Annual Charity That Makes Your Heart Shine
Zakah is one of the obligations for the seeker because it deeply and beautifully cleans the heart. In fact, the word “zakah” literally means, “that which purifies.” Zakah is so important to Allah, Most High, that it was originally revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, as part of the Qur’an. Zakah is mentioned 30 times in the Qur’an, alongside and second only to salah.
What is Zakah?
Zakah is charity we give once a year, usually during the month of Ramadan. The amount you give depends upon how much wealth you had, on average, over the past year. The Prophet Muhammad informed us that we should pay half a dinar for every twenty dinars we possess, and that for higher amounts we should calculate what we owe using that same ratio, which is 2.5% (Sahih ibn Majah, 3/291). Sidi used to say that it was important to pay your zakah early in the month of Ramadan so as not to get stuck in procrastination.
The Spirit of Zakah
One aspect of this path that people are often unaware of is the extreme importance placed on taking care of the poor. Feeding and clothing the poor, giving them shelter and comfort and kindness, is one of the holiest acts of remembering Allah for the seeker. When we care for others as we care for ourselves, and we want for others what we want for ourselves, we are truly being Sufis, because we are seeing the “other” and ourselves as part of the Unity.
The Prophet Muhammad, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and the early leaders after he passed away, would not go to sleep at night if they knew someone in their village was hungry or unsafe. They cared for every person the same, regardless of race or social class. When they looked at anyone, they saw Allah. Paying zakah is a yearly reminder that we need to care for all people–not just our own families, but our neighbors, our town, and our whole region. Can you extend your heart to embrace not just your region but your whole country? The whole world? Take a moment and imagine embracing everyone in the entire world and loving all of them, caring for all of them, wanting all of them to have every need met, every hurt soothed, and every hardship eased. Imagine that when you look at anyone, you see that they are just like you–their spirit is from Allah’s spirit and they have a body like yours. They are your brother and sister. Seeing everyone this way, this is how the heart of a Sufi perceives the world. And this is why we give zakah.
How to Give Zakah
Alhamdulillah, you can give zakah on our website. We work with local community leaders to distribute zakah to beloveds who need it. If you have any questions about giving your zakah through us, please contact us.
Zakat al-Fitr is a special charity we give to help everyone have food and new clothing for ‘Eid al-Fitr, the special three-day feast at that concludes the month of Ramadan. Sidi instructed us to give $15-$20 per person in our household, and as with all zakah and sadaqa, we give charity if we can. One important point Sidi made often about zakat al-fitr is that because it’s to help people with ‘Eid expenses, it’s important to donate it by the second or third week of Ramadan so that SSC has time to distribute it to those in the community who need it, insha’allah.
Fidya is charity we give when we were unable to complete our obligatory fasting during Ramadan. For whatever reason, you were unable to fast and you are still unable to fast to make up the days you missed. For these cases, Allah gave us a way to make up for the fasting by donating food to the hungry. Sidi always recommended we spend on this food what we spend on food for ourselves in a day. If you missed three days of fasting, you would donate enough to pay for three days of food, insha’allah. As with all charity, we do what we can, and Allah knows best.