On any given day, a staggering 870 million people worldwide do not have enough food to eat, and the religion of Islam works to combat that staggering statistic. Feeding the hungry and helping the poor is an integral part of the Islamic faith -- every year, its followers are required to pay an obligatory charity tax to help those in need. Throughout the Holy Qur'an and hadiths, which are a collection of sayings and actions of Prophet Muhammad, the Muslim is called to feed the hungry and help those in need, regardless of race, religion or background.
Five Pillars of Islam
In caring for the poor, Muslims look to zakah, one of the Five Pillars of Islam. The Five Pillars of Islam are considered obligatory in the Islamic faith and believers follow them stringently. Zakah is the third pillar and it means purification. The zakah is an amount of money that every mentally stable, free and financially able Muslim adult must pay annually. The purpose of this charity is to help those who are poor and needy. It is held that an individual's wealth is purified by fulfilling the obligatory charity.
Feeding the Hungry Regardless of Race or Religion
It is reported in a hadith that Prophet Muhammad said, “Feed the hungry, visit the sick, and set free the captives." Islam advocates feeding the hungry, regardless of race, religion or background. It is such an important part of the religion that Prophet Muhammad said a person is not really a Muslim if he goes to bed satiated while his neighbor goes hungry. Prophet Muhammad said that the believer's shade on the Day of Judgment will be his charity. Humility in giving is strongly encouraged in Islam. One hadith states that one of the seven people who will be shaded by God on the Day of Judgment is “a man who gives charity so secretly that his left hand does not know what his right hand has given.”
The Holy Qur'an
Throughout the Holy Qur'an, Allah compares believers and disbelievers by how they treat those who are hungry. The Qur'an states, “ (The righteous are those) who give food in spite of love for it to the needy, the orphan, and the captive, [Saying], 'We feed you only for the countenance of Allah. We wish not from you reward or gratitude.' On the contrary, the disbelievers will endure the punishment of the Hell Fire saying, 'Nor did we used to feed the poor.'"
Relief Organizations Feeding the Hungry
There are many relief organizations that strive to alleviate hunger and suffering around the world. Muslims can pay their zakah to any one of these organizations as a means of fulfilling their religious duty. Islamic Relief and American Muslims for Hunger Relief are just two of many similar organizations that have food aid programs to serve the hungry regardless of color, race, religion or gender.
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