The Significance of Zakah – Islamic Economics & Finance Pedia (2023)



The Significance of Zakah

The word zakah is derived from its Arabic verbal root, meaning to increase, to purify, and to bless. The origin of the Islamic rule is in the Qur’an where Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’aala) commands:

خُذْ مِنْ أَمْوَالِهِمْ صَدَقَةً تُطَهِّرُهُمْ وَتُزَكِّيهِم بِهَا

“Take sadaqah (sadaqah) from their property in order to purify and sanctify (zakihim) them” [TMQ At-Taubah: 103]

That is why this kind of sadaqah is called zakah, for by paying it; one is aspiring to attain blessing, purification and the cultivation of good deeds.

Zakah is defined in the Shariah as a determined right due from certain types of wealth. It is one of the worships (‘Ibadat) and a basic element (Rukn) of Islam, like prayer, fasting and Hajj. It is only obliged upon Muslims, and is not taken from the non-Muslims.

An obligation set by Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’aala).
As mentioned, Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’aala) has made giving zakah one of the pillars of Islam, placing it next to Salah. The obligation of zakah is established from many evidences in the Quran and the Sunnah.

Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’aala) also mentions that those who give the zakah, will be greatly rewarded by Him (Subhanahu wa ta’aala).

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ وَعَمِلُواْ الصَّالِحَاتِ وَأَقَامُواْ الصَّلاَةَ وَآتَوُاْ الزَّكَاةَ لَهُمْ أَجْرُهُمْ عِندَ رَبِّهِمْ

“Truly, those who believe, and do deeds of righteousness, and perform As-Salat, and give zakah, they will have their reward with their Lord” [TMQ Al-Baqarah: 277].

However the neglect of giving the zakah, and hoarding the wealth from the people, has been condemned in many hadith. For example Al-Ahnaf bin Qais narrated that Abu Dhar (ra) reported that RasoolAllah (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) said,

فقال بشر‏ ‏الكانزين‏ ‏برضف‏ ‏يحمى‏ ‏عليه في نار
جهنم فيوضع على حلمة ثدي أحدهم حتى يخرج
من ‏نغض ‏كتفيه ويوضع على‏ ‏نغض‏ ‏كتفيه حتى
يخرج من حلمة ثدييه يتزلزل

“Inform those who hoard wealth, that a stone will be heated in the hell-fire and will be put on the nipples of their breasts till it comes out from the bones of their shoulders and then put on the bones of their shoulders till it comes through the nipples of their breasts the stone will be moving and hitting.” [Sahih Bukhari Volume 2, Book 24, Number 489]

These ayah and honourable hadith indicate the importance of paying zakah, it is something which must not be taken lightly is but something which we must be aware of and give great importance to. This is especially important as we live in a capitalist society where making money, hoarding it and spending it on oneself is encouraged. The duty of paying zakah reminds us that the wealth we have is a trust, and a responsibility for which we will all be accounted and tested.

The intention (An-Niyah)

Intention is a condition for zakah, this means that the person must propose in his heart the intention to pay zakah. This is what differentiates this spiritual action from any material action. Without the intention for paying zakah as a duty to Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’aala) the action will have no value in Islam. Without the niyah payment of zakah has no reward. This is because the Prophet (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) said,

إنما الأعمال بالنية

“Indeed, the a’maal (actions) are by the niyah (intention)…” (Agreed)

If the believer has this in his mind while paying the zakah he would distance himself from the arrogance and pride that may come when giving it.

As with all Ibadaat actions zakah needs to be done with pure devotion, not affected with any personal considerations or desires. This is, for example, like the throwing of the pebbles at the three Jamrahs during Hajj. No benefit is derived from the Jamrah or from the throwing of pebbles. In this case the main purpose of the Hukm (rule) is the trial of man through the action. This is in order that he may show his servitude and bondage to Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’aala) by doing these actions which have no rational meanings or benefits. Therefore real servitude to Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’aala) is revealed through the complete obedience to His (Subhanahu wa ta’aala) commandments and not through obedience for some other reason.

Thus, when one is giving the zakah he should be doing it for no other reason than this. He should not be seeking worldly benefit for paying the zakah. He should not have the mentality that he expects something in return from the zakah he has paid.

The Prophet (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) ordered that man proves his bondage to Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’aala) through blind obedience to His (Subhanahu wa ta’aala) commandments regardless of whether or not they are agreeable to him and irrespective of his desire and inclination to obey them.

An Obligation upon whom? And How much to pay?

Zakah is obliged upon the Muslim man, woman, child and insane person due to the general form of the hadith that oblige zakah without restriction. It is paid whether the Khilafah State exists or not. Amru bin Shu’aib narrated “The Prophet (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) preached to the people and said:

اتجروا في أموال اليتامى، لا تأكلها الزكاة

‘Verily, whoever has charge over an orphan with wealth then let him invest it. He should not leave it to be eaten by sadaqah’.”

This proves that zakah is due on the orphan’s money and hence should be invested so that paying zakah on it does not erode the original amount.

The Nisab is equal to twenty gold miskals, which translates to eighty-five grams of gold. At the time of writing 18 October 2004 the approximate price of gold is £7.44 per gram. This would mean that the nisab value at this point in time for gold would be £632.40 (85 x £7.44).

Therefore is someone possessed the nisab amount for a whole Hijri year, and did not go below it, then %2.5 needs to be paid as zakah.

If an individual possesses more than the nisab value then zakah is payable on the whole amount including the nisab amount. The total amount should be in excess of any debts the individual has for duration of one Hijra year. So if an individual has £10,000 and debts of £4,000, then the zakah is payable on £6,000. On the other hand if the debts amount to £9,500 then no zakah is payable as the remaining money of £500 is below the nisab value.

The amount of zakah payable is a quarter tithe 2.5 per cent. Ali bin Abi Talib (ra) was reported to have said: “One-half dinar in every twenty dinars, and one dinar (is due) in every forty dinars.”

Therefore if someone had £10,000 after debts the zakah would amount to £250 (10000 x 0.025).

Zakah is not only payable on gold, silver and currency but also on:
• Livestock such as camels, cows and sheep,
• Crops and fruits
• Trading goods and merchandise – For example, fast food restaurants, clothes shops, car dealerships, grocery stores, which many from our community own.
• Also revenue earned from property which is owned, like the rent from second homes or any land they may own.

Who receives the zakah?

Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’aala) has restricted the recipients of zakah to eight categories. This is something which the mind cannot rationalise, and we cannot use our desires to determine who gets the zakah we pay. As our intention is to worship Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’aala), we do so as He (Subhanahu wa ta’aala) has ordered us to. Zakah therefore cannot be paid to any other group other than the eight mentioned in the Quran.

إِنَّمَا الصَّدَقَاتُ لِلْفُقَرَاء وَالْمَسَاكِينِ وَالْعَامِلِينَ
عَلَيْهَا وَالْمُؤَلَّفَةِ قُلُوبُهُمْ وَفِي الرِّقَابِ وَالْغَارِمِينَ
وَفِي سَبِيلِ اللّهِ وَابْنِ السَّبِيلِ

“Verily the Sadaqat are (only) for the poor, needy, those employed on it, those whose hearts are to be reconciled, slaves, debtors, those in the way of Allah and the wayfarers” [TMQ At-Taubah: 60].

1) The Poor (Al-Fuqaraa): These are those who don’t receive enough money to suffice them to fulfil their basic needs, which are food, clothing and shelter. Whoever receives less than what he needs to fulfil his basic needs is considered poor, so sadaqah is halal for him. He may take from it and he can be given enough sadaqah to the amount that removes his need and poverty.

2) The Paupers (Al-Masakeen): A person who does not own any thing or whose hands are tied down and can not provide for himself or his family. They are those who are lesser than the poor. The Messenger of Allah (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) said;

ليس المسكين بهذا الطواف الذي يطوف على
الناس فترده اللقمة واللقمتان والتمرة والتمرتان
قالوا فما المسكين يا رسول الله قال الذي لا يجد
غنى يغنيه ولا يفطن له فيتصدق عليه ولا يسأل
الناس شيئا

“The pauper is not the one who goes about the people, content with a morsel or two or a date or two. The pauper is not the one who doesn’t find any wealth to suffice him nor do people notice him so that they give him sadaqah. Nor does he stand to beg people.”

In the UK, these two categories would include those Muslims who come to the UK, seeking asylum and they have no means whatsoever.

3) Those employed over collecting it (Al-Amileen ‘alayha): Those people that are the sadaqah collectors or distributors. The Khaleefah alone appoints them. Ata’a b. Yassar said the Messenger of Allah (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) said:

لا تحل الصدقة لغني إلا لخمسة لعامل عليها ولرجل
اشتراها بماله أو غارم أو غاز في سبيل الله أو مسكين
تصدق عليه منها فأهدى منها لغني

“Sadaqah is not allowed for the rich except for five: The one employed to collect it, a man who buys it with his wealth, a man who was given a sadaqah and he donated it to his neighbour, the fighter or the debtor.”

4) Those whose hearts are to be reconciled (Al-muallafatu qulubuhum): These are certain types of leaders, chiefs, influential people or heroes whose beliefs are not yet settled, where the Khilafah or his governors see it fit to give them from the zakah as reconciliation for their hearts, settling their beliefs, utilising them for the benefit of Islam and Muslims or to influence their communities.

5) Slaves (Ar-riqah): There are no slaves today.

6) Debtors (Al-Gharimeen): Payments of these debts may include money paid to resolve disputes between people or blood monies. The debt should however be of halal nature. This precludes debts such as mortgages or anything which is linked to interest. If the debt is affordable, and has no problem paying it back, then in this case, zakah, is not given to them.

However those people who are owed the debt, they will need to pay the zakah on the wealth, when it is returned to them, including the years they missed paying zakah on it. So for example if they were owed £10,000 and they received it after five Hijri years, they would owe zakah on the amount for the five years they did not have it.

7) In the way of Allah (Fi Sabeelillah): This means spending to facilitate and enhance jihad. Whenever ‘Fi Sabeelillah’ is mentioned in the Quran, it means nothing other than jihad.

8) The Wayfarer (Ibn us-Sabeel): The traveller whose journey has been disrupted by the lack of money, which does not enable him to reach his destination.

If as Muslims we understand the Hikmah (wisdom) behind the payment of zakah, we will see it is completely opposite to the prevalent views of the capitalist societies. However the payment of zakah will help ensure that our identity as Muslims remains secure as we will earn our wealth by the means that the Shariah has allowed and not by any means available. It will ensure that the zakah is paid without any dubious intentions but purely for the sake of Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’aala) seeking nothing in return and curtailing inclinations of greed and stinginess.

Source: Khilafah Magazine


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