The Prophet’s Guidance Regarding Zakah and Charities
a. His Guidance in Zakah
His is the most perfect guidance in all aspects of zakah: its timing, amounts, percentages, givers and recipients. It takes into consideration the interests of both the wealthy and the poor, taking from the rich an amount sufficient to meet the needs of the poor without injustice.
If he (peace be upun him) knew that someone was entitled to zakah, he would give him, and if he did not know his condition he only gave him after informing him that the rich and those able to earn their livelihood were not entitled to zakah.
His guidance was to distribute zakah to those entitled to it in the country where the wealth was accumulated, and that only the surplus would be sent to be distributed by him.
He (peace be upun him) used to send the collector of zakah only to owners of obvious wealth such as grazing animals and crops.
He (peace be upun him) used to send an assessor to estimate the quantities of dates and grapes, observe how they were irrigated and record the weights. He (peace be upun him) would calculate the zakah due accordingly.
He (peace be upun him) did not take zakah on horses, slaves, mules and donkeys, or on vegetables and fruits that could not be measured or stored, except for grapes and dates. He (peace be upun him) did not differentiate between fresh or dry dates.
He (peace be upun him) did not take the best of the people's property for zakah, but took the average quality.
He (peace be upun him) prohibited a giver of charity from buying back what he had given. But he allowed the rich to eat from it if it was given to him by a poor man as a gift.
He (peace be upun him) sometimes borrowed against charity for the benefit of Muslims, or borrowed charity funds from their owners.
When a person brought zakah to him he (peace be upun him) would supplicate for him, saying, "Allaahumma baarik feehi wa fee ibilih." (O Allah, bless him and his camels.)
b. His Guidance in Zakat al-Fitr
He (peace be upun him) stipulated that zakah al-fitr should be one measure of dates, barley, cheese or raisins.
It should be given before the Eid prayer. He (peace be upun him) said, “If it is given before the prayer it is an accepted zakah, but if given after the prayer it is a kind of charity.”
He (peace be upun him) used to give it especially to the poor rather than all eight categories entitled to zakah.
c. His Guidance in Voluntary Charity
He (peace be upun him) was the most generous person with regard to giving charity from what was in his possession, never considering anything bestowed by Allah too much or too little.
If someone asked anything in his possession he (peace be upun him) would readily give it to him, whether little or much.
He (peace be upun him) was more happy and pleased to give than to receive.
Whenever he (peace be upun him) met a needy person he would give him preference over himself, sometimes with his food and sometimes with his clothing.
Whoever dealt with him would be overwhelmed by his lenience.
He (peace be upun him) practiced charity of various kinds, sometimes with a gift, or sometimes he would buy an item and give it back it to the seller along with its price. Sometimes he (peace be upun him) would borrow something and then return more then what he (peace be upun him) took, or accept a gift and give one in return more than its value.