Third Pillar: Zakat - Charity that Enhances
The third great pillar or principle in the way of life of Al-Islam is Zakat; usually translated as charity. Charity is the giving of something that you possess to another free of charge, without seeking something in return, out of the goodness of your heart to help another person or thing.
Muslim society has also institutionalized the concept of Zakat and Muslims are told by some scholars that they are required to give 2.5% of their gross wealth to Zakat or charitable causes, such as feeding the poor and helping the needy and those burdened with unexpected tragedy and hardship.
In the community of Imam W. Deen Mohammed, we embrace all of the above ideas and we further build our perception of Zakat upon the meaning of the word Zakat. Literally, Zakat means “to increase.”
Thus, we give with the consciousness that we are hoping to increase the good of situation. For example, we know that by helping the weakest and most vulnerable members of society, we are increasing the strength of the society. For the stronger its weakest members, the more help the society gets and the less burdened down it is.
We are taught in Al-Qur’an to spend out of what Allah has provided to us. Some of us have more than others and each of us has something unique and special that Allah has given to us. Hence, with all of us giving of our talents and gifts, we increase the overall well being of each other, our families, and our society.
However, it is important to note that Muslims do not believe in being wasteful spendthrifts. We do not give with the spirit of the gambler or the showoff or recklessly. Allah tells us that the one who squanders what Allah has given them is practicing an evil. Why is this so? Because, to waste or act recklessly does not lead to increases for the better. Such behavior usually leads to a loss of wealth, resources for self and family, and takes away from the person’s ability to contribute in a way that increases.
Charitable giving is not just a material giving. Zakat includes giving a helping hand, making someone smile, taking the time to console a friend, make a child laugh, speak words that touch the soul of the wife or husband, that gives hope for a brighter day.
We believe that the Muslim is a person who has internalized the concept of zakat and will carry the spirit of increasing and advancing and enhancing lives and circumstances wherever he or she is.