Charity in Islam
1. “The parable of those who spend their property in the way of AllÄh is as the parable of a grain growing seven ears with a hundred grains in every ear, and AllÄh multiplies for whom He pleases, and AllÄh is Ample-giving, Knowing” (2:261).
2. “O you who believe! Give in charity of the good things you earn and of what We have brought forth for you out of the earth, and do not aim at giving in charity what is bad” (2:267).
3. “If you give in charity openly it is well, and if you hide it and give it to the poor it is better for you. (2:271).
4. “Righteousness is this that one believes in AllÄh and the last day and the angels and the Book and the prophets, and gives away wealth out of love for Him to the near of kin and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and the beggars and for the emancipation of the captives, and keeps up prayer and pays the zakÄt” (2:177).
5. “(ZakÄt) charity is only for the poor and the needy, and the collectors appointed for its collection, and those whose hearts are made to incline to truth, and the ransoming of captives, and those in debt. and for the way of AllÄh, and (for) the wayfarer” (9:60).
The Arabic word for charity isÂ sadaqahÂ (fromÂ sidq, meaningÂ truth).Â ZakÄt, is originallyÂ zakawah, of the same measure asÂ sadaqah, and its primary significance isÂ increaseÂ orÂ purification. TechnicallyÂ zakÄtis a fixed portion of one’s wealth which it is obligatory to give away annually for the benefit of the poor; the giving away of wealth to the needy is thus regarded as bringing about its purification and increase. Charity is likened to the sowing of seed which brings immense reward (v. 1). Only that charity is acceptable to God which is given out of one’s lawful earnings (v. 2). It may be given either openly or in secret (v. 3). ZakÄt is obligatory charity in addition to voluntary charity, and it forms with the keeping up of prayer the basis of IslÄm (v. 4; h. 10). Those appointed to collect the zakÄt are included among the persons who are entitled to receive the zakÄt (v. 5); and thus it is definitely laid down that the zakÄt must be collected as public money. and distributed as such, under the directions of the head of the state or the head of a community.
1Â AbÅ« MÅ«sÄ reported,Â The Prophet,Â peace and blessings of AllÄh be on him, said:
“SadaqahÂ is incumbent on every Muslim.”
They (his companions) said, O Prophet of AllÄh! And (what about him) who has not got (anything to give)? He said:Â “He should work with his hand and profit himself and give in charity.”Â They said, If he has nothing (in spite of this). He said:Â “He should help the distressed one who is in need.”Â They said, If he is unable to do this. He said:Â “He should do good deeds and refrain from doing evil–this is charity on his part “Â (B. 24:31.)
2Â AbÅ« Hurairah reported,Â The Prophet,Â peace and blessings of AllÄh be on him, said:
“On every bone of the fingers charity is incumbent every day: One assists a man in riding his beast or in lifting his provisions to the back of the animal, this is charity; and a good word and every step which one takes in walking over to prayer is charity; and showing the way (to another) is charity.Â (B. 56:72.)
3Â AbÅ« Hurairah reported,Â The Prophet,Â peace and blessings of AllÄh be on him, said:
“Removal from the way of that which is harmful is charity.”Â (B. 46:24.)
4Â JÄbir said,Â The Messenger of AllÄh,Â peace and blessings of AllÄh be on him, said:
“Every good deed is charity, and it is a good deed that thou meet thy brother with a cheerful countenance and that thou pour water from thy bucket into the vessel of thy brother.”Â (Ah-Msh. 6:6.)
5Â AbÅ« Hurairah said,Â The Prophet,Â peace and blessings of AllÄh be on him, said:
“The man who exerts himself on behalf of the widow and the poor one is like the one who struggles in the way of AllÄh, or the one who keeps awake in the night (for prayers) and fasts during the day.”
6Â AbÅ« Hurairah said,Â The Messenger of AllÄh,Â peace and blessings of AllÄh be on him,
“A prostitute was forgiven–she passed by a dog, panting with its tongue out, on the top of a well containing water, almost dying with thirst; so she took off her boot and tied it to her head-covering and drew forth water for it; she was forgiven on account of this.”Â It was said: Is there a reward for us in (doing good to) animals? He said:Â “In every animal having a liver fresh with life there is a reward.”1
(B. & M-Msh. 6:6.)
7Â AbÅ« Hurairah said on the authority of the Prophet,Â peace and blessings of AllÄh be on him, (who said):
“There is a man who gives a charity and he conceals it so much so that his left hand does not know what his right hand spends.”Â (B. 24:11)
8Â Zubair reported,Â The Prophet,Â peace and blessings of AllÄh be on him, said:
“If one of you should take his rope and bring a bundle of fire-wood on his back and then sell it, with which AllÄh should save his honour, it is better for him than that he should beg of people whether give him or do not give him.” (B. 24:50.)
9Â FÄtimah bint Qais said,Â The Messenger of AllÄh,Â peace and blessings of AllÄh be on him, said:
“In (one’s) wealth there is a due besides the zakÄt;” then he recited:Â “It is not righteousness that you turn your faces towards the East and the West (2: 177.)”2Â (Tr-Msh. 6:6.)
10Â Ibn ‘AbbÄs reported,Â The Prophet,Â peace and blessings of AllÄh be on him, sent Mu’Ädh to Yaman and said:
“Invite them to bear witness that there is no god but AllÄh and that I am the Messenger of AllÄh; if they accept this, tell them that AllÄh has made obligatory on them five prayers in every day and night; if they accept this, tell them that AllÄh has made obligatory in their wealth a charity which is taken from the wealthy among them and given to the poor among them.”Â (B. 24:1)
11Â AbÅ« Sa’Ä«d said,Â The Prophet,Â peace and blessings of AllÄh be on him, said:
“There is no zakÄt in what is less than fiveÂ auqiyahÂ (of silver), nor is there any zakÄt in the case of less than five camels, nor is there any zakÄt in what is less than fiveÂ wasaq.”3Â (B. 24:4.)
12Â ‘Ali said,Â ‘The Messenger of AllÄh,Â peace and blessings of AllÄh be on him, said:
“I remit (zakÄt on) horses for riding and slaves for service; but pay the zakÄt on silver, one dirham out of every forty dirhams; and there is no zakÄt if there are 190 dirhams, but when it reaches two hundred, there are (to be paid) out of it five dirhams (of zakÄt).Â (Tr-Msh. 6:l.)
13Â Ibn ‘Umar said:Â The Messenger of AllÄhÂ peace and blessings of AllÄh be on him, said:
“Whoever acquires wealth, there is no zakÄt on it until a year has passed over it.”4Â (Tr-Msh. 6.)
14Â Umm Salamah said,Â I used to wear ornaments of gold. So I said, O Messenger of AllÄh! Is this hoarding? He said:Â “Whatever reaches the limit that thou shouldst pay zakÄt out of it, and the zakÄt is paid thereon it is not hoarding.”5Â (AD-Msh. 6:1.)
15Â Samurah reported,Â The Messenger of AllÄh,Â peace and blessings of AllÄh be on him, commanded us that we should pay zakÄt out of that which we provided for trade.6Â (AD-Msh 6:1.)
16Â ‘Amr ibn Shu’aib reported on the authority of his grandfather,Â The Prophet,Â peace and blessings of AllÄh be on him, addressed the people and said:
“Beware! Whoever is the guardian of an orphan who has property, should trade with it, and should not leave it (undeveloped), so that the zakÄt should consume it.”7Â (Tr-Msh. 6)
17Â AbÅ« Hurairah said,Â When the Messenger of AllÄh,Â peace and blessings of AllÄh be on him, died and AbÅ« Bakr became (his successor), and those of the Arabs who would disbelieve disbelieved, ‘Umar said, How dost thou fight people (who profess IslÄm), and the Messenger of AllÄh,Â peace and blessings of AllÄh be on him, said “I have been commanded to continue fighting against people until they say, There is no god but AllÄh8; whoever says this will have his property and his life safe unless there is a due against him and his reckoning is with AllÄh.” (AbÅ« Bakr) said, By AllÄh! I shall fight those who make a difference between prayer and zakÄt, for zakÄt is a tax on property; By AllÄh! if they withhold from me even a she-kid which they used to make over to the Messenger of AllÄh,Â peace and blessings of AllÄh be on him, shall fight against them for their withholding it. ‘Umar said, By AllÄh! AllÄh opened the heart of AbÅ« Bakr (to receive the truth), so I knew that it was true.9Â (B. 24:1.)
18Â Abn Humaid said,Â The Messenger of AllÄh,Â peace and blessings of AllÄh be on him, pointed a man from among the Asad to collect the zakÄt of BanÅ« Sulaim–he was called Ibn al-Lutbiyyah–so when he came to him, he called him to account for it.10Â (B. 24:67.)
19Â Sahl reported,Â The Messenger of AllÄh,Â peace and blessings of AllÄh be on him, said “When you have formed an opinion, then take (the zakÄt) and leave one-third; if you do not leave one-third, leave one fourth.”11Â (Tr-Msh. 6:l.)
20Â ‘Abd AllÄh reported,Â The Prophet,Â peace and blessings of AllÄh be on him, said:
“In (the produce of) lands watered by rain and springs or in what is watered by water running on the surface of the ground is one-tenth, and (in) what is watered by wells one-twentieth.”12Â (B. 24:55.)
21Â AbÅ« Hurairah reported,Â The Prophet,Â peace and blessings of AllÄh be on him, said:
“…………In treasure-trove (or minerals) one-fifth (shall be taken by the state).”13Â (B. 24:66.)
22Â Ibn ‘AbbÄs saidÂ Amber is not treasure-trove; it is a thing which the sea casts forth.Â And Hasan said, In amber and pearls one-fifth (shall be taken by the state).14Â (B. 24:65 )
HadÄ«th gives equal conspicuousness to this subject. Charity is here given the broadest possible significance. including the doing of any good to a fellowman or to an animal, refraining from doing evil, meeting one’s brother with a cheerful countenance and so on (hh. 1-6). The giving of charity in secret is praised (h. 7). Asking for other people’s charity is disapproved, earning one’s livelihood by hard labour being far more preferable (h. 8).
ZakÄt is a tax distinct from voluntary charity and the most important obligation next to prayer (H. ii:5, 6; hh. 9, 10). The minimum limit on which zakÄt is payable is in silver about Rs. 50 (h. 11). ZakÄt is payable at the rate of 2Â½ p.c. on all savings (h. 12) over which a year has passed (h. 13). A woman must pay zakÄt out of her ornaments (h. 14). A trader is also liable to pay zakÄt on his goods (h. 15), and being a tax on property it is payable out of the property of an orphan (h. 16). The zakÄt is payable to the Muslim state or some other authority; it must be collected at some central place and then distributed (hh. 17, 18). One-third or one-fourth of zakÄt may be left in the hands of the person who pays the zakÄt, for distribution according to his choice (h. 19). The tax on land-produce is one-tenth or one-twentieth (h. 20), while in the case of treasure-trove or minerals it is one-fifth (hh. 21, 22).
1. Doing good to animalsÂ is, like the doing of good to human beings, a deed of charity: while cruelty to animals is forbidden just like cruelty to human beings (B. & M-Msh. 6:7).
2. See v. 4 quoted above. There charity is first enjoined-wealth must be given away out of love for God-and after it is mentioned the giving of zakÄt. It is thus shown that these are two separate duties, the voluntary duty of giving away to others as much as one likes, and the obligatory duty of giving away 2Â½ p.c. out of one’s savings after every twelve months.
3. The minimum on which zakÄt is payable is calledÂ nisÄb. In the case of cereals and fruits, the nisÄb was fiveÂ wasaq, which comes to between 20 and 30 maunds, according to different calculations. In the case of camels, the nisÄb was five, in that of goats and sheep, 40. In the case of silver it was five auqiyah or 200 dirhams which comes to a little over Rs. 50. According to one hadÄ«th (AD. 9:5). the nisÄb in case of gold was twenty dÄ«nÄrs, about 3 oz. Under present conditions a uniform nisÄb would lead to greater facility, and as money is the standard in all payments, it would be quite in conformity with the spirit of theÂ shari’ahÂ if a money value of Rs. 50 is fixed as the minimum on which zakÄt is payable in the case of all possessions. No zakÄt is payable in things which are required for daily use (Tr-Msh 6:2). Jewels and precious stones are also excepted.
4. ZakÄt is paid annually after calculating the savings of that year.
5. Umm Salamah was the Holy Prophet’s wife. The HadÄ«th shows that zakÄt must be paid on gold and silver ornaments, whether they are actually worn or not. The reference in the wordÂ kanzÂ used in this hadÄ«th is to the following verse:
“Those who hoard up gold and silver and do not spend it in AllÄh’s way, announce to them a painful chastisement” (9:39).
Thus gold and silver may be hoarded only if zakÄt is regularly paid thereon.
6. ZakÄt was paid on camels and sheep which were kept for trade purposes, and therefore there is no reason for excepting trade goods. But while there is a natural increase in the case of animals, out of which zakÄt is paid, the capital involved in goods for trade may sometimes lie dormant. There is no reliable hadÄ«th to show how zakÄt was calculated on merchandise; a reasonable course would be to take as the basis of calculation the profit which is gained by trading.
7. ZakÄt being a tax on hoardings or possessions must be paid by every owner of property even though he happens to be an orphan. The guardian of the orphan is, therefore, enjoined to carry on trade with the capital, so that the capital itself may not be consumed.
8. For what this means, see H. xix:17.
9. ZakÄt was the most important source of revenue of the Muslim state, and during the Holy Prophet’s lifetime zakÄt was collected in the governmentÂ p. 220Â treasury. When the Holy Prophet died, many of the Arabian tribes which had just entered IslÄm rebelled against the Caliph and apostatized. There were others whose rebellion consisted only in refusing the payment of zakÄt into the public treasury. It is these tribes that are spoken of in this hadÄ«th, as the words of AbÅ« Bakr show: “If they withhold from me even a she-kid.” Making a difference between prayer and zakÄt also meant the same. They did not apostatize but they refused to pay the zakÄt, and this was a refusal to admit the authority of the central government. AbÅ« Bakr’s action on this occasion shows that zakÄt cannot be distributed according to the will of the individual who pays the zakÄt, but it must be collected and distributed by a central organization.
10. This collector withheld a part of what he had brought, saying that that part of his collections was presented to him. The Holy Prophet decided that no one who was appointed as a collector could receive personal presents. This is mentioned in detail in B. 51:17.
11. One-third or one-fourth of the zakÄt may be left with the owner for distribution according to his choice.
12. Agricultural produce was taxed on a different basis. This was the land revenue of the Muslim state, and it is only a fraction of the land revenue under the British rule in India. Under non-Muslim rule, when land revenue goes to the state, zakÄt should be calculated only on the savings of the year.
13. The one-fifth taken from treasure-trove is not zakÄt in the proper sense, as it is taken only once.
14. ‘Umar took one-fifth from amber, and Hasan’s view is generally upheld.
Source: A Manual of Hadith (Chapter XVI) by Maulana Muhammad Ali, Lahore, 1944
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