Charity in Islam (philanthropy) is one of the main actions performed for the benefit of humanity. Islam pays special attention to the support of the disadvantaged and accepts charity as the main act of mercy and compassion, demonstrating the manifestation of the will of the Almighty on Earth.
The Holy Quran and the Holy Sunnas unequivocally declare that caring for the disadvantaged strata of society is the responsibility of richer co-religionists, and therefore any Muslim who is able to perform an act of charity is obliged to do it on a regular basis. Islam encourages Muslims to engage in charity from an early age and instills the belief that Mighty Allah will reward those who are able to support the Muslim community.
The Holy Qur’an says: “He is righteous who distributes wealth out of love for loved ones, relatives, orphans, the needy, travelers and those who ask …” (2:177).
“Pay tribute to close relatives, as well as those in need and travelers. This is the best of all for those who desire the favor of Allah” (30:38).
There are various sayings of the Prophet describing the meaning of philanthropy. “You will not enter paradise until you have faith; and you will not be able to gain faith until you love each other. Have compassion for those on earth, and Whoever is in heaven will have compassion for you.”
Charity in Islam takes form in two types of donations: mandatory and voluntary. Mandatory charity consists of zakat and fitrana, and voluntary charity includes sadaqah and waqf.
Zakat is a share or part of the wealth that a Muslim is obliged to distribute to certain categories of co-religionists if the value of his assets exceeds the established limit. The recipients of zakat are mentioned in the Holy Quran.
“Zakat is intended only for the poor and needy, and those who are busy distributing it, and those whose hearts are inclined to the truth, release prisoners, and those who are in debt” (9:60).
In every Islamic State, the government is responsible for collecting and administering zakat. The amount of zakat to be paid is determined based on the amount of funds and the type of assets available to an individual. The Holy Quran does not specify the prescribed percentage, but the usual practice is to pay 2.5% on fixed assets and 20% on other assets such as agricultural goods, precious metals and livestock. Islamic practice is the first known social security system in the entire Muslim community. The act of paying zakat is also one of the five basic requirements of the Muslim faith. Since Zakat is less of a voluntary practice and more of a prescribed religious rite, it is an extremely significant institution with a clearly defined religious-socio-economic mandate.
Fitrana is paid until the end of the month of Ramadan. The main purpose of fitrana is to provide those in need with the opportunity to celebrate Eid-al-Fitr, the holiday of fasting with the rest of the Muslims. Every mature and financially capable Muslim is obliged to pay fitrana for himself and on behalf of his dependents. In the context of fitrana, “dependent” refers to anyone who is in the care of a person. This can apply to children, parents, brothers and sisters, as well as to any person for whom they are responsible. The prescribed amount of fitrana is the same for all Muslims, regardless of their level of income or wealth. However, if a person is unable to cover his own expenses, as well as the expenses of his family during one lunar year (and he has no one who could cover these expenses for him), he is exempt from fitrana.
Sadaqah often goes beyond financial contributions and includes any act of donation out of compassion or generosity that is done for the benefit of others. If a Muslim cannot give sadaqah because he has no money, let him work to feed himself and give alms. If he can’t work, then let him help someone who needs his help. If he cannot do this, let him join in the good and not harm others. The recipients of sadaqah do not have to be Muslims.
Sadaqah often goes beyond financial contributions and includes any act of donation out of compassion or generosity that is done for the benefit of others.
Waqf is a permanent donation by a Muslim of any property for any purpose recognized by Islamic law. Any property can be the subject of a waqf. Waqf is determined by the possibility of obtaining benefits in any form of treatment that a Muslim is capable of. The Islamic Institute of waqf has a broader scope and goals than a trust in legal law. Each waqf contract must have a founder, a trustee, a judge and beneficiaries.
The founder must be of legal age, be of sound mind, be able to conduct financial affairs and not be under any prohibitions in connection with bankruptcy. The founder must have control or ownership over it. It must be considered legal in Islam and cannot be previously pledged to anyone else. The founder can identify individuals, such as the community as a whole or those in need of financial assistance, or charitable organizations, such as mosques or schools, as beneficiaries of the waqf.
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