Seeking purity through Zakah (charitable giving)
By: Maryam Hedayat
Allah has created human beings with different colors, attitudes and levels of knowledge, so too their deeds and provision vary. He has made some of them rich and some poor, to test the rich as to whether they show gratitude, and to test the poor as to whether they are enduring.
Since the believers are a brotherhood, and brotherhood is based on compassion, kindness, love and mercy, Allah has enjoined upon the Muslims the institution of Zakah which is taken from the rich and given to the poor.
Zakah is one of the five basic pillars of Islam, which means to grow, to increase, and to spread. The literal meaning of the word Zakah is “purity”.
It is an obligation (Fard), prescribed by Allah on those Muslim men and women who possess enough means, to distribute a certain percentage of their annual savings or capital in goods or money among the poor and the needy. Zakah is assessed once a year on both capital and savings from income.
One of the most significant principles of Islam is that all the wealth and riches belong to Allah. It is entrusted to us by Him. And Zakah is a spiritual purifying process, which attempts to suppress man’s unwanted desires and notions, thereby pursuing to improve and enhance the human personality.
In fact, Zakah purifies and cleanses wealth, and filter the soul from stinginess and miserliness. It strengthens the love between the rich and the poor, takes away hatred, creates security prevail and conveys happiness among the people.
Since wealth is referred to as Allah’s bounty (fadl).And Zakah is a unique distributive mechanism which seeks to ensure that wealth and property are not assumed and controlled only by a few individuals. And that everyone can equally enjoy the provisions and bounties of Allah. Thus the object of this meager due is to prove our faith in Allah by sacrificing our affluence in obedience to His commands.
Obviously Zakah is not a charity but a compulsory payment by the rich to the poor and the needy. It is the shared claim, as a matter of right and not as charity on the wealth of the rich. It is first and foremost a duty enjoined by Allah and hence a form of worship.
In Qur’an the payment of Zakah is frequently mentioned in the same sentence or verse as the institution of Salah (prayers).
“Those who believe and do good deeds and establish Salah and pay Zakah, their reward is with their Sustainers; and fear shall not come upon them, nor shall they grieve”. (Al-Baqara; 277)
While Salah is an act of worship through words and bodily action, Zakah is a devotional act through one’s wealth. Without the spirit of submission to Allah and love of Him, both acts are without divine and moral significance.
Zakah, when honestly practiced, results in freeing the society from class distinctions, rivalries, suspicion and corruption. It produces a community of people who love and respect each other, and who have sympathy and concern for each other’s welfare.
Allah has made the payment of Zakah obligatory upon everyone who owns the nisaab (minimum amount) for one year. The rate of Zakah on gold, silver, other metals and trade goods is one quarter of ten percent.
It is an obligation to pay Zakah on 2.5 per cent of the wealth we have made after a full lunar year. Farmers who own their own land and harvest their own crops are required to pay 5 or 10 per cent of their harvest’s worth, depending on the type of irrigation.
Perhaps no one can ensure control over gain or loss except Allah. It is therefore obligatory to spend the bounties he has received from Allah in a manner that Allah has commanded, failing which the punishment will be severe.
Allah (swt) says in the Quraan;
“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 on the Day of Judgment, heat will be produced out of that wealth in the fire of Hell. Then with it they will be branded on their forehead and their flanks and backs. (It will be said to them) This is the treasure which you hoarded for yourselves, taste then the treasure that you have been hoarding.” (Surah AL Taubah-34-35)
Thus, a Muslim, whether prosperous or needy, considers his condition in this world as a test from Allah. Those who have wealth have the obligation to be generous and charitable and to share the abundances of Allah with their brothers, while those who are poor have the obligation to be patient, to work, to improve their situation, and to be free of envy.
It is not a man’s wealth or position but his consciousness of Allah, the quality of his character, and the manner in which he uses whatever is given to him by, which determines his ultimate destiny in the Hereafter. The economic objective of Islam is just and humane.
Posted on July 25, 2014, in ARTICLES and tagged Allah, article, attitudes, beings, charitable giving, different, Education, God, good, Human, increase, islam, knowledge, levels, mercy, muslim, muslims, personality, pillars of islam, poor, purity, read, seeking, soul, through, ummah, wisdom, zakah. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.