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Charity in Al Qur’an and Al Hadith

1. “The parable of those who spend their property in the way of Allāh is as the parable of a grain growing seven ears with a hundred grains in every ear, and Allāh multiplies for whom He pleases, and Allāh is Ample-giving, Knowing” (2:261).

2. “O you who believe! Give in charity of the good things you earn and of what We have brought forth for you out of the earth, and do not aim at giving in charity what is bad” (2:267).

3. “If you give in charity openly it is well, and if you hide it and give it to the poor it is better for you. (2:271).

4. “Righteousness is this that one believes in Allāh and the last day and the angels and the Book and the prophets, and gives away wealth out of love for Him to the near of kin and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and the beggars and for the emancipation of the captives, and keeps up prayer and pays the zakāt” (2:177).

5. “(Zakāt) charity is only for the poor and the needy, and the collectors appointed for its collection, and those whose hearts are made to incline to truth, and the ransoming of captives, and those in debt. and for the way of Allāh, and (for) the wayfarer” (9:60).

The Arabic word for charity is sadaqah (from sidq, meaning truth). Zakāt, is originally zakawah, of the same measure as sadaqah, and its primary significance is increase or purification. Technically zakātis a fixed portion of one’s wealth which it is obligatory to give away annually for the benefit of the poor; the giving away of wealth to the needy is thus regarded as bringing about its purification and increase. Charity is likened to the sowing of seed which brings immense reward (v. 1). Only that charity is acceptable to God which is given out of one’s lawful earnings (v. 2). It may be given either openly or in secret (v. 3). Zakāt is obligatory charity in addition to voluntary charity, and it forms with the keeping up of prayer the basis of Islām (v. 4; h. 10). Those appointed to collect the zakāt are included among the persons who are entitled to receive the zakāt (v. 5); and thus it is definitely laid down that the zakāt must be collected as public money. and distributed as such, under the directions of the head of the state or the head of a community.



1 Abū Mūsā reported, The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, said:

“Sadaqah is incumbent on every Muslim.”

They (his companions) said, O Prophet of Allāh! And (what about him) who has not got (anything to give)? He said: “He should work with his hand and profit himself and give in charity.” They said, If he has nothing (in spite of this). He said: “He should help the distressed one who is in need.” They said, If he is unable to do this. He said: “He should do good deeds and refrain from doing evil–this is charity on his part ” (B. 24:31.)

2 Abū Hurairah reported, The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, said:

“On every bone of the fingers charity is incumbent every day: One assists a man in riding his beast or in lifting his provisions to the back of the animal, this is charity; and a good word and every step which one takes in walking over to prayer is charity; and showing the way (to another) is charity. (B. 56:72.)

3 Abū Hurairah reported, The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, said:

“Removal from the way of that which is harmful is charity.” (B. 46:24.)

4 Jābir said, The Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, said:

“Every good deed is charity, and it is a good deed that thou meet thy brother with a cheerful countenance and that thou pour water from thy bucket into the vessel of thy brother.” (Ah-Msh. 6:6.)

5 Abū Hurairah said, The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, said:

“The man who exerts himself on behalf of the widow and the poor one is like the one who struggles in the way of Allāh, or the one who keeps awake in the night (for prayers) and fasts during the day.”
(B. 69:1.)

6 Abū Hurairah said, The Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him,

“A prostitute was forgiven–she passed by a dog, panting with its tongue out, on the top of a well containing water, almost dying with thirst; so she took off her boot and tied it to her head-covering and drew forth water for it; she was forgiven on account of this.” It was said: Is there a reward for us in (doing good to) animals? He said: “In every animal having a liver fresh with life there is a reward.”1
(B. & M-Msh. 6:6.)

7 Abū Hurairah said on the authority of the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, (who said):

“There is a man who gives a charity and he conceals it so much so that his left hand does not know what his right hand spends.” (B. 24:11)

8 Zubair reported, The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, said:

“If one of you should take his rope and bring a bundle of fire-wood on his back and then sell it, with which Allāh should save his honour, it is better for him than that he should beg of people whether give him or do not give him.” (B. 24:50.)

9 Fātimah bint Qais said, The Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, said:

“In (one’s) wealth there is a due besides the zakāt;” then he recited: “It is not righteousness that you turn your faces towards the East and the West (2: 177.)”2 (Tr-Msh. 6:6.)

10 Ibn ‘Abbās reported, The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, sent Mu’ādh to Yaman and said:

“Invite them to bear witness that there is no god but Allāh and that I am the Messenger of Allāh; if they accept this, tell them that Allāh has made obligatory on them five prayers in every day and night; if they accept this, tell them that Allāh has made obligatory in their wealth a charity which is taken from the wealthy among them and given to the poor among them.” (B. 24:1)

11 Abū Sa’īd said, The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, said:

“There is no zakāt in what is less than five auqiyah (of silver), nor is there any zakāt in the case of less than five camels, nor is there any zakāt in what is less than five wasaq.”3 (B. 24:4.)

12 ‘Ali said, ‘The Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, said:

“I remit (zakāt on) horses for riding and slaves for service; but pay the zakāt on silver, one dirham out of every forty dirhams; and there is no zakāt if there are 190 dirhams, but when it reaches two hundred, there are (to be paid) out of it five dirhams (of zakāt). (Tr-Msh. 6:l.)

13 Ibn ‘Umar said: The Messenger of Allāh peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, said:

“Whoever acquires wealth, there is no zakāt on it until a year has passed over it.”4 (Tr-Msh. 6.)

14 Umm Salamah said, I used to wear ornaments of gold. So I said, O Messenger of Allāh! Is this hoarding? He said: “Whatever reaches the limit that thou shouldst pay zakāt out of it, and the zakāt is paid thereon it is not hoarding.”5 (AD-Msh. 6:1.)

15 Samurah reported, The Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, commanded us that we should pay zakāt out of that which we provided for trade.6 (AD-Msh 6:1.)

16 ‘Amr ibn Shu’aib reported on the authority of his grandfather, The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, addressed the people and said:

“Beware! Whoever is the guardian of an orphan who has property, should trade with it, and should not leave it (undeveloped), so that the zakāt should consume it.”7 (Tr-Msh. 6)

17 Abū Hurairah said, When the Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, died and Abū Bakr became (his successor), and those of the Arabs who would disbelieve disbelieved, ‘Umar said, How dost thou fight people (who profess Islām), and the Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, said “I have been commanded to continue fighting against people until they say, There is no god but Allāh8; whoever says this will have his property and his life safe unless there is a due against him and his reckoning is with Allāh.” (Abū Bakr) said, By Allāh! I shall fight those who make a difference between prayer and zakāt, for zakāt is a tax on property; By Allāh! if they withhold from me even a she-kid which they used to make over to the Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, shall fight against them for their withholding it. ‘Umar said, By Allāh! Allāh opened the heart of Abū Bakr (to receive the truth), so I knew that it was true.9 (B. 24:1.)

18 Abn Humaid said, The Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, pointed a man from among the Asad to collect the zakāt of Banū Sulaim–he was called Ibn al-Lutbiyyah–so when he came to him, he called him to account for it.10 (B. 24:67.)

19 Sahl reported, The Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, said “When you have formed an opinion, then take (the zakāt) and leave one-third; if you do not leave one-third, leave one fourth.”11 (Tr-Msh. 6:l.)

20 ‘Abd Allāh reported, The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, said:

“In (the produce of) lands watered by rain and springs or in what is watered by water running on the surface of the ground is one-tenth, and (in) what is watered by wells one-twentieth.”12 (B. 24:55.)

21 Abū Hurairah reported, The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, said:

“…………In treasure-trove (or minerals) one-fifth (shall be taken by the state).”13 (B. 24:66.)

22 Ibn ‘Abbās said Amber is not treasure-trove; it is a thing which the sea casts forth. And Hasan said, In amber and pearls one-fifth (shall be taken by the state).14 (B. 24:65 )

Hadīth gives equal conspicuousness to this subject. Charity is here given the broadest possible significance. including the doing of any good to a fellowman or to an animal, refraining from doing evil, meeting one’s brother with a cheerful countenance and so on (hh. 1-6). The giving of charity in secret is praised (h. 7). Asking for other people’s charity is disapproved, earning one’s livelihood by hard labour being far more preferable (h. 8).

Zakāt is a tax distinct from voluntary charity and the most important obligation next to prayer (H. ii:5, 6; hh. 9, 10). The minimum limit on which zakāt is payable is in silver about Rs. 50 (h. 11). Zakāt is payable at the rate of 2½ p.c. on all savings (h. 12) over which a year has passed (h. 13). A woman must pay zakāt out of her ornaments (h. 14). A trader is also liable to pay zakāt on his goods (h. 15), and being a tax on property it is payable out of the property of an orphan (h. 16). The zakāt is payable to the Muslim state or some other authority; it must be collected at some central place and then distributed (hh. 17, 18). One-third or one-fourth of zakāt may be left in the hands of the person who pays the zakāt, for distribution according to his choice (h. 19). The tax on land-produce is one-tenth or one-twentieth (h. 20), while in the case of treasure-trove or minerals it is one-fifth (hh. 21, 22).



1. Doing good to animals is, like the doing of good to human beings, a deed of charity: while cruelty to animals is forbidden just like cruelty to human beings (B. & M-Msh. 6:7).

2. See v. 4 quoted above. There charity is first enjoined-wealth must be given away out of love for God-and after it is mentioned the giving of zakāt. It is thus shown that these are two separate duties, the voluntary duty of giving away to others as much as one likes, and the obligatory duty of giving away 2½ p.c. out of one’s savings after every twelve months.

3. The minimum on which zakāt is payable is called nisāb. In the case of cereals and fruits, the nisāb was five wasaq, which comes to between 20 and 30 maunds, according to different calculations. In the case of camels, the nisāb was five, in that of goats and sheep, 40. In the case of silver it was five auqiyah or 200 dirhams which comes to a little over Rs. 50. According to one hadīth (AD. 9:5). the nisāb in case of gold was twenty dīnārs, about 3 oz. Under present conditions a uniform nisāb would lead to greater facility, and as money is the standard in all payments, it would be quite in conformity with the spirit of the shari’ah if a money value of Rs. 50 is fixed as the minimum on which zakāt is payable in the case of all possessions. No zakāt is payable in things which are required for daily use (Tr-Msh 6:2). Jewels and precious stones are also excepted.

4. Zakāt is paid annually after calculating the savings of that year.

5. Umm Salamah was the Holy Prophet’s wife. The Hadīth shows that zakāt must be paid on gold and silver ornaments, whether they are actually worn or not. The reference in the word kanz used in this hadīth is to the following verse:

“Those who hoard up gold and silver and do not spend it in Allāh’s way, announce to them a painful chastisement” (9:39).

Thus gold and silver may be hoarded only if zakāt is regularly paid thereon.

6. Zakāt was paid on camels and sheep which were kept for trade purposes, and therefore there is no reason for excepting trade goods. But while there is a natural increase in the case of animals, out of which zakāt is paid, the capital involved in goods for trade may sometimes lie dormant. There is no reliable hadīth to show how zakāt was calculated on merchandise; a reasonable course would be to take as the basis of calculation the profit which is gained by trading.

7. Zakāt being a tax on hoardings or possessions must be paid by every owner of property even though he happens to be an orphan. The guardian of the orphan is, therefore, enjoined to carry on trade with the capital, so that the capital itself may not be consumed.

8. For what this means, see H. xix:17.

9. Zakāt was the most important source of revenue of the Muslim state, and during the Holy Prophet’s lifetime zakāt was collected in the government p. 220 treasury. When the Holy Prophet died, many of the Arabian tribes which had just entered Islām rebelled against the Caliph and apostatized. There were others whose rebellion consisted only in refusing the payment of zakāt into the public treasury. It is these tribes that are spoken of in this hadīth, as the words of Abū Bakr show: “If they withhold from me even a she-kid.” Making a difference between prayer and zakāt also meant the same. They did not apostatize but they refused to pay the zakāt, and this was a refusal to admit the authority of the central government. Abū Bakr’s action on this occasion shows that zakāt cannot be distributed according to the will of the individual who pays the zakāt, but it must be collected and distributed by a central organization.

10. This collector withheld a part of what he had brought, saying that that part of his collections was presented to him. The Holy Prophet decided that no one who was appointed as a collector could receive personal presents. This is mentioned in detail in B. 51:17.

11. One-third or one-fourth of the zakāt may be left with the owner for distribution according to his choice.

12. Agricultural produce was taxed on a different basis. This was the land revenue of the Muslim state, and it is only a fraction of the land revenue under the British rule in India. Under non-Muslim rule, when land revenue goes to the state, zakāt should be calculated only on the savings of the year.

13. The one-fifth taken from treasure-trove is not zakāt in the proper sense, as it is taken only once.

14. ‘Umar took one-fifth from amber, and Hasan’s view is generally upheld.

Source: A Manual of Hadith (Chapter XVI) by Maulana Muhammad Ali, Lahore, 1944
accessed from http://www.sacred-texts.com/isl/hadith/had19.htm

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