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IN THE NAME OF ALLAH, THE BENEFICENT, THE MERCIFUL
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"O you who believe! Be careful of your duty to Allah, and be with the truthful." [Noble Quran 9:119]

"If you obeyed most of those on earth they would mislead you far from Allah's way." [Noble Quran 6:116]

Return to the QURAN only - the complete and final STAND-ALONE Divine Message which also contains the authentic sunnah of the beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAAW)

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I bear witness that NONE is worthy of worship except ALLAH, He has NO partner nor partners, and I bear witness that Muhammad is the slave and Final Messenger of Allah.

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Zakah or charity

The widespread concept among mainstream Muslims is that the Noble Quran says nothing about zakah except that it must be given. It's also commonly presumed by many that the recipients of zakah are not mentioned in the Quran. Concerning the amount of zakah to be given, our brothers and sisters often insinuate that if the amount of 2.5% wasn't fixed by the Hadith, we would be in a fix because the Quran does not mention it at all. No one has ever reflected why the Quran does not fix the amount of zakah to be paid. There is a very valid reason for it. Allah Almighty NEVER forgets anything.

(Part I)

First let's briefly discuss issues like who deserves zakah, the importance of intent or 'niyyah' involved while giving zakah etc. and then we will take up the matter regarding the amount of zakah to be given with direct evidence from the Noble Quran.

WHOM TO GIVE ZAKAH?

"They ask you, (O Muhammad), what they shall spend. Say: That which you spend for good (must go) to parents and near kindred and orphans and the needy and the wayfarer. And whatsoever good you do, lo! Allah is Aware {Al-'Alim} of it " (2:215)

From the above verse it's crystal clear that if parents are in need, definitely we have to start our charity by financially supporting them. Thus, zakah must be given to parents if they are poor. Other categories of needy people who deserve charity include near relatives, orphans, poor persons (who are not necessarily related to us) and the traveller who is in need. All this has been very clearly elucidated by Allah Almighty in the above verse 2:215.

There are other categories as well who deserve charity.

"(Alms are) for the poor who are straitened for the cause of Allah, who cannot travel in the land (for trade). The unthinking man accounts them wealthy because of their restraint. You shall know them by their mark: They do not beg of men with importunity. And whatsoever good thing you spend, lo! Allah knows it." (2:273)

"The alms are only for the poor and the needy, and those who collect them, and those whose hearts are to be reconciled, and to free the captives and the debtors, and for the cause of Allah, and (for) the wayfarers; a duty imposed by Allah. Allah is knower, Wise." (9:60)


"those whose hearts are to be reconciled" primarily refers to the new converts to Al-Islam after the conquest of Makkah. Everything else in the above two verses are very simple to understand about the recipients of zakah. I don't think I need to explain.

ZAKAH FOR FARM PRODUCE MUST BE GIVEN ON THE DAY OF THE HARVEST.

"He it is Who produces gardens trellised and untrellised, and the date-palm, and crops of divers flavor, and the olive and the pomegranate, like and unlike. Eat you of the fruit thereof when it fruits, and pay the due thereof upon the harvest day, and be not prodigal. Lo! Allah loves not the prodigals." (6:141)

WHILE SPENDING ZAKAH, OUR INTENTIONS (NIYYAH) ARE VERY IMPORTANT.

Apparently, niyyah is more important than the exact amount one spends. Also,
Charity must be given humbly, and not with pride and arrogance.

"Those who spend their wealth for the cause of Allah and afterward make not reproach and injury to follow that which they have spent; their reward is with their Lord, and there shall no fear come upon them, neither shall they grieve." (2:262)

"O you who believe! Render not vain your alms giving by reproach and injury, like him who spends his wealth only to be seen of men and believes not in Allah and the Last Day." (2:264)


IF A PERSON CANNOT AFFORD TO PAY CHARITY, THEN THEY OUGHT TO EXCUSE THEMSELVES POLITELY. THAT'S BETTER THAN GIVING CHARITY WITH DISRESPECT.

"A kind word with forgiveness is better than almsgiving followed by injury. Allah is Absolute, Clement." (2:263)

By reading the above verses, it is evident that what's much more important than the amount we pay as charity is our intention, feelings and behavour. A person may spend millions on charity. But if he or she spends it only as a ritual or to brag about their wealth or status, their so-called generosity will carry no weight in the Sight of Allah. On the other hand, if a financially straightened person spends a small amount which he can afford but with true devotion for Allah may find much greater acceptance by Him.

ALLAH PREFERS IF CHARITY IS GIVEN SECRETLY.

"If you publish your almsgiving, it is well, but if you hide it and give it to the poor, it will be better for you, and will atone for some of your ill deeds. Allah is Informed of what you do." (2:271)

ALLAH ALSO SAYS THAT CHARITY MUST BE GIVEN IN TIMES OF EASE AS WELL AS HARDSHIP.

"Those who spend (of that which Allah has given them) in ease and in adversity, those who control their wrath and are forgiving toward mankind; Allah loves the good;" (3:134)

HOW MUCH TO SPEND IN ZAKAH?

"And they ask you what they ought to spend. Say: That which is superfluous. Thus Allah makes plain to you (His) revelations, that haply {by chance} you may reflect " (2:219)

"superfluous" means 'additional' or 'excess' or it can even be interpreted as 'additional savings.' Hence, we are to give as charity or zakah whatever money, clothes, food etc. is left over after we have fulfilled our own requirements and the requirements of our close ones. It's a matter of common sense and common knowledge that every household does not have the same financial resources, and therefore the superfluous savings of cash and kind in every home is not the same. For this reason Allah has kept the amount for zakah open so that everyone can give according to their means. Allah is considerate and kind and He never makes His rules hard for humankind to follow. The above verse 2:219 is very comprehensive that carries a very important information making it ample clear that Allah Almighty does not intend to fix the amount for zakah. After all, zakah is a spiritual tax and not a municipal or federal tax.

IT IS ALSO IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT WHATEVER "SUPERFLUOUS" ITEMS WE GIVE AS CHARITY APART FROM MONEY MUST NOT BE OF BAD QUALITY. IT MUST BE PRESENTABLE AND PLEASING, OF THE STANDARD WHICH WE WOULD OURSELVES ACCEPT READILY, IF WE RECEIVED IT AS CHARITY FROM SOMEONE.

"O you who believe! Spend of the good things which you have earned, and of that which we bring forth from the earth for you, and seek not the bad (with intent) to spend thereof (in charity) when you would not take it for yourselves save with disdain; and know that Allah is Absolute, Owner of Praise." (2:267)

Therefore, the Noble Quran has answered every important and significant issue relating to charity or zakah. If anyone still thinks it's not enough, the problem is with those unthinking minds. Allah's Message is complete and perfect and Allah never forgets anything. That is for sure.

(Part II)

The next issue on zakah worth discussing is the lopsided sense of priority of our Hadith adherents. They must refrain from asking why the amount of zakah isn't stated in the Quran. Rather, they need to be told that since the Quran does not state the amount of zakah, no other source is entitled to fix it. That would categorically amount to altering the Quranic law and interfering with its ideology.

INTERFERENCE BY MAN-MADE LAWS BY FIXING THE RATE OF ZAKAH HAS MADE THE SYSTEM UNBALANCED. HOW? LET'S BRIEFLY LOOK INTO IT.

Human interference always makes matters imperfect. Same has happened here in the case of zakah as fixed by our imams. The rate of 2.5% to be paid as zakah as decided by the writings of our ulemas and imams is very inconsiderate and imperfect. This rule of 2.5% can make matters hard for an average man of low income and it could benefit a rich man who may afford to pay much more than 2.5%. Fixing a standard amount for the rich and commoner alike is a big flaw.

For instance: A rich Saudi prince who may have an asset of $18 billion pays 2.5% from his total assets or the income he yields from this asset. On the other hand, a common Muslim man living on social assistance getting $800 a month also pays the 2.5%as his share of zakah. I realize that there's a big difference between the yield of 2 .5% of 18 billion compared to 2.5% of 800. But proportion-wise it is the same. Therefore, either the prince is paying too little or the common man is paying too much. The imams who fixed this amount universally, apparently didn't realize that the tax range must steadily rise in accordance to the income / assets of every individual. However, for zakah, even such a planning would not be right. Numerical amounts can only be fixed for municipal or government taxes. Zakah, as I already mentioned, is not a municipal nor a governmental tax. It's a spiritual tax where Allah Almighty takes into consideration a person's intent in accordance with his or her financial means, not merely a flat rate paid by everyone as a ritual by completely disregarding the individual resources of every person.

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