How should we finance Allah’s work?

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What method does the Quran and Sunnah teach us for funding the preaching of Islam, the teachings of Islam, publishing and spreading the divine message?

“O believers! Spend your wealth in Allah’s way before that day arrives when there will be neither friendship nor intercession” (Baqarah: 254).

“The example of those who spend their wealth for the work of Allah is that of a seed which grows seven ears each carrying a hundred seeds. Allah gives abundantly to whom he wills” (Baqarah: 261).

Spending in Allah’s way shows three things about us:

  1. Acknowledging Allah as the creator and absolute owner of all the wealth, he is the provider.
  2. Spending in Allah’s way is really for our good. We benefit from it. When we give in charity we can see its good fruits. It not only strengthens our faith and relationship with Allah but with our fellow humans who are its beneficiaries.
  3. By donating for Allah, we are honouring the Almighty. Since he has provided us with what we need by spending a portion to honour him, we are thanks giving with all the wealth we possess, the talent and skills we have, the brilliant intellect we possess are all gifts from Him.

How much should we give?

Zakat is the minimum amount; it is 2.5% of the annual savings. Zakat can be used for all the above activities. However, we should give much more than that. Today there is an urgent need to spread Islam’s message of love, peace and mercy. The Prophet’s (peace be upon him) golden guidance is indispensable for our young people. The need for moral development and spiritual enrichment is direly needed. Without this our future generations will simply assimilate into the consumer and materialist society that we live in. The Quran reminds us “who amongst you will give Allah the loan?” (Baqarah: 245).

The messenger (peace be upon him) encouraged endowment for charity, every Muslim should leave behind a wonderful legacy. Every Muslim wishes to be rewarded by Allah for his good work, he is promised ten to seven hundred times the reward for each good deed he or she performs. What happens after you die?

The messenger (peace be upon him) gave this wonderful news to all; he said, “when a man dies, the reward for his works comes to an end except for three things; endowment given for a charity or beneficial knowledge or a righteous child who prays for him” (Muslim).

Allah is Beneficent and Merciful to His creation. He rewards man for every little thing he does for His sake. As long as he continues his good works, he continues to reap abundant reward from his Generous Lord. However, death puts an end to this earning of Allah’s favour. The Hadith tells of the exceptions to this rule. The righteous man continues to earn the reward of three of his past deeds:

  1. An endowment trust that he had established.
  2. The knowledge he had left behind either in the form of pupils or books he had written.
  3. His pious child(ren) who are ever prayerful for him.

“Endowment or waqf for a charitable purpose” – This is further elaborated by the following Hadith; “he continues to get reward for; digging a canal or a well, the plantation of trees, or building of a mosque or spreading the message of the Qur’an”.

As long as people derive benefit from these things Allah will continue to give the reward to their founder. This Hadith is the basis for an endowment trust or waqf, which is defined : bequeathing something for the sake of Allah and for the benefit of the needy. This is dedicating property or capital for the pleasure of Allah for a charitable purpose. This property or capital cannot be inherited or disposed of in any way. The income or profits from it are used for charitable purposes.

Jabar (may Allah be pleased with him) says that there was no one amongst the well-off disciples who did not leave behind an endowment trust. This endowment trust can be neither be sold nor inherited and its profits are to be spent for the welfare of the Muslim community.

The Deceased can benefit from the good works of living person

Ibn-Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) reports that a woman asked the Prophet (peace be upon him),“my mother has died and she had vowed to fast”. He (peace be upon him) replied, “if your mother was in debt, would you not repay it for her?” She answered, “yes.” He (peace be upon him) said, “so fast for your mother” (Bukhari and Muslim).

Imam Nawawi (may Allah be pleased with him) in his famous commentary of Muslim cites the consensus of the Ulama regarding the benefit of a Dua (supplication) for the dead. Similarly, he receives the reward of charity donated on his behalf also. It may be asked how can the dead benefit from the deeds of others when the Qur’an explicitly says, For man only has that for which he makes effort (Najm: 39). This apparent conflict between the Hadith and the Qur’an is explained by the Ulama as described below:

Firstly they argue that many Sahih Ahadith prove that the dead person can benefit from the deeds of the living. The above mentioned Hadith of Ibn-Abbas is a point in case. Secondly the Hadith of Buraida (may Allah be pleased with him) cited by Muslim, Ahmad and Ibn Maja tell of a man who wanted to do Hajj for his dead father and the Prophet (peace be upon him) approved it. These Ahadith are not contradictory to the verse but rather an explanation and elaboration of it because:

(a) The verse of Surah Najm is specific and not absolute. It refers specifically to the efforts of the kafir. As for a believer, he benefits from the actions of his fellow believers.

(b) If taken in its general sense it means that mans efforts do not deserve the reward that Allah gives him. It is from the Grace of Allah.

(c) The letter Laam here (Lil-insan) does not mean ‘for’ but ‘against’ (ala), as in the verse “wa la hum lanat” and “on them is a curse” meaning against them. So here too it means that the kafirs actions are a testimony against them.

The Hadith gives us the incentive to set up an endowment trust, since it is a means of attaining Allah’s pleasure – the supreme achievement. The trust would be of help to the needy Muslim community in solving its educational problems such as; sponsoring capable students to study Islam, setting up a library, providing funding for a Madrassa for teaching of the Qur’an, etc. The Muslims are in urgent need of these facilities. Well off Muslims in the past have left an illustrious legacy of endowment trusts which to this day support institutions like the Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt.

We also learn the following lessons from this Hadith:

  • The merit of marrying for the sake of having righteous children.
  • The virtue of knowledge and in particular Islamic knowledge – which directs man to his destiny and success.
  • To acquire the most useful knowledge so as to benefit the wider community.
  • Prayer and the recitation of the glorious Qur’an benefits the deceased as does charity donated on their behalf.

Making an Islamic Will

In the absence of an Islamic will the English law of intestacy will apply. This law is not in line with the Sharia so your estate will be distributed unislamically.  Making a will ensures that heirs do not fight amongst themselves over the estate. If you have children under the age of 18, and you and your spouse should die, then the courts may take the decision as to who looks after them. By appointing legal guardians, in your Will you can ensure that this does not happen. An added advantage of making an Islamic will is that it can save on the amount of Inheritance Tax your family may have to pay after you die.

1. Value all your assets

Write a full  list of everything that you own, this includes the house and its contents, car and your savings – deduct your debts, such as unpaid dowry (mahr) and Zakah.

If the value of your assets is already or likely to be more than £263,000, you will need to consider Inheritance Tax avoidance strategies. Where potentially large estates are involved and therefore inheritance tax liability could be considerable, steps should be taken to avoid it. There are various ways of doing this, including: making inter vivos gifts, preferably seven years before death and making a bequest of up to a third of the estate to a charity (gifts to charities registered in the UK do not attract inheritance tax).

2. Do you need a solicitor?
It is possible to make your own Will, but because it is a legal document, you are strongly recommended to seek professional advice, especially if you wish to make several specific bequests or if your financial and property affairs are complicated. Remember: for your Will to be valid, the basic requirements of UK domestic law must be satisfied (taken from Muslim Directory).