Al-Baqara (The Cow) Sura 2: Verse 274

"Those who spend their wealth by night and by day, in secret and in public, shall have their reward with their Lord. No fear shall fall upon them, neither shall they grieve."

The call to give to charity can be seen as the Quran's way of urging Muslims to establish pragmatic and perpetual institutions for the social transformation of society. Across the Muslim world, such institutions were known as waqfs, 'pious foundations'. Muslims seeking spiritual advancement would leave a legacy in the form of property or a plot of land as a trust in perpetuity to be used for the benefit of humanity. The individual establishing the waqf would specify its purpose clearly, and appoint a legally responsible person or group to carry out its function with knowledge and experience. Such trusts supported universities and hospitals, scholarship and learning, and funded research and travel. As George Makdisi shows in his detailed study, The Rise of Colleges, waqfs played a vital part in enabling the flourishing of science and civilisation in the classical era of Muslim civilisation.

Contemporary Muslims have forgotten the intellectual, educational, scientific and cultural dimensions of charity. Charity amongst Muslims is now associated almost solely with building mosques and responding to natural disasters. We need to recover the scope, imagination and creativity this verse implies in ways relevant to the extent of need in contemporary society at home and abroad.

Compiled From:
"Reading the Qur'an: The Contemporary Relevance of the Sacred Text of Islam" - Ziauddin Sardar, p. 194