What is Islam?

by James William Lovegrove (Habeeb-Ullah)

Almsgiving

Every religion and every system of ethics preaches charity, but Islam systematized it in a workable form. It made it obligatory on every Muslim to spend one-fortieth part of his income for the benefit of the needy. Various other charities have also been enjoined in Islam, but this acts as a poor tax to be levied by the State on every Muslim who is in receipt of a certain amount of income.

“Almsgiving,”

the Prophet re­marked when asked about it,

“is an institution to enrich the poor at the expense of the rich.”

A Muslim can exercise his other charitable instincts in any way he likes, but he must hand over one-fortieth of his income to the State for the benefit of the poor.

The conception of charity in Islam is very broad, and to enable the reader to appreciate its extent, I give here [see ‘Charity‘ and ‘Sympathy‘] some of the sayings of the Prophet [Muhammad (pbuh)] bearing on the matter.

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