Prophet Muhammed’s Charity To Non-Muslims

Prophet Muhammed’s Charity To Non-Muslims

Mohamad Mostafa Nassar


Note: The reports below were taken from the classical book, “Kitab al-Amwaal” by the famous scholar Abu Ubayd al-Qasim Ibn Sallam who was born in the year 774 and died in 838 CE.

Prophet Muhammed’s Charity To Non-Muslims,

(1992) “… that the Messenger of God (p) used to give charity to a household of the Jews, and it continues to be given (that is after his death (p).” (Kitab al-Amwaal by Abu Ubayd al-Qasim Ibn Sallam, page 556)

Prophet Muhammed’s (p) wife, Safiyya gave charity to those who professed another faith (among her family),

(1193) “…that Safiyya, the wife of the Prophet (p) gave charity to two of her relatives, and both were Jews. This (corpus of the) charity was sold for thirty thousand dirhams.” (Kitab al-Amwaal by Abu Ubayd al-Qasim Ibn Sallam, page 556)

Various companions and scholars gave and had given charity to non-Muslims who lived under their protection throughout the earliest days of Islam,

(1994) “…Abd’Allah Ibn Marwan, who said: ‘ I said to Mujahid: ‘ I have a polytheist relative, who owes me a debt. Should I forgo this debt?’ He replied, ‘Yes, and (give something to) strengthen the bonds between relatives.” (Kitab al-Amwaal by Abu Ubayd al-Qasim Ibn Sallam, page 556)

Charity was also given to Monks,

(1996) He said, ‘Abd al-Rahman related to us from Sufyan from Abu Ishaq from Abu Maysara, who said: ‘The People (Muslims) used to deposit the Sadaqa of Id (Eid) of Fitr with him, and he used to give it, or out of it, to Christian monks.” (Kitab al-Amwaal by Abu Ubayd al-Qasim Ibn Sallam, page 556)


(1997) He said: Ibn Ishaq Ibn Yusuf related to us from Sharik from Abu Ishaq from Amr Ibn Maymun, Amr Shurahbil and Murra alHamdani that they used to give to the Christian monks out of the Sadaqat al-fitr.” (Kitab al-Amwaal by Abu Ubayd al-Qasim Ibn Sallam, page 557)

There is also the remarkable story of the second Caliph Umar Ibn al-Khattab (586 – 644 CE). He was passing along a house when saw an old, blind man begging. Umar Ibn al-Khattab immediately touched the old man and asked him, whether he was a Christian or a Jew, the man responded by saying that he follows Judaism.

The old blind man then further told him that he begged in the day so he could provide himself the daily needs, for his food and pay the Jizya yearly. Umar Ibn al-Khattab upon hearing this story immediately summoned his people to feed him and allowed the man to no longer pay any Jizya:

“To which of the people of the Book do you belong? I am a Jew, responded the blind man. Umar took him by the hand, led him to his own house, GAVE HIM SOMETHING FROM IT (i.e., food) and then sent him to the keeper of the treasure with this message, ‘See to this man and his like, for we have not done right if we devour their youth and neglect their old age.

The religious tax is for the poor and needy. The poor are the Muslims; this man is one of the needy of the people of the Book (Christians and Jews). HE FREED THE MAN FROM THE OBLIGATION TO PAY THE JIZYAH.“ (Kitab al-Kharaj, by Abu Yusuf Yaqub (d. 798), page 71)

One needs to ponder over these historical reports and understand the magnanimity of Islam and the piety of the Muslims in dealing with minorities who lived under their protection, those who professed other faiths. [1] [2] [3] [4]

Related Articles:

(1) – “Generosity Towards Non-Muslim Neighbours

(2) – “Social Conditions: Christians And Jews In Early Period Of Islam

(3) – “The Relationship Of The Muslim With Non-Muslims

(4) – “What Does Islam Teach about Justice?


[1] Charity has been given by Muslims to non-Muslims throughout history. The best example is the Irish famines. The Caliph Abdul Mecid (1824 – 1861 CE), helped the people of Ireland during ‘The Great Hunger’ when over a million died and another million fled. The Ottoman Caliph sent over 1000 silver coins, that would be equivalent to over a £1 million today.

He also sent a number of ships full of food. Initially, he wanted to send £10,000 but was blocked by the British as historical reports tell us. James Robert Flynn (AKA Jim Flynn), is the emeritus Professor of Political Studies at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand, mentions the Caliph’s contribution to Ireland, in his book:

“As an Irish- American married to a Jewish-American, I have a special interest in two groups. Start with the famine in Ireland (An Gorta Mor in Gaelic) by reading Cecil Woodham-Smith’s The Great Hunger: Ireland 1845-1849.

Over a decade, out of a population of eight million a million died and a million emigrated; even today the Island’s total population is still just over six million. If you want to know why the Irish came to hate the English Crown, in 1845 Ottoman Sultan Abdulmecid I declared his intention of sending 10,000 pounds sterling to famine-wracked Ireland; Queen Victoria asked him to send only 1000 because she had sent only 2000.

The sultan sent the lesser amount but secretly dispatched three ships full of food. English courts tried to block the ships. However, Ottoman sailors smuggled the food ashore in Drogheda Harbour. The Crown did not try to intercept the $710 sent by American Choctaw Indians. (The Torchlight List: Around the World in 200 Books [2013] by Jim Flynn, page, page 31)

William J. O’Neill Daunt (1807 – 1894 CE) who was born in the early 18th century confirms the above account:

“18th. M’Carthy (the Turk) dined with Charles today. He told me that the Sultan had intended to give £10,000 to the FAMINE-STRICKEN IRISH, but was deterred by the English Ambassador, Lord Cowley, as Her Majesty, who had only subscribed £1000, would have been annoyed had a foreign sovereign given a larger sum…”

(A Life Spend For Ireland: Being Selections from the Journals of The Late W. J. O’Neill Daunt, edited by his daughter [From the Library Of Gerald Tighe. London: T. Fisher Unwin Paternoster Square, MDCCCXCVI – University Of Wisconsin – Madison Library, 1896], page 98)

[2] More of Umar’s charity to non-Muslims:

“Umar Ibn al-Khattab once passed by an old Dhimmi (non-Muslim person living under the protection Muslim Government in Muslim land) begging at the doors of the Masaajid. Umar said, ‘We have not treated you fairly. We had been taking Jizya from you when you were young and now that you are old, we have not cared for you.

Umar then had an allowance given to him from the public treasury that was adequate for him.” (Kanzul Ummaal, by Ali ibn Abd-al-Malik al-Hindi, volume 2, page 301 – 302)

[3] Contemporary scholar Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani on giving charity to non-Muslims:
“Payment Of Sadaqatul-Fitr To A Non-Muslim
Q – “Can the Sadaqatul-fitr be paid to a needy non-Muslim?”

A – According to Imam Abu Hanifah, the Sadaqatul-fitr can be paid to a needy non-Muslim resident in an Islamic country if he does not own the nisab (a surplus amount equivalent to the value of 52.5 tolas of silver).” (Contemporary Fataawa [Published by M. S Omar, 2000] by Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani, page 46)
[4] The companion of the Prophet Muhammed (p) is said to have given non-Muslims charity and supported their families too for as long as they lived in the Muslims lands:

“Abu Yusuf recorded a report from Khalid Ibn Walid who wrote a pact for the people of al-Heerah, “I have determined for them: Any old man who is weak to work, has been afflicted with an affliction or was rich and is now poor such that his fellow religionists give him charity, he does not have to pay the Jizyah and he shall be supported from the public treasury of the Muslims as well as his dependents for as long as he remains in the land of hijrah and the land of Islam.” Kitab al-Kharah, bu Abu Yusuf, page 290)