Zakat – A means of proof, purification and growth

We all know that zakat is the third pillar of Islam, after shahada and salah.

Though  we might think there are more verses on salah in the Quran, there are many more verses on zakat and spending than on salah. The word Zakat itself has been mentioned 32 times. And it is mentioned alongside salah 8 times, wa aqeemus salah wa atuz zakah (establish prayer and pay zakat). The combination of both is something to think about. It is not just salah which is important but zakat as well, and both are obligatory.

Salah is light. Charity is proof

The Prophet (peace be on him) mentioned beautifully that salah is light. It enlightens the heart, the soul and the vision. It gives us peace and purity. This is why he said, as-Salutu nurun. And he called zakat, proof (as sadaqatu burhan). Scholars asked what is charity a proof of?

Why is charity proof?

Spending in charity is proof of imaan. Imaan dictates that you spend for Allah’s sake. This is your money, but because it is an obligation, you share it out of obedience to Him. In order to spend out of your wealth you have to have deep conviction (tawakkul) that Allah will replace what you spend.

عن أبي مالك الحارث بن عاصم الأشعري رضي الله عنه قال‏:‏ قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏:‏ ‏ “‏الطَّهور شطر الإيمان، والحمد لله تملأ الميزان، وسبحان الله والحمد لله تملآن -أو تملأ- ما بين السماوات والأرض، والصلاة نور، والصدقة برهان، والصبر ضياء، والقرآن حجة لك أو عليك‏.‏ كل الناس يغدو، فبائع نفسه فمعتقها، أو موبقها‏”‏ ‏)رواه مسلم‏(‏‏.‏

Abu Malik Al-Harith bin Asim Al-Ash’ar (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be on him) said:

Wudu’ is half of Salah; the utterance of (alhamdulillah – all praise belongs to Allah) fills the Scales of good actions; the utterance of (subhanAllah walhamdulillah) (Allah is far removed from every imperfection and all praise belongs to Allah) fills the space between the heavens and the earth, and salat (prayer) is light; and charity is the proof of faith; and endurance is light, and the Qur’an is a plea in your favour or against you. Every person departs; he either ransoms it or puts it into perdition. (Muslim)

The link between the pillars

Salah is a one to one connection between us and Allah, five times a day. It is our vertical dimension with Allah, and it rejuvenates us and purifies our sins. Zakat is not a vertical dimension. It is horizontal because it is between us and the community. It is an antidote against miserliness and egoism. It is not me, myself and I. We are not an island, we are connected to the needy around us. We have to look after each other and support each other. The Prophet (peace be on him) encouraged believers to spend for Allah’s sake. As it is not easy to spend, Allah Almighty gave us many incentives and reassurances to spend. We have the following three benefits:

1. Growth

The linguistic meaning of zakat is very deep. In Arabic we say zaka yazku, to grow, it is an indication that your zakat makes your money grow in two different ways: physical and spiritual. Those who have to pay zakat are those who have money which is more than 87g of 24 carat gold (equivalent to £3863 approximately). Allah guarantees the growth of the money we spend for His sake, either out of obligation or voluntarily. This is the physical part. The spiritual part is purification and barakah in your wealth.

2. Purification of the soul

Allah says that spending in zakat is cleansing because by default we like to hoard, and so this is a means of spiritual purification.

خُذ مِن أَموٰلِهِم صَدَقَةً تُطَهِّرُهُم وَتُزَكّيهِم بِها وَصَلِّ عَلَيهِم ۖ إِنَّ صَلوٰتَكَ سَكَنٌ لَهُم ۗ وَاللَّهُ سَميعٌ عَليمٌ

Take sadaqa (zakat) from their wealth, to cleans and purify them with it; and pray for them. Your prayer is comfort for them. God is All Hearing and All Knowing. (9:103)

3. Shade of the throne

Allah encourages us in different ways to spend, because it is not easy. For example, VIP treatment is granted for those who give in secret.

عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ ‏- رضى الله عنه ‏- عَنِ اَلنَّبِيِّ ‏- صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏-قَالَ: { سَبْعَةٌ يُظِلُّهُمُ اَللَّهُ فِي ظِلِّهِ يَوْمَ لَا ظِلَّ إِلَّا ظِلُّهُ.‏.‏.‏.‏ )فَذَكَرَ اَلْحَدِيثَ وَفِيهِ( وَرَجُلٌ تَصَدَّقَ بِصَدَقَةٍ فَأَخْفَاهَا حَتَّى لَا تَعْلَمَ شِمَالُهُ مَا تُنْفِقُ يَمِينُهُ } مُتَّفَقٌ عَلَيْهِ .

As Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated, the Messenger of Allah (peace be on him) said:

‘Seven people will be shaded by Allah under His shade on the day when there will be no shade except His ….’ He mentioned the rest of the hadith, which says, ‘and a man who gives charity so secretly that his left hand does not know what his right hand has given.’ (i.e. nobody knows how much he has given in charity). (Agreed upon)

وَعَنْ عُقْبَةَ بْنِ عَامِرٍ ‏- رضى الله عنه ‏- قَالَ: سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اَللَّهِ ‏- صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏-يَقُولُ: { كُلُّ اِمْرِئٍ فِي ظِلِّ صَدَقَتِهِ حَتَّى يُفْصَلَ بَيْنَ اَلنَّاسِ } رَوَاهُ اِبْنُ حِبَّانَ وَالْحَاكِمُ.‏

In another narration, ‘Uqbah Ibn ‘Amir (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated, ‘I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be on him) say:

Everybody will be shaded by his Sadaqah (on the Day of Judgment) until it has been judged between the people. (Ibn Hibban and Al-Hakim)

Those who shaded others in dunya, will be shaded in the akhirah. Allah mentioned eight specific categories of those who are entitled to our zakat. (Sadaqa can be given to anyone of them).

Who is eligible for zakat

Charities are for the poor, and the destitute, and those who administer them, and for reconciling hearts, and for freeing slaves, and for those in debt, and in the path of God, and for the traveller in need—an obligation from God. God is All-Knowing, Most Wise. (9:60)

۞ إِنَّمَا الصَّدَقَاتُ لِلْفُقَرَاءِ وَالْمَسَاكِينِ وَالْعَامِلِينَ عَلَيْهَا وَالْمُؤَلَّفَةِ قُلُوبُهُمْ وَفِي الرِّقَابِ وَالْغَارِمِينَ وَفِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَابْنِ السَّبِيلِ ۖ فَرِيضَةً مِّنَ اللَّهِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ

  1. The poor (al-fuqarâ’), meaning low-income or indigent.
  2. The needy (al-masâkîn), meaning someone who is in difficulty.
  3. Zakat administrators.
  4. Those ‘whose hearts are to be reconciled’, meaning new Muslims and friends of the Muslim community.
  5. Those in bondage.
  6. The debt-ridden.
  7. In the cause of God.
  8. The wayfarer, meaning those who are stranded or travelling with few resources.

Who should I give my zakat to?

I always recommend starting with your family. Those close to you maybe needy but too dignified to ask. It could be your brother. Your brother is more entitled to your charity than a stranger. As per the Hadith, the reward of giving to your family is multipled by two. It is a double charity because it is fulfilling your obligation as well as connecting blood ties. (It is simultaneously sadaqa and sila).

Salman bin Amir al-Dabbi narrated that the Messenger of Allah said:

Charity given to the poor is charity, and that given to a relative is two things: charity and upholding the ties of kinship. (Ibn Majah)

Can it count as zakat even the recipient owns more than the value of nisab?

If someone has less than the nisab in wealth, they would be classified as fakir, destitute. If they have more than the value of nisab they are technically classified as wealthy. However the threshold of nisab, which is 87g of 24 carat gold (just under £4000) is not the same value as it was then. Then this amount of gold would have given a family security for a year. Now £4000 does not get very far and does not last very long. Your brother may have more than this, he may have a house, but still be struggling to make ends meet. Therefore he would deserve your charity.

If there is nobody who needs your charity in your family, then give to any genuine charity.

Can you pay zakat to an educational foundation?

This is a matter which is disagreed upon by scholars. One of the eight categories, fi sabilillah, for the sake of Allah, has been extended by some scholars in the West, to include educational foundations because of the limited resources they have to spread the authentic message of Islam, the need to raise the bar, to educate our ummah, defend ourselves and clarify the message to non Muslims

Can zakat be given to non Muslims?

Ibn `Abbas narrated that the Prophet (peace be on him) 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 among them. (Bukhari)

This has been discussed by scholars from all schools of fiqh that it means Allah made it obligatory for them to pay the Zakat from their property and pay it to poor Muslims.

There is no restriction on whom you give any further charity to – or what form that charity takes – be it emotional support or financial or physical.

Within the 8 categories you have the Mu’allafati qulubuhum (those whose hearts are to be reconciled) and zakat administrators might be non Muslims, but these are exceptions. The priority is Muslims, particularly when there is so much need in the Muslim world and so many choices in terms of Muslim individuals, refugees, orphans and families and charities who need support.

Ultimately zakat is ibadah and giving it to non muslims is risking your ibadah, so it is better to stick to the majority opinion.

How much do you need to give

Whatever you have in savings, gold and silver, stock, and shares, beyond one lunar year, and over the level of nisab, you have to pay 2.5%.

Is zakat due on your current balance or what you have had in your account for a year?

If I had £5,000 in my account last year and I have £6,000 this year, do I pay zakat on £5,000 or £6,000? Even though I’ve only acquired that extra money recently?

You would pay zakat on £6,000. Who asked you to keep that money in your account? You should invest it.

This is why Omar (may Allah be pleased with him) said you should invest orphans’ money otherwise sadaqa will eat it. He said:

Trade with the property of orphans and then it will not be eaten away by zakat. (Muwatta’ Malik)

If its sitting doing nothing in your account, and you keep taking 2.5%, within 20 years it will vanish. Islam encourages trade and business; it’s against hoarding and keeping things just for yourself. We need to invest it and circulate the money – this will create circulation and the generation of wealth in the community. If you hoard money it goes nowhere, and you have economic stagnation.

Zakat al Fitr (Fitrana)

In addition, we have been commanded to pay zakat al fitr before praying Eid salah, though we will not be going for Eid salah during the lockdown, we need to pay it before the time.

As Ibn `Umar narrated May Allah be pleased with him said:

Allah’s Messenger (peace be on him) enjoined the payment of one Sa’ of dates or one Sa’ of barley as Zakat-ul-Fitr on every Muslim slave or free, male or female, young or old, and he ordered that it be paid before the people went out to offer the `Id prayer. [One Sa’ = 3 Kilograms approx.] (Bukhari)

Which is around £10 pounds, for member of your family who rely on you financially.

Paying Zakat ul Fitr in cash or kind

There is a discussion among scholars on what medium to spend in, but whatever is beneficial for the needy is acceptable. Cash is a good option because it gives the needy person the ability to spend his most acute needs. At that time, people gave barley and dates because they were a means of exchange.

In another hadith, the Prophet (peace be on him) said:

Spare them from begging on this day. (Daraqutni and Bayhaqi)

Cash does this.

Zakat ul Fitr covers any shortcomings in your fasting during Ramadan

Abdullah ibn Abbas narrated May Allah be pleased with him said:

The Messenger of Allah (peace be on him) prescribed the sadaqah of fitr (alms  relating to the breaking of the fast) as a purification of the fasting from useless and obscene talk and as food for the poor. If anyone pays it before the prayer (of ‘Id), it will be accepted as zakat. If anyone pays it after the prayer, that will be a sadaqah like other sadaqahs (alms). (Abu Dawoud)

Does zakat include the admin fee deducted by the charity? Or not?

One of the eight categories eligible for zakat includes the collectors of zakat. The Quran itself has given them a cut. Provided of course that they are transparent and not wasting funds, administration costs are part of the zakat.

Let’s remind ourselves to fulfil our obligations, and inshallah, Allah Almighty will replace every single penny we pay, and increase our reward, purify our actions and our nafs from anything which displeases Him.

The Friday Reminder delivered online by Shaykh Haytham Tamim on 8th May 2020.

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Shaykh Haytham Tamim is the founder and main teacher of the Utrujj Foundation. He has provided a leading vision for Islamic learning in the UK, which has influenced the way Islamic knowledge is disseminated. He has orchestrated the design and delivery of over 200 unique courses since Utrujj started in 2001.His extensive expertise spans over 30 years across the main Islamic jurisprudence schools of thought. He has studied with some of the foremost scholars in their expertise; he holds some of the highest Ijazahs (certificates) in Quran, Hadith (the Prophetic traditions) and Fiqh (Islamic rulings). His own gift for teaching was evident when he gave his first sermon to a large audience at the age of 17 and went on to serve as a senior lecturer of Islamic transactions and comparative jurisprudence at the Islamic University of Beirut (Shariah College).He has continued to teach; travelling around the UK, Europe and wider afield, and won the 2015 BISCA award (British Imams & Scholars Contributions & Achievements Awards) for Outstanding Contribution to Education and Teaching.