Charity, almsgiving, benevolent giving, call it what you will, is the third pillar of Islam and charity begins at home.
Chapter 2, verse 215
They ask you as to what they should spend in charity. Say: Whatever wealth you spend, it is for the parents and the near of kin and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer, and whatever good you do, God surely knows it.
Yes charity begins at home. Your parents and next of kin come first. Then it is the orphans and the needy, then those traveling wayfarers, then anything good.
Chapter 6, verse 141
It is He who produces gardens, with trellises and without, and dates, and till with produce of all kinds, and olives and pomegranates, similar and different: eat of their fruit in their season, but render the dues that are proper on the day that the harvest is gathered. But waste not by excess: for God love not the wasters.
It says in the above verse that we should’ render’ (give up or relinquish) the ‘dues’ (charity) that are proper on that the ‘day of harvest’. That means on pay day, the day you get paid. It does not say here, for instance, ‘at the end of Ramadan’ or ‘once a month’ or ‘when I can be bothered’. No it says ‘the day of harvest’, so it is, the day you reap your reward for all of your hard work. These days we get paid, probably, into a bank account, probably once a month, once a week or daily in our hand. Whenever we get paid we should give what we can to someone in the family or if not someone else who needs financial help.
What if there is no pay day? What if the charity you give cannot be financial aid? Give anything you can. If someone gives you a packet of sweets, share them with someone else. A smile doesn’t cost you anything and may make someone feel part of the human race, the same with a kind word or a kind gesture. The offer of help even when it is not necessary or required shows someone else that you care enough to ask.
God says give the excess of your money or what you have to charity (2:219, 254) and if someone is in debt to you and unable to pay, if even after giving time they still cannot pay, then it is best for everyone to let the debt go as charity.
Chapter 2, verse 280
If the debtor is in a difficulty, grant him time until it is easy for him to repay. But if you remit it by way of charity, that is best for you if you only knew.
Prayers and charity are often mentioned together in verses of the Quran (2.277) to show the importance of both of these acts of faith.