The Torah/Tawrat reveals to us that giving to God has been a covenantal responsibility since the earliest of times. Abraham tithed to Melchizedek in Genesis, and Jacob made a vow to God to tithe all that he had in Genesis 28 verses 20-22. In Malachi 3 verse 10, the last book of the Old Testament of the Holy Bible, God covenants with His people that if they will ‘bring their tithe into His storehouse, so that there may be food in His house, and test Him now in this, then the Lord of Hosts will open the windows of heaven and He will pour out a blessing on His people until it overflows.’(NASB).
The Bible instructs all believers to pay tithes and give offerings: ‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,’ says the LORD Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.’
Paul wrote to the Church at Corinth (1 Corinthians 16:1 – 3): ‘Now about the collection for God’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made. Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem.’ In 2 Corinthians 8 verses 1-5 we read that the Churches in Macedonia, which were experiencing much trouble and hard times, they took up an abundant offering for the suffering saints in Jerusalem, but only after giving themselves afresh to the Lord for whatever God might direct them to do.
The principle which appears from scripture appears to be: tithes are given to the local Church where you are a member and receive your spiritual food, nourishment and pastoral care for the support of the ministry of that Church. In addition to that we express our love for God and His compassion for us by showing compassion for the poor and giving them food, shelter and money according to their needs and our ability to give. It is more blessed to give than to receive.
Offerings are to be given to other areas where there are needy saints and as the Lord directs. Jesus taught His disciples ‘Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you’ (Luke 6:38).
Everything we have been given is from the goodness of God. We hold it in trust. We are to use it as God directs us to do and any amount can be given away according to what God requires of us.
Muslims are required to calculate 2.5% of their net wealth once a year and give that amount to the causes of Islâm. This is usually done at the time of Ramadan but it is not prescribed to be done then. Offering zakat is one of the main tenets of Islâm. Zakat is payable on 2.5 percent of the wealth one possesses above the nisab. Nisab is currently equal to the value of 3 ounces of gold, is the minimum amount of wealth one must have and have maintained for one lunar year before being liable to pay zakat. The nisab is based on the latest available report for June 2014. Zakat is owed on gold, silver, cash, savings, investments, rent income, business merchandise and profits, shares, securities, and bonds.
Islâmic Relief collects and distributes zakat to those who are most in need, in accordance with Islâmic guidelines.
In Surah 3 (Al-Baqara), there are five conditions which make alms-giving acceptable:
- This is to give only so much alms as will not cause the giver to be in need of receiving alms himself.
- It is not to rob from Ali to give to Wali, but to give out of a person’s own property. It says: ‘Give out of the sustenance that is yours.’
- 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.’ It is not a loan to the recipient.
- 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.
- 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. Alms- giving is an absolute, and it is universal.
‘Sadaqah’ is known as voluntary charity. It is a virtuous deed in Islâm which is considered as a proof of one’s faith. The Prophet of Islâm said in the following hadith; ‘Cleanliness is half of faith. Praise be to Allâh, who fills the scale. Glory be to Allâh and Praise be to Allâh who fills up what is between the heavens and the earth. Prayer is a light. Charity is proof of one’s faith. Endurance is a brightness and the Qur‘an is a proof on your behalf, or against you. All men go out early in the morning and sell themselves, thereby setting themselves free or destroying themselves.’ (Muslim, 432). In addition to Zakat which is obligatory, Muslims have the privilege of voluntary giving called Sadaqah.