Meaning of Zakah
Zakah is an Arabic word, and the verb from which it is derived literally means: (1) to flourish, to increase, to increase, (2) and to be pure. Zakah also refers to the most excellent and best part of something. In its terminological sense, the word Zakah is related to both its literal meanings. Zakah makes wealth pure and clean (it does not matter if it is earned in a forbidden way), and in terms of its blessings (not only spiritual but also economic and social), it also leads to an excess of wealth. Is.
In the term, Zakah is a financial act of worship in which the Shari’ah has determined the amount of wealth, the rate of Zakah, and its expenses; that is, it is obligatory to take out a portion of one’s wealth according to the prescribed rules. For Zakah, another word Sadaqah is used in the Holy Quran, whose plural form is Sadakat. Charity is the wealth that is given to someone as a reward and a good deed. Not as a gift or reward or forgiveness etc. It is called Sadaqah because, with it, it is as if a person proves his servitude and confession of servitude to his Lord (Allah Almighty). That is why our Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) expanded the meaning of charity rather than just “giving money.” In a long hadith, the Holy Prophet (ﷺ) said to do justice, to lend someone a hand, to help someone to carry things or to ride, to speak well, to walk towards prayer, to remove something painful from the path, to help someone in need. Enjoining goodness is called charity for everyone. He even said: If you can’t do anything else, refraining from doing evil to people is also charity.
Now the word charity is common in the term. This obligatory and non-obligatory (posthumous) charity is said on all. The word Zakah is used for definite and obligatory charity. You have also known that Zakah has not been replaced by any non-Arabic word, but in Persian, Urdu, Punjabi, Turkish, etc., the original word of the Holy Qur’an, Zakah, is used for this purpose.
Importance of Zakah
To understand the importance of Zakah in Islam, keep the following issues in front: Sixty places in the Holy Qur’an, the order to pay Zakah, and establishing prayer have been given together. The importance of prayer has already been discussed; apart from this, the order of Zakah has been mentioned in many places, from the words of Anfaq (spending wealth) and Sadaqah.
Like prayer, Zakah was also considered an essential part of religion by the first prophets. Hazrat Ishmael and Hazrat Isa ( عليهم السلام) are mentioned in the Holy Qur’an as being obliged to pay Zakah. A special attribute of the righteous people of the first ummah and those who attained a high position in the sight of Allah is to pay Zakah and to accept the right of the deserving in their wealth.
Our Prophet (ﷺ) established a certain system of Zakah-like prayer and declared it the duty of the government to run this system. Issue his orders in great detail. This was the reason why Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddiq (رضي الله عنه), after the Prophet (ﷺ), declared Zakah deniers to be rebels of Islam like apostates and waged Jihad against them.
Rulings of Zakah
The description of the details of Zakah, which are proven by Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ), is very long. Some important and fundamental issues are written briefly. He (ﷺ) indicated the assets on which Zakah will be obligatory:
- Agricultural production
- Minerals or any deposits
- Gold, silver, cash, and goods trade
- Livestock (camels, sheep, goats, and cows) are included.
For each of these things (except burials or mineral wealth), it fixed the minimum amount on which Zakah would be levied. This amount is termed “Nasab.” The things on which Zakah was obligatory, the Prophet (ﷺ) also fixed the rate of Zakah, which can be done in four types, i.e., 20%, 10%, 5%, and 2.5%. He (ﷺ) declared it forbidden to take Zakah from the Ahl al-Bayt.
These are the basic points from which Imams of different Islamic religions have derived various problems of Zakah. Follow what you think is right.
Purposes of Zakah
The system of Zakah is basically based on the principle that, in fact, the owner of everything is Allah Almighty; he has given the right of ownership to the servants to respect and trust him. The pleasure of ownership is also naturally placed in man, and this natural instinct has a big hand in the development of man on this planet.
If prayer is a form of direct contact with Allah Ta’ala, then Zakah makes direct contact with God’s (poor and deserving) servants mandatory. The Islamic government also collects Zakah on tangible assets (that which can be easily seen). It is obligatory to give Zakah of private property (the property that is known to the owner but others cannot know, for example, jewelry, etc.) to the deserving ones. Zakah is an act of worship whose main purpose is to benefit the creatures. This work cannot be done without direct contact with the employees. If Zakah and other alms are paid with the same principle and spirit, then there will be no beggars in society. Rather the purpose of the Zakah system is to prevent beggars. When every Zakah-giver would make an effort to establish contact with these servants of Allah, when the inquiring beneficiaries would be sought out by themselves, fraud and especially professional fraud would be discouraged. It is our misfortune that we have turned Zakah and sadaqat into the cause of the promotion of immorality. This happened because we considered it convenient to give Zakah to professional persons or institutions or associations or parties, and finding the deserving one seemed a difficult task or direct contact with the poor, self-respecting needy may be due to its justification and Considered against dignity.
Common people call Zakah a tax. Remember, Zakah is not a tax; it is worship. Government tax is considered a kind of penalty and is forced to be paid. In Zakah, there is a fear that it may not be accepted in the court of God. The main difference between Zakah and government taxes is that they are diametrically opposed to each other. Zakah is given from the rich to the poor, as mentioned in the hadith:
حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو عَاصِمٍ الضَّحَّاكُ بْنُ مَخْلَدٍ، عَنْ زَكَرِيَّاءَ بْنِ إِسْحَاقَ، عَنْ يَحْيَى بْنِ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ صَيْفِيٍّ، عَنْ أَبِي مَعْبَدٍ، عَنِ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ ـ رضى الله عنهما ـ أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم بَعَثَ مُعَاذًا ـ رضى الله عنه ـ إِلَى الْيَمَنِ فَقَالَ “ ادْعُهُمْ إِلَى شَهَادَةِ أَنْ لاَ إِلَهَ إِلاَّ اللَّهُ، وَأَنِّي رَسُولُ اللَّهِ، فَإِنْ هُمْ أَطَاعُوا لِذَلِكَ فَأَعْلِمْهُمْ أَنَّ اللَّهَ قَدِ افْتَرَضَ عَلَيْهِمْ خَمْسَ صَلَوَاتٍ فِي كُلِّ يَوْمٍ وَلَيْلَةٍ، فَإِنْ هُمْ أَطَاعُوا لِذَلِكَ فَأَعْلِمْهُمْ أَنَّ اللَّهَ افْتَرَضَ عَلَيْهِمْ صَدَقَةً فِي أَمْوَالِهِمْ، تُؤْخَذُ مِنْ أَغْنِيَائِهِمْ وَتُرَدُّ عَلَى فُقَرَائِهِمْ ”.
Narrated Ibn `Abbas: The Prophet (ﷺ) sent Mu`adh to Yemen and said, “Invite the people to testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and I am Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ), and if they obey you to do so, then teach them that Allah has enjoined on them five prayers in every day and night (in twenty-four hours), and if they obey you to do so, then teach them that Allah has made it obligatory for them to pay the Zakat from their property and it is to be taken from the wealthy among them and given to the poor.” (Al-Bukhari)
In contrast, taxes from governments around the world are generally taken from the poor and spent on the rich. Directly or indirectly, the burden of taxation falls on the poor, but directly or indirectly, most of it goes to government officials.
Zakah and riba (usury) are diametrically opposed to each other, but they are manifestations of two conflicting mindsets. Usury is the biggest scourge of modern times. That is why Islam has declared usury absolutely haram and Zakah obligatory. Interest creates the ability to fill one’s coffers with maximum wealth without labor and risk. On the contrary, Zakah is a system of making others share in hard-earned money by facing risks and difficulties. One finds joy only in taking; the other knows the joy of giving.
Nowadays, it has become the need of the hour to talk in terms of economy and economics. Circulation of Wealth is now considered vital for the economic system. Islam has managed this circulation through many of its rules. Zakah is one of them.
Instead of keeping wealth frozen, Zakah encourages investment; wealth that remains in surplus for a year is subject to Zakah, and if it is invested in the trade, etc., before the end of the year, not only Zakah will be given but also its profits. Thus Zakah not only causes our spiritual purification as it is a form of worship but also cures many diseases in our society and economy.
It should also be noted that Zakah is obligatory on the principle of taking the minimum of a person’s wealth. Apart from Zakah, posthumous charity is a prominent chapter of Islamic teachings. Above all, the Holy Qur’an has given the standard that you should spend more than you need on all the needy. And who will determine the excess? This is the place where the real effects of the belief in monotheism and the belief in the Hereafter are manifested. The Companions of the Holy Prophet (ﷺ) and the right caliphs, especially Hazrat Umar Farooq (رضي الله عنه) and Hazrat Ali (رضي الله عنه), set practical examples that even though they were rulers, the standard of living of their own food, clothing, housing, etc. was not higher than that. It was the least they could give to their subjects.