Giving Charity to Non-Muslims When There Are Many Poor Muslims

Answered by Shaykh Rami Nsour

Question: Is it ok to be generous towards non-Muslims?

I believe it is preferred to favor the Muslims first, but in our daily life in a majority non-Muslim country, we frequently encounter needy non-Muslim individuals and organizations and it always struck me how our Prophet peace be upon him has been sent as a mercy to the worlds. However, if I give some money to them, then I’ll be giving none or less to mosques,poor Muslims etc.

Plus, these hadith also questions our priorities

1.“Do not keep company except with a true believer, and let not anyone eat your food except one who is godfearing.” [Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud]

2. Pardon me for not having a proper quote but the other hadith I came across is along the lines of : among the losers are those who give benefit to those who do not benefit them.

If this is so, should our wealth and efforts only be reserved for our fellow Muslims since there is always a deserving Muslim somewhere?

Jazakallahu khayr

Answer: The Messenger of Allah said, “In every moist liver there is a reward.” This means that in giving something to every living creature there is a reward. This includes giving seeds to birds and crumbs to fish or ants.

So while we can give our charity in so many different areas, we have to prioritize. Shaykh Muhammad Mawlud, in his text on the Adab of Charity, explains that the best type of charity to give is water. He also explains that the best place to give is to a scholar who is worshiping Allah.

Another thing to keep in mind is that just as the people of business try to “diversify their portfolio” in investments, we too have to do that in charity. We never know which charity Allah will accept from us.

We have to keep in mind to that one thing that will place a cause high on our list of priorities is need (darurah). So, if there is a catastrophe in an area, our charity should go there before other places.

Another thing that will affect where we place our charity, is looking at those directly near us. This will include our families , friends and close community members.

So, as advice to the dilemma that you face, you should give to both Muslims and non-Muslims. But how you prioritize will differ throughout your life.

And Allah knows best.