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Posted Online on Saturday 29, October 2005 07:45 IST

Muslim Islamic NewsThe spirit of Zakat 

By Dr Aboobakar Thwahir

The Milli Gazette Online

29 October 2005

Zakat is the most powerful tool for social justice and poverty alleviation. Islam had it compulsory on all Muslims who have balance of money in cash or kind after one year and after all expenditures are met. Ramadan is the best month for taking stock of the wealth and distribute amongst the deserving people as prescribed in the Qur’aan: 

"By no means shall you attain goodness (piety, righteousness and paradise) unless you spend (in the cause of Allah) of which you love; and whatever good you spend, Allah knows it well". (3:92)

"Take (give out) alms from their wealth in order to purify them and sanctify them with it…" (9:103)

"O, you who believe! Spend of that with which We have provided for you, before a Day comes when there will be no bargaining, nor friendship, not intercession. And is the disbelievers, who are wrong doers" (2:254)

"And there are those who hoard gold and silver, and do not spend it in the way of Allah, announce to them a most grievous penalty (when) on the day of Qiyamath heat will be produced out of that wealth in the fire of jahannam, then with it they will be branded on their foreheads and their flanks and backs. (It will be aid to them) This is the treasure which you hoarded for yourselves, taste then the treasure that you had been hoarding" (9:34)

"This is the book (Al Quran) whereof there is no doubt, a guidance to those who are Al Muttaqoon (pious and righteous persons who fear Allah much (abstain from all kinds of sins and evil deds which He has forbidden) and love Allah much (perform all kinds of good deeds which He has ordained), who believe in the gaib (unseen) and perform salah (iqamat salah) and spend out of what we have provided for them (give zakat, spend on themselves, their parents, wife and children and also give charity to the poor and also in the cause of Islam) (2:3-4)

Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) said "Invite the people to testify that Lalilaha illah (none has the right to be worshipped but allah) and I am Allah’s Messenger if if they obey you to do so (Islamic monotheism), then inform them that Allah has enjoined on them five slat (prayers) in every day and night (in 24 hours) and if they obey you to do so, then inform them that Allah has made it obligatory for them to pay the sadaqat (zakat) form their properties and it is to be taken form the wealthy among them and given to them poor among them" ( Bukhari: 702) "Pay the zakat so that your Islam becomes complete" "Every ummah (nation) has a test to undergo, my ummah will be tried through wealth". " In order to enter praradise, you should worship Allah (alone and none else( and do not ascribe any partners to Him, offer iqmat-as-salat pay the zakat and keep good relations your kith and kin " (Bukhari :703) "Allah will bring about a drought on the nation that does not give zakat"."The person on whom Allah bestowed wealth, and the does not give zakat, his wealth will be turned into a venomous bald serpent on the day of Qiyamah, which will wind around his neck and bite his jaws and say : "I am your wealth, I am your treasure"."Good news to the man who earns his wealth and spends for feeding the poor and need and commits no sins". "Be afraid of the curse of the oppressed because there is no screen between his invocation and Allah."

Allah (swt) has provided due food and shelter for all His creations. But he wanted to test the man and therefore He gave more provisions to some people compared to others. In fact He has made it available for all the human beings and other creatures but due to callousness of men, he does not share his wealth with others. Man is responsible for his own destruction. Allah (swt) says " And no living creature is on earth but its provision is due from Allah. And He knows its dwelling place and its deposits (grave or womb) all is in a Clear Book (Lauhul mahfooz – the book of decrees with Allah) (12:6)

What is zakat?
Meaning of Zakat is purification. Zakat purifies the wealth as the Prayers purifies the soul, Fasting purifies the body, as the poor and needy have a share in your wealth. If one fails to pay zakat, he is denying the right of others by retaining something, which does not belong to him. We came in this world with nothing on us and Almighty gave us the wealth. Therefore we should not be reluctant to spend it on the poor and needy. Zakat purifies the property as well as the heart from selfishness and greed. In contrast, it also purifies the heart of the recipient from envy and jealousy, from hatred and uneasiness. Zakat is sharing the prosperity with one's brethren. It is a powerful financial instrument to alleviate poverty and to make the people self-sufficient. It is a powerful tool for the economic development and fundamental of Islamic economic system. If zakat is paid correctly, there shall be no people without food, clothing and shelter in this world. . If zakat is collected in an organized way, it can generate jobs for all. During Khalifa Umar's rule, there was no one deserving zakat as all of them had become self-sufficient. Allah has forbidden hoarding of wealth and has secured the rights of the poor. Zakat is to be used to make the needy self-sufficient. Zakat is one of the pillars of Islam. It is mentioned 150 times in Qur'aan along with prayer except at two places. Zakat is mentioned side by side Salah (Prayers). "Be consistent in prayer and pay zakat". Zakat was made compulsory along with Prayer in Makkah Mukarramah, when the revelation was received by Prophet Muhammad (SAWA).
"Truly those who believe and do deeds of righteousness and perform As-salat (prayers) and give Zakat, they will have their reward with their Lord. On them shall be no fear nor shall they grieve" (2:277).
"And what will make you know the path that is steep? It is freeing a neck (slave). Or giving food in a day of hunger (famine), to an orphan near of kin or to a miskin (afflicted with misery) (Qur’aan 90:12-16)

Benefits of giving zakat
1) Gaining of pleasure of Allah (2) Increase and barkat in the wealth and life (3) Protection from loss and sufferings (4) Forgiveness and blessings from Allah (4) Safety from calamities (6) Protection from wrath of Allah and bad death 7) Zakat will provide a shelter on the day of judgement (8) Security from misfortunes (9) It will work as shield from fires of jahannam (10) it saves from fear and grief. (11) It keeps one away from sins (12) poor people, widows orphans, disabled & destitute will be cared for.

On whom it is compulsory and rate:
It is compulsory on all believers (adult with sound mind) who have money, gold, cattle, silver, merchandise left with after completion of one full year, after fulfillment of expenses on himself and family members, if such balance in hand is worth above 52.50 tolas of silver and 7.5 tolas of gold or money in cash, bank, deposit, in the form of buildings (not used for day to day living), merchandise.. House kept for future sale and shares in Cos. will also fall in this category of merchandise. Hence zakat is to be given on it at the market price. The loans given to someone but not returned is also to be reckoned if one is sure that he will get back the money. Only 2.5% on such balance is to be paid as zakat. 

Conditions of zakat payment:
Every action is based upon the niyyat (Intention). Intend to pay zakat at the time when it falls due and fix the amount. At the time of giving zakat, he should form the niyyat that "I am giving this as zakat". At the completion of one year, zakat falls due. It should be paid without delay. Fitr zakat is payable on the day of Id ul Fitr before the Id prayer. Zakat is to be paid to the people where the zakat payer resides or better still be to his family members who are poor and destitutes. Family members can be given like brother, sister, nephew niece, uncle, aunt, father in law and mother law etc. Ali (Allah be pleased with him) said : "To give one dirham to my (poor) brother is dearer to me than to give 20 dirhams to a stranger". Stock in trade, goods in transit (which have been paid for), cash on hand, ornaments of gold and sliver (other metals and precious and semi-precious stones used as jewelry excluded) outstanding cash and loans, cash in bank, savings account, fixed deposit, claims, household balance, cash balance after subtracting the creditors and liabilities. For calculating zakat, purchase value of merchandise to be considered. Zakat is not compulsory on furniture, fittings, machinery, vehicles, land etc. There is no zakat on PF and Pension fund as per opinion of certain aalims. Zakat must be paid on these amount after they are received. All charitable institutions are not considered for giving Zakat but to only those who use zakat fund as per shariat as given above.

Highlights:
* Zakat is the purification of wealth. Wealth is the object of love. It is the confirmation of our Kalima shahadath. Just uttering kalima has no meaning, when one is not ready to part with the loved objects. 
* A moumin (believer) should be ready to sacrifice wealth for the pleasure of Allah. The poor has a right upon your wealth. One should not hoard wealth. One should not deny zakat that is made compulsory. Abu Bakr Siddque brought all his wealth for the disposal by Prophet when the latter called for charities in the way of Allah. Omar Khatab brought half of his property. What has been left for your family? Omar replied: half of my wealth. Prophet asked Abu Bakr as to what he has left with his family. He answered "God and his Prophet". Prophet said the difference between you is in your replies.
* The second cause is to be pure from miserliness as it is one of the causes of destruction. Prophet said: "There are three destructive guilt: obey to miserliness, to follow low desire and self conceit. 
* The third cause is to express gratefulness for the gifts of Allah. The gratefulness for the gifts of body by doing divine service and gratefulness for the wealth by paying to the needy. Allah has saved us from want. One should therefore pay to the fellow beings who have no means of livelihood. How can one sleep full belly when the neighbour goes to sleep with his stomach empty? Zakat brings out the humane qualities of man.
* Zakat should be paid in secret. Show and propaganda are to be avoided. The best charity is made in secret. God will give shade to seven people one of them is the one who paid secret charities. 

Who are eligible to receive zakat?:
Zakat is to be paid to any or all of the following categories: Faqeer (who are poor, have insufficient income but does not beg), Miskeen (who are destitute, extremely needy to the extent that they are forced to for their daily food ration.), person in debt, (who cannot pay the loans taken for permissible things and who have now other wealth or goods with which they could repay ), to free captives, to the wayfarer (a traveler who is stranded in foreign land and is in deep distress and need of help), to the converts (for their settlement), those employed to collect the zakat funds (who has no other job/ income other than zakat collection), and those striving in the cause of Allah (engaged in study, research and propagation of Islam).
Hazrat Obaid-ibn-Umair said: "On the resurrection day, a man will get hungry not being hungry, thirsty not being thirsty, and naked without being naked. God will give food to one who gives food for the sake of God and water to whom that gives water for the sake of God, and clothe to the one who gives cloth for the sake of God".
Hassan Basri said :"If God willed, all of you would have been rich and nobody would have been poor among you, but He wishes to try you by one another"
""O you who believe! Do not render in vain your sadaqah (charity) by reminder of your generosity or by injury, like him who spends his wealth to be seen of men and he does not believe in Allah nor in the Last Day." (2:264)
"And the likeness of those who spend their wealth seeking Allah’s pleasures while they in their own selves are sure and certain that Allah will reward them (for their spending in His Cause) is the likeness of a garden on a height; heavy rain falls on it and it doubles its yield of harvest. And if it does not receive heavy rain, light rain suffices it. And Allah is All seer of what you do" (2:265)

The writer is the author of "Towards Eternal Success" and can be reached on aboobakarthwahir@yahoo.com «

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