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Zakah in Islam: Concepts and Rules

Zakah, one of the five pillars of Islam, is meant to purify one’s wealth and create harmony and compassion between members of society.

In this lecture by Sheikh Shady Sulaiman learn in details about Zakah;  its meaning and concept. He also tackles the rules related to this Islamic obligation.

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New Muslims Zakah

Rights of the Poor and Needy in Islam

poor and needy

Muslims willingly offer the due amount in obedience to Allah’s commands. They pay it to the poor and the needy.

Allah (Exalted be He) praises those who spend for His cause in order to help the poor and the needy in the Islamic society. This is based on the instructions of the verse in the  Qur’an:

And in their wealth is a recognized right. For the (needy) who asks and the one who is deprived. (Al-Ma`arij 70:24,25)

As a matter of fact Islam regards the charity given to the poor and the needy as one of the most virtuous deeds. Moreover, Islam warns those who conceal and save up their wealth and do not spend for the cause of Allah. Allah says in the Qur’an:

It is not righteousness that you turn your faces towards East or West. But the righteousness is to believe in Allah and the Last Day, and the Angels, and the Book, and the Prophets, and to give of your wealth out of love for Him, to your kin and orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and those who ask, and for the ransom of slaves… (Al-Baqarah 2:177)

The ones who accumulate the wealth without giving the due right of the poor and needy as commanded by Allah, are promised by Allah that they will receive a severe punishment on the Day of Requital. Allah says in the Qur’an:

And those who hoard up gold and silver and do not spend in the Path of Allah then warn them of the painful torment. (At-Tawbah 9:34)

For this reason Zakah was prescribed as one of the basic tenets of Islam. Zakah is a set percentage (2.5%) of the accumulated wealth over a period of one year.

On Whom & To Whom?

Muslims willingly offer the due amount in obedience to Allah’s commands. They pay it to  the poor and the needy. Zakah is obligatory upon those who possess the appropriate amount on which Zakah is due. Allah states in the Qur’an:

And they were commanded not except to worship Allah, offering Him alone sincere devotion, being true (in faith); to establish regular Prayer; and to give calculated Charity; and that is the right Religion. ( Al-Bayyinah 98:5)

Zakah is prescribed with the following principles and conditions:

1- The person to pay Zakah must possess “nisab” (the appropriate amount as stipulated in the Islamic Shari`ah).

2- A period of one-year must pass while the owner maintains this amount in his possession. If less than a year passes, Zakah will not be required.

Islam defines the types of people who are entitled to receive Zakah. This is based on the verse in the Qur’an:

Verily alms are for the poor and the needy, and those employed to administer (the funds); for those whose hearts have been (recently) reconciled (to the truth); for those in bondage and in debt; in the cause of Allah; and for the wayfarer: (thus is it) ordained by Allah, and Allah is All- Knower and All-Wise. (At-Tawbah 9:60)

Why We Pay It!

Islam imposes Zakah in order to uproot poverty from the Islamic society, treat the resulting problems stemming from poverty such as: theft, murder, attacking people and taking their property unjustly. In addition, it revives the mutual social welfare and support among members of the Islamic society.

Furthermore, Zakah is used to fulfill the needs of the needy, the destitute, and to pay the debts of those who have debts and are not able to pay their debts due to a sound and legitimate reason.

Moreover, the payment of Zakah purifies one’s heart, soul and  wealth as well. An owner of a wealth will become less selfish and greedy when he/she pays this charity with a pure heart. The Almighty Allah states in the Qur’an:

And those saved from the covetousness of their own souls; they are the ones that achieve prosperity. (At-Taghabun 64:16)

Zakah purifies the hearts of those who are less affluent since they will have less hatred, jealousy and bitterness against the rich and wealthy class of people of the society because they see that they are paying their just dues and the rights to their poorer brethren.

The Almighty Allah warns those who refuse to pay their due Zakah against a severe punishment:

And let not those who covetously withhold of that which Allah has bestowed on them of His Bounty (wealth) think that it is good for them. Nay, it will be worse for them; soon shall the things which they covetously withheld be tied to their necks like a twisted collar on the Day of Resurrection. To Allah belongs the heritage of the heavens and the earth; and Allah is well-acquainted with all that you do. (Aal `Imran 3:180)

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Source: The article is an excerpt from the author’s Human Rights in Islam and Common Misconceptions.

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ABC's of Islam New Muslims

The Prophet On Charity and Its Virtues

By Editorial Staff

Charity is one of the best deeds a Muslim can do. Giving charity, we are actually giving back to Allah what He has gifted us, is a practical way of showing gratitude to Allah:

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Save yourself from Hell-fire even by giving half a date-fruit in charity.”

Allah will deprive usury of all blessing, but will give increase for deeds of charity: For He loves not creatures ungrateful and wicked. (Al-Baqarah 2:276)

Narrated Asmaa’ bint Abu Bakr that she had gone to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and he said, “Do not shut your money bag; otherwise Allah too will withhold His blessings from you. Spend (in Allah’s Cause) as much as you can afford.“ (Al-Bukhari)

Several hadiths (sayings) of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) indicate the virtues, importance and rewards of spending in the way of Allah.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Save yourself from Hell-fire even by giving half a date-fruit in charity.” (Al-Bukhari)

Narrated Ibn Mas`ud: I heard the Prophet (peace be upon him) saying:

“There is no envy except in two: a person whom Allah has given wealth and he spends it in the right way, and a person whom Allah has given wisdom (i.e. religious knowledge) and he gives his decisions accordingly and teaches it to the others.” (Al-Bukhari)

Virtues of Charity

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Every day two angels come down from Heaven and one of them says, ‘O Allah! Compensate every person who spends in Your Cause,’ and the other (angel) says, ‘O Allah! Destroy every miser.’” (Al-Bukhari)

Allah says:

And the likeness of those who spend their wealth seeking Allah’s pleasure, and for the strengthening of their souls, is as the likeness of a garden on a height. The rainstorm smites it and it brings forth its fruit twofold. And if the rainstorm smite it not, then the shower. Allah is Seer of what you do. (Al-Baqarah 2:265)

A Way to Paradise

It was narrated that Abu Hurairah said: The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “Who among you is fasting today?” Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “I am.” He said: “Who among you has attended a funeral today?” Abu Bakr said: “I have.” He said: “Who among you has fed a poor person today?’ Abu Bakr said: “I have.” He said: “Who among you has visited a sick person today?” Abu Bakr said: “I have.” The Messenger of Allah said: “These (traits) are not combined in a person but he will enter Paradise.” (Muslim)

Narrated Abu Hurairah that a Bedouin came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and said, “Tell me of such a deed that will make me enter Paradise, if I do it.” The Prophet said, “Worship Allah, and worship none along with Him, offer the (five) prescribed compulsory prayers perfectly, pay the compulsory Zakah, and fast the month of Ramadan.” The Bedouin said, “By Him, in Whose Hands my life is, I will not do more than this.” When he (the Bedouin) left, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Whoever likes to see a man of Paradise, then he may look at this man.” (Al-Bukhari)

Charitable People Will Be under Allah’s Shade on the Day of Judgment

Narrated Abu Hurayiah:

The Prophet said, “Seven people will be shaded by Allah under His shade on the day when there will be no shade except His. They are: (1) a just ruler; (2) a young man who has been brought up in the worship of Allah, (i.e. worship Allah (Alone) sincerely from his childhood), (3) a man whose heart is attached to the mosque (who offers the five compulsory congregational prayers in the mosque); (4) two persons who love each other only for Allah’s sake and they meet and part in Allah’s cause only; (5) a man who refuses the call of a charming woman of noble birth for an illegal sexual intercourse with her and says: I am afraid of Allah; (6) a person who practices charity so secretly that his left hand does not know what his right hand has given (i.e. nobody knows how much he has given in charity). (7) a person who remembers Allah in seclusion and his eyes get flooded with tears.” (Al-Bukhari)

The Best Charity

Narrated Abu Hurairah:

A man came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and asked, “O Allah’s Messenger! Which charity is the most superior in reward?” He replied, “The charity which you practice while you are healthy, niggardly and afraid of poverty and wish to become wealthy. Do not delay it to the time of approaching death and then say, ‘Give so much to such and such, and so much to such and such.’ And it has already belonged to such and such (as it is too late).” (Al-Bukhari)

Narrated Abu Hurairah:

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “The best charity is that which is practiced by a wealthy person. And start giving first to your dependents.” (Al-Bukhari)

Anas narrated that the Prophet was asked which fast was most virtuous after Ramadan? He said: “Sha`ban in honor of Ramadan” He said: “Which charity is best?” He said: “Charity in Ramadan.” (At-Tirmidhi)

Before It’s Too Late

Narrated Harithah ibn Wahab: I heard the Prophet (peace be upon him) saying,

“O people! Give in charity as a time will come upon you when a person will wander about with his object of charity and will not find anybody to accept it, and one (who will be requested to take it) will say, “If you had brought it yesterday, would have taken it, but today I am not in need of it.” (Al-Bukhari)

Narrated Abu Hurairah:

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “The Hour (Day of Judgment) will not be established till your wealth increases so much so that one will be worried, for no one will accept his Zakah and the person to whom he will give it will reply, ‘I am not in need of it.’” (Al-Bukhari)

The Longest Hands

Narrated `A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her):

Some of the wives of the Prophet (peace be upon him) asked him, “Who amongst us will be the first to follow you (i.e. die after you)?” He said, “Whoever has the longest hand.” So they started measuring their hands with a stick and Sauda’s hand turned out to be the longest. (When Zainab bint Jahsh died first of all in the caliphate of `Umar), we came to know that the long hand was a symbol of practicing charity, so she was the first to follow the Prophet and she used to love to practice charity. (Sauda died later in the caliphate of Mu`awiyah).

Only the Halal

No charity is accepted from what is grabbed from an illegal way.

Narrated Abu Hurairah that Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said:

“If one give in charity what equals one date-fruit from the honestly earned money and Allah accepts only the honestly earned money –Allah takes it in His right (hand) and then enlarges its reward for that person (who has given it), as anyone of you brings up his baby horse, so much as that it becomes as big as a mountain. (Al-Bukhari)

To Relatives

It was narrated from Salman bin `Amir that the Prophet said:

“Giving charity to a poor person is charity, and (giving) to a relative is two things, charity and upholding the ties of kinship.” (An-Nasa’i)

Narrated Zainab (the daughter of Um Salamah): My mother said, “O Allah’s Messenger! Shall I receive a reward if I spend for the sustenance of Abu Salama’s offspring, and in fact they are also my sons?” The Prophet replied, “Spend on them and you will get a reward for what you spend on them.” (Al-Bukhari)

Good Deeds are Charity

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

“Every Muslim has to give in charity.” The people asked, “O Allah’s Prophet! If someone has nothing to give, what will he do?” He said, “He should work with his hands and benefit himself and also give in charity (from what he earns).” The people further asked, “If he cannot find even that?” He replied, “He should help the needy who appeal for help.” Then the people asked, “If he cannot do that?” He replied, “Then he should perform good deeds and keep away from evil deeds and this will be regarded as charitable deeds.” (Al-Bukhari)

Abu Dharr narrated that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said :

“Your smiling in the face of your brother is charity, commanding good and forbidding evil is charity, your giving directions to a man lost in the land is charity for you. Your seeing for a man with bad sight is a charity for you, your removal of a rock, a thorn or a bone from the road is charity for you. Your pouring what remains from your bucket into the bucket of your brother is charity for you.” (At-Tirmidhi)

Abu Hurairah reported that Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said,

“On every joint of man, there is charity, on every day when the sun rises: doing justice between two men is charity, and assisting a man to ride an animal or to load his luggage on it is charity; and a good word is charity, every step which one takes towards (the mosque for) Salah is charity, and removing harmful things from the way is charity”. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Even Voluntary Prayers

Even the Duha (fore-noon) Prayer is a charity. It is recommended to pray Duha, the least of which is two rak`ah, the best of which is eight, and the average of which is four or six, and encouragement to do so regularly

Abu Dharr reported Allah’s Apostle (peace be upon him) as saying:

“In the morning charity is due from every bone in the body of every one of you. Every utterance of Allah’s glorification is an act of charity. Every utterance of praise of Him is an act of charity, every utterance of profession of His Oneness is an act of charity, every utterance of profession of His Greatness is an act of charity, enjoining good is an act of charity, forbidding what is disreputable is an act of charity, and two rak`ahs which one prays in the forenoon will suffice.” (Muslim)

Abu al-Aswad al-Dailani said:

While we were present with Abu Dharr, he said: In the morning, alms are due for him, ever fast is alms, every pilgrimage is alms, every utterance of “Glory to be Allah” is alms, every utterance of “Allah is most great” is alms, every utterance of “Praise be to Allah” is alms. The Messenger of Allah  recounted all such good works. He then said: Two rak’ahs which one prays in the Duha serve instead of that. (Abu Dawud and authenticated by Al-Albani)

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