Islam, rather than teaching us how to improve ourselves as isolated individuals, seeks to place us as part of a collective society. Through the Islamic way of living, Muslims are responsible not only for their own actions, but they must also be conscious of their role within the wider community and how they affect those around them. This model highlights the responsibility of individuals towards their wider community and recognizes the role we have to play in the wellbeing of others. This is how we progress as a society, and progress towards perfection in faith.
In this life we are all granted assets and bounties in different ways from Allah (swt). To some this may be in the form of abundant family, talent or skills. For others this may be in the form of material wealth. Some of these gifts may overlap and occur in one individual. It is an honour and blessing from Allah (swt) to be able to share these gifts with others.
Khums, which literally translates to “one-fifth”, is an annual tax and an obligatory form of charity. Khums is part of the Islamic economic system that aims to bring justice to society and strengthen humanity by requiring Muslims to donate 20% of their excess wealth, or savings. These donations are used to assist the orphans and the needy, aid in relief efforts from disasters, as well as support the institutions that contribute to the growth and propagation of Islamic knowledge.
“Know that whatever of a thing you acquire, a fifth of it is for Allah, for the Messenger, for the near relative, and the orphans, the needy, and the wayfarer” (Quran 8:41)
Typically, many Muslim households will mark one day of the calendar year, such as the New Year, on which they will calculate their expenditures and savings for the entire past year, and allocate 20% of their savings for that year to pay as their khums.