CHARITY IN ISLAM by Prof. Sulaiman Osho.

In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. Praise be to Allah, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the worlds; Most Gracious, Most Merciful; Master of the Day of Judgment. Thee alone do we worship, and Thine aid we seek. Guide us in the right path. The path of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy Grace,

Not the path of those who have gone astray (Qur’an 1: 1 – 7). The Holy Qur’an 2:1-5 says, “Alif Lam Mim; This is the Book; in it is guidance sure, without doubt, to those who fear God; Who believe in the Unseen are steadfast in prayer and spend out of what We have provided for them. And who believe in the Revelation sent to thee and sent before thy time and (in their hearts) has the assurance of the Hereafter. They are on (true) guidance from their Lord and it is these who will prosper”.

One major feature of the Ramadan period is the tradition of Muslims to pay the annual obligatory levy to the poor (Zakat) from their savings and property. This is a strategy to savour the full benefits of the fasting period, and a permanent reminder about the importance of Zakat, even though it may be given in any other month of the year. Holy Qur’an 2:110 says, “Establish prayer and give zakat, and whatever good you put forward for yourselves—you will find it with Allah. Surely Allah sees what you do.”

Besides, other forms of charity are given during the month because the exchange of social visits and intensification of humanitarian services are important features of the Ramadan period. Such include the voluntary alms to the needy (Sadaqat) from our belongings without any specific rate or value. Also, we have the compulsory Zakat-L-Fitr (Charity of fast-breaking) that has specific rate or measure, which must be distributed to the poor before the Eid-L-Fitr (the festival of fast breaking) prayers.

Zakat is an exceptionally remarkable institution and major pillar of Islam just like the five daily prayers (Salat), the Ramadan fast, and Holy Pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina (Hajj). It is a way of translating out Belief in the Unity of Allah (Imam) into Action. It is a Capital Levy prescribed by the Almighty on the savings and property of faithful Muslims annually. (Q.2:110; 22:78). It is meant to purify our money, business concerns and belonging with designated measure, which a Muslim with means, must distribute among the rightful beneficiaries. God instructed Prophet Muhammad (SAW), of their goods take alms that so thou mightiest purify and sanctify them; and pray on their behalf. Verily thy prayers are a source of security for them: and God is one who heareth and knoweth. Know they not that God doth accept repentance from His votaries and receives their gifts of charity and that God is verily He the Oft- Returning Most-Merciful? (Quran 9:103-104).

It is a religious duty that is obligatory on the Muslims. (Q.24.56; 73.20). It is not Sadaqat (voluntary alms) that is just a form of charity or alms giving or tax or tithe. It is not just simply an expression of kindness it is not merely a deduction of a certain percentage from one's property. It is not simply a voluntary contribution to someone or some cause. It is not a government tax that a shrewd clever person can get away with. It is a combination of these that has abundant enrichment and spiritual investment. It is the Commandment of Allah from our wealth for the benefit of the needy and the poor in the interest of society as a whole.

As religion is about what Allah Commands and to obey them, and what the Almighty forbids and to avoid, the refusal of any Muslim to give Zakat form the deserved wealth becomes a punishment that is severe, (Q. 3:180; 9:34-35). The severe punishment is hell fire on the Day of Judgement where the wealth of those who refuse to give Zakat will be branded with it. This is aside from the fact that such people would have been made to pay the Zakat by force in a hard way through misfortune on their wealth on earth.

And of course, the benefit of obeying the Commandment on Zakat is Paradise. As narrated by Abu Huraira in Al-Bukhari," A desert Arab came to the Prophet (SAW) and said Tel, of such a deed as will make me enter Paradise, if I do it. The Prophet (SAW) said, "Worship Allah, and worship none along with Him, offer the five prescribed compulsory daily prayers perfectly, pay the compulsory Zakat, and fast in the month of Ramadan. The Bedouin said, "By Him in Whose Hands my life is I will not do more than this. When he (the Bedouin) left, the Prophet (SAW) said, "Whoever lives to see a man of Paradise, then he may look at this man.

Even apart from its religious its religious and spiritual importance. Zakat has humanitarian and socio-political value. When Zakat is payable, a certain percentage of the wealth should be distributed immediately in the right manner because the owner no linger has moral or legal possession of that percentage This amounts to even distribution of wealth that closes to a large extent the wide gap between the rich and the poor. Afterall retaining the resources of Zakat will amount to corruption and usurpation of poor people's wealth which makes the whole lot impure and endangered.

Also, Zakat purifies the heart of the contributor from selfishness and greed for wealth. In return, it purifies the heart of the recipient from envy and jealousy, from hatred and uneasiness, and it foster in his heart instead, good will and warm wishes for the contributor.

It is noteworthy than Zakat is due on lawful income and property, as such unlawful lots like hoarded goods are destructive and corrupt in the Sight of Allah. (Q.2.263, 276; 9:34). But if we have goods in our stores for sale on the turn of 12 months, we must deduct Zakat form them as purifier of the property. And no charity is accepted from what is grabbed from the war booty in an illegal way, as Zakat is accepted only from honestly-earned money.

Really, the rate of Zakat on money and property is specified. At the end of a year, which most male and female Muslims observe during Ramadan the minimum rate of two and half percent of Zakat is due on our cash savings or articles of trade. It is easier on the cash savings but on the stock of business wealth of trade articles, we must evaluate according to the current value and give Zakat at same rate of two and one-half percent of the total value of wealth. If the investment is in immovable property like revenue buildings and industries, the rate of Zakat will go by the sale or the income (Profit), and not of the total value of the whole property.

But if the building and house are put upon for trade or sale, the Zakat rate will go by the total value of the entire property Also, if someone is a creditor, he indebted person is liable, one will pay Zakat for the amount he has lent because it's still a portion of his guaranteed wealth. In all cases, one pays only for his act balance. The personal expenses, the family allowances, necessary expenditures, the due credits are all paid first and Zakat is calculated on, taken from the net balance.

The poor rate is however not due on certain measure of wealth. As narrated by Sa'id in Al-Bakhari, the Holy Prophet (SAW) says, "No Zakat is due on property amounting to less than five Uquyas (of silver) and no Zakat is due on less than five camels, and there in no Zakat on less than five wasqs." (A Wasq equals 60 Sa's), and (one Sa=3 Kgms. App.). But Zakat is not due to be paid on resources and wealth that we use domestically like Gold for women fashion, our vehicles that we ride, our house, and others, except the vehicles, houses and others are for commercial purposes which the value must fall within the estimation of Zakat at the period in time.

Meanwhile, the due recipients of Zakat are the poor, the needy, and those who are employed in their service (Q.9:60). Such categories include the poor Muslims, to relieve their distress; the needy Muslims, to supply them with means whereby they can earn their livelihood; the new Muslim converts, to enable them settle down and meet their unusual needs; and the Muslim prisoners of war, to liberate them by payment of ransom money. Other due recipients of Zakat are the Muslims in debt, to free them from their liabilities incurred under pressing necessities; the Muslim employees appointed by a Muslim governor for the collection of Zakat to pay their wages; the Muslims in service of the cause of Allah by means of research or studying and the propagation of Islam, this share is to cover their expenses and help them to finance their research to aid their study and continue their services; and the Muslim wayfarers who are stranded in a foreign land and in need of help.

May Allah give us the will-power, and resources to meet these obligatory alms to the poor (Ameen).

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