“Giving to the poor is lending to God.”
The word charity has a noble and religious touch. All religions preach charity and exhort their followers to practice it in spirit and words. According to the Bible (N.T) charity means universal love. In its broader sense charity means a disposition to think favorably of others and do them good. In ordinary use the word means alms-giving.
The Islamic concept of charity is very noble and wide. All voluntary acts of almsgiving, helping the poor and needy, relieving the people in distress, are gestures of charity. In Islam, the word charity has very wide connotation. In fact charity is one of the important features of Islamic economic system that is based on equity and equality, honest earnings and correct spending.
Act of charity can be divided under two heads:
- charity of wealth and
- charity of deeds.
There are several verses in the Holy Quran regarding charity. In the very beginning of the Quran, the concepts of Islamic charity are contained in the following verses:
“They ask thee (O Muhammad), what they shall spend. Say that which you spend good (must go) to parents and near kindreds; and orphans and needy and the wayfarers. And whatever good ye do, Lo! Allah is aware of it.”(Sura Baqr – V.215)
“A kind word with forgiveness is better than almsgiving followed by injury. Allah is Absolute and Clement.(Sura Baqr – V.263)
Again in Sura Nisa verse 114 Allah says:
“There is no good in much of their secret conferences save in him who enjoins the almsgiving and kindness and peacemaking among people.”
Both the act of charity and doing good are the basic economic and moral principles of Islam. Charity demands that money should not be concentrated in a few hands as we see in Pakistan, neither it is to be amassed. All the Parents and relatives, neighbors and the poor and the needy have shares in true Believers’ earnings. Money must be spent in alms-giving and on good deeds. The richer the Musalman is, the greater are his/her duties towards the members of the society. Violation of Allah’s commandments is a sin.
All acts of kindness, benevolence, forgiveness, and peacemaking are part of Islamic charity. Even removing a stone from the path, feeding the poor, helping the people in distress, kindness to women and orphans, smiling and saluting others, are acts of charity. The more people practice charity and alms-giving, the more prosperous and happier is society. It is the soul of Islamic teachings and the foundation of social justice and economic well being – the duties of a welfare state.
All these things are rare in the Islamic State of Pakistan The rulers and the governments in power boldly and deliberately defy the concept of Islamic charity. The resulting social and economic evils are before our eyes. Only fear of God and unquestionable faith in the Hereafter, and in reward and punishment, can usher in real Islamic Order. May Allah show the right path to the people at the helm, the government.