The 3rd pillar of Islam is Zakat. Zakat is a purification of the wealth ALLAH, Subhanahu wa ta'ala, has entrusted us with. Every Muslim who has exceeded a minimum quantity of wealth is required to pay Zakat. The Quran discusses Zakat in over 80 ayat (verses), and it is frequently in combination with Salat. The Quran also discloses the qualifying recipients of Zakat.
Zakat is not a charity. Rather it is the right of the needy upon those who are not needy. When one gives their Zakat, they are grateful to find someone willing to accept it. The latter has done a favor for the giver by accepting their Zakat. With this attitude, Zakat is the mechanism by which poverty is eliminated. It is preferred that the Zakat be given directly by the giver to the receiver, rather than through an intermediary. By this method, the wealthy interact with the needy, they see their condition and they feel some of the hardship. This should soften their hearts and encourage them to give charity as well. Zakat does not replace or eliminate charity. On the contrary, it encourages charitable contributions, especially when it is given directly to the receiver. For more information on Zakat or any other aspect of Islam, please contact the IFANCA or your local Islamic Center or Masjid.