There are many spiritual and material benefits to giving charity, some of which are outlined below:
“The likeness of those who spend their wealth in the Way of Allah, is as the likeness of a grain (of corn); it grows seven ears, and each ear has a hundred grains. Allah gives manifold increase to whom He pleases. And Allah is All-Sufficient for His creatures’ needs, All-Knower.” (Q 2:261)
The Prophet (saw) said, “Give charity, and cure your sick ones through the giving of charity, for surely charity repels accidents and illnesses, and is a source of increase in your life spans and your good deeds.”
Imam Ali (as) said, “Charity acts as a shield against the Hell-fire.”
The Prophet (saw) said, “The earth on the Day of Resurrection will be scorching, except for the shadow of a believer, for verily his charity will serve him as shade.”
The world most commonly used in the Holy Qur’an for charity is Zakat. The word Zakat has a general meaning which applies to all forms of charity. When it is used in the Holy Qur’an, it is usually used with this meaning.
This is one of the examples of Zakat. It refers to a voluntary charity that a person may give to any Godly cause. This can include donating to provide essential aid, healthcare and education to the poor and needy.
This is one of the obligatory forms of charity which was very important in previous times, which does not apply to many people today. It is a specific type of charity which only applies to nine specific things.
In today’s world, this type of charity may apply to farmers, and people who deal in genuine gold and silver coinage. They have to pay 2.5% of the value of any of the nine things that Zakat specifically applies to.
Khums literally means one-fifth, and it is an obligatory form of charity which has been expressly mentioned in the Holy Qur’an, and which has been particularly emphasised by the Imams of the Ahlul Bayt (as).
“Know that whatever of a thing you acquire, a fifth of it is for Allah, for the Messenger, for the near relative, and the orphans, the needy, and the wayfarer…” (8:41)
It is the most important type of charity which we need to know about and practise today. In brief, it involves giving one-fifth (20%) of our savings as charity at the end of the year. Khums applies to any wealth left-over after a person has met their reasonable living expenses. It is to be delivered to the most qualified scholar of the time, who is considered the general representative of the Imam, to be used for causes which would be deemed worthy by the Imam. These may include supporting the poor and orphans, providing education and establishing Islamic educational institutions.