Islam and Christian almsgiving comparison
Almsgiving is the third pillar of Islam, often described by modern Muslims as the pillar of social action. Two main kinds of almsgiving exist in Islam, one compulsory and the other voluntary. Zakah is the duty of sharing one’s wealth with the poor, the needy, the debtor, the prisoner, the wayfarer, while the Qur’an is less concerned with the quantity and more with the quality of giving (Partridge, 2018). Having said that, there is another essential aspect to giving in the Islamic tradition, one that is centered on the idea of purification. Being charitable is a way of purifying the material deeds, thus never losing track of the most crucial goal, serving God, in this case, by serving fellow humans.
To both Muslims and Christians, caring for the poor is a duty offered upon believers. Both faiths stress the importance of donating to, praying for, and protecting the needy. Furthermore, in both Islam and Christianity, it is made clear that giving alms in private is favorable in the eyes of God, as opposed to donations made in an attempt to receive praise and acknowledgment. Islam emphasizes the importance of zakat. The zakat’s amount is not precise, but in general practice, one gives 2.5 percent of one’s wealth (Kailani & Slama, 2020). Similarly, in the Christian tradition, God commands each Christian to donate 10 percent of their earnings to the church, called tithes used to provide for the poor.
Kailani, N., & Slama, M. (2020). Accelerating Islamic charities in Indonesia: zakat, sedekah, and the immediacy of social media. South East Asia Research, 28(1), 70-86.
Partridge, C. (2018). A short introduction to world religions. Fortress Press
Compare one of the Five Pillars of Islam to Christianity.
Christianity and Islam are religions that share common roots – the Abrahamic origin. Both religions have cultural similarities, even though they both differ in their belief systems and doctrines. Islam has Five Pillars of Faith: Declaration of Faith, Daily Prayer, Charitable Giving, Fast of Ramadan, and Pilgrimage to Mecca, which are the framework of the Muslim life. It is obligatory for Muslims to uphold these pillars.
Fasting, the fourth pillar of Islam is a ritual that is observed in the month of Ramadan on the Islamic lunar calendar, and is usually a month long. The month of Ramadan is regarded as a sacred month, and fasting usually starts with sighting of the new moon. The day’s fasting starts at daybreak and ends at sunset. So a Muslim would start the day’s fasting with an early meal and break at sunset at a family or congregational dinner after the evening prayers. From daybreak, Muslims refrain from eating, drinking and sexual intercourse until after sunset as a way of building spiritual strength, and learning to empathize with people who do not have food to eat or are disadvantaged in life. Most times during the fasting period, people engage in charitable donation of food (presumably, food that would have been eaten, but for the fast). Even though fasting is obligatory, the sick, traveler and pregnant women are given fast-exemptions, they would make up for missed fasting days on a later date.
On the other hand, the Christian fast is equally an act of abstaining from food for spiritual purposes but is a voluntary, personal and private matter, and does not have set parameters. Fasting is not mandated in Christianity, but it is expected of Christians to fast. Jesus advocated the privacy of fasting; “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do,… put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:16 – 18). When Christians fast, it is motivated by a personal desire to draw near to God, to build Christian character, to be disciplined, and to mortify the flesh. In Christianity, believers are not coerced into fasting or placed under obligation to do so. Rather, it is an expectation, and believer engage in fasting, acts of charity, and seeking for self-discipline and spiritual growth out of own volition.
Bible, H. (2001). Authorized King James Version. London & New York, nd.
Gillum, J. (2010). Is Islam Peaceful or Violent: Comparing Islam and Christianity to Reveal the Propaganda of Terrorism. In Midwest Political Science Association Annual Conference. Washington: Georgetown University.
The Five Pillars of Islam. Retrieved from https://www.metmuseum.org/learn/educators/curriculum-resources/art-of-the-islamic-world/unit-one/the-five-pillars-of-islam (Links to an external site.)
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