THE ZAKAT - (Obligatory Charity)
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?
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:
they worshiped the calf, after all the miracles they had seen. 'FA AFAWNA AAN ZALIKA' (We pardoned all this)." 4:153
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."
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.
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:
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:
shall not keep your hand stingily tied to your neck, nor shall you foolishly open it up, lest you end up blamed and sorry."
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
4- If the 2.5% rate is not authorised in the Quran, why do some 'Quran Alone' believers follow it?
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
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'.
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:
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
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
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?
be given away "on the day of harvest" (6:141).
"Eat from their fruits, and give the due alms on the day of harvest"
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.
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?
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).