What is Islamic Charity?

Islamic charity is grounded
in the Qur'anic verses (2:177):

"It is not righteousness
That ye turn your faces
Towards East or West;
But it is righteousness--
To believe in God
And the Last Day,
And the Angels,
And the Book,
And the Messengers;
To spend out of your substance,
Out of love for Him,
For your kin,
For orphans,
For the needy,
For the wayfarer,
For those who ask,
And for the ransom of slaves;
To be steadfast in prayer,
And practice regular charity;
To fulfill the contracts
Which you have made; 
And to be firm and patient,
In pain (or suffering)
And adversity,
And throughout 
All periods of panic.
Such are the people
Of truth, the God-conscious."

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  • Zakat  (i.e.,  Zakat-al-mal) must be  paid  by  all Muslims whose net worth for the preceding year has remained above a minimal exemption called nisab. Nisab has been estimated at $4,500.
  • Zakat  is 2 1/2% of the net worth held for  a  full lunar year (except that it is 5% of the "produce"  from irrigated  land  and 10% of that from unirrigated land, and 20% for minerals and treasures from the earth) while other items are excluded (e.g., a  home occupied  by  the owner--to the extent that it is not luxurious, including utensils, furniture, etc.; clothes; agricultural land farmed by the owner; jewelry to the degree that it is customary in your neighborhood). You may use our zakat calculation form to calculate your zakat-al-mal.
  • Zakat may be paid at any time within the year (but to pay as soon after Ramadan as possible makes it easy for those who fast: you know from  personal experience how the hungry feel and why we should give).

Zakat-al-fitr, sadaqat-al-fitr, fitra

  • Zakat-al-fitr is a flat amount per household member paid by the head of the household for himself and his dependents. It has been estimated at about  $10 per person.  It should be paid to the bait-al-mal no later that the eid-al-fitr.


    Sadaqa is a  voluntary charity which may be made at any time. It can be of any amount "beyond your needs." It need not be money. Giving a smile to someone who needs it is also sadaqa.
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