Photo by [Muslim Aid]
Giving charity is significant in Islam as it reflects some of the creed’s core values of compassion, generosity and social responsibility. Therefore, giving charity in Islam goes beyond financial transactions.
It encompasses a broader concept of selflessness and goodwill to others, including animals. Islam promotes the idea that wealth is a trust from God and, therefore, it should be amongst the people.
The Types of Charity
The Administrator of the Jamiatul Ulama of KwaZulu-Natal, Moulana Abdullah Khan, said there are two forms of charity. The first is an obligatory charity (Zakat), and the second non-obligatory charity (Sadaqah).
Following Quranic teaching, Zakat is mandatory for an individual who possesses a certain amount of wealth and assets. In contrast, Sadaqah is a voluntary charity that can be given at any time or amount.
Voluntary acts of charity can be in the form of anything. It can be food, water, money, clothing or any other valuable contribution. It can be something as minute as a smile or a kind gesture.
“[Sadaqah] refers to an act that is done voluntarily. It’s an act that is done in any way, not only financially or monetary. It can also refer to assisting somebody by helping them cross the road, by removing something from the road that may cause an obstruction or by smiling and uplifting a fellow Muslim person’s day.”
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The Benefits of Giving in Islam
Charity is an obligation and a responsibility of every Muslim. It should be given to anyone in need, impoverished people and communities, including indebted people.
According to Islamic teaching, besides charity holding spiritual significance and a way to attain spiritual growth, reward and blessings, there are several other benefits to giving. Moulana Khan said that providing for the pleasure of God purifies and blesses wealth, eliminates evil deeds and actions, and prevents future challenges and calamities.
“If it is a non-obligatory thing you are doing and it is voluntarily, something which is encouraged Rasool (Peace Be Upon Him) of Allah, it defers trial and tribulation that may be coming towards a person. It safeguards, prevents and diverts that particular challenge … (God) would defer it and change it because of the [blessings] of the Sadaqah.”
Giving charity and doing small acts of kindness and goodwill to others is encouraged in Islam and can go a long way to the contribution and welfare of society. Giving will not only assist in alleviating the challenges of the underprivileged. However, it will also enrich the giver in many ways as they embody the true essence of Islam.