Giving back is one of the core teachings in Islam. There are countless quranic verses and prophetic hadiths that highlight the importance of charity. The Almighty Allah says in Surat Al-Baqara, "Those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah and then do not follow up what they have spent with reminders [of it] or [other] insult will have their reward with their Lord, and there will be no fear concerning them, nor will they grieve" [Al-Baqarah 2:262]. Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said, “Everyone will be shaded by his sadaqa (on the Day of Judgement) until it has been judged between the people.”
There are many ways of giving back. Here are 7 different ways you can:
1. Pay Mandatory Charity (Zakat)
Zakat is the third pillar of Islam, and is a must upon every Muslim, man and woman, who has the means to pay it. Zakat is a small percentage of excess wealth paid every year to specific categories of needy individuals. In the Holy Quran, zakat is mentioned numerous times, and it is often mentioned right after prayers to highlight its significance. There are a number of ways you can pay zakat. You can personally give your zakat to people who deserve it. Alternatively, you can pay zakat to registered organizations that can distribute it to eligible individuals, such as your local mosque, or to a reputable relief organization like Islamic Relief Canada. Click here to visit their website and pay your zakat today.
2. Give Voluntary Charity (Sadaqa)
The second type of charity is voluntary and is called "sadaqa," which can be any amount of money given at any time to anyone in need. This includes the money you put in a donation jar, a few dollars you give to someone in need on the street, a donation to a hospital or a relief organization, a meal you buy for a hungry person, the money you give to a friend or family member in financial distress or your contribution towards building a mosque, a school or a hospital. Anything you give will count as a sadaqa if you do it for the sake of Allah. In one beautiful hadith, Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said, "And whatever you spend for Allah's sake will be considered as a charitable deed, even the handful of food you put in your wife's mouth.
3. Support Your Local Mosque
Mosques are the houses of Allah on earth, and there is a great reward for those who build them and maintain them. Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said, “Whoever builds a mosque for the sake of Allah, like a sparrow’s nest or smaller, Allah will build for him a house in paradise.” The mosque is the heart of the Muslim community, where Muslims gather for worship, learning, connecting with one another as well as numerous functions vital to the spiritual health of Muslim communities. It falls on the shoulders of all of us to support our community mosques, especially in the West. Making a one-time large donation is always great, but a smaller monthly commitment is easier to handle and it will provide consistent support throughout the year.
4. Feed a Needy Family
In an eloquent hadith, Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said, “He who sleeps with a full stomach knowing that his neighbor is hungry doesn’t believe in me.” The hadith signifies the importance of taking care of each other by sharing some of what we have with other people in need. There are many ways to feed a needy person. You can give food or money for food to people who need help, let that be a family member, a neighbor, a friend or a complete stranger, or by making donations to one of the organizations that can distribute food to people who need it the most. International organizations such as Islamic Relief Canada distribute food to people in need locally and all around the world. Your local mosque or community center is another great place to support. The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) Canada has a food bank that distributes food to local needy families. Visit their website here and pledge your support.
5. Help Treat a Sick Person
Health is one of the greatest blessings given to us by Allah, and few people truly appreciate the gift of health. Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, once said, “There are two blessings which many people waste: health and free time.” One way of thanking Allah for our health is to take care of our bodies and to avoid anything that may harm our health. Another way is to take care of sick people by visiting them, making duaa for their recovery and by supporting them as much as we can. One great place to support is the Hospital for Sick Children, or Sick Kids Hospital, which is affiliated with the University of Toronto. It is Canada's most research-intensive hospital and the largest centre dedicated to improving children's health in the country. Click here to support Sick Kids Hospital today.
6. Educate a Child
Education is one of the best tools with which we can equip our children in order to adequately prepare them for an ever challenging future. Islam places a great emphasis on education and learning. The first verse that was ever revealed to Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, was, “Read! in the name of your Lord” [Al-Alaq 96:1]. The Indigo Love of Reading Foundation is a great cause to support. The foundation is dedicated to putting books in the hands of Canadian children. Since 2004, the Foundation has committed $26 million in funding to more than 3,000 high-needs elementary school libraries, inspiring over 900,000 students. Click here to support the Love of Reading Foundation.
7. Give Water for Life
There is no better act of charity than helping people get water. Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said, “The best charity is giving water to drink.” On average, a person can only survive three days without water, and if the water they use is dirty and contaminated, fatal diseases spread quickly and the effects are devastating. Islamic Relief Canada has developed a tailored approach in different areas all over the world, based on need, to help the local populations access clean waters without asking for outside help again. Visit their website at islamicrelifecanada.org to learn more and to support this great effort.
These are just some examples of different ways of giving back. It is very important to always remember that all acts of kindness are considered acts of charity and are rewarded by Allah. Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said, “Your smile for your brother is sadaqa. Your removal of stones, thorns or bones from the paths of people is sadaqa. Your guidance of a person who is lost is sadaqa.” So if you don’t have anything to give, please don’t forget to smile. It is sadaqa!