The Law of Sadaqah to Non-Muslims and Its Proposal
Sadaqah is one of the practices that are highly recommended in Islam. There are many virtues in it which make this one worship a priority. It makes those in needs feel helped and makes those who have the strengths become more understanding to share.
Many people do charity to help fellow Muslims in need. But how is the law giving alms to non-Muslims or infidels?
We Are Encouraged to Keep Doing Good to Non-Muslims
From Amr bin Syu’aib from his father, he said:
ذبحت شاة لابن عمرو في أهله, فقال: أهديتم لجارنا اليهودي?, قالوا: لا, قال: ابعثوا إليه منها, فإني سمعت رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – يقول: (ما زال جبريل يوصيني بالجار, حتى ظننت أنه سيورثه)
I slaughtered a goat for Ibn Umar and his family. Ibn Umar said: “Have you given this goat also to our Jewish neighbor?” They said: “Not yet.” Ibn Umar said: “Give some to them because to hear the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said: “Jibril always left me to do good to my neighbors so that I almost thought the neighbors would get the inheritance.” (Narrated by Tirmidzi 1943, blessed by the Shaykh Muqbil bin Hadi Al Wadi’i in Shahih Al Musnad 797)
Basically, there is no single argument that prohibits the law of giving alms to non-Muslims. God always commands us to always do good to anyone.
Proposal about Doing Good for Non-Muslims
لَا يَنْهَاكُمُ اللَّهُ عَنِ الَّذِينَ لَمْ يُقَاتِلُوكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ وَلَمْ يُخْرِجُوكُم مِّن دِيَارِكُمْ أَن تَبَرُّوهُمْ وَتُقْسِطُوا إِلَيْهِمْ
“Allah does not forbid you to do good things and be fair to those who have not fought you because of religion and do not (also) expel you from your country.” (QS. Al Mumtahanah: 8)
وَيُطْعِمُونَ الطَّعَامَ عَلَى حُبِّهِ مِسْكِينًا وَيَتِيمًا وَأَسِيرًا
“And they give food to their liking to the poor, orphans, and those who are held captive.” (QS. Al Insan: 8)
The argument shows that we may give alms to those who are non-Muslims. But look again at the verse. The verse also shows that whom we can help is those who do not fight Islam. If they are people who fight Islam, then we should not help them.
We are Allowed to Give Alms to Non-Muslims
Although the law of giving alms to non-Muslims is permissible, it is preferred to give alms to the closest relatives or fellow Muslims.
يستحب أن يخص بصدقته الصلحاء وأهل الخير وأهل المروءات والحاجات فلو تصدق على من يهودي أو نصراني أو مجوسي جاز
It is recommended that the alms be given to pious people who diligently do good things and keep their honor and need. But if there are people who give charity to the wicked, or unbelievers, among Jews, Christians, or majus, the law may. (al-Majmu’, 6/240)
Ibnul Mundzir said,
“The consensus of the scholars states that the dhimmi infidels were not given to them at all from the zakat. While they disagreed with regard to zakat fitrah, Abu Hanifah allowed him, from ‘Amr bin Maimun and besides that, they had given parts of him to monks (priests).
Malik, Laits, Ahmad, and Abu Tsaur said that they were not given. Then the owner of the book “Al Bayan” preached from Ibn Sirin and Zuhri who allowed the distribution of zakat to unbelievers. (al Majmu juz VI p. 246)
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Allah SWT said;
“You are not obliged (O Muhammad) to make them (those who do not believe) get a clue (because your obligation only gives instructions), but Allah also gives instructions to anyone He wants (according to His rules). And what good treasure do you spend (in the way of Allah) then (the reward) is for yourself and you also do not donate anything but because it demands the difference of Allah and whatever you offer from good property will be perfected (reward) to you, (your good reply) is not deducted.” (QS. Al-Baqarah: 272)
Ibn Kathir interpreted the verse above that giving alms is permissible to anyone, both Muslim and non-Muslim, people who are pious or not, still get a reward from Allah SWT while the goal is to seek the pleasure of God.
Both to fellow Muslims and non-Muslims, we must always do good things as done by the Apostle. Allah says,
لَّقَدْ كَانَ لَكُمْ فِي رَسُولِ اللهِ أُسْوَة لِّمَن كَانَ يَرْجُوا اللهَ وَالْيَوْمَ اْلأَخِرَ وَذَكَرَ اللهَ كَثِيرًا
“Verily there is in (the self) the Messenger of Allah a good example for you (that is) for those who wish (mercy) Allah and (coming) the Day of Resurrection and he mentions Allah a lot.” (Surah al-Ahzab  : 21)
لا تجد قوما يؤمنون بالله واليوم الآخر يوادون من حاد الله ورسوله ولو كانوا آباءهم أو أبناءهم أو إخوانهم أو عشيرتهم
You will not find one people who believe in Allah and the Hereafter, love each other with those who oppose Allah and His Messenger, even though those who oppose it are fathers or children or brothers or their family. (al-Mujādilah/58: 22)
The Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said:
ارْحَمُوا مَنْ فِي الْأَرْضِ يَرْحَمْكُمْ مَنْ فِي السَّمَاءِ
Love those who are on the Earth. Surely, He (God) who is in the heavens will love you. [HR. at-Tirmidzi, no. 1924]
That is the discussion about the law of giving alms to non-Muslims.