The significance of giving charity is pointed out throughout the Qur’ an (the holy book of Islam) and in numerous hadiths (phrases of the Prophet). Charity is one of the five pillars of Islam: The Prophet, peace be upon him , said: “Give charity without delay, for it stands in the way of calamity.” (Al-Tirmidhi)
Zakat is a monetary worship that is incumbent on those possessing a certain amount of wealth. Giving Zakat is considered as a great act of worship in Islam. The meaning of zakat is “to cleanse” or “purify”. When a Muslim gives Zakat to the poor, he is essentially purifying his wealth and his soul.
Zakat is Fardh (compulsory) in Islam, anyone that denies it being a Fardh will come out of the fold of Islam.
Zakat is only eligible upon mature, sane men and women who meet Nisab threshold. If a person meets the requirements, then 2.5% of their wealth must then be given.
Zakat must only be given to the specific eight categories mentioned in the Qur’an. If it is not given to any of them, then it will be void and necessary to re-pay.
The Prophet, upon be peace, said: “The believer’s shade on the Day of Resurrection will be his charity.” (Al-Tirmidhi)
This is the term used for giving charity in Islam. All acts of worship through financial expenditure are classified as Sadaqah. Due to there being many types, they have been divided into 2 categories both of which have separate rulings:
Allah says in Quran: “And whoever volunteers good then indeed, Allah is appreciative and Knowing.”- [2:158]
This is a charity which is binding in nature. This includes Sadaqah al-Fitr, etc. This form of Sadaqah is similar to Zakat in that it must be spent on the same categories as defined by the Qur’an, except that it is not a condition for the beneficiary to be Muslim.
This type of Sadaqah includes:
- Sadaqatul Fitr
- Udhiyyah, Dam and Badanah
This is a charity which is a duty upon every sane Muslim, who possesses the value of Nisab beyond the basic necessities. Fathers are instructed to give Sadaqah al-Fitr on behalf of those children who have not reached of age.
The amount that must be given is equal to 1.6 kg of wheat or 3.2 kg of barley or its like. This does not mean that a person must distribute wheat or barley, one may give its equivalent value.
Sadaqah al-Fitr is a very emphasized Sunnah (which according to many has the status of Wajib) which becomes due before Eid Salah, although it is preferable to give it a few days before Eid so that the poor actually receive it and are able to spend it on Eid day. If one does not give the Sadaqah al-Fitr, it will remain due no matter how much time passes after Eid.
This is an action which becomes necessary due to one imposing it upon oneself. This can be done if one wishes to express gratitude, and the action can take on a number of forms, including Sadaqah. If a person makes such an oath of giving charity, that then becomes Sadaqah Wajibah. If they are unable to uphold the oath, they will have to give Kaffarah, and may be sinful.
This is compensation for missing Salah or Sawm (Fasts/Rozay) for a person who cannot perform them due to being in terminal illness or being deceased (in which case it is given out of a third of the wealth) or in the event of a person making a minor mistake in Hajj. The amount for each missed Salah or Sawm, or each minor mistake in Hajj is to give 1.6kg of wheat or its value (i.e. the same amount given for Sadaqah al-Fitr) to the poor. Fidyah is generally Sadaqah Wajibah.
This is major compensation and like Fidyah it is also Sadaqah Wajibah. It applies in various situations such as if a person breaks a fast intentionally, breaks an oath, or kills someone, Kaffarah would then be binding as the form of redemption. There are five actions for which kaffarah will be necessary, however, they fall under two types.
For redemption of this, a person may free a slave (if feasible) or fast for sixty consecutive days (If a person breaks a fast intentionally they would need to fast for sixty consecutive days, unless they can’t fast due to poor health or old age, there are no exceptions to this). Failing that one may feed sixty poor people for a day (i.e. two meals a day, each meal is equivalent to a fidyah). This Kaffarah applies to:
* Intentionally breaking Sawm (fast)
* Breaking Zihar (To consider one’s wife as Haram for oneself by comparing her to a Mahram – anyone too closely related to be marriageable)
* Being the direct cause of someone’s death (this is coupled with the set punishments).
Note: In the instance of not being able to feed sixty people in a single day then he may feed one person for sixty days, but in this case if he were to try to quicken payment of this by giving all the money in one day to one person, kaffarah would not be fulfilled, and his offering would only be equal to one days feeding.
For redemption of this a person may free a slave (which is no longer applicable) or feed ten poor people for two meals in one day or give each one of them clothing. Failing this, he may fast for three consecutive days (The order is also different from the greater Kaffarah). This Kaffarah applies to:
* Breaking/violating Yamin (an oath/kasam)
* Breaking Ila’ (To take an oath on not having conjugal relationships with one’s wife)
This is also known as Qurbani or sacrifice. It is Wajib upon all mature Muslims who, on the day of `Eid al-Adha, possess Nisab. Whoever qualifies for this is required to purchase a sheep or goat of more than one year in age, and slaughter that in the name of Allah after the ‘Eid prayer preferably on the same day. The sacrifice can also be done on the two days after Eid. If one fails to make the sacrifice in these three days, he will still have to donate the value of the animal (this remains Wajib).
From the meat he may eat himself and feed his family and distribute the meat amongst the poor Muslims. One is not responsible to give Zakat or any necessary Sadaqah for one’s spouse nor one’s mature children – they are responsible for themselves. One is however, responsible for only giving sadaqah al-fitr for one’s minor children, however, neither Zakat is given from their wealth, nor Udhiyyah given on their behalf.
Note: One may slaughter goats or sheep, which constitute one sacrifice each, or one may slaughter a larger animal (i.e. cow or buffalo) which will be counted as seven sacrifices each. In the event of living in a wealthy country, it is better that one sacrifices one part locally to fulfil the Sunnah of sacrifice; and to arrange for the remaining sacrifices to be performed in a poorer country, where the poor may also partake of it.
Dam is of two types. one is like Udhiyyah in the sense that it is a religious requirement on adult Muslims. The only difference is that it is specific to people who are performing Hajj. This Dam is called Dam ash-Shukr.
The second type of Dam, like fidyah, is a means of compensation for mistakes in Hajj, but the difference is the magnitude of the mistake. Fidyah is given in lieu of minor mistakes while Dam is in lieu of major mistakes. Dam, like Udhiyyah, is the sacrifice of a sheep or goat. It can also be made a part (i.e. 1/7) of a larger sacrifice.
Badanah is like Dam, but while Dam is the sacrifice of a sheep or goat, Badanah is the sacrifice of a large animal, i.e. a cow or camel. This is the largest penalty in Hajj, and is specific to three acts.
“Do not show lethargy or negligence in giving alms and charity till your last breath.” -Muhammad, upon him be peace (Bukhari and Muslim).
This is charity which is not binding in nature but is optional. This type includes alms given for the removal of difficulties, philanthropic (to give out of mercy to the less fortunate), the general giving of any Halal item to any one etc. This type does not need to be spent on the specified categories to be rewarding nor does it have to be spent on Muslims, although if spent on poor Muslims it would be more rewarding. This can also be bequeathed in one’s will (in which case it would be only up to a third of the deceased person’s entire estate).
The following are types of Sadaqah Nafilah:
- Sadaqah for the upliftment of difficulties
- Sadaqah for the expiation of sins
This is Sadaqah Nafilah but is a type that does not have the condition of having to be passed into the possession of a person, as it can be given to institutes such as Mosques, hospitals, schools, and orphanages.
This is to allot something as a trust for a certain cause. This can be during one’s lifetime or bequeathed in one’s will (up to the value of a third of one’s estate). When executed, the donation becomes the property of Allah (and thus has specific rules regarding it), and its beneficiaries are to remain those named as the cause (e.g. the poor, orphans, students, the people of a certain locality, etc.) The difference between this and Lillah is that with Waqf ownership is not given to people or institutes but only the benefits are ascribed. Like today’s trusts, Waqf also requires the care of trustees over it.
This is the sacrifice of an animal (for birth of a girl) or two (for birth of a boy) as thanks to Allah for the birth of a child. The meat can be cooked and fed to members of the locality. Preference again is for the poor and close family members.
Sadaqah for Removing Difficulties
One, at the time of donating, should ask Allah to make easy one’s deliverance. This can be understood from the Hadith:
‘Sadaqah soothes the Lord’s anger and protects against a bad death.’ (al-Tirmidhi, al Bayhaqi)
This type of Sadaqah can also be given as ‘Lillah’.
Sadaqah for Expiating Sins
One, at the time of donating, should ask Allah to forgive one’s shortcomings. This can be understood from the verse of the Holy Qur’an:
‘Indeed good deeds take away bad deeds.’ [Qur’an, 11:114]
This type of Sadaqah can also be given as ‘Lillah’.
Muhammad, upon him be peace, said: “When a man dies, his deeds come to an end except for three things: Sadaqah Jariyah (ceaseless charity); a knowledge which is beneficial, or a virtuous descendant who prays for him (for the deceased).” (Muslim)
Other Types of Charity
This Sadaqah is not a separate category but it is really any Sadaqah Nafilah which is spent on a cause of long-term benefit such as water wells etc.
This literally means to give a good loan. In the language of the Qur’an this term is used for Sadaqah Nafilah. The rewards of Qardh-e-Hasan are thus exclusive to Sadaqah. Loans given to Islamic institutes and then forgiven become this type of Sadaqah.
This means an Islamic loan. Islamic here means that two things must be upheld from the side of the creditor: the first that neither interest can be charged, nor any other benefit (advantage or gifts) be taken in lieu of the loan; the second is that at no time can the creditor show any signs of self-glory or remind the debtor of the favour/help given (this does not mean that he/she cannot ask for payment). This type of loan may be given to either an individual or an institute, and if the conditions are upheld, it is immensely rewarding for the creditor.
In Islam, the taking and also giving of interest have been expressly forbidden. This presents problems in secular countries, wherein no loan or mortgage is ever done without it.
But what should one do about the interest accumulated in one’s own bank account? This issue is also something that unfortunately affects many of us. What is established is that it is not at all permissible for one to utilise this for one’s own benefit.
To avoid the anger of Allah, one should give the interest money accumulated to charity. This, whilst being the most practically beneficial way of disposing the money, is not going to be positively rewarding. But due to it being in accordance with Allah’s Will, in that this method of disposal saves one from further sin, it is still beneficial.
Included under this broad heading are earnings generated by not only by the sales of Haram items, but also Halal items acquired though Haram methods (e.g., lying to get benefits, lying to increase the price of selling items etc).
Here the method of disposal is to return items to the rightful owners. If this is not possible because the owner is not known or any other legitimate reason, then the method of disposal is the same as that of interest money.
If one has spent a great portion of one’s life in Haram earnings to the extent that the majority of one’s possessions are of Haram origin, then what is the way of redeeming oneself in front of Allah?
The answer to this is often very difficult to digest. In short, the entire possessions of Haram earnings must be disposed of in the same way that interest is disposed.
This presents the problem: how then are brothers/sisters in such a situation meant to live? For this the most accommodating way would be that they take into account how much of their wealth is of ill earnings, then turning to a Halal means of income, whatever immediate amount they can dispose of (in charity) they do. Then over as short a period of time as possible they try to pay off this debt they owe to Allah.