How To Spend Money on Charity

Surah Baqarah, 2:215

يَسْأَلُونَكَ مَاذَا يُنفِقُونَ قُلْ مَا أَنفَقْتُم مِّنْ خَيْرٍ فَلِلْوَالِدَيْنِ وَالأَقْرَبِينَ وَالْيَتَامَى وَالْمَسَاكِينِ وَابْنِ السَّبِيلِ وَمَا تَفْعَلُواْ مِنْ خَيْرٍ فَإِنَّ اللّهَ بِهِ عَلِيمٌ

Yas-’aluunaka maa zaa yunfiquun Qul maaa ‘anfaqtum-min khayrin falil-waalidayni wal-’aqrabilina wal-yataamaa wal-masaakiini wab-nissabiil. Wa maa taf-’aluu min khayrin fa-in-nallaaha bihii ‘Aliim.
215. They will ask thee as to what they should spend on others. Say: “Whatever of your wealth you spend, shall (first) be for your parents, and for the near of kin, and the orphans, and the needy, and the wayfarer; and whatever good you do, verily, God has full knowledge thereof.”

Charity is best when given privately

Surah Baqarah, 2:271

إِن تُبْدُواْ الصَّدَقَاتِ فَنِعِمَّا هِيَ وَإِن تُخْفُوهَا وَتُؤْتُوهَا الْفُقَرَاء فَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لُّكُمْ وَيُكَفِّرُ عَنكُم مِّن سَيِّئَاتِكُمْ وَاللّهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِيرٌ

‘In-tubdus-sadaqaati fa-ni-’im-maa nii; wa ‘in-tukhfuu-haa wa tu-tuuhal-fuqaraa-’afa-huwa khayrul-lakum: wa yukaf-firu ‘ankum-min:-sayyi-’aatikum. Wallaahu bimaata’-maluuna khabiir.
271. If you do deeds of charity openly, it is well; but if you bestow it upon the needy in secret, it will be even better for you, and it will atone for some of your bad deeds. And God is aware of all that you do.

It is reported of the sixth Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (a) that the Holy Prophet (S) had said that

“Charity in secret, quiets the wrath of God and takes away one’s sin as the water puts out the fire and keeps away seventy kinds of calamities.”

No compulsion by Allah (swt) to spend in His way

Surah Muhammad, 47:36-38

إِنَّمَا الحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا لَعِبٌ وَلَهْوٌ وَإِن تُؤْمِنُوا وَتَتَّقُوا يُؤْتِكُمْ أُجُورَكُمْ وَلَا يَسْأَلْكُمْ أَمْوَالَكُمْ

’In-namal-hayaatud-dunyaa la-‘ibunw-wa lah: wa ’in-tu’-minuu wa tat-taquu yu’tikum ’ujuurakum wa laa yas-’alkum ’amwaa-lakum.
36. The life of this world is but a play and a passing delight: but if you believe (in God) and are conscious of Him, He will give you your recompense.
And withal, He does not demand of you (to sacrifice in His cause all of) your possessions:

إِن يَسْأَلْكُمُوهَا فَيُحْفِكُمْ تَبْخَلُوا وَيُخْرِجْ أَضْغَانَكُمْ

’Iy-yas-’alkumuu-haa fa-yuh-fikum tab-khaluu wa yukhrij az-
37. (for,) if He were to demand of you all of them, and urge you, you would niggardly cling (to them), and so He would (but) bring out your moral failings.

هَاأَنتُمْ هَؤُلَاء تُدْعَوْنَ لِتُنفِقُوا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ فَمِنكُم مَّن يَبْخَلُ وَمَن يَبْخَلْ فَإِنَّمَا يَبْخَلُ عَن نَّفْسِهِ وَاللَّهُ الْغَنِيُّ وَأَنتُمُ الْفُقَرَاء وَإِن تَتَوَلَّوْا يَسْتَبْدِلْ قَوْمًا غَيْرَكُمْ ثُمَّ لَا يَكُونُوا أَمْثَالَكُمْ

Haaa-’antum haaa-’ulaaa-’i tud-‘awna litun-fiquu fii Sabiilil-laah: famin-kum-may-yabkhal , Wa may-yabkhal fa-’in-namaa yab-khalu ‘an-nafsih. Wal-laahul-Ghaniy-yu wa antumul fuqaraaa, wa in tatawal-lau yastabdil qawman ghairakum thum-ma laa yakuunuuu amthaalakum. lakum.
38. Behold, (O believers), it is you who are called upon to spend freely in God’s cause: but (even) among you are such as turn out to be niggardly! And yet, he who acts niggardly (in God’s cause) is but niggardly towards his own self for God is indeed self-sufficient, whereas you stand in need (of Him): and if you turn away (from Him), He will cause other people to take your place, and they will not be the likes of you!

The above implication is that since ‘man has been created weak’ the imposition of too great a burden on the believers would be self-defeating inasmuch as it might result not in an increase of faith but, rather, in its diminution. This passage illustrates the supreme realism of the Qur’an, which takes into account human nature as it is, with all its God willed complexity and its inner contradictions, and does not therefore postulate a priori am impossible ideal as a norm of human behaviour. The last verse is a prophesy about the Non-Arabs who would embrace Islam and who would be more loyal to the cause of the faith than those addressed here.

Charity in God’s cause is a loan given to Him

Surah Al – Hadid, 57:11

مَن ذَا الَّذِي يُقْرِضُ اللَّهَ قَرْضًا حَسَنًا فَيُضَاعِفَهُ لَهُ وَلَهُ أَجْرٌ كَرِيمٌ

Man-zal-lazii yuqrizul-laaha Qarzan Hasanan-fayuzaa-‘ifahuu lahuu wa lahuuu ’ajrun-kariim.
11. Who is it that will offer up unto God a goodly loan, which He will amply repay?
For, such (as do so) shall have a noble reward.

The goodly loan to God is charity i.e. spending of the wealth in God’s way. It is bound by the following conditions for its acceptance:

• that which is given away or spent in the way of the Lord must have been well-earned i.e. through lawful means.

• the thing given must be defectless.

• that which is given, must be needed by the giver for himself and not the stuff not needed by the giver.

• not that which is given away at the point of death when the giver would not need it any longer.

• it must be given without publicity.

• it must be given to the one who needs it the most.

• when given away no obligation or even mention of it should be made and the receiver in no way should be troubled thereafter.

• the offer must be exclusively and purely, to please God and not for any hypocritical show, name or fame.

• that which is given, even though it be much in quantity, the giver should consider it to be less and insignificant.

• what is given away should be dear to the giver.