Can you please clarify what is meant when the Qur’an enjoins us to establish regular charity. Is this referring to Zaka’h? If so, since I only pay Zaka’h once a year then it does not seem very regular to me.
The obligatory spending prescribed by Islam for a Muslim, under normal circumstances is only the Zaka’h. No spending besides the Zaka’h has been made obligatory on a Muslim. It should also be remembered that the status of Zaka’h in an Islamic state is not that of mere charity. Zaka’h is basically the only tax that an Islamic state can impose on its Muslim citizens. According to the Qur’an, Zaka’h would be used by an Islamic state on for all its expenses besides that on the religious programs and humanitarian needs.
Thus, on the one hand Islam puts a restriction on the Islamic state as far as imposition of any taxes besides Zaka’h, and on the other it promotes the spirit of charity among Muslims. The directive that you have alluded to has normally been interpreted as one referring to spending (in charity), which is over and above the obligatory amount computed as Zaka’h.
According to the Qur’an, one of the basic quality that God holds dear in a believer is to be charitable not only under normal circumstances, but especially when he himself is in need for money and still gives preference to the needs of others (Al-Baqarah 2: 177). Moreover, one of the qualities of those who, with God’s mercy, shall qualify for the highest grades of jannah1 is that they have a fixed budget for charity in their incomes (Al-Zariyaat 51: 19 and Al-Ma`aarij 70: 25). At both these occasions the referred spending is over and above that which computed as the due for the obligatory Zaka’h.
28th January 1999
- i.e. Paradise. [↩]