What Does the Quran Say About Charity?
Charity is a critical part of Islam, society and life. With multiple benefits for both giver and receiver, charity is viewed as a duty in Islam, being a way to help the poor and vulnerable, and in doing so, supporting the welfare of the entire community.
Charity as a Pillar of Islam
Zakat is the third of five pillars of Islam, requiring Muslims to give a fixed portion of their wealth to charity annually. Giving Zakat is considered both an act of worship – a way of giving thanks to God –and a communal obligation to address social inequalities.
In fact, Zakat or almsgiving is considered so significant in Islam that the only things more important are the declaration of faith (shahada) and performing prayer (salah).
In the Quran, charity is given a prominent place befitting its status as the third pillar of Islam because charitable giving is a responsibility that lifts the welfare of individuals and society alike. Moreover, charitable giving is considered the noblest way to spend wealth.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “A man is not a believer who fills his stomach while his neighbour is hungry.”
Charity in the Quran: A loan to Allah SWT
The Quran says: “Indeed the charitable men and women and those who lend Allah a good loan—it shall be multiplied for them, and there will be a noble reward for them.” (57:11-19)
“Who is it that will lend Allah a good loan that he may multiply it for him severalfold? Allah tightens and expands [the means of life], and to him, you shall be brought back” (2:245)
These verses touch on a universal and profound truth of charity: giving up wealth does not mean a decrease in wealth, for what you give to God rests in His hands and will be returned. Giving charity is lending to God in faith and confidence that it will be returned to us, whether in this life or the next.
Verses About Charity in the Quran
Although the Quran discusses charity in many verses (Zakat alone is mentioned 32 times), a few verses in particular stand out.
Some of these include:
“Worship none but Allah. treat with kindness your parents and kindred, and orphans and those in need; speak fair to the people; be steadfast in prayer; and practice regular charity” (2:83)
“You will never attain righteousness until you spend in charity from that what you love.” (3:92)
“O believers give of what We have provided for you.” (2:254)
” The example of those who spend their wealth in the cause of Allah is that of a grain that sprouts into seven ears, each bearing one hundred grains. And Allah multiplies ˹the reward even more˺ to whoever He wills. For Allah is All-Bountiful, All-Knowing. ” (2:261)
“Those who spend their wealth in charity day and night, secretly and openly—their reward is with their Lord, and there will be no fear for them, nor will they grieve. ” (2:274)
Types of Charity in the Qur’an
Qur’an and Charity: Obligatory Charity
The Qur’an says: “And establish prayer and give Zakat and obey the Messenger – that you may receive mercy. ” (24:56)
Obligatory charity refers to Zakat where Muslims who meet a certain wealth threshold (on gold, silver, and so forth) are obligated to give a certain percentage of their excess wealth (above and beyond their general living costs) to charity. Think of it like a tax on the surplus of those goods amassed by adults. The calculations and rules come down to roughly:
Every Muslim who is a sane adult and has reached the level of wealth (87.5g of pure gold or 625g silver) must pay Zakat at a rate of 2.5% of their excess wealth.
Qur’an and Charity: Purification and Growth
The Qur’an says: ” Take from their wealth ˹O Prophet˺ charity to purify and bless them and pray for them—surely your prayer is a source of comfort for them. And Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing. ” (9:103)
Giving charity in Islam is significant because it is a means of purifying one’s wealth. Zakat literally means to purify and giving Zakat allows a person to cleanse, purify and bless the rest of their wealth. These aspects of wealth include monetary (gold and silver), livestock (camels, cows, and sheep), and grains (wheat, barley, dates, and raisins).
Qur’an and Charity: Recommended Charity
Obligatory charity (Zakat) is not the only kind of charity in the Qur’an. There is also recommended charity or Sadaqah, which deals with everything outside obligatory charity. The word Sadaqah is “to spend money in God’s way” and encompasses far more than giving the obligatory Zakat. There are many forms of voluntary charity including: greeting someone with a smile, helping a friend in need, carrying groceries for an elderly person, giving advice as well as donating money for a cause.
When charity is mentioned in the Qur’an, there are many verses that remind us that there is a ‘recognised right, for the needy and deprived’ over our wealth (70:24-5). This demonstrates the importance of giving Sadaqah often and freely, outside of what is obligatory.
Charity in the Qur’an: To Give Openly or Privately?
The Qur’an says: “If you disclose your charities, that is well, but if you hide them and give them to the poor, that is better for you, and it will atone for some of your misdeeds, and Allah is well aware of what you do.”
Giving openly or privately is an individual choice. Although we are encouraged to give recommended zakat openly to help inspire others to do the same, giving it privately might also be appropriate to better protect the dignity and honour of the poor when giving to them. Some may prefer to give the recommended Zakat privately to avoid being insincere in their good deeds.
Obligatory charity is often performed openly to show that one is, in fact, fulfilling their obligations, and to encourage others to do the same. However, private or open charity is different for each instance and different where it might affect sincerity.
Charity in the Qur’an: A Fundamental Teaching
The Quran teaches us much about charity and how lifting up those around us with acts of charity is a loan to God that will be repaid – either in this life or the next. Visit our website for more information on ways you can fulfil your charitable obligations.