Someone posted a question about charity/Zakat and here is a fuller explanation about the term Zakat.
59:7 Whatever God has turned over to His Messenger from those communities belongs to God and His Messenger (the Central Authority). [The Messenger will spend it on]
The Central Government (The Central Authority)
- The welfare of the families of the believers.
- The orphans.
- Those who still feel left alone in the society.
- The widows.
- Those who have no means of earning their livelihood.
- The disabled who cannot move around looking for the Bounty of God.
- The homeless son of the street.
- Those who are on their way to join you, and
- Those who travel a distance to seek help.
So that it may not keep revolving between the wealthy among you. Hence, take what the Messenger gives you, and abstain from what he forbids you. Be mindful of God. Surely, God is Stern in grasping.
Many Muslims have a narrow and misguided understanding of this term which is used frequently in the Quran. According to the hadith a Muslim must pay annual Zakat set at a rate of 2.5% of their total wealth, excluding some items and including gold and silver above a minimum, nisab, level. This is currently quoted at any amount of gold above 85grams and silver above 595 grams. To understand this we have to look at what Zakat means, which is, growth, purification and righteousness. This is not about just giving a certain amount of money to charities but creating a system that enables each and every one of the human beings on this planet to reach their full capabilities. This is undertaken by providing good healthcare, education, a proper home, food, in essence a complete welfare system termed Islam. While the system is being set up then whatever money you do not need for your normal living (but not giving so much that you may then need charity) goes to the needy to help them survive and develop; the phrase “ to give them a helping hand” is most apt here.
An Islamic Authority must be established in a land in order to set up the workings of the Zakat system which is to run the economy according to the values and principles of the Quran.
Surah 22 verse 41.
22:41 Those who, if We give them power in the land, establish Salaat (the Divine System), set up the Just Economic Order of Zakaat (in which wealth circulates freely to nourish every member of the society, and the basic needs of all individuals are taken care of). Their rule ensures that the Permanent Moral Values are promoted, and what the Qur’an forbids, is discouraged. And in their governance all affairs are decided according to God's Decrees (given in the Qur’an. 5:44).
When this system is in place there would be no homeless, no beggars, nobody would go hungry because everyone would be truly one Ummah. Before this system is fully implemented there would be a need for charity to help the needy, your relatives, and strangers, as per
We can clearly see that charity (Sadaqa) is separate from Zakat because the list of righteous acts is mentioned first, then a separate reference to establishing a Zakat system:-
2:177 (One consequence of this schism is their pre-occupation with rituals, with each sect leaving the Revelation aside and taking delight in its own set of dogmas they call religion. 30:320.)
Righteousness and exponential development of the ‘self’ depends not on whether you turn your faces to East or West. But righteousness is that:
One has conviction in God,
And the Last Day,
And the Angels,
And the Book,
And the prophets.
And that he gives his cherished wealth to:
Family and relatives,
Those left helpless in the society,
And those whose hard-earned income fails to meet their basic needs,
Those whose running businesses have stalled,
The ones who have lost their jobs,
Whose life has stalled for any reason,
The needy wayfarer, son of the street, the homeless, the one who travels to you for assistance,
Those who ask for help, and
Those whose necks are burdened with any kind of bondage, oppression, crushing debts and extreme hardship of labor.
(And righteous are) those who strive to establish the institution of Salaat, (2:3. 2:53)
And help set up the Economic System of Zakaat.
They are true to their pledge whenever they make one.
And they remain steadfast in physical or emotional distress and in times of peril.
It is they who have proven themselves to be true, and it is they who are living upright.
So How Much?
Surah 2 verse 219.
2:219 (Certain things that hinder humans from attaining the aforementioned Noble Objective are now mentioned.) They ask you (O Messenger) concerning alcohol, intoxicants, games of chance, and gambling and money earned without labour. Say, “There is great detriment in these things as well as some benefits for mankind. But the detriment of them is much greater than the benefit of them. They drag down the individual and collective social potential.” And they ask you what they should give. Say, "All that is surplus." Thus God makes His messages plain for you, that you may reflect.
The Quran does not put any percentage on charity/taxes but states that whatever is excess should be given.” The ‘surplus, whatever is beyond your needs is clearly telling us to give what we do not require for ourselves. Now this may lead some people to say that unless a percentage is mandated then there may be a few who would not give any or very little. These verses are for those who wish to live as true Muslims and do good deeds because they want to help their fellow humans and go to heaven in the hereafter. They realize the true meaning of the Quran and wish to implement its values and principles so they will freely give to the needy knowing that a just Islamic Government is working to eliminate poverty etc. They give because they know it will beneficial to all, including themselves.
Surah 2 verse 254.
2:254 O You who have chosen to be graced with belief! Use Our Provision to satisfy the needs of fellow human beings and for the betterment of the society. Do that before the day comes when no bargaining, friendship or intercession shall be of any avail. Those who reject such sensible admonition, do grave injustice to themselves.
Allah provides for you the opportunities to live and flourish on this earth. He is the Rahman, the Creator, and the Rahim, the Sustainer, which enables all things to live in the His created universe. The worlds resources are more than enough for everyone and it is only the man made systems that we have today that enable the wealthier countries to usurp these resources from the poorer countries (America has five percent of the global population yet “uses” twenty seven percent of the worlds resources).There is enough food produced in the world to feed all the hungry but the man made systems help to keep them hungry (I am not just attacking America but it spends more on animal pet food than would be needed to feed all the worlds hungry!) If all the people who have ever lived come back today we would still be able to grow plentiful food to feed them. The “world is enough”!
One aspect of Zakat is the system run by the Islamic Government which becomes an investment in society in order to stabilise it. This was the concept instigated by the Prophet in Medina and was why Islam flourished for some time until the man made influences turned it into something else. It has been reported that not even a dog went hungry during the period of the Rightly Guided Caliphs so to reduce it to 2.5% of your income and relate it to charity (sadaqa) does nothing but perpetuate the status quo between the wealthy and the poverty stricken. Charity is not Zakat; the two terms are not interchangeable! The Zakat charity is ferociously solicited from all the Muslims around the time of Ramadan when people are traditionally more “religiously” orientated. This is similar to the way the Evangelical Christians of America, sorry, I am really not picking on you, collect donations by way of television shows and phone calls. Once the Mullahs learn these tricks we will be phoned numerous times a day by each sect trying to take their thirty pieces of silver.
Zakat removes the wealth from the rich minority and invests it in the majority so all benefit. The so-called scholars and religious leaders have allowed the evils of the capitalists/kings to hold onto their wealth by just giving a paltry 2.5% (if they even bother to give this). The concept of Zakat would have been understood by our Prophet so why have an unauthentic hadith putting a percentage on the amount when Allah has clearly told us what we should give.
If you look at the West you can see that capitalism allows the rich to become richer and the poor poorer. Wealth that only moves around the wealthy inevitably leads to stagnation of the society. The illusion of “richness” is reflected in vast new buildings while behind their facades are communities living in decay and poverty. This can be clearly seen with the example of the USA where three million Americans sleep “rough” on the streets of America every night because they have no jobs, welfare or healthcare, yet taxes are cut to give more money to the rich who then buy more power by bribing more politicians. This is also reflected in most of the corrupt so-called Muslim countries and yet they are inundated with religious schools, Imams, mullahs etc. They have allowed Islam to become a religion of rituals and un-Quranic practices by saying that the Prophet said this or that to further their own needs. They put the Quran behind their backs and follow their own desires and ancestors. They are in collaboration with the politicians and so suppress the cries for freedom, the cries of the oppressed, and the cries of the intellectual who when they dare to speak out are given fatwa’s against them. I have heard on numerous occasions from our illustrious mullahs (even though the Quran forbids such a concept as priesthood) that we have to bear suffering and poverty in this world in order to gain a better life in the hereafter! Is this what the Prophet created in Medina? I do not think so. Muslims should be raising themselves up as one community with the whole of mankind but instead are kept back by ignorance and bigotry.
Surah 9 verse 11. (Yusuf Ali translation) But (even so), if they repent, establish regular prayers, and practise regular charity, - they are your brethren in Faith: (thus) do we explain the signs in detail, for those who understand.
This verse of the Quran is narrating the incident when pagans broke their treaties with the Muslims and were told to repent or face the consequences. They were asked to “practice regular charity”. The true meaning of Zakat can be understood from this verse because giving regular charity is not something that anyone would commit a non-believer to do. One aspect of Zakat is the giving of finances to the Islamic State, basic tax, to support all the peoples, Muslims and non Muslims, who enjoy all the benefits. When wealth is freely and correctly distributed, when right is always against wrong, when truth speaks out louder than falsehood, then everyone sees the true Islam and Quranic society and are drawn like a butterfly to nectar to it. To ask them to “pay charity” is not sensible but to ask them to pay taxes which are used for their protection etc is the correct understanding of Zakat.
Dr Shabbir translation:-
9:11 If they mend their ways, (and as law-abiding citizens), help consolidate the Divine System, and the Just Economic Order of Zakaat, then they are your brothers in the System of Life. We explain Our messages for those who wish to learn.
[The usual translation of this verse conveys the meaning that if they start praying five times a day and give 2.5% poor-due per year, then they are your brothers in religion. This interpretation goes directly against the all-encompassing Ordinance of God that there is no compulsion or coercion in Deen Islam 2:256]
I am also inclined to understand the concept of Zakat in its sense of purifying oneself of all false beliefs and practices. When we regularly read the Quran with full meaning and understanding (Salat) then we are able to see the faults in our characters and rectify them. We turn away from mindless ancestral rituals and instead start doing righteous acts that benefit ourselves and others. That is why the above verses speak about charitable acts leading to Zakat which is purifying ourselves.
Hadith to illuminate the Quran!
Many verses in the hadith books about Zakat are only concerned with meaningless numbers of camels, sheep and gold etc. Having understood that whatever is in excess to your requirements is the amount you should give to the needy it can be easily understood why the whole Muslim Ummah is backward and being abused by the non-believers.
Volume 2, Book 24, Number 487: Narrated Abu Said:
Allah's Apostle (p.b.u.h) said, "No Zakat is due on property mounting to less than five Uqiyas (of silver), and no Zakat is due on less than five camels, and there is no Zakat on less than five Wasqs." (A Wasqs equals 60 Sa's) & (1 Sa=3 K gms App.)
Volume 2, Book 24, Number 534: Narrated Anas:
When Abu Bakr; sent me to (collect the Zakat from) Bahrein, he wrote to me the following:-- (In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful). These are the orders for compulsory charity (Zakat) which Allah's Apostle had made obligatory for every Muslim, and which Allah had ordered His Apostle to observe: Whoever amongst the Muslims is asked to pay Zakat accordingly, he should pay it (to the Zakat collector) and whoever is asked more than that (what is specified in this script) he should not pay it; for twenty-four camels or less, sheep are to be paid as Zakat; for every five camels one sheep is to be paid, and if there are between twenty-five to thirty-five camels, one Bint Makhad is to be paid; and if they are between thirty-six to forty-five (camels), one Bint Labun is to be paid; and if they are between forty-six to sixty (camels), one Hiqqa is to be paid; and if the number is between sixty-one to seventy-five (camels), one Jadh'a is to be paid; and if the number is between seventy-six to ninety (camels), two Bint Labuns are to be paid; and if they are from ninety-one to one-hundred-and twenty (camels), two Hiqqas are to be paid; and if they are over one-hundred and-twenty (camels), for every forty (over one-hundred-and-twenty) one Bint Labun is to be paid, and for every fifty camels (over one-hundred-and-twenty) one Hiqqa is to be paid; and who ever has got only four camels, has to pay nothing as Zakat, but if the owner of these four camels wants to give something, he can. If the number of camels increases to five, the owner has to pay one sheep as Zakat. As regards the Zakat for the (flock) of sheep; if they are between forty and one-hundred-and-twenty sheep, one sheep is to be paid; and if they are between one-hundred-and-twenty to two hundred (sheep), two sheep are to be paid; and if they are between two-hundred to three-hundred (sheep), three sheep are to be paid; and for over three-hundred sheep, for every extra hundred sheep, one sheep is to be paid as Zakat. And if somebody has got less than forty sheep, no Zakat is required, but if he wants to give, he can. For silver the Zakat is one-fortieth of the lot (i.e. 2.5%), and if its value is less than two-hundred Dirhams, Zakat is not required, but if the owner wants to pay he can.'
Now if you want to know where Bukhari copied the ritualistic Zakat from then read the following and weep:-
Bible Leviticus Chapter 27
27:1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
27:2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When a man shall make a singular vow, the persons shall be for the LORD by thy estimation.
27:3 And thy estimation shall be of the male from twenty years old even unto sixty years old, even thy estimation shall be fifty shekels of silver, after the shekel of the sanctuary.
27:4 And if it be a female, then thy estimation shall be thirty shekels.
27:5 And if it be from five years old even unto twenty years old, then thy estimation shall be of the male twenty shekels, and for the female ten shekels.
27:6 And if it be from a month old even unto five years old, then thy estimation shall be of the male five shekels of silver, and for the female thy estimation shall be three shekels of silver.
27:7 And if it be from sixty years old and above; if it be a male, then thy estimation shall be fifteen shekels, and for the female ten shekels.
27:8 But if he be poorer than thy estimation, then he shall present himself before the priest, and the priest shall value him; according to his ability that vowed shall the priest value him.
27:9 And if it be a beast, whereof men bring an offering unto the LORD, all that any man giveth of such unto the LORD shall be holy.
27:10 He shall not alter it, nor change it, a good for a bad, or a bad for a good: and if he shall at all change beast for beast, then it and the exchange thereof shall be holy.
27:11 And if it be any unclean beast, of which they do not offer a sacrifice unto the LORD, then he shall present the beast before the priest:
27:12 And the priest shall value it, whether it be good or bad: as thou valuest it, who art the priest, so shall it be.
27:13 But if he will at all redeem it, then he shall add a fifth part thereof unto thy estimation.
27:14 And when a man shall sanctify his house to be holy unto the LORD, then the priest shall estimate it, whether it be good or bad: as the priest shall estimate it, so shall it stand.
27:15 And if he that sanctified it will redeem his house, then he shall add the fifth part of the money of thy estimation unto it, and it shall be his.
27:16 And if a man shall sanctify unto the LORD some part of a field of his possession, then thy estimation shall be according to the seed thereof: an homer of barley seed shall be valued at fifty shekels of silver.
27:17 If he sanctify his field from the year of jubilee, according to thy estimation it shall stand.
27:18 But if he sanctify his field after the jubilee, then the priest shall reckon unto him the money according to the years that remain, even unto the year of the jubilee, and it shall be abated from thy estimation.
27:19 And if he that sanctified the field will in any wise redeem it, then he shall add the fifth part of the money of thy estimation unto it, and it shall be assured to him.
27:20 And if he will not redeem the field, or if he have sold the field to another man, it shall not be redeemed any more.
27:21 But the field, when it goeth out in the jubilee, shall be holy unto the LORD, as a field devoted; the possession thereof shall be the priest's.
27:22 And if a man sanctify unto the LORD a field which he hath bought, which is not of the fields of his possession;
27:23 Then the priest shall reckon unto him the worth of thy estimation, even unto the year of the jubilee: and he shall give thine estimation in that day, as a holy thing unto the LORD.
27:24 In the year of the jubilee the field shall return unto him of whom it was bought, even to him to whom the possession of the land did belong.
27:25 And all thy estimations shall be according to the shekel of the sanctuary: twenty gerahs shall be the shekel.
27:26 Only the firstling of the beasts, which should be the LORD's firstling, no man shall sanctify it; whether it be ox, or sheep: it is the LORD's.
27:27 And if it be of an unclean beast, then he shall redeem it according to thine estimation, and shall add a fifth part of it thereto: or if it be not redeemed, then it shall be sold according to thy estimation.
27:28 Notwithstanding no devoted thing, that a man shall devote unto the LORD of all that he hath, both of man and beast, and of the field of his possession, shall be sold or redeemed: every devoted thing is most holy unto the LORD.
27:29 None devoted, which shall be devoted of men, shall be redeemed; but shall surely be put to death.
27:30 And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD's: it is holy unto the LORD.
27:31 And if a man will at all redeem ought of his tithes, he shall add thereto the fifth part thereof.
27:32 And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the LORD.
27:33 He shall not search whether it be good or bad, neither shall he change it: and if he change it at all, then both it and the change thereof shall be holy; it shall not be redeemed.
27:34 These are the commandments, which the LORD commanded Moses for the children of Israel in mount Sinai.
Having said all this I do actually like the Jewish interpretation of their Zakat, which they write as Tzedakah and they have this meaning “justice”. Tzedakah is not just charity given out to the poor or needy but is used to redress the harms done in the world, to make the world a just place. In the bible we have the following:-
Isaiah, Chapter 58 58:1 Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.
58:2 Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God.
58:3 Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? Wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours.
58:4 Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high.
58:5 Is it such a fast that I have chosen? A day for a man to afflict his soul? Is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD?
58:6 Is not this the fast that I have chosen? To loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?
58:7 Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? When thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?
58:8 Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy reward.
58:9 Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity;
58:10 And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noon day:
58:11 And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.
58:12 And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.
58:13 If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:
58:14 Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.
Doing righteousness and maintaining justice is more important than rituals and Zakat is the Quranic economic system that powers this.