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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Bathe Yourself with Money! by Muhammad Alshareef

Have you ever seen someone run out of the masjid immediately after salah. In fact, the imam may barely have said salam, and this person is already standing up, getting ready to take off (you may have seen this after the Jumu’ah prayers). When we see someone in such haste, we know that there is some affair that pre-occupied the brother or sister and that haste is indeed a weighty matter.

But now let’s ask ourselves a question: who amongst us would jump like that because we delayed the paying of a voluntary sadaqah? Who? It is the most God-fearing person who would do so - RasulAllah sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam.

In Saheeh Bukhari, Uqbah radi Allahu anhu narrates, “I offered the 'Asr prayer behind the Prophet in Madinah. When he had finished the prayer with tasleem, he got up hurriedly and went out by crossing the rows of the people to one of the dwellings of his wives. The people got scared at his speed. The Prophet came back and found the people surprised at his haste and said to them, ‘I remembered a piece of gold lying in my house and I disliked for it to divert my attention from Allah's worship, so I have ordered it to be distributed (in charity).’”

If RasulAllah sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam attached such importance to sadaqah, voluntary charity, then what about zakah, one of the five pillars of Islam?

In the year before the Farewell Hajj, RasulAllah sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam sent a group of Muslims on Hajj with Abu Bakr as their ameer. There were still some mushrikeen performing Hajj in Makkah, and some of them were circumambulating the Ka’bah naked. Abu Bakr’s mission, radi Allahu anhu, was to prepare Makkah for the Hajj of RasulAllah sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam.

Allah’s Messenger sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam sent Surah Bara’ah (also known as Surah Taubah), the 9th surah in the Qur’an, along with Abu Bakr, instructing him that it was to be recited to all those performing the Hajj that year. Ali ibn Abee Talib was given the task of announcing the surah due to his position amongst the Quraysh.

The surah, begins as follows: (This is a declaration of) Disassociation, from Allah and His Messenger, to those with whom you had made a treaty among the mushrikeen (the polytheists) (At-Tauba 9/1).

Remember, the Qur’an was the Islamic state’s declaration of legislation. Ali ibn Abee Talib radi Allahu anhu continued to recite until he reached the words of Allah: But if they repent, establish prayer, and give zakah, then they are your brothers in religion (At-Tauba 9/11).

In other words, it was not sufficient for them to simply repent; it was also compulsory for them to establish salah and zakah, and then only could they be considered to be within the brotherhood of Islam.

Bukhari and Muslim report that Jaabir ibn Abdullaah radi Allahu anhu said, “I pledged allegiance to the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam in that I would establish the salah, undertake the giving of zakah, and that I would give naseehah (advice) to every Muslim.”

After the death of RasulAllah sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam, the ummah was faced with some who claimed prophethood, men with huge tribes waiting to fight the Muslims. Then, to a lesser degree, there were tribes who still professed to be Muslim, but who had a ‘problem’ with giving zakah.

The ummah needed to take action. While some of the Sahabaa felt that they should just leave the ‘we-are-Muslim-minus-zakah’ people, and focus on the armies instead, Abu Bakr radi Allahu anhu disagreed. “I swear by Allah,” he said, “I shall go to war and fight anyone who attempts to separate salah from zakah!”

Upon hearing this, Umar radi Allahu anhu commented, “By Allah, at the moment when I saw that Allah had opened the heart of Abu Bakr to this war, I knew that it was the truth.”

Allah made the giving of zakah on the wealth of believer compulsory for him as a test of his sincerity. The believer has full conviction that it is fard and knows that zakah is the third pillar of Islam, and not merely a virtuous option. Without zakah the deen of a believer will collapse.
The believer delivers his zakah with an open heart, thanking and praising Allah for His bounty and for the very tawfeeq of being able to perform his duty.

So while others bathe their bodies daily, it is possible for us to bathe our hearts with money. How? Zakah.

In Arabic, the word zakah carries the connotation of cleanliness – to purify. In Shari’ah, zakah deals with the wealth Allah gave to His servants. It is the fard percentage one must impart to whom it is due.

Allah ta’aala teaches us the virtue of zakah in the following ayah: Take (O Muhammad) from their wealth a charity by which it purifies them and causes them increase (At-Tauba 9/103).

How does zakah and voluntary charity cleanse a person?

1. By cleansing the heart from the diseases of hypocrisy and doubt.
2. By cleansing the heart from the disease of stinginess.
3. By bathing the remaining wealth with barakah.
4. By bathing the good character of the one giving and increasing his or her wealth.

As Rasul Allah sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam said, “Charity never decreases wealth.”

“If I win a million dollars I’ll give half to the masjid!” Ever heard that du’a before? Allah ta’aala teaches us that the nature of humans is to attach themselves to coins of gold and silver. In fact, they pray day and night for it. In their prayers, they promise that if they are indeed blessed with the wealth, they will be unselfish with that gift. But when a test befalls them, they turn their backs: And among them are those who made a covenant with Allah, (saying), “If He should give us from His bounty, we will surely spend in charity, and we will surely be among the righteous.” But when He gave them from His bounty, they were stingy with it and turned away while they refused. So He penalized them with hypocrisy in their hearts until the Day they will meet Him - because they failed Allah in what they promised Him and because they (habitually) used to lie (At-Tauba 9/75–78).

Yayha ibn Mu’adh rahimahullah commented, “I have always been amazed at someone who has wealth, yet is stingy. His Lord, who gave the wealth to him, requests that he loan part of it to Him and the stingy man says, ‘No.’”

Zakah is an obligation connected to wealth. When someone delays the paying of zakah, that obligation directly chains itself to the individual’s neck. In order for them to repent, they must give what Allah made obligatory upon them.

RasulAllah sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam taught us that when a people hoard wealth and do not give the zakah, they will be afflicted with a famine: “There was never a people that refused to give zakah except that Allah afflicted them with famine” (Bayhaqi).

He, sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam, warned us of stinginess because of the destruction it brings: “Beware of stinginess for verily those who came before you were destroyed because of it” (Abu Dawood).

And on the Day of Resurrection, the zakah that was not paid will be a means of punishment for the individual: And let not those who (greedily) withhold what Allah has given them of His bounty ever think that it is better for them. Rather, it is worse for them. Their necks will be encircled by what they withheld on the Day of Resurrection (A’le-Imran 3/180).

In Sahih Muslim, Abu Hurayrah radi Allahu anhu narrates that RasulAllah, sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam said: “If any owner of gold or silver does not pay what is due on him, on the Day of Resurrection, plates of fire shall be molded out for him and heated in the fire of Hell. With it, his sides, his forehead and his back will be cauterized and branded. When the plates cool, (the process) will be repeated for a day whose extent is fifty thousand years. Then judgment will be pronounced amongst the servants, and he shall see whether his path is to take him to Paradise or to Hell.”

Part II

The following is a list of items on which one has to pay zakah:
• Banknotes
• Gold
• Silver
• Capital goods
• Cattle
• Merchandise
• Fruits and other crops
• Minerals
• Buried treasures

In a world where most of us do not live a farmer’s life, we should pay special attention to paying zakah on the following:
• Monetary savings
• Gold - according to some scholars, zakah should be paid on gold, including collections of bridal gold.
• Business inventory - If someone owns a store (as many families do) and they have items in storage waiting to be sold, they need to pay zakah on those items. Additionally, it is very common for some families to purchase something in bulk and store it in their homes to be sold at a later date. One must pay zakah on these items also.
• Additional homes one may own with the intention to wait for them to increase in value and then sell them.

Abdullah ibn Mas’ood radi Allahu anhu said, “Store your wealth where no worms will eat it, where it cannot be reached by thieves. Store it in sadaqah.”

Umm Al-Mu’mineen Aisha radi Allahu anha once met a poor woman who was with her two daughters. Aisha radi Allahu anha gave her three dates. The woman gave each of the daughters one date and took one for herself. She was about to eat the date when one of her daughters expressed the desire to eat her date. She immediately shared the date among her daughters. This kind treatment impressed Aisha radi Allahu anha, and she related the whole incident to RasulAllah sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam. After listening to the whole story, RasulAllah sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam said, "Verily, Allah has assured Paradise for her because of this act or has rescued her from the fire of Hell."

Indeed, not only are we giving zakah and sadaqah to cleanse ourselves; we do so in order to protect ourselves from Hellfire.

Part III

When it’s time for the individual to pay zakah each year, he usually asks the imam: “We don’t know of any poor people in our area, can we send the zakah money overseas?” Contemplate this for a moment. Are there really no needy people in our communities? Of course there are. And if year after year the zakah is sent overseas, who will ever take care of the local needy people?

The general principle of zakah is that the first option is to give it to the needy of the locality. As RasulAllah sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam instructed Mu’adh when he sent him to Yemen, “If they obey you in that (in the Shahadah and then the salah), then let them know Allah has made obligatory upon them zakah in their wealth to be taken from their rich and to be given to their needy.” The use of the word “their” indicates the needy from within that community.

What we need to do is to actively go out there and find these people within our communities; find out how we can make a difference in their lives. In doing so we will strengthen our communities, and as our communities grow stronger, they will have the strength to assist others around the world.

When governments have a budget surplus (doesn’t happen too often), interest groups fight tooth and nail arguing who gets the money. But with zakah, Allah ta’aala divided it Himself. No human being can decide for zakah money to be given to other than those whom Allah has specified.

The commonly known recipients of zakah are the poor and needy. However, we should also remember that there are other potentially fruitful avenues wherein we can invest our zakah money.

The first of these is al-mu’allafat quloobuhum, or those whose hearts are very near to accepting Islam – if we became serious and strong in our da’wah efforts, we could use the zakah money to bring people’s hearts closer to the message of la ilaaha illAllah Muhammad ur RasulAllah.

Secondly, zakah money can be used for al-riqaab, or the freeing of slaves. How does this apply to us? Well as the ‘ulama have mentioned, here in the USA, the Patriot Act ‘detainees’ who have been imprisoned for no crime other than fitting a certain racial profile are also eligible for zakah in terms of this category. This makes sense considering that a solid legal defense costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. So a legal fund can be established using zakah money, in order to assist in defending the rights of our brothers and sisters who are imprisoned unjustly.

Zakah can also be used to assist the ghaarimeen (those in debt). In order words, this money can be used to free them from the shackles of debt. Consider the following facts about debt in America:
• The average credit card balance is about $7,000.
• The average interest rate is nearly 19%.
• Late fees are now $25 or higher.
• The average household has 10 credit cards.
• Almost half the households in America report having difficulty paying their minimum monthly payments, thus making bankruptcy seem unavoidable.
• Last year over 1.3 million Americans filed for bankruptcy, the highest in our nation’s history.
• Credit card companies solicit the average American 7 times a year through the mail.
• The average credit card balance would take 25 years to repay if paying the minimum monthly payment.

Indeed, it is an amazingly powerful thing for one’s community members to be out of debt. When they are out of debt, they become active contributors in the community and everyone benefits. However a word of caution here – zakah money should not be used to pay off vain debts.

Stock traders often listen with attentive ears to stock tips about where they should invest their money. How about a ‘Jannah Stock Tip’ for the Muslim community?

Our communities, alhamdulillah, are blessed communities that give unselfishly. Zakah is often unfulfilled or hindered due to a lack of education on the subject as well as the absence of a proper zakah distribution system. All it takes to solve this is for one dedicated leader to establish a zakah distribution network in his area. Just one leader and all the zakah will reach those who need it.

If someone does this, all the reward will be theirs! Imagine all the people who will benefit from this distribution network. The pioneer who starts this zakah distribution will continue to reap the rewards of it even after he or she passes away.

Certainly will the believers have succeeded – those who during their prayer are humbly submissive / And those who turn away from ill speech / And those who are observant of zakah (Al Mu’minoon 23/1-4).

Additional Resources:
1. More Zakah Information:
2. Zakah help and calculator:
3. Zakah user-friendly calculator:

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