eid as well. The amount of Zakatul Fitr is fixed. The minimum amount due is the equivalent of about 2 kg of flour, wheat, barley or rice from each member in your family and each dependent even if the dependent is not living in the same house. Zakatul Fitr provides the poor with a means with which they can celebrate Eid.