Author: Zin Eddine Dadach
For those who believe in the existence of the unseen, and perform the prayers, and spend out of what We have provided for them (Quran 2:3)
Allah (SWT) created us within a “gradient of wealth” like finances, material elements, health, appearance, intelligence to learn and the ability to master different skills. In this Quranic verse, Allah (SWT) asks believers to share part of the wealth He provided them with the less fortunate (muʿāmalāt). In this perspective, the Arabic word Zakat means to self-purify our soul. From this definition, this compulsory charity of money (Zakat Al mal) is the intention of every rich person to self-purify his/her soul by helping the poor. The amount of charity is fixed at 2.5% of a Muslim’s total savings and wealth above a minimum amount (nisab) is donated annually2.
..And do good as Allah has been good to you.. (Quran 28:77)
In addition to this obligation, we can have the opportunity to self-purify our soul and add good deeds by giving whatever we can. For example, this Quranic verse:
They ask you (O Muhammad) what they should spend. Say: Whatever you spend of good must be for parents and kindred and orphans and the needy and for wayfarers, and whatever you do of good deeds, Allah knows it well (Quran 2:215)
-means that the intention to please Allah (SWT) and self-purify our soul is not limited to only helping those in need by giving them money or food to survive, but encompasses acts of charity such as offering assistance and time to relatives, neighbors and friends as well as those who are unwell to comfort them and perhaps add some joy to their life, or enhance it in some way.
Moreover, being kind and considerate towards relatives, neighbors and coworkers are also good deeds as mentioned in the Quranic verse:
Worship God and join none with Him in worship, and do good to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, the needy, the neighbor who is near of kin, the neighbor who is a stranger, the companion by your side, the wayfarer (you meet) and those whom your right hands possess. Verily, Allah does not like such as are proud and boastful. (Quran 4:36)
As we worship Allah (SWT) with our prayers (ibādāt) in mosques, Muslims are also supposed to worship Him in workplaces by helping people there (muʿāmalāt). For example, the charity of an engineer is to offer expertise to properly solve technical problems. The charity of a doctor is to treat patients adequately and provide them with the proper diagnosis and treatment and the charity of a teacher is to impart knowledge and enable students to learn.
In this topic, Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) teaches us that we can help people in many ways as he said: “Charity is prescribed for each descendant of Adam every day the sun rises”. He was then asked: “From what do we give charity every day?” The Prophet replied “The doors of goodness are many: enjoining good, forbidding evil, removing harm from the road, listening to the deaf, leading the blind, guiding one to the object of his need, hurrying with the strength of one’s legs to one in sorrow who is asking for help, and supporting the feeble with the strength of one’s arms. All of these are charity prescribed for you”. He then said: “Even your smile for your brother is a charity”. [Bukhari]
In addition, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) ask Muslims to also protect nature and animals. For example, regarding the reward of planting trees, he said “If a Muslim plants a tree or sows seeds, and then a bird, or a person or an animal eats from it, it is regarded as a charitable gift (sadaqah) for him”. To care and protect animals, he told this story: “A man felt very thirsty while he was on the way, there he came across a well. He went down the well, quenched his thirst and came out. Meanwhile he saw a dog panting and licking mud because of excessive thirst. He said to himself, ‘This dog is suffering from thirst as I did.’ So, he went down the well again, filled his shoe with water, held it with his mouth and watered the dog. Allah appreciated him for that deed and forgave him”. The Companions said: “O Messenger of Allah! Is there a reward for us in serving the animals?” He replied: “There is a reward for serving any living being”. [Bukhari]
On a last note, as mentioned in this Quranic verse:
And We have sent you forth [O Muhammad] not but as a mercy for mankind and jinn (Quran 21:107)
– Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was sent as a divine gift of mercy for the whole of mankind until the Day of Judgment. For this mission of love and compassion, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said “All creatures of Allah are His family, therefore, amongst His creations, God likes the person who treats His creatures in a good manner and takes care of their necessities”.
- Interpretation of the meanings of the Noble Quran by Dr. Muhammad Taqui-ud-Din Al Hilali and Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan, DARUSSALAM (1996)
- Sahih Bukhari
- ISLAMCITY: Zakat explained
- Aishah Schwartz (2018), Even a Smile is Charity: A Life Example in Truth Seeker?
- Service to Humanity in Understanding Islam