In Islam, charity is one of the main teachings. It is repeatedly mentioned in the Quran, the holy book of Islam, as well as in different hadiths, the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad. For Muslims around the world, charitable giving plays an important part in their everyday lives. They believe that everything everyone owns belongs to God; therefore, they must share their wealth with those who are less fortunate. Many Muslims believe that giving to charity can improve the well-being of the needy as well as increase the happiness of the wealthy.
Muslims have three ways of charitable giving, namely, zakat, sadaqa, and waqf. In this article, you will find what these different kinds of charity in Islam are and how Muslims put them into practice. If you want to learn more about them, read on.
Zakat is the third pillar of Islam and is an obligatory form of charity, wherein Muslims are required to donate a portion of their wealth every year. When translated, zakat can mean to purify. By paying zakat to help the less fortunate, Muslims believe this practice cleanses themselves and their remaining wealth. People who are required to pay zakat are Muslim adults who possess the minimum amount of wealth held for a year, called nisab. Nisab is determined in terms of the value of gold and silver.
While the Quran does not state a specific percentage to give as zakat, the customary practice is to give 2.5 percent of your wealth. For example, if your total assets amount to USD10,000, you need to pay 250 dollars as zakat. Aside from your savings, there are other variables to consider when paying the right amount. To help you calculate it, you can use an app with a zakat calculator like Muslim Pro.
When computing what’s due for your zakat, make sure to exclude any income used to pay for bills, home rental, and essential goods. It is only after you have deducted these living expenses that you can get the exact amount of your zakat. With such considerations, zakat calculators like the one found in the Muslim Pro app are popular and make it easy to come up with an accurate amount.
Zakat is used for a specific purpose as mentioned in the Quran. It is restricted to be given to eight categories of people including:
- The poor
- Those in need
- Collectors or administrators of the zakat
- New and needy Muslims, who are often referred to as individuals whose hearts are to be reconciled
- Those who have been enslaved or are captives
- Those in debt
- In the path of God
- Travelers, which include refugees
Sadaqa is a voluntary charitable giving and has no minimum or maximum amount. It is not limited to monetary donations and covers all forms of giving such as generosity, compassion, and love. So even if it is as simple as smiling or helping someone, good deeds can be considered as sadaqa and reward all parties involved.
While there is no definite amount Muslims are expected to give should they want to donate cash, there are certain factors that can increase the merit of sadaqa. These include giving anonymously, donating a large portion of personal wealth, and giving during Ramadan. When giving sadaqa, it must not have any conditions and should never be revoked. This means donors can’t impose conditions or revoke the donation once sadaqa has been made.
Muslims also believe in the concept of charitable giving which will earn them rewards even after their death, called sadaqa jariya. This is an act of giving that benefits people in the present and the future. This includes any type of charity which will continue to have positive effects for the long-term such as building homes, schools, or hospitals.
Another type of charity is waqf, a type of philanthropic deed in perpetuity. It involves donating property or investment solely for a charitable purpose. Even if the donation generates revenue, the asset remains intact and it will be used to serve specific beneficiaries. Although the Quran does not specify waqf, the importance of a Muslim’s duty to charity is mentioned in a hadith. Muslims believe that once a person dies, all their deeds no longer exist except for their continuing charity.
Typically, Muslims will donate a building, land, or cash without any intention of claiming any value gained from them. As long as the community or the public can benefit, a waqf can be used for different purposes including:
- Schools, universities, and other learning institutions
- Plots of land for farming
- Medical hospitals and schools
Throughout history, a Waqf has been used to support and develop communities. One famous example of a waqf is the Al Azhar Mosque and University located in Egypt. It is one of the oldest universities in the world and was established over 1,000 years ago.
For Muslims, charity is an integral part of their daily lives. While a monetary donation is popular, it is not the only way you can perform your religious duties. If you want to extend your help beyond your community, you can support Muslim charity organizations that provide aid for different individuals worldwide.