Al-Baqarah · Juz 3 · Qur'an Tafseer

Giving Charity to Non-Muslims


In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful


Tafseer Al-Baqarah Ayah 272

Abu ‘Abdur Rahman An-Nasa’i recorded from Ibn ‘Abbas radhiAllahu ‘anhu  that earlier the new Muslims disliked giving charity to their polytheist relatives. Later Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala revealed this ayah and removed their qualms about helping their relatives who were not on the religion of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.


An important principle that we need to remember is that we cannot guide anyone no matter how much one yearns for their guidance. Guidance is only from Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. A person has to seek guidance in order to be guided.

Listen to the story of the reverts – there was an ache and deep longing in the heart that led them to Islam and find the truth. While we must reach out to people and be consistent in our da’wah efforts, we have to accept the truth that it is only in the Hands of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. We should be humble in our approach and not give up on people, as the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam did not give up on his dear uncle Abu Talib. We must, however, continue to make du’as for those whom we wish to be guided, and for the guidance of ourselves, our loved ones and all those around us.

We ask Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala for the understanding of Deen, for His love and His Qurb [nearness] and a life that pleases Him. Allahumma ameen.

In these ayaat again we see an encouragement to give in charity; however, this time the context is different. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala teaches us that charity is not limited to one’s own. If a non-Muslim seeks our help then we must reach out to him. Remember, this is the voluntary charity which has not limitations and not the obligatory charity [zakah] that can only be given to a certain class of people, from a certain amount and up to a certain percentage.

One day, after Asma bint Abu Bakr radhiAllahu ‘anha migrated to Madinah, her mother came to visit her. Asma radhiAllahu ‘anha was unsure of her treatment toward her mother since she was a Muslim and her mother was a polytheist. She asked the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam about the matter. He advised her to graciously welcome her mother to her home and also give her some gifts. SubhanAllah! Where some people teach that we should break our ties with everyone who is not on our religion, the Sunnah of our Messenger salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was to be kind especially when the other person is a parent.

[Life Lessons from Asma bint Abu Bakr]

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says,

وَمَا تُنفِقُونَ إِلاَّ ابْتِغَآءَ وَجْهِ اللَّهِ

“When you spend not except seeking Allah’s Face…”

Al-Hasan Al-Basri commented: Whenever the believer spends, including what he spends on himself, he seeks Allah’s Face with it. ‘Ata’ Al-Khurasani said that the ayah means that a person gives away charity for the sake of Allah. Therefore, he will not be asked about the deeds of those who receive it. This is a sound meaning indicating that when one spends in charity for Allah’s sake, then his reward will be with Allah. He will not be asked if the charity reached the righteous, evil, deserving or undeserving people, for he will be rewarded for his good intention. The proof to this statement is the ayah,

وَمَا تُنفِقُواْ مِنْ خَيْرٍ يُوَفَّ إِلَيْكُمْ وَأَنتُمْ لاَ تُظْلَمُونَ

“And whatever you spend in good, it will be repaid to you in full, and you shall not be wronged.”

The word yuwaffa [يُوَفَّ] is from the root wau-fa-ya and it means “to call upon, come to reach.” It also means giving someone their full share. Those who spend in the way of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala will be recompensed according to their deed.

The Two Saheehs recorded a hadeeth by Abu Hurairah radhiAllahu ‘anhu that the Messenger of Allah salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said,

قالَ رَجُلٌ: لَأَتَصَدَّقَنَّ اللَّيْلَةَ بِصَدَقَةٍ، فَخَرجَ بِصَدَقَتِهِ فَوَضَعَهَا فِي يَدِ زَانِيَةٍ، فَأَصْبَحَ النَّاسُ يَتَحَدَّثُونَ: تُصُدِّقَ عَلَى زَانِيَةٍ، فَقَالَ: اللَّهُمَ لَكَ الْحَمْدُ عَلَى زَانِيَةٍ، لَأَتَصَدَّقَنَّ اللَّيْلَةَ بِصَدَقَةٍ، فَخَرَجَ بِصَدَقَتِهِ فَوَضَعَهَا فِي يَدِ غَنِيَ، فَأَصْبَحُوا يَتَحَدَّثُونَ: تُصُدِّقَ اللَّيْلَةَ عَلَى غَنِيَ، قَالَ: اللَّهُمَّ لَكَ الْحَمْدُ عَلَى غَنِيَ، لَأَتَصَدَّقَنَّ اللَّيْلَةَ بِصَدَقَةٍ، فَخَرَجَ بِصَدَقَتِهِ فَوَضَعَهَا فِي يَدِ سَارِقٍ، فَأَصْبَحُوا يَتَحَدَّثُونَ: تُصُدِّقَ اللَّيْلَةَ عَلَى سَارِقٍ، فَقَالَ:اللَّهُمَّ لَكَ الْحَمْدُ عَلَى زَانِيَةٍ، وَعَلَى غَنِيَ، وَعَلَى سَارِقٍ. فَأُتِيَ فَقِيلَ لَهُ: أَمَّا صَدَقَتُكَ فَقَدْ قُبِلَتْ، وَأَمَّا الزَّانِيَةُ فَلَعَلَّهَا أَنْ تَسْتَعِفَّ بِهَا عَنْ زِنَاهَا، وَلَعَلَّ الْغَنِيَّ يَعْتَبِرُ فَيُنْفِقُ مِمَّا أَعْطَاهُ اللهُ، وَلَعَلَّ السَّارِقَ أَنْ يَسْتَعِفَّ بِهَا عَنْ سَرِقَتِه

“A man said, ‘Tonight, I shall give charity.’ He went out with his charity and (unknowingly) gave it to an adulterous. The next morning the people said that alms were given to an adulterous. The man said, ‘O Allah! All the praises are for You. (I gave my alms) to an adulterous. Tonight, I shall give alms again.’ He went out with his charity and (unknowingly) gave it to a rich person. The next morning (the people) said, ‘Last night, a wealthy person was given alms.’ He said, ‘O Allah! All the praises are for You. (I gave alms) to a wealthy man. Tonight, I shall again give charity.’ So he went out with his charity and (unknowingly) gave it to a thief. The next morning (the people) said, ‘Last night, a thief was given alms.’ He said, ‘O Allah! All the praises are for You. (I have given alms) to an adulterous, a wealthy man and a thief.’ Then, someone came to him and said, ‘The alms that you gave away were accepted. As for the adulterous, the alms might make her abstain from adultery. As for the wealthy man, it might make him take a lesson and spend his wealth that Allah has given him. As for the thief, it might make him abstain from stealing.’”


-We learn that a sadaqah [charity] given to a non-Muslim also carries a reward in the life to come. As the basic purpose of giving charity is to get the reward, one should not be restrict about giving it to the Muslims only. One should give sadaqah to everyone for the sake of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and remember that others’ guidance is not on us.

-We learn two adaab [etiquettes] of giving charity: (1) one must give charity to the Muslims as well as the non-Muslims (2) one must not look at the deeds of the others but rather think about the One for Whose sake he is giving. For example, many people do not think of giving to the prostitutes because of their choice of profession. Yet, there are some generous and wise souls who particularly reach out to such individuals and give them charity so that they can leave this evil profession. May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala grant us Hikmah, ameen.

DOWNLOAD PDF: Tafseer Al-Baqarah Ayah 272

رَبَّنَا تَقَبَّلْ مِنَّا ۖ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيم
“Our Lord, accept [this] from us. Indeed You are the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing.” [Al-Baqarah 2: 127]

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