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Lessons on Charity from Islam

Lessons on Charity from Islam
IMG: via Shutterstock

Several recent reports and surveys have indicated that Muslims are more charitable than Jews, Christians and Atheists.  According to ICM research in the United Kingdom, while over 30% of religious people gave to charity, Muslims gave an average $567, Jews gave $412, Protestants donated $308 and Roman Catholics only averaged $272 in charitable donations.  Atheists, however, have significantly lower averages of giving, coming in at a calculation of $177.  So what can nonprofits learn about charitable giving from Islam?

First, having faith and being part of a community is a strong motivation to donate to charity.  Attending church also motivates givers, as the institutions themselves often ask for donations.  Although not indicated in the survey in question, members of the Mormon Church are also known for exceptional giving and volunteerism.  Mormon communities are often close-knit, which helps create empathy.  Atheists, on the other hand, often feel disconnected and do not have as much confidence in organizations as church going people do.  Also, since a vast majority of charity dollars go to

For Muslims in particular, charitable giving is ingrained in their culture.  The giving of zakat, or alms, is a central pillar of the religion.  Not only is the zakat celebrated and honorable, as charity is in the Bible, but there are significant consequences for those who do not participate.  According to hadith, ideas said to be of Muhammed, those who are not generous will not have their prayers heard by God.

Muslims are expected traditionally to give 2.5% of the income to charity unless they are financially burdened.  In a recent study by Pew Research, Muslims in South and South East Asia were the most adherent to this practice.  Over 90% of followers in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Afghanistan reported giving alms.  Currently, the rate Muslims are expected to give exceeds the U.S. amount of giving, which is about 2% of gross national product.