Giving in charity is an essential part of our faith as Muslims and we are obliged to give part of our wealth in zakat. Zakat is a prescribed giving of a certain percentage of wealth for specific purposes. You can find lots of information about zakat from the National Zakat Foundation here.
Sadaqah is other charitable giving which is different to zakat in that it is voluntary.
In this post we'll explore the benefits of giving charity and Quran verses and hadith about charity. You'll find a list of charities you can donate to online, different ways to give money and time, and places to donate items you no longer need.
The Benefits of Giving Charity
Giving charity has many practical and spiritual benefits on a personal level and to wider society. Practically, charity is an act of distributing wealth and a means for people who are in relative poverty to have a fair standard of living. Giving charity also encourages people to build gratitude and dispel greed.
The spiritual benefits of giving charity are described multiple times in hadith and Quran, specifically as a means of reward in the hereafter. Allah raises our status when we give charity if we do it seeking to please Him.
The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, reminds us in the following hadith about sadaqah that we do not lose anything when we give. (Narrated by Abu Huraira)
“Charity does not decrease wealth, no one forgives another except that Allah increases his honour, and no one humbles himself for the sake of Allah except that Allah raises his status.”
Imam Ghazali describes in his book Inner Dimensions of Islamic Worship (affiliate link) that the purpose and significance of zakat is a) testing the degree of love for God, b) elimination of miserliness, and c) expression of gratitude.
7 other things to consider when giving zakat described by Imam Ghazali are to:
1. Pay at the proper time.
2. Give in secret even to the extent of not the receiver not knowing who gave.
3. Give openly for example in circumstances that it would encourage others to give.
4. Avoid taunting and hurting (as we will explore below).
5. Adopt humility.
6. Give the best and the dearest of things, ie not only giving away things you no longer want. Allah says in the Quran: None of you [believers] will attain true piety unless you give out of what you cherish: whatever you give, God knows about it very well. (3:92)
7. Seek the worthy and deserving to give zakat to, such as those who devote their lives to learning knowledge in the deen.
What Does The Quran Say About Giving Charity?
Allah, Exalted is He, tells us in these ayat about sadaqah, or charity:
There is no good in most of their secret talk, only in commanding charity, or good, or reconciliation between people. To anyone who does these things, seeking to please God, We shall give a rich reward (4:114)
1. Giving charity is one of few exceptions where there is good in talking secretly, in fact it holds rich rewards.
If you give charity openly, it is good, but if you keep it secret and give to the needy in private, that is better for you, and it will atone for some of your bad deeds: God is well aware of all that you do. (2:271)
2. Giving privately is better than giving publicly (as with other nafl or voluntary deeds, it is better to do so secretly) and in doing so it will atone for bad deeds.
A kind word and forgiveness is better than a charitable deed followed by hurtful [words]: God is self-sufficient, forbearing. (2:263)
You who believe, do not cancel out your charitable deeds with reminders and hurtful words, like someone who spends his wealth only to be seen by people, not believing in God and the Last Day. Such a person is like a rock with earth on it: heavy rain falls and leaves it completely bare. Such people get no rewards for their works: God does not guide the disbelievers. (2:264)
3. We musn't give charity and follow it with hurtful words or reminders, for example: helping someone and then reminding them that you've helped them.
Charitable men and women who make a good loan to God will have it doubled and have a generous reward. (57:18)
4. By giving charity for the sake of Allah (in dunya), we will have our reward doubled (in ahkirah).
5 Charities You Can Donate To Online
Donating online is one of the most accessible ways to give, and there are lots of good and meaningful causes to support. I'll only list a few here for consideration. Some charities give you the option of donating in zakat or as different forms of sadaqah.
Medical Aid for Palestinians | https://www.map.org.uk/
From their website: 'Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) works for the health and dignity of Palestinians living under occupation and as refugees. We provide immediate medical aid to those in great need, while also developing local capacity and skills to ensure the long-term development of the Palestinian healthcare system.'
Human Relief Foundation | https://www.hrf.org.uk/
Human Relief Foundation works to better the lives of people around the world. At the moment they have an emergency Rohingya appeal, Palestine appeal, Yemen appeal and Mosul appeal. You can volunteer with this charity in their charity shops, deployments abroad and in other ways.
Greenpeace | https://www.greenpeace.org.uk/
From their website: 'We defend the natural world and promote peace by investigating, exposing and confronting environmental abuse, and championing responsible solutions for our fragile environment.' They currently have campaigns focused on climate change, defending oceans, protecting forests and other global causes.
National Zakat Foundation | https://nzf.org.uk
NZF has lots of information about paying zakat, including informative videos and an online zakat calculator. From their website: National Zakat Foundation seeks to revive and uphold the third pillar. NZF’s mission is to distribute Zakat transformatively within the United Kingdom.
One Ummah | https://oneummah.org.uk
One Ummah was founded in the North of England and provides humanitarian aid across the world. They currently have appeals running for the Indonesia Crisis, Syria, Rohingya, Water and Sanitation, East Africa, Gaza, Homes and Shelter and Masjid projects.
5 Ways To Donate Money
Donating to large (or small) charities isn't the only way to give sadaqah or pay zakat. Here's a list of alternative ways to give money in charity:
1. Give money to a person sleeping rough
2. Spend on your family. The Prophet, may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him, said "When a man spends on his family, seeking reward for that, that is an act of charity on his part." (Sahih, Sunan an-Nasa'i)
3. Put your change in charity boxes when you see them
4. Support other people's fundraising activities. Perhaps you will share a portion of reward for the deeds resulting from it.
5. Give unconditionally. If you know or think someone is struggling, gift them some money to make things easier for them. If you can do it anonymously, then that's even better. You could offer to pay for someone's shopping when doing your own or post your neighbours a gift card.
5 Ways To Donate Time
Time is little more than an opportunity to worship and earn good deeds. Even giving our time to our families can be an act of ibadah. Here are 5 more ways to donate your time to a good cause:
1. Volunteer in a shelter (eg. a homeless or women's shelter), Masjid or hospital. Search in Google for some near you and contact them to find out ways that you can help.
2. Visit an elderly or sick person. There might be local projects that organise this if you don't know anyone personally to visit.
3. Sign up to an aid project. Many charities recruit volunteers for their work abroad.
5. Remembrance (dhikr) of Allah. The Prophet, may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him said "...Every utterance of Allah's glorification is an act of charity..." as reported in several narrations including Sahih Muslim.
5 Places To Donate Things
1. A clothes bank. Find clothes bank locations for Islamic Relief here.
2. A children's hospital will often accept toys in good condition, as well as unopened packs of nappies and other baby items.
3. Shelters may require clothes, sanitary and hygiene items or food.
4. Local school and nurseries might take unwanted books that are in good condition.
5. General charity shops, of course. Try to be mindful of the ones who get lots of donations- ones that are in an easier location for people to drive to and drop things off. Consider donating to smaller charities and ones in less accessible locations. It's a good idea to check what items they accept, for example some wont take electrical items because they have no means of testing them for safety.
Can you think of other ways to give in charity? Let us know in the comments below.