Zakat on Debit Card Deposit?


Assalaamu alaykum wa rahmatullaah. I would like to ask regarding paying zakat on the money that a person has deposited from his own money in an Islamic bank in order use to use their covered card service. For example, the bank, before offering the covered card (debit card), requires from the client to give them 10,000 in cash, and they will keep it with them in a separate account (separate from the savings or current account) in order to grant the person the covered card. Upon the 10,000 cash given to the bank, they will set the maximum card limit to 7,500 that can be used. The bank said that this is sharia complaint as the person is using his own money that he has deposited and the bank then deducts the owed money from the person’s main bank account. The 10,000 cannot be withdrawn by the person unless he cancels the covered card program and hands them back the card. However, he can withdraw 7,500 from that card, which the bank will deduct 100% from the person’s main bank account. I would like to ask: does the person have to pay zakat on that money even though it is not in his full possession? If yes, then how should he calculate it? And would he have to pay for the past years, during which he did not know that he had to pay the zakat on such financial agreements? May Allaah reward you.

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger.

You must pay zakat on those ten thousand if they reach the Nisaab (minimum amount liable for zakat which is equal to 85 grams of gold or 595 grams of silver) by themselves or in addition to other money or gold or silver or tradable items. The amount of zakat is 2.5%.

If you have not paid zakat on it the previous years, then you should do so now, because zakat is not waived by the fact that its time has passed. Also, the fact that the amount is mortgaged with the bank does not prevent one from the obligation of paying it. Zakat must be paid on the money that is subject to zakat, even if such money is mortgaged. So you should pay zakat on the mortgaged money as long as you have other money to pay from.

Ibn Qudaamah, may Allah have mercy upon him, said, “If a person mortgages cattle and a whole lunar year elapses while it is in the hands of a mortgagee, then it is obligatory on the person who mortgaged the cattle to pay the zakat as he is the complete owner, so if he can pay the zakat from other things, then it is an obligation.”

Also, Ibn Hazm said in Al-Muhalla, “If a person mortgages cattle, gold, silver, land that he cultivated, or palm trees that yielded fruit, and a whole lunar year elapses, then zakat must be paid on all this … because it is property that resulted from his property, and the obligatory zakat is a must on it as long as his property is not transferred to someone else [i.e. as long as he is still its owner].

An-Nawawi said, “If a person mortgages cattle or other zakat funds and a whole lunar year elapses, then there are two views for this: the adopted view – which is the view authoritatively asserted by the majority of the scholars – is that zakat must be paid on it because of fully owning the property. It was also said that there is a difference of opinion regarding it, like that regarding the usurped property, as the person (in this case) is not able to dispose of his property.”

Allah knows best.

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Receiving and Giving Gifts in Islam

Gift-giving is one of the good manners that maintains and strengthens relations between the giver and the recipient. It is one of the acts that Prophet Muhammad SAW (may Allah exalt his mention) recommended Muslims to do. Al-Bukhari may Allah have mercy upon him narrated that ‘Aa’ishah may Allah be pleased with her said: “The Messenger of Allah SAW used to accept gifts and reward people for giving them.”

The phrase: “Reward people for giving them,” means giving the giver (at a later time) something of equal value at least in return.

This Hadeeth (narration) indicates that accepting gifts and giving something of equal value (or more) to the giver is the way of the Prophet SAW.

The Prophet SAW enjoined responding in kind to favors, as he said in an authentic narration: “Whoever does you a favor, respond in kind, and if you cannot find the means of doing so, then keep praying for him until you think that you have responded in kind.” [Abu Dawood]

“Whoever does you a favor,” means, whoever treats you kindly in word or deed or by gifting you.

“Respond in kind,” means to treat him kindly just as he has treated you kindly.

“If you cannot find the means of doing so” means if you do not have the money.

“Until you think that you have responded in kind” means, repeatedly supplicate for him until you think that you have rewarded him his due.

One of the Du’aa’ forms that one can say is ‘Jazaka Allahu khayran’ (may Allah reward you with good). At-Tirmithi may Allah have mercy upon him narrated that Usamah Ibn Zayd may Allah be pleased with him said: The Messenger of Allah SAW said: “Whoever has a favor done for him and says ‘Jazak Allahu khayran’ has done his utmost to thank him.” [At-Tirmithi]

“Done his utmost to thank him,” means that he has done his utmost to express his gratitude because he has acknowledged his shortcomings and that he is unable to reward and thank him enough, so he refers the matter to Allah, to reward him in the best manner. It is said that: “If you are unable to give him back in kind, then speak at length thanking him and supplicating for him.” [Tuhfat Al-Ahwathi]

The Permanent Committee (a supreme Islamic judicial authority in Saudi Arabia, was asked a similar question) and replied as follows:

“There is nothing wrong with accepting it (an amount of money as a gift), without you (the recipient) longing for that, and you can respond in kind if you are able to with an appropriate gift, or you can supplicate for him because the Prophet SAW said: “Whoever does you a favor, respond in kind … (the above-mentioned Hadeeth).” [Fatawa Al-Lajnah Al-Daa’imah]

Difference between charity and gift-giving
Charity is given to the poor and the needy to meet their needs and is done with the intention of seeking the Pleasure of Allah. Its intention is not limited to a specific person; rather it is given to any poor or needy one.

On the other hand, a gift is not necessarily given to a poor person, rather it may be given to rich or poor; the intention is to show friendship and to honor the recipient.

Both of them – charity and gift-giving – are righteous deeds for which a person will be rewarded (and please his Lord), but which is better?

Ibn Taymiyah may Allah have mercy upon him stated that Sadaqah (charity) is that which is given for the sake of Allah as an act of worship, without intending to give it to a specific person and without seeking anything in return, rather it is given for charitable causes, such as to the needy. A gift is given with the intention of honoring a specific person, either because the recipient is your friend whom you love, or because you want something in return.

Hence, the Prophet SAW used to accept gifts and reward people for them, so that no one could remind him of their favors, but he did not accept the “refuse” of people that they gave to purify themselves of sins, namely charity. He did not accept charity for this and other reasons.

Once this is understood, then charity is better, but there is a sense in which a gift is better than charity, such as giving a gift to the Messenger of Allah SAW during his lifetime out of love for him. Also, gifts that a person gives to a relative in order to uphold the ties of kinship or to a brother in Islam may be better than charity.

Based on this, giving to one of your relatives may be better than giving charity, because it is more befitting to uphold the ties of kinship. The same may apply if you give a gift to a friend of yours because that will strengthen the bonds of love between you. The Prophet SAW said: “Exchange gifts, as that will lead to increasing your love for one another.” [Al-Bukhari]

What the Hadeeth means is that giving gifts may generate and increase love.

To sum up, gifting vs. giving charity is dependent on the situation but, in principle, spending on charity takes precedence.

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Giving Food

Giving Food in Surah Al-Insan (No.76):

This is a good gesture of Allah’s Mercy to Mention giving food in a Surah that is entitled “Al-Insan”. Allah The Exalted Says (what means): {And they give food in spite of love for it to the needy, the orphan, and the captive…} [Al-Quran, Surah Al-Insan, verse 8]

Ibn ‘Abbas and Mujahid said, “This verse denotes that they feed the needy, the orphan and the captive despite the scarcity of food and their need and love for it.”

What about you and your food?

How great a deed is feeding the hungry in our time!

Allah The Exalted Says (what means): {Or feeding on a day of severe hunger…} [Quran 90:14]

An-Nakha‘i commented on this verse saying, “They feed the hungry at times when food is not ample.”

Mohammed ibn Al-Munkadir said, “Feeding hungry Muslims guarantees the forgiveness of sins.” He also said on another occasion: “Feeding the hungry and saying kind words to others usher you to Paradise.”

Dear brother and sister, you may notice how our days – in some Muslim countries – have turned into days of severe hunger. Food has become scarce and meat has also become scarce as well as being too expensive for the poor.

What about you, dear readers? What about your food?

An Explicit Command:

Feeding people in general and a hungry person, in particular, has been explicitly mentioned in the command of the Messenger of Allah SAW. Abu Moosa Al-Ash‘ari, may Allah be pleased with him, reported that the Prophet SAW said: “Feed the hungry, pay a visit to the sick and free the captives.” [Saheeh] A reported saying reads, “The best charity is to satisfy a hungry person.” Alas, a Muslim may sit at an Iftar table with delicious and tasty dishes while his neighbors break their fast with a few morsels of food if they can be found!

The Righteous Predecessors

Our righteous predecessors were keen to feed people and favored this act of worship over many others, whether it was for a hungry poor person or feeding a righteous Muslim. Poverty is not an essential condition in this regard. The Messenger of Allah SAW said: “O people! Spread the Islamic greetings amongst yourselves, feed the hungry, maintain kinship relations, observe prayer at night while people are asleep and you will peacefully enter the Paradise.” [Saheeh]

Some of the righteous predecessors said, “It is better for me to invite ten of my friends and feed them delicious food that they like than freeing ten slaves from the children of Isma‘eel (i.e. Arabs).”

Abu As-Siwar Al-‘Adawi said, “Some men from the ‘Uday tribe used to pray in this mosque and none of them would break his fast alone. If one found someone to eat with, he would eat. If he could not find someone to eat with, he would take his food and go to the mosque to share it with the people in the mosque.”

Fruits of Feeding the Hungry:

The act of worship of feeding the hungry gives rise to many other acts of worship such as showing affection towards one’s fellow Muslims whom he feeds and this can be a reason for him being granted Paradise. The Prophet SAW said: “You shall not enter Paradise as long as you do not affirm belief (in all those things which are the articles of faith) and you will not believe as long as you do not love one another.” [Muslim]

It also gives rise to (the act of worship) being in the company of righteous people and hoping for the rewards of Allah The Almighty in offering them food as they gain strength to perform acts of worship.

Food Baskets:

Some righteous predecessors used to send their friends a basket full of sugar or other such food.

Yunus ibn ‘Ubayd Yahdi said, “I gave a basket of sugar to Al-Hasan Al-Basri as a gift and I have not seen any sugar better than this one. He opened the basket and said to his companions, “Eat and enjoy.”

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The Virtue of Charity

Abu Huraira narrated that Allah’s Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:

A man-made an intention that he would give something in charity. He went out with his object of charity and unknowingly gave it to a thief. The next morning the people said that he had given in charity to a thief.

(On hearing that) he said: “O Allah! All the praise is to You. I will give in charity again.”

And so he again went out to give charity, but he (unknowingly) gave it to an adulteress. The next morning the people said that he had given his alms to an adulteress last night.

The man said: “O Allah! All the praise is to You. (I had given in charity) to an adulteress. I will give in charity again.”

So he went out with his charity again and he (unknowingly) gave it to a rich person. (The people) The next morning said that he had given his charity to a wealthy person.

He said: “O Allah! All the praise is to You. (I had given in charity) to a thief, to an adulteress and to a wealthy man.”

Then someone came to him in his dream and said to him:”The alms which you gave to the thief, might make him abstain from stealing, and that given to the adulteress might make her abstain from illegal sexual intercourse (adultery), and that given to the wealthy man might make him take a lesson from it and spend his wealth which Allah has given him, in Allah’s cause.”

From this story, we learn that we shouldn’t always take a person’s actions on face value alone. Although the man’s charity didn’t go to a needy person directly, it can still yield benefits. We must note that the man did not give in charity to the types of people mentioned knowingly, rather his intention was sincere and he only found out afterward that he had given the money to a thief, adulterer, and a wealthy person, so we know from this that we can’t hide under a sincere intention when we know the action itself is incorrect.

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Zakat + Sadaqah: The Productive Investment of a Lifetime

What if I told you about an offer where you can get the product, plus double your money back, plus extra prizes? What would you do? You’d probably immediately text all your friends to tell them about it and then rush down to the shop to make the purchase.

While many of us tend to chase after special offers and reduced prices in this dunya (world), we often overlook the fact that Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) has offered us an even better deal that will benefit us both in this dunya and the akhirah (hereafter). What deal am I talking about? Sadaqah (voluntary charity).

The following points show how this noble act can increase our productivity in this life and in preparing for the next.

1. Sadaqah is a guaranteed investment.
‘Who is he that will loan to Allah a beautiful loan which Allah will double unto his credit and multiply it many times?’ [2:245].

The above verse teaches us that by generously giving to the poor and needy, Allah will increase our wealth and blessings in this life, wipe out sin, increase reward and provide shade on the Day of Judgment and more insha’Allah!

What more could we ask for? Money back, profit, good health, barakah (blessings) in our wealth, shade on the Day of Judgement, sadaqah is definitely the best investment for our dunya and akhirah.

Forget special offers, reduced prices and buy one get one free deal – a productive Muslim knows the ultimate best way to spend his/her wealth – in the way of Allah.

2. Sadaqah is a means of gaining barakah in your wealth.
It may be hard for us to give sadaqah when we are barely able to make ends meet. However, it is reported in Sahih Muslim that the Prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said:

Charity does not decrease the wealth and the servant who forgives, Allah adds to his respect; and the one who shows humility, Allah elevates him in the estimation (of the people).”


”There is not a day in which the obedient slaves rise in the morning except that two angels descend, and one of them says: ‘O Allaah! Compensate the one who spends.’ The other angel says: ‘O Allaah! Destroy the wealth of the one who is niggardly.”

If we truly believe and apply these hadiths, we will come to learn that we can never lose from giving sadaqah, but instead, we gain immensely from it.

However, gaining from sadaqah may not always be in a physical form. When we give sadaqah, it doesn’t necessarily mean that our salaries will increase or we will miraculously stumble upon a goldmine. It may mean that Allah will put barakah into our wealth and possessions instead. By regularly giving sadaqah, we will quickly notice that although we are still spending the same amount of money on the same expenses, we will still have plenty of left insha’Allah.

Giving sadaqah can also put barakah in our time and personal matters. We may find that after giving sadaqah, Allah will ease all our affairs.

If you have been trying to save up for something, or if you have debt that you haven’t been able to repay, or if you have a goal that you just haven’t been able to achieve; as a productive Muslim you should set aside a portion of your salary every month for sadaqah – even if it’s a very small amount. The difference it will make in your life will be worth it insha’ Allah.

3. Sadaqah serves as a means of reaping continuous rewards after your death.
When we work for something that will grant us benefit in this worldly life (e.g. a promotion, etc.), we tend to put in a lot of time, effort and sometimes money in order to achieve our goals.

A productive Muslim does the same for the akhirah. He/she invests time, hard work and money in activities that will bring great reward, and some that will continue to benefit him even after death.

Why not invest money in building a mosque, digging a well, opening a school, planting a tree or any other form of sadaqah jariyah (ceaseless charity)?

“When a man dies, his acts come to an end, but three, recurring charity, or knowledge (by which people) benefit, or a pious son, who prays for him (for the deceased)” [Muslim].

If you’ve provided money to build a well, you will be rewarded for every single drop of water drunk from it while you’re alive and after your death until the Day of Judgment insha’Allah. If you contribute to building a mosque, you will be rewarded for every single prayer performed in it. If you put in the time and effort to teach someone Qur’an or some form of knowledge, you will be rewarded every time that person recites the Qur’an or shares the knowledge with someone else.

SubhanAllah. Imagine the reward you will find reserved for you in the akhirah, perhaps it will take you to higher and higher stations of Jannah by His Mercy!

Sadaqah is a special offer from Allah that stands as long as we’re alive. Make sadaqah a productive habit this Ramadan, and a habit throughout your life before it’s too late!

”And hasten to forgiveness from your Lord and a garden as wide as the heavens and earth, prepared for the righteous; Who spend [in the cause of Allah] during ease and hardship and who restrain anger and who pardon the people – and Allah loves the doers of good” [3:133-134]

May Allah, The Most Generous, make us from those who give regular sadaqah and may He accept it from us. Ameen.

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The Best Time For Sacrifice (Qurban)

When is the best time for someone to perform the worship of sacrifice?

Allah states:

“So, pray to your Lord and sacrifice [to Him alone].” [Al-Quran, Surah al-Kauthar, no. 2]

Al-Imam al-Qurtubi in al-Jami’ li Ahkam al-Quran said: “It is started with prayer (‘Eid prayer) then followed by the worship of sacrifice.”

The author of al-Fiqh al-Manhaji said: “The time starts after sunrise on the day of Eidul Adha which is the duration for which it is enough to perform 2 rakaat of prayer and 2 khutbahs. Then, it continues until the sun sets on the final days of Tasyrik which are the 11,12 and 13 of Zulhijjah. The prioritized time for sacrifice is after the sunnah ‘Eid prayer.”

In another hadith, the Prophet said:

“The first (act) with which we started our day (the day of ‘Id-ul Adha) was that we offered prayer. We then returned and sacrificed the animals and he who did that in fact adhered to our Sunnah (practice). And he who slaughtered the (animal on that day before the ‘Id prayer), for him (the slaughtering of the animal was directed to the acquiring of) meat for his family, and there is nothing of the sort of sacrifice in it.” [Narrated in Sahih al-Bukhari no. 965 and Sahih Muslim no. 1961].

The meaning of the phrase: “And he who slaughtered the (animal on that day before the ‘Id prayer),” means the time before the beginning of the sunnah Eid prayer and before a duration in which it is enough for one to perform the prayer.

Jubair bin Mut’im narrated:

“Each Tasyrik day is the day of sacrifice (the duration sacrifice is made).” [Narrated in Musnad al-Imam al-Ahmad (16751). Syeikh Syu’aib al-Arnouth states that the sanad is weak.]


According to the above discussion, the question regarding the best time for sacrifice could be concluded as the following:

  • Time for sacrifice starts after the sun rises on the day of sacrifice, which is on the 10th day of Zulhijjah. After sunrise is meant as the time after the completion of two rakaat (sunnah Eid prayer) and two khutbahs (not an excessively long khutbah).
  • Whoever performs the sacrifice before the said time, then the slaughter is not considered as a sacrifice. It is considered a charity (slaughtering animal to get its meat).
  • The time then continues until the end of tasyriq days which means that it ends after 4 days, which is the 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th of Zulhijjah.
  • If the tasyriq days have ended without one performing sacrifice. Then, the sacrifice is performed afterward, subsequently, it is just considered as normal animal slaughter to get its meat and not sacrifice.
  • If someone made a nazar to perform the sacrifice, however, tasyriq days have ended, then it is still obligated for him to perform the sacrifice and it is considered as qadha’, and qadha’ is not abrogated with time.

The above conclusions are taken from al-Mu’tamad fi al-Fiqh al-Syafi’e written by Prof. Dr Muhammad al-Zuhayli Hafizahullah, volume 2, pg. 483-484. Wallahua’lam.

Taken with slight changes from

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Giving Charity Brings More Sustenance.

Islam encourages its followers to give charity. There are many verses of the Qur’an that recommend Muslims to give charity. Among them is verse (ayat) 254, in Chapter 2 (Surah Al-Baqarah):

Which means: “O ye who believe! Spend out of what (the bounties) We have provided for you, before the Day comes when no bargaining (will avail), nor friendship nor intercession. Those who reject Faith they are the wrong-doers.” [Al-Quran, surah al-Baqarah, verse 254].

Giving charity (sadaqah) comes from the word al-sidqu which means true. It means that giving sadaqah is proof that one truly believes in his religion. A believer will be in the shelter of his sadaqah on the Day of Judgment. The Prophet (may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him [pbuh]) said in a Hadith which was narrated by Ibn Hibban:

Which means: “Everyone is under the shelter of his sadaqah until he is judged.” [Narrated by Ibn Hibban].

Giving sadaqah does not lessen one’s sustenance or wealth as some people think. In fact, sadaqah opens the door to a person’s sustenance. The Prophet (pbuh) said in a Hadith which was narrated by Imam Muslim:

Which means: “Charity (sadaqah) does not in any way decrease the wealth”. [Narrated by Muslim].

Islam encourages us to give sadaqah especially when we have the desire to be rich but feel afraid to give charity thinking that it will make us poor. The Prophet (pbuh) said in a Hadith which was narrated by Imam al-Bukhari and Muslim:

Which means: “A man came to the Prophet (pbuh) and asked, “O Allah’s Messenger (pbuh), which charity is the most superior in reward?” He replied, “The charity which you practice while you are healthy, niggardly and afraid of poverty and wish to become wealthy…” [Narrated by Bukhari and Muslim].

The angels will pray to Allah the Almighty to replace all the wealth that is spent by those who give sadaqah. The Prophet (pbuh) said in a Hadith which was narrated by Imam al-Bukhari and Muslim:

Which means: “There is never a day wherein servants (of God) get up at morn, but are not visited by two angels. One of them says: 0 Allah, give him more who spends (for the sake of Allah), and the other says: 0 Allah, bring destruction to one who withholds.” [Narrated by Bukhari and Muslim].

Allah the Almighty will also ease the affairs of a person who spends his wealth to facilitate other people’s problems in this world and in the hereafter. The Prophet (pbuh) said in a Hadith which was narrated by Imam Muslim:

Which means: “Whoever facilitates the affairs of a person in distress, Allah the Almighty will facilitate his affairs in this world and in the hereafter….” [Narrated by Muslim].

Allah the Almighty also promises a reward for the people who spend their wealth for the sake of Allah as He mentioned in the Quran in Chapter 8 (Surah Al-Anfal), verse (ayat) 60:

Which means: “… Whatever ye shall spend in the cause of Allah, shall be repaid unto you, and ye shall not be treated unjustly.” [Al-Quran, surah al-Anfal, verse 60].

Giving sadaqah will not make us poor. On the contrary, this practice opens up the door to more sustenance from Allah the Almighty. Let us give sadaqah to the needy but at the same time, we must not forget our responsibility to give the obligatory sadaqah known as zakat. We must realize that regardless of how much we give in sadaqah it will not lift our obligation to pay zakat. Let us ponder the appeal from Allah the Almighty as stated in the Quran in Chapter 2 (Surah Al-Baqarah), verse (ayat) 245:

Which means: “Who is it that would loan Allah a goodly loan so He may multiply it for him many times over? And it is Allah who withholds and grants abundance, and to Him you will be returned.” [Al-Quran, surah al-Baqarah, verse 245].

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The Third Pillar of Islam: Compulsory Charity (Zakat)

An introduction to the third pillar of Islam, the compulsory charity or zakat, the spiritual dimensions of zakat and charity, and how Islam views money in general.

Charity is not just recommended by Islam, it is required of every financially stable Muslim. Giving charity to those who deserve it is part of Muslim character and one of the Five Pillars of Islamic practice. Zakat is viewed as “compulsory charity”; it is an obligation for those who have received their wealth from God to respond to those members of the community in need. Devoid of sentiments of universal love, some people know only to hoard wealth and to add to it by lending it out on interest. Islam’s teachings are the very antithesis of this attitude. Islam encourages the sharing of wealth with others and helps people to stand on their own and become productive members of society.

In Arabic, it is known as zakat which literally means “purification”, because zakat is considered to purify one’s heart of greed. Love of wealth is natural and it takes a firm belief in God for a person to part with some of his wealth. Zakat must be paid on different categories of property — gold, silver, money; livestock; agricultural produce; and business commodities — and is payable each year after one year’s possession. It requires an annual contribution of 2.5 percent of an individual’s wealth and assets.

Like prayer, which is both an individual and communal responsibility, zakat expresses a Muslim’s worship of and thanksgiving to God by supporting those in need. In Islam, the true owner of things is not man, but God. Acquisition of wealth for its own sake, or so that it may increase a man’s worth, is condemned. Mere acquisition of wealth counts for nothing in the sight of God. It does not give a man any merit in this life or in the hereafter. Islam teaches that people should acquire wealth with the intention of spending it on their own needs and the needs of others.

“‘Man’, said the Prophet, ‘says: My wealth! My wealth!’ Have you not any wealth except that which you give as alms and thus preserve, wear and tatter, eat and use up?”

The whole concept of wealth is considered in Islam as a gift from God. God, who provided it to the person, made a portion of it for the poor, so the poor have a right over one’s wealth. Zakat reminds Muslims that everything they have belongs to God. People are given their wealth as a trust from God, and zakat is intended to free Muslims from the love of money. The money paid in zakat is not something God needs or receives. He is above any type of dependency. God, in His boundless mercy, promises rewards for helping those in need with one basic condition that zakat is paid in the name of God; one should not expect or demand any worldly gains from the beneficiaries nor aim at making one’s name as a philanthropist. The feelings of a beneficiary should not be hurt by making him feel inferior or reminding him of the assistance.

Money given as zakat can only be used for certain specific things. Islamic Law stipulates that alms are to be used to support the poor and the needy, to free slaves and debtors, as specifically mentioned in the Quran (Surah at-Taubah [9]:  verse 60). Zakat, which developed fourteen hundred years ago, functions as a form of social security in a Muslim society.

Neither Jewish nor Christian scriptures praise slave manumission by raising it to worship. Indeed, Islam is unique in world religions in requiring the faithful to financially help slaves win their freedom and has raised the manumission of a slave to an act of worship – if it is done to please God.

Under the caliphates, the collection and expenditure of zakat was a function of the state. In the contemporary Muslim world, it has been left up to the individual, except in some countries in which the state fulfills that role to some degree. Most Muslims in the West disperse zakat through Islamic charities, mosques, or directly giving to the poor. Money is not collected during religious services or via collection plates, but some mosques keep a drop box for those who wish it to distribute zakat on their behalf. Unlike the zakat, giving other forms of charity in private, even in secret, is considered better, in order to keep one’s intended purely for God.

Apart from zakat, the Quran and Hadith (sayings and actions of the Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him) also stress sadaqah, or voluntary almsgiving, which is intended for the needy. The Quran emphasizes feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, helping those who are in need, and the more one helps, the more God helps the person, and the more one gives, the more God gives the person. One feels he is taking care of others and God is taking care of him.

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The Definition and Value of Generosity.

As humans, we have an innate sense of morality. No matter what religion, race or color we are, certain qualities serve as the moral standard. We admire justice, bravery, honesty, and compassion. We abhor those who demonstrate treachery, cruelty or corruption. Moral standards are universal, and one of the most important aspects of Islam is adherence to high moral standards and good manners. Prophet Muhammad. May the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, taught Muslims to have the best manners and personal characteristics. The Prophet’s own high standard of morals and manners made him the best example for Muslims to follow. God said in the Quran:

“And verily you, O Muhammad, are on an exalted standard of character.” [Al-Quran, surah al-Qalam, verse 4]

Generosity was among the countless good qualities of the Prophet Muhammad. He was the most generous of people and he used to be most generous in Ramadan [Refers to Sahih Al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim]. One day the Prophet Muhammad offered the prayer in the mosque and then hurriedly went to his house and returned immediately. A companion asked why he left and he replied,

“I left a piece of gold at home which was given for charity and I disliked letting it remain a night at my house, so I bought it for the mosque to distribute.” [Refers to Sahih Al-Bukhari]

Our worldly possessions are bounties from God, who is Al-Kareem, the Most Generous. Muslims believe that everything originates from God and everything will return to Him, thus, it is logical to behave as if that which we possess is merely a loan, something we are obligated to preserve, protect and ultimately share.

Whenever Prophet Muhammad met a miserly person, he advised him to be more generous and charitable. Ibn ‘Abbas said that he heard Prophet Muhammad say, “The believer is not the one who eats when his neighbor beside him is hungry,” another companion heard the Prophet say, “The believer is simple and generous, but the wicked person is deceitful and ignoble.”

Generosity Defined

Princeton University wordnet defines generosity as the willingness to give freely. Islam encourages this concept of generosity so much so that it is embedded in one of the five pillars of Islam, the obligatory charity known as Zakat. In Arabic, the term zakat literally means purification of the heart, however; it is also the payment, from surplus money, of an obligatory charity designed by God to provide for all the needy members of the community. It is a fixed calculable amount.

There is also another form of generosity in Islam called sadaqa. Linguistically, sadaqa means truthfulness, and some scholars have described it as the heart being truthful to its Creator. Anything given generously – freely to others – with the intention of pleasing God is sadaqa. Sadaqa can be as simple as a smile, helping an elderly person with their groceries or removing objects from the road or path.

Generosity can be viewed as a wise investment in the future. Generosity or sadaqa may pave the way to Paradise because with every generous act comes great reward from God. However, being generous does not only mean giving freely from what you have in abundance. Generosity does not lie in giving away something that is no longer useful but in giving freely from the things we love or need.

Aisha (the wife of the Prophet) said, “A lady, along with her two daughters came to me asking for some alms, but she found nothing with me except one date which I gave to her and she divided it between her two daughters.” [Refers to Sahih Al-Bukhari].

God tells us in the Quran that whatever we give away generously, with the intention of pleasing Him, He will replace it. God knows what is in the hearts of men.

Say: “Truly, my Lord enlarges the provision for whom He wills of His slaves, and also restricts it) for him, and whatsoever you spend of anything (in God’s Cause), He will replace it. And He is the Best of providers.” [Al-Quran, surah Saba, verse 39]

The Value of Generosity

The companions of Prophet Muhammad understood the value of being generous. Abdullah ibn Omar was seen in the market buying fodder for his camel on credit. One of the men queried this knowing that Abdullah had received 4000 dirhams and a blanket the previous day. It was explained that before nightfall Abdullah had distributed the money amongst the needy. He then took the blanket, threw it over his shoulder and headed home, but by the time he arrived even the blanket was gone, he had given it to a needy person.

After the death of the Prophet, the people faced great hardship due to drought. They came to Abu Bakr asking him to provide them with enough to sustain them, but he was unable to help, the treasury was empty. Just at that time, the camel caravan belonging to Uthman arrived from Damascus. It was filled with foodstuffs and other goods. The merchants gathered at Uthman’s house offering him large amounts of money for the goods; however, he turned them down saying he was prepared only to give the goods to the One from whom he would receive the greatest reward. Uthman gave all the goods to the starving people of Madinah and did not charge them. He knew that God would reward him with something far greater than money.

Even in the direst of circumstances, a person who is a true believer in Almighty God is able to be generous.

The people came to the Prophet Muhammad and asked, “If someone has nothing to give, what will he do?” He said, “He should work with his hands and benefit himself and also give in charity (from what he earns).” The people further asked, “If he cannot find even that?” He replied, “He should help the needy who appeal for help.” Then the people asked, “If he cannot do that?” He replied, “Then he should perform good deeds and keep away from evil deeds and this will be regarded as charitable deeds.” [Refers to Sahih Al-Bukhari].

And God says in the Quran that He will repay the generosity of a believer.

“And whatever you spend in good, it will be repaid to you in full, and you shall not be wronged.” [Al-Quran, surah al-Baqarah, verse 272]

God is the One who provides for us and He expects us to share generously. We are encouraged to be benevolent and unselfish with our possessions, with our time and with our exemplary behavior towards others.

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