THE MEANING AND WISDOM OF ALMSGIVING
Almsgiving is giving, by the rich, a certain percentage of their wealth after a certain period of time upon the order of Allah to the poor for the sake of Allah..
Man is civilized by nature. Therefore every individual is supposed to join a community in order to continue his individual existence. This living together imposes the individual some responsibilities. It is necessary to eliminate the economical, social and emotional conflicts among the individuals in order to maintain the existence of the community in a secure, peaceful and healthy way.
If the distance between the individuals and the layers especially in terms of social and economical ranks is not decreased through natural ways, the disintegration, conflict and deterioration in the community cannot be prevented. The most appropriate way to do it is to motivate and set into motion the feeling of assistance and solidarity in human beings through strong motives like worship. The Quran attracts the attention to that feeling in human beings as follows: Whose in whose wealth there is a right acknowledged (by them) for such as have no means other than begging, and such as are denied help (because, having self-respect, they cannot beg and are thought to be well-off) (al-Maarij, 24-25)
The Quran brings some arrangements to prevent the possible negative situations that economic imbalance can cause. The religion of Islam solves this problem by handling it not only in terms of economic aspect but also in terms of sociological and psychological dimensions. The following is stated in a verse regarding that issue: A kind word and forgiving (peoples faults) are better than almsgiving followed by taunting. God is All-wealthy and Self-Sufficient, (absolutely independent of the charity of people), All-Clement (Who shows no haste in punishing.) O you who believe! Render not vain your almsgiving by putting (the receiver) under an obligation and taunting – like him who spends his wealth to show off people and be praised by them, and believes not in God and the Last Day. (al-Baqara, 263-264)
Almsgiving is a duty prescribed for the individual as a kind of worship. This worship, which is carried out just because Allah ordered it, has a mission like eliminating the tension and conflict in the community. What is more important than that is that a person is liberated from the conflict in his inner world by paying alms and has a personality with a peace of mind. In a person who is liberated from the feeling of selfishness, feelings like thinking of others, thinking about their problems, sacrificing some of his wealth to meet their needs develop. All of those are carried out not to be known and gaining respect but because Allah orders, that is, because it is worship. That shows that this responsibility, which is directed towards the peace and stability of the community, is based on stronger foundations.
Almsgiving is one of the most important institutions based on worship directed towards establishing social justice and balance. It is a model that can be applied easily and practically in any period and community. If this system works healthily, a precipice between the rich and the poor will not form.
Islam orders people to help the poor materially and spiritually. Men are created differently in terms of subsistence. Allah calls the rich to help the poor due to this difference. Thus, compassion for ones fellow men is an essential of true thankfulness. Whoever a person is, there will always be someone poorer than himself in some respect. He is enjoined to be compassionate towards that person. This solidarity is generally carried out through alms in Islam.
The prophet (PBUH) says the following in a hadith: اْلاِسْلاَمِ قَنْطَرَةُ اَلزَّكَوةُ. That is, Muslims help each other only by passing the bridge of almsgiving. The means of assistance is almsgiving. The bridge that ensures the order and security in the social life of human beings is almsgiving. The community life depends on mutual assistance in the realm of human beings. The cure for the revolts, revolutions and conflicts that prevent communities from developing materially and spiritually is that mutual assistance.
When the history of mankind is studied, it will be seen that all of the revolutions and immorality proceed from two words:
The First: "Once my stomach is full, what do I care if others die of hunger"
The Second: "You work, and I'll eat."
It is almsgiving that eliminates the bad effects of the first word that shakes humanity and makes it face demolition. It is the abolition of interest that eradicates the second word that drives mankind to general disasters and devastates development and security. Thus Islam showed the way to settle those problems decisively by prescribing almsgiving and abolishing interest.
To ensure the peace among the layers of the community and to establish relations among them is only possible by making almsgiving, which is a pillar of Islam, an essential principle in the community life.
FOR WHICH GOODS ARE ALMS GIVEN?
Gold, silver and money,
THE REQUIREMENTS OF GIVING ALMS:
To be a Muslim,
To be free,
To have the full possession,
To have the Nisab (a certain amount of goods or money),
The owner of the goods or money should be definite,
One year should pass for certain types of goods.
TO WHOM ARE ALMS GIVEN?
Alms are given to the eight group of people defined in 60th verse of Chapter at-Tawbah:
Officials employed to collect alms,
Those whose hearts will be reconciled to Islam,
Those in bondage,
Those in debt,
Those in the cause of AllAh; and for the wayfarer,
The alms given before Eid al-Fitr is called alms of fitr. Fitr is a gift given in return for being created. It is wajib for the head of the family to pay fitr for himself and for the other members of the family that he is supposed to sustain.
The conditions which make alms- giving acceptable:
When the characteristics of believers are mentioned in the Quran, the following is stated: And spend [in God's way> out of what We have bestowed on them as sustenance.(al-Baqara, 3). This verse also points point out five of the conditions which make alms- giving acceptable:
First condition: This is to give only so much alms as will not cause the giver to be in need of receiving alms himself.
Second condition: It is not to take from Ali and give to Wali, but to give out of a person's own property. It says: "Give out of the sustenance that is yours.
Third condition: This is not to place an obligation on the recipient. The word We in We have bestowed on them as sustenance states this condition. That is to say: "I give you the sustenance. When you give some of My property to My servant, you cannot place them under an obligation.
Fourth condition: You should give it to a person who will spend it on his livelihood, for alms given to those who will squander it idly is not acceptable. The word spend points to this condition.
Fifth condition: This is to give in God's name. The words We bestow on them as sustenance states this. That is to say: "The property is Mine; you should give it in My name."
These conditions may be extended. That is, what form should almsgiving take, with what goods. It may be given as learning and knowledge. It may be given as words, or as acts, or as advice. The word what in out of what indicates to these various sorts through its generality. Furthermore, it indicates to them itself in this sentence, because it is absolute, it expresses universality