Ch 3:11. The Right to Basic Necessities of Life

Ch 3:11. The Right to Basic Necessities of Life  

Islam has recognised the right of the needy people that help and assistance will be provided for them.

“And in their wealth there is acknowledged right for the needy and the destitute” (51:19).

In this verse,

  1. the Quran has not only conferred a right on every man who asks for assistance in the wealth of the Muslims,
  2. but has also laid down that if a Muslim comes to know that a certain man is without the basic necessities of life,
  3. then irrespective of the fact whether he asks for assistance or not,
  4. it is his duty to reach him and give all the help that he can extend.
  5. For this purpose Islam has not depended only on the help and charity that is given voluntarily,
  6. but has made compulsory charity, zakat
  • as the third pillar of Islam,
  • next only to profession of faith
  • and worship of God through holding regular prayers.

The Prophet has clearly instructed in this respect that:

“It will be taken from their rich and given to those in the community in need”

(al-Bukhari and Muslim).



In addition to this, it has also been declared that the Islamic State should support those who have nobody to support them.

The Prophet has said:

“The Head of state is the guardian of him, who has nobody to support him”


(Abu Dawud, al-Tirmidhi).

The word wali which has been used by the Prophet is a very comprehensive word and has a wide range of meanings.

  1. If there is an orphan
  2. or an aged man,
  3. if there is a crippled
  4. or unemployed person,
  5. if one is invalid
  6. or poor
  7. and has no one else to support him
  8. or help him,
  • then it is the duty
  • and the responsibility of the state
  • to support
  • and assist him.

If a dead man has no guardian or heir, then it is the duty of the state to arrange for his proper burial.

In short the state has been entrusted with the duty and responsibility of looking after all those who need help and assistance.

A truly Islamic State is therefore

  • a truly welfare state
  • which will be the guardian
  • and protector of all those in need.





the third pillar of Islam

Excerpt from Islam in a Nutshell by Dr. M. Hamidullah

Zakat, almsgiving, is the third pillar of Islam. The term zakat was used in the Qur’an in a number of verses. It means “growth” and “purifying”. [123]

In other words, one must purify one’s wealth by giving away something from the surplus for the benefit of society. Zakat was levied as a tax on the Muslims. Zakat is to be used for certain purposes which are determined by the Qur’an.

Alms are for the poor (al-fuqara) and the needy (al-masakin) and those employed to administer the funds; for those whose hearts have been (recently) reconciled to the Truth; for those in bondage and in debt; in the cause of God; and for the wayfarer. (Thus it is) ordained by God, and God is full of knowledge and wisdom. [124]This tax was considered a right– a right of the poor and an obligation of the wealthy. Islam not only calls on the rich to pay this tax, from their hoarded income, but it also prohibits usury–in fact, interest of any kind. [126]

One should also add that the second caliph, ‘Umar, ruled that the poor among the non-Muslims also have a right to receive zakat. [127]

Zakat must be paid sincerely and in a spirit of selflessness. If one’s motives are mixed or worldly, then one’s charity is useless in the eyes of God. In this regard, the Qur’an gives a stern warning:

O ye who believe! Cancel not your charity by reminders of your generosity or by injury–like those who spend their substance to be seen of men, but believe neither in God nor the Last Day. [128]