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The Blessings behind Zakah

The Blessings behind Zakah

The Blessings behind Zakah

Paying your zakah means that what is left of your money will be more blessed and more productive for you.

Deep down, you may think of zakah (obligatory alms) as a tiresome once-a-year event that simply involves a quick online payment of 2.5% of your cash and a bunch of gold weighed on scales in your kitchen! But there is a lot more to it. Fully understanding and practicing this beautiful Pillar of Islam can lead to a more productive and successful existence at both an individual and community level. How?

Paying your zakah correctly triggers some marvelous productivity boosters that you probably have never thought of! Here’s what actually happens to you and your life when you pay your zakat:

1- Purifying the Soul

Nothing prevents us more from reaching the heights of productivity than our sins. Day and night, we disobey Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) in all sorts of ways, knowingly and unknowingly, blotting our hearts and blocking the light of Allah from entering them. One critical way of clearing out the junk from our hearts is to pay zakah.

Linguistically, zakah carries meanings of cleansing and purification, originating from the same root as the word tazkiyah. In fact, when Allah commanded the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to collect zakah, He specifically mentioned its purifying power:

Take from their wealth a charity to cleanse and purify them through it and pray for them. Indeed your prayer gives them tranquility. And indeed Allah is All Hearing, All Knowing. (At-Tawbah 9:103)

2- Blessing the Wealth

Apart from purification, zakah also carries meanings of growth and enhancement. Paying your zakah means that what is left of your money will be more blessed and more productive for you. Our Prophet emphasized this by warning against delaying the payment of zakah or not paying it at all:

“Zakah is never intermingled with any amount of wealth without destroying and rotting it.” (Al-Bukhari)

It is said that zakah represents the ‘filth’ within our wealth, i.e. an amount that we may have incurred through some form of sin or dishonesty, however small or great. For our money to remain blessed, it is vital to get rid of the ‘filth’ as soon as possible. This is akin to the dross that is filtered from a blast furnace, leaving a pure, pristine metal behind.

3- Opportunities for the Poor and Needy

One doubtless benefit of zakah is to help the poor and needy become more productive. By freeing them of the immediate stress of meeting their very basic needs, distributing zakat effectively allows those in need to pursue opportunities to help them turn their lives around.

4- Incurring the Mercy of Allah

In a powerful verse in the Qur’an, Allah says:

…I afflict with My punishment whomsoever I choose, but My mercy encompasses everything. So I will prescribe it (i.e. My mercy) for those who are God conscious, pay Zakah and believe in Our signs. (Al-Anfal 7:156)

This verse is one of just two in Qur’an where zakah is not mentioned in conjunction with the obligatory prayer. Notice how Allah mentions the fulfillment of zakah in such an amazing position: between the qualities of taqwa (God-consciousness) and iman (belief) in His signs. At the same time, He (Exalted be He) makes paying zakah a direct cause for incurring His mercy, without which being productive would be utterly impossible.

5- Endless Rewards

Just after one of the most famous verses in the Qur’an, the Verse of Light, Allah mentions a special group of people:

Men who are not diverted by business or trade from the remembrance of Allah, establishing the prayer and paying zakat, fearing the day (of judgment) in which hearts and sights are turned upside down. (An-Nur 24:37)

Here Allah extols the virtues of those who are busy, productive and successful in a worldly sense, but at the same time do not allow themselves to forget the most important aspects of their faith: remembering their Lord, establishing the prayer and paying zakah.

Allah then promises them an amazing outcome:

Allah will recompense them according to the best of what they have done and He will grant them increase out of His bounty. Allah provides for whomsoever He wills without measure. (An-Nur 24:38)

May Allah (Exalted be He) make us among those mentioned in the above verse! May He enable Muslims everywhere to understand and fulfill their obligation of zakah, thereby incurring His mercy and pleasure. Ameen.

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Source: productivemuslim.com.

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Zakah and Social Justice

Zakah and Social Justice

hands together

Zakah awakens the individual’s social spirit.

 

One of the Qur’an’s major themes is social justice for those whom society disadvantages and compassion for the vulnerable. Allah says in the Qur’an:

As for the believing men and the believing women—all [of them] are allies of one another. They enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong. Moreover, they [duly] establish the Prayer, and give the Zakah, and they obey Allah and His Messenger. It is these upon whom Allah shall have mercy. Indeed, Allah is overpowering, all-wise. (At-Tawbah 9:71)

Mention of Zakah here is significant. It points to the characteristics of a fully functional (and fully human) community, promoting care and love between each other by (a) guaranteeing justice unto the least of them, while (b) shielding the weak from injury. This two-part functionality is then directly pinned to raising one’s spiritual consciousness through the Prayer and raising one’s social consciousness by paying the Zakah. These special items—among all the commands of Allah and His Messenger—Allah has highlighted for scrupulous maintenance.

This is no utopian call. On the contrary, it is a minimum acceptable moral standard for a working human community. Zakah plays a key role in bringing about such a model society. It not only enshrines the right of help for the community’s needy, facilitating ongoing support from the rich to the poor, but, in so doing, it builds a relationship of consideration and appreciation between society’s members.

Zakah is the substance that binds Muslims to each other by way of their obligation to one another in Allah. Islam builds its community out of human obligation toward each other, making each Muslim accountable for the wellbeing of every other Muslim. This concept of reciprocal social obligation is called takaful, meaning “mutual responsibility,” and it is strongly bolstered by the fact that the Zakah is an act of mandatory worship. The tenet of mutual responsibility helps Muslims envision their society like an extended family.

Throughout our history, whenever Muslims sincerely systematized the Zakah obligation, as Almighty Allah and His Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him), have ordained it, Muslims worked something on the order of social miracles. Societies flourished. Communities flowered. Individuals thrived.

Zakah awakens the individual’s social spirit with the truest practical expression of brotherhood. When Muslims pay Zakah, the society behaves exactly like a family, the able helping the incapable, one upholding all. Said the Prophet:

“The believers—in their kindness, compassion, and empathy for one another—are as a single body. When one limb is afflicted, the whole body responds to it with sleeplessness and fever.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Zakah spreads tranquility and peace in society because it secures the weak and their dependents with the guarantee of certain provision, shelter, and access to essential communal facilities. The magic of Zakah is not only that it links one to others by a sense of personal responsibility, but that it binds everyone to the individual through an obligation of sufficiency. There is no greater bulwark against social disintegration.

Zakah as a Kind of Welfare System

Zakah is the first known system of community-wide welfare regulated as a social support network for those in need. It is a meaningful institution with a clearly defined religious-social-economic mandate. Its rules, regulations, structures, standards, and specific functions are well-established. It does not depend on voluntary charity, and its collection is enforceable by society.

The Zakah system revealed by Allah and instituted by the Prophet was complete and functional among Muslims in the seventh century. Within a few years of the Prophet’s migration to Madinah, the Zakah system had become so effective that very few people even needed it. For one of the virtues of Zakah is that in providing for the poor and linking each to all and all to each, it enables people to separate themselves from those social practices that guarantee the impoverishment of some.

It took more than 13 centuries after the Prophet for Europe (and by that time America) to even address poverty systematically with some effectiveness. Not until 1941 did England and the United States initiate a worldwide agreement for governments to respect and warrant the social welfare of their nationals. Yet even then beliefs imbedded in capitalist and communistic economic theory made it a certainty that global poverty would increase to the civilization- and ecology-threatening proportions we live with today.

Equitable Distribution of Zakah

Resources are not only gifts from Allah to all human beings but also a trust. Accordingly, Islam emphasizes an equitable distribution of income and wealth for the fulfillment of the needs of everyone. As a consequence of the application of one’s skills and efforts, one’s birth, location, and timing, and other factors extreme inequalities emerge between people.

In the absence of adequate social restraints and mechanisms for re-distribution, wealth invariably concentrates in the hands of a few. To counter this, in part, Allah has enjoined the believing society with strict laws of inheritance and public disbursement of windfalls, establishing the institution of Zakah to redress extreme or highly skewed inequalities of income and wealth. As Allah states it in the Qur’an:

So that [wealth] does not merely circulate between the wealthy among you.” (Al-Hashr 59:7)

In every society, there are those who may find it hard to earn a living through their own labor, whether owing to disability, lack of opportunity, or depressed production or wages. Islam addresses this by making helping the needy an individual and collective responsibility, first within Muslim families and society, and then through the global Muslim community at large. Moreover, it forbids, in the strongest and broadest terms, stigmatizing the destitute or blaming them for their condition. (Quraishi, 9-13)

If a Muslim society does not apply the comprehensive economic injunctions of the Qur’an and the Prophet, the Zakah alone will not be enough to recreate poverty-free societies, as we have just described. We have plenty of examples of this insufficiency in the Muslim societies of our times—(societies that, for the most part, do not even structure the Zakah institution properly!) Yet were Muslims to prudently apply the principles of Zakah in a current Muslim country, it would not, in isolation of all other factors, cure poverty. Zakah is part of a Godly economic outlook on, and practice in, the world.

For example, Islam forbids extravagance, whether or not one is rich or poor. Thus owning utensils made of gold and silver, or residing in ostentatious homes, is considered excessive, even forbidden.

In addition, Islam also forbids earning interest. Rather, it inspires human beings to work for their money, not to live off the incurable debt and financial misery of others. Moreover, Islam calls upon the rich to employ the poor. So the narratives of Zakah’s amazing historical success that we have just recounted demonstrate the great efficacy of the Zakah system at work within the spiritual-moral context of Islam’s other economic injunctions; among people who have internalized its concepts of selflessness, self-restraint, conservation, sufficiency, contentment, modesty, extended family and familial responsibility, and love of the poor; and, above all, amid societies whose members are resolutely committed to upholding the divine covenant of all Muslims to implement and secure the individual believer’s unfettered right of total worship.

 Works Cited:

Marghoob Ahmed Quraishi, Annual Zakat Computation Guide (Al-Manar Press, 2007)

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 Source: www.suhaibwebb.com.

 

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