Friday, May 22, 2009

The Five Pillars Of Islam: Part III - Charity (Zakah)

The third pillar: zakah (poor due, charity tax)

Just as Allah has created people with different colours, 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 patient. Because the believers are a brotherhood, and brotherhood is based on compassion, kindness, love and mercy, Allah has enjoined upon the Muslims zakah (charity) which is taken from the rich and given to the poor. Allah says:

“Take Sadaqah (alms) from their wealth in order to purify them and sanctify them with it, and invoke Allah for them. Verily, your invocations are a source of security for them” [al-Tawbah 9:103]

Zakah (charity) purifies and cleanses wealth, and purifies the soul from stinginess and miserliness. It strengthens the love between the rich and poor, takes away hatred, makes security prevail and brings happiness to the ummah (Muslim nation).

Allah has made the payment of zakah (charity) obligatory upon everyone who owns the nisaa (minimum amount) for one year.

  • The rate of zakah on gold, silver, other metals and trade goods is one quarter of ten percent (i.e. 2.5%).
  • On agricultural produce and fruits the amount is one-tenth if it is irrigated (by artificial means), and one-half of one-tenth if it is not irrigated (by artificial means, i.e., it is watered by rainfall or other natural means).
  • Concerning animals (i.e., sheep, goats, cattle and camels) the details are explained in the books of fiqh…

Whoever pays zakah (charity), Allah expiates his sins thereby, and blesses his wealth, and stores up for him a great reward. Allah says:

“And perform As-Salah (Iqaamat-as-Salah), and give Zakah (charity), and whatever of good (deeds that Allah loves) you send forth for yourselves before you, you shall find it with Allah. Certainly, Allah is All-Seer of what you do”[al-Baqarah 2:110]

Withholding zakah (charity) brings disasters and evils upon the ummah. Allah has threatened those who withhold it with a painful torment on the Day of Resurrection. He says:

“...And those who hoard up gold and silver (Al‑Kanz: the money, the Zakah of which has not been paid) and spend them not in the way of Allah, announce unto them a painful torment.

On the Day when that (Al‑Kanz: money, gold and silver, the Zakah of which has not been paid) will be heated in the fire of Hell and with it will be branded their foreheads, their flanks, and their backs, (and it will be said unto them:) ‘This is the treasure which you hoarded for yourselves. Now taste of what you used to hoard’” [al-Tawbah 9:34-35]

Concealing one’s zakah (charity) is better than paying it openly in front of people, as Allah says:

“If you disclose your Sadaqat (almsgiving), it is well; but if you conceal them and give them to the poor, that is better for you. (Allah) will expiate you some of your sins. And Allah is Well-Acquainted with what you do [al-Baqarah 2:271]

When a Muslim pays his zakah (charity), it is not permissible for him to give it to anyone except those whom Allah mentions in the ayah (verse):

“As-Sadaqaat (here it means Zakah) are only for the Fuqara’ (poor), and Al‑Masakeen (the poor) and those employed to collect (the funds); and to attract the hearts of those who have been inclined (towards Islam); and to free the captives; and for those in debt; and for Allah’s Cause and for the wayfarer (a traveler who is cut off from everything); a duty imposed by Allah. And Allah is All-Knower, All-Wise” [al-Tawbah 9:60]

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