How important is Charity in Islam ?
Charity is an obligation upon a muslim as it is a pillar of Islam.
Why is Charity important in Islam ?
The concept of charity is a beautiful one as it is a way for us to purify our wealth as well as a way to earn the rewards of Gods.
Giving charity also enables people to start thinking differently, appreciating what they do have and also acknowledging the less fortunate. This in turn should help to change our outlook and level of care towards others.
What is the intention one should have when giving charity ?
In order to earn the reward of God a person should ensure that their intention for giving charity or doing charitable acts is then solely to please God.
“Actions are (judged) by motives (niyyah), so each man will have what he intended. Thus, he whose migration (hijrah) was to Allah and His Messenger, his migration is to Allah and His Messenger; but he whose migration was for some worldly thing he might gain, or for a wife he might marry, his migration is to that for which he migrated.”
[Al-Bukhari & Muslim]
The example here that can be used to help illustrate this point is that if a person gives charity to a homeless man, but the homeless man is not appreciative of the gesture (which then leads to the person giving the charity to get annoyed) then ultimately this act was not done to achieve the pleasure of God.
The correct attitude the main who gave charity should have been to ignore the behaviour of the unappreciative man and to instead find solace in the fact this his Lord would be pleased with his kind giving nature. The man should thereafter make a prayer for the unappreciative man in the hope that God will guide him and perhaps even try to befriend the homeless man. This is what we feel is the correct approach people should have.
What are the different ways we can give in charity ?
It is not necessary that financial donations are the only way to be charitable.
Adi ibn Hatim reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Guard yourself from the Hellfire even with half of a date in charity. If he cannot find it, then with a kind word.”
[Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 6195, Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 1016]
As referenced in the hadith above that even a good word is acceptable form of charity. Essentially any form of good actions and kindness as well as the conventional form of giving of physical goods to someone in need can be considered as charity.