A Money Coach in Canada

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151772000_b14ef7f16a1.jpgThis Saturday I visited no less than Five places of worship. I saw a 13 year old Jewish boy’s bar mitzvah. I saw a portion of a Sikh wedding. I saw the preparations for Krishna’s birthday in a Hindu temple. I visited a Buddhist temple. And I went to a Muslim mosque.

We received a booklet about Islam, and here’s something I found interesting: One of the five pillars is as follows.

It is the religious duty for every Muslim who is prosperous enough to accumulate and retain a sufficient amount of savings to give a portion of his or her wealth to the needy each year. These alms are called Zakah in Arabic, which literally means “purification”. All things belong to God, The Most Merciful, and wealth is held in trust by human beings. Paying these alms is a way for people who are financially able to purify the ethically gained wealth that God has bestowed upon them. In addition, it is a means to directly distribute wealth throughout society and help the poor and needy. Zakah (alms) also purifies the soul of the giver, reduces greed, and strengthens compassion and generosity among humanity. The basic rate of these alms is two and a half percent of the wealth that has been held in savings for an entire year. These alms are levied on savings, not income.

I found this extremely interesting. My own faith tradition (Anglican, Christian) has a similar concept, called tithing. Ours is much muddier which has good and bad points. I like the Muslim plan – it’s based on savings; in other words, on what you have in excess – although given our savings rates in Canada, that may not amount to much! – rather than on income.

I also like that it’s non-negotiable. We Christians are not accountable. If we give, we give, and if not, no one notices (or if they do, they don’t say anything). (and do I give? Yup, regularly to a couple orgs, and spontaneously to my neighbours living outside, but not even a fraction of the traditional 10%, even on my post-tax income, frankly).


1. Does your faith tradition, if you have one, say anything about giving money to the needy?

2. One question that arose for me is: Is faith-based giving assuming we don’t already pay taxes which go to helping those less fortunate among us?

photo credit: horizon

About the Author

Imagine if Canadians were known for being all over their money. Engaged. Proactive. Getting out of debt. Savvy. Saving. Generous. Nancy wants to help. Nancy started her own journey with money over 15 years ago, and formed her company “Your Money by Design” in 2004 to help others along the same path. It’s not the usual financial advising/investment stuff. It’s about taking control of day-to-day finances –managing monthly cashflow effectively, spending appropriately, getting out of debt, saving. If you're ready to take control over your finances, pop by her business site, YourMoneybyDesign.com


  1. Dan Udey

    Hmm… Interesting questions…

    For years, until I was broke myself and had nothing to give (and even then, for a while), I gave to charity – Amnesty international as an example. Not a lot, but judging by the girl’s reaction when I told her, far more than anyone else usually gives.

    As to the second – given that taxes go into a giant pool over which we as individuals have little control, and given thatthe tax is made on your excess, I would say that it would apply regardless – or at least, that it should. The idea is to give of your excess, to take what you don’t need and give to others. I would interpret that as being regardless of your other expenses, by choice o not. Besides, if you believe in the faith, surely the spirit of the faith should be far more important than the letter of the faith. For some people, sadly, this is no the case, as most often evidenced by those who use selective parts of their faith to justify ignoring other parts.

    Unfortunately, regardless of whether you believe in God or not, which is something I doubt will ever be consensus, no one can argue that we are all flawed individuals by nature, and can only hope to aspire to perfection, but never achieve it.


    Aug 25, 2008
  2. The bible encourages giving not just money but guess anything blessings that we have. There’s that part in the bible “Give, and it shall be given to you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over”.. I’d rather not say it as an obligation but rather as a sign of obedience to God.

    Fix My Personal Finance


    Aug 26, 2008

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