Charity in Islam is more than merely giving money, food and clothing to the poor and needy. It is a great act of worship.
When a Muslim gives charity, his or her main reason is to please Allah and seek His reward. A true Muslim would never help the poor so that others can see what a good person he or she is.
By seeking Allah’s pleasure, a Muslim is taking this act of charity beyond human recognition and humbling himself before Allah.
There are many aspects to alms-giving in Islam.
- Zakat – this is the compulsory charity that all Muslims must pay based on the wealth they possess at the time of payment. In Surah At-Tauba, verse 103 of the Quran, Allah says: “Take alms from their wealth in order to purify them and sanctify them with it.” The minimum amount to pay is roughly two and a half per cent of the wealth you possess.
- In secret – it is better to give charity in secret because you can then be sure that your intention is solely for Allah’s pleasure. Giving in public is fine as long as you do not do it to impress people. Abu Hureira reported that the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) said that one of the seven types of people who are given shade on the Day of Judgment are those who give charity “so secretly that their left hand do not know what his right hand has given (nobody knows how much he has given in charity).”
- Clean money – charity should be given with money that is earned in a halal (permissible) manner, i.e. not involving gambling, alcohol etc.
- Rewards – if you sacrifice some of your wealth for the sake of Allah, you can be sure that Allah will multiply your reward, either in this world or in the afterlife.