The third Pillar of Al-Islam is the payment of Zakat (Charity), which literally means to grow in purity. Every Muslim whose financial resources are above a specified minimum is obligated to pay 2 1/2 percent into Zakat annually (during each lunar year). Zakat applies to all net savings, after reasonable expenses.”
Prophet Muhammad described Zakat as a right of the poor.” Its aim is to distribute the wealth produced by the community in such a manner that no one is treated unfairly. Allah told Prophet Muhammad, “Of their goods take alms, that you might purify and sanctify them; and pray on their behalf . We are warned in the Holy Qur’an that our prayers are useless if we reject the charitable disposition.” We are also warned, “O you who believe! Cancel not your charity by reminders of your generosity or by injury, like those who spend their substance to be seen of men.” [Qur’an 2:264, The Heifer] It is reported in Hadith that Prophet Muhammad said, “There is never a morning wherein servants [of Allah] are not visited by two angels. One of them says, ‘O Allah, give the spender [of charity] replacement,’ and the other says, ‘O Allah, give the person who withholds [charity] ruination.
Charity is an act which we perform unselfishly. Our object should be to please Allah. Allah tells us in the Holy Qur’an, “Only those are believers who have believed in Allah and His Messenger, and have never since doubted, but have striven with their belongings and their persons in the Cause of Allah.” [Qur’an 49:15, The Apartments]
Charity in Al-Islam is much broader than just the giving of money. It also means going into our hearts and minds and donating our time and energy to help those in need, those less fortunate than we are. In Al-Islam you are never too poor to give some form of charity. If I need someone to defend my truthfulness when I am attacked by a liar, I need charity in the form of support (jihad ) more than I need money. Defending righteousness, truth and human dignity, promoting a healthy society, imparting knowledge to better educate our children, standing by our brothers or sisters when they conduct themselves properly, yet correcting them when they are wrong; these are various forms of charity or jihad.
- Imam Warith Deen Mohammed – ‘Prayer and Al-Islam’