ISLAM

Zakaat
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THE ZAKAT - (Obligatory Charity)

The Quran defines the concept of the Zakat (Obligatory Charity) and outlines all the guidelines related to its payment. This page presents all related aspects of this religious duty.

1- When was the Zakat first decreed and to whom?

According to the Quran, the Zakat was decreed from as far back as the time of Abraham:

"We made them (Abraham and his sons) imams who guided in accordance with our commandments, and we taught them how to work righteousness, and how to observe the Contact Prayers (Salat) and the obligatory charity (Zakat). To us, they were devoted worshipers." 21:73

2- What is the Quranic definition of the Zakat?

The Zakat is an obligatory payment on all believers who have an income. This payment is to be paid to in accordance to God's instructions (see section 9).

"They also ask you what to give to charity: say, "AL-AFW" God thus clarifies the revelations for you, that you may reflect" 2:219

The Key word in this verse is the word "AL-AFW". To be able to determine what is exactly meant by this word we should look at other Quranic verses that employ the same word. The following are some Quranic verses that are of special significance to our inquiry:

"Additionally, they worshiped the calf, after all the miracles they had seen. 'FA AFAWNA AAN ZALIKA' (We pardoned all this)." 4:153

"Who give to charity during the good times, as well as the bad times. They are suppressors of anger, and 'AL-AAFEEN AAN AL-NAAS' (pardoners of the people). God loves the charitable." 3:134

"O you who believe, do not ask about matters which, if revealed to you prematurely, would hurt you. If you ask about them in light of the Quran, they will become obvious to you. God has 'AAFA ANHA' (deliberately overlooked them).God is Forgiver, Clement." 5:101

" ........... 'AAFA ALLAH AMMA SALAF' (God has pardoned past offenses). But if anyone returns to such an offense, God will avenge it. God is Almighty, Avenger." 5:95

According to the above verse, we can see that the word 'AAFA' (and its derivatives) has been used to that which has been pardoned or overlooked.

If we apply this to the word 'AL-AFW' which is used in 2:219 and which is related to the payment of Zakat, we can see that God is telling us that we should pay Zakat (charity) from that part of our income which we can afford to give away without the need to ask for it back, or in other words what we can afford to overlook and pardon without incurring any hardship. 

It is significant that God did not define or quantize the exact portion of our incomes which we are able to give to charity and be able to overlook it (not ask for it back). God knows that this will be different for each individual and directly dependant on each's income and circumstances. It is also dependant on each person's desire to do righteousness. Consequently, God left it to each indivual to assess his/her own needs and obligations, and then decide what portion (or all) of one's excess income that can be given away and overlooked without incurring any hardship. 

3- Does the Quran authorise a fixed rate of Zakat?

The straightforward answer is NO. Nowehere in the Quran is there any hint of a fixed rate. The 2.5% rate is not found in the Quran. We have seen that the Quran defines the Zakat payment from 'Al-AFW', which is what a person is able to give away without incurring any great hardship. Obviously this amount will differ from person to another depending on each's income. 

As a matter of fact, in 17:26-29 we are given concrete confirmation that God did NOT set a fixed percentage for Zakat:

17:26-29

26. You shall give the due alms to the relatives, the needy, the poor, and the travelling alien, but do not be excessive, extravagant.

27. The extravagant are brethren of the devils, and the devil is unappreciative of his Lord.

28. Even if you have to turn away from them, as you pursue the mercy of your Lord, you shall treat them in the nicest manner.

29. You shall not keep your hand stingily tied to your neck, nor shall you foolishly open it up, lest you end up blamed and sorry.

From the words 'due alms' in verse 26 we realise that the subject here is the Zakat. With this in mind, the words in verse 29 become very significant:

"You shall not keep your hand stingily tied to your neck, nor shall you foolishly open it up, lest you end up blamed and sorry."

We must meditate on these words a while and pose the question: If God had actually set a fixed percentage (e.g. 2.5%) for the payment of the Zakat (due alms), would He command us not to be stingy nor too extravagant? The words do not be stingy nor too extravagant indicate that the percentage is NOT fixed, but is flexible and that it has been left to each individual's means. 

4- If the 2.5% rate is not authorised in the Quran, why do some 'Quran Alone' believers follow it?

Many believers who claim to follow the Quran alone have advocated the rate of 2.5% to be the lawful rate for the Zakat, they argue that this rate although not given in the Quran yet has been given to Abraham and has been preserved and passed down to us over the genertions. 

However, and whether this rate has been decreed for Abraham or not, it is NOT found in the Quran and thus upholding it would violate the Quranic command not to follow anything from outside the Quran. Moreover, the claim that this rate (along with other religious practices) were preserved and passed down to us intact is in contradiction to available evidence. Evidence confirms that almost all what we inherited from our parents has been subject to great manipulation and is based on fabricated hadith which contradicts Quranic teaching. It is thus naive and inaccurate to claim that any particular practice has passed unscathed and without being corrupted!

But this is not all, we are told in the Quran clearly that different rituals and rules were given to different people (5:48). We are also commanded very clearly in the same verse to follow what is given to us (and not what was given to those before us). The same verse (5:48) emphasises the fact that we are to follow what is revealed to us (Quran) and not what is revealed to those before us. What all this amounts to is that we are not accountable to what was given to Abraham and others before us nor are we commanded to follow it. We are only to follow what is revealed specifically to us (5:48). If we add to this the fact that what was given to Abraham is not necessarily what is given to us (5:48), then it becomes necessary to discard all inherited rituals that are not cleary authorised in the Quran.

Another argument put forward by some believers to indicate that all Islamic rituals have been preserved from the time of Abraham till the time of Muhammad and subsequently till we received it today, is by referring to 16:123 where God commands Muhammad to follow the 'MILLAT' of Abraham. They interpret the word 'MILLAT' to mean religion with all its practices and rituals. They add that the religion of Abraham must have been known and practised at the time, since God would not ask Muhammad to follow something unless it is known and practised.

The obvious error here is in the interpretation of the word 'MILLAT' ...... it is thus crucial to this analysis that we arrive at the exact Quranic definition of the word 'MILLAT'.

5- What is the Quranic definition of 'Milat Ibrahim'?

What exactly is Millat Ibraheem which we read about in 16:123 and other verses? 

To get a full Quranic view of the phrase 'Millat Ibraheem' please go to the following page:

MILLAT IBRAHEEM

6- Where does the 2.5% rate really come from?

Any claims that the rate of 2.5% for the Zakat has been decreed to Abraham and has been preserved till our day cannot in any way be substantiated through the use of Quranic evidence. 

If the reader would like to know where this rate is documented, the reader is advised to open the books of Bukhari and Muslim .. The 24434 format for Salat, the 2.5% percentage for Zakat, the stoning ceremony during Hajj and the 21 pebbles, the seven laps around the kaba'h, the seven walks between Safa and Marwa, and other regulations that have no basis whatsoever in the Quran, all are authorised in Bukhari and Muslim. In these volumes of hadith we find the earliest documentation of such un-Quranic rules.

The genuine reader who wishes to obey God's command in 6:114 and take the Quran as his/her ONLY source of law, must stop and ponder on this matter. 

7- The importance of Zakat

Zakat charity is given great importantance in the Quran, the Most Merciful has associated His Mercy to those who give it. 

" ........... My mercy encompasses all things. I will decree it for those who lead a righteous life, give the obligatory charity (Zakat), and believe in our revelations ....."7:156

8- When should the Zakat be paid? 

Zakat must be given away "on the day of harvest" (6:141). 

"Eat from their fruits, and give the due alms on the day of harvest" 6:141

This Quranic verse makes it necessary that we should pay the Zakat whenever we receive income. The Muslims who follow corrupt un-Quranic laws have lost this most important commandment; they calculate and give Zakat only once a year (on the total annual income). 

In this Quranic command to pay Zakat whenever there is an income (harvest) lies a very benificial economic wisdom. One of the factors that contribute to economic prosperity of any community is the circulation of money. Higher circulation of money is much more productive than slower circulation. If Zakat is paid whenever income is generated the economy will benifit much more than if Zakat is paid only once a year on the years total earnings.

9- Who should the Zakat be paid to?

The Quran outlines the recipients of the Zakat as follows:

"They ask you about giving: say, "The charity you give shall go to the parents, the relatives, the orphans, the poor, and the traveling alien." Any good you do, God is fully aware thereof." 2:215

Some scholars have indicated that the Zakat should only be paid to Muslim recipients, however this restriction has no Quranic reference. The recipients of the Zakat (outlined in 2:215) could be of any faith or creed. 

10- How many Zakat's are there?

Once again, some scholars who have totally shaped a new corrupt Islam which is not based on the Quran, have invented all kinds of Zakat like Zakat Eid Al-Fitr (the Zakat at the Eid at the end of Ramadan). They have instituted different Zakat's to be paid at all different feasts and celebrations ..... Needless to say, all these additional Zakat have no authorisation in the Quran. The only timing given in the Quran when the Zakat is due is when income is earned. The Quranic Zakat authorised by God is not connected to any specific days in the calendar nor to any feasts or special occasions.

11- What is the difference between Zakat and Sadaqah?

The traditional Muslims who claim that Zakat must be paid at a minimum of 2.5% of one's income have suggested that Zakat is the 2.5% and that any voluntary charity above that is called Sadaqah ..... Consequently, they say that the Zakat is obligatory while the Sadaqah is voluntary.

However, when we study the Quran, we find that the words Zakat and Sadaqah speak of the same thing. Let us read the following words:

"The 'Sadaqaat' shall go to the poor, the needy, the workers who collect them, the new converts, to free the slaves, to those burdened by sudden expenses, in the cause of God, and to the traveling alien. This is a 'Farida' (commandment) from God. God is Omniscient, Most Wise." 9:60

We note here that God defined the 'Sadaqaat' as a 'Farida (commandment). This means that it is NOT a voluntary payment, but an obligatory payment. Consequently, it can only be the Zakat (which is obligatory).

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