Concerning Zakaat and Its Benefits
— Mohammed Al-Uthaimeen
Zakaat is one of the obligations of Islaam. It is also one of its (five) pillars, and the most important amongst them after the Testimonies of Faith and the Prayer. Proof for its obligation can be found in the Book of Allaah, the Sunnah of His Messenger and the unanimous consensus of the Muslims.
So whoever rejects its obligation is a disbeliever who has apostated from Islaam, and he should be made to repent, and if not then he should be killed. And whoever is cheap with giving it or minimizes any portion that is due from it, then he is from the wrongdoers who are deserving of Allaah’s punishment.
Allaah says: “And let not those who hold back miserly from giving that which Allaah has bestowed on them from His Bounty think that it is good for them. Nay, it will be worse for them. The things that they held back from giving will be tied to their necks like a collar on the Day of Recompense. And to Allaah belongs the heritage of the heavens and the earth, and Allaah is well-Aware of all that you do.” [Surah Aali ‘Imraan: 180]
And in Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree, Abu Hurairah (radyAllaahu ‘anhu) reported that Allaah’s Messenger (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Whoever Allaah has given money to and does not give his Zakaat for it, it will take the form of a shiny-headed male serpent with two black spots over its eyes, which will encircle him on the Day of Judgement and bite his cheeks saying: ‘I am your money, I am your wealth.’”
Allaah says: “And those who hoard up gold and silver and do not spend on them in the Way of Allaah (i.e. by giving Zakaat), give them the tidings of a painful punishment. This will be on the Day when those treasures (i.e. gold and silver) will be heated in the Fire of Hell and with it their foreheads, bodies and backs will be branded. (And it will be said to them): ‘This is the treasure that you hoarded for yourselves, so taste what you used to hoard.” [Surah At-Tawbah: 34]
And in Saheeh Muslim, Abu Hurairah (radyAllaahu ‘anhu) reported that the Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “There is no one that possesses gold and silver and doesn’t give his due (Zakaat) on it except that on the Day of Judgement, it will be made into plates of fire, then dipped into the Fire of Hell and with it his body, forehead and back will be branded. Each time the plates grow cool, they will be reheated and brand him again. This will occur on a Day the length of fifty thousand years, until Allaah judges His servants.”
Zakaat has many religious, behavioral and communal benefits of which we will mention the following from them:
From its religious benefits are:
1. It is abiding by one of the pillars of Islaam, upon which rests an individual’s prosperity in this worldly life and the Hereafter.
2. It brings a servant close to his Lord and increases his Faith. This is the case with all of the acts of worship.
3. What comes as a result of doing it, such as great reward. Allaah says: “Allaah will wipe away (the reward) of usury and increase that of charity (i.e. Zakaat).” [Surah Al-Baqarah: 276]
And He says: “And that which you give as a gift (to others) in order that it may increase (your wealth by expecting something in return) from other people’s property, has no increase with Allaah. But that which you give in Zakaat sincerely for the sake of Allaah, those people shall have manifold increase.” [Surah Ar-Room: 39]
The Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Whoever gives away charity the size of a date, which is earned lawfully, since Allaah only accepts the good lawful things, Allaah will indeed take it with His right Hand and cause it to grow for its owner, just as one of you raises up his colt, to the point that the charity will become like the size of a mountain.” [Reported by Al-Bukhaaree and Muslim]
4. Allaah wipes away the (minor) sins by way of it, as the Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Giving charity wipes away sins just as water extinguishes fire.” The word charity (sadaqah) here refers to the Zakaat as well as the supererogatory form of charity.
From the benefits it has on a person’s character are:
1. It causes him to follow the way of the generous individuals possessing kindness and magnanimity.
2. Giving the Zakaat requires a person to characterize himself with the attributes of mercy and sympathy towards his destitute brothers, and Allaah shows mercy to those who have mercy on others.
3. What has been witnessed is that giving financial and physical support to Muslims causes the hearts to become open and the soul to be pleased. And it causes a person to become loved and respected according to the extent of support he gives to his fellow brothers.
4. Giving Zakaat cleanses one’s character from stinginess and miserliness, as Allaah says: “Take the charity (Zakaat) from their wealth in order to purify and cleanse them by way of it.” [Surah At-Tawbah: 103]
From its communal benefits is that:
1. Zakaat provides for the needs of the poor who are the majority of people in most countries.
2. Zakaat strengthens the Muslims and raises their status. This is why one of the areas Zakaat can be given in is Jihaad in the Cause of Allaah, as we will mention later, by the Will of Allaah.
3. It removes the grudges and ill feelings found in the hearts of the poor and destitute. This is since when the poor see the money the wealthy have and their not benefiting them with it, by giving them neither a little nor a lot, then it is likely that they will hold hatred and rancor for the wealthy as they did not enforce their rights or provide for their needs. But when the wealthy do give some of their money to them at the beginning of every year (i.e. after holding the wealth for a year’s time), these things terminate and there comes about love and harmony.
4. Giving Zakaat boosts one’s wealth and increases it’s blessedness, as is stated in the hadeeth from the Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) in which he said: “Charity does not detract from one’s wealth.” This means that even though charity (Zakaat) takes away from one’s wealth numerically, it indeed never takes away from its blessedness or its increasing in the future. Rather, Allaah will replace what he gave away and bless his wealth.
5. Zakaat is a means for spreading and distributing wealth (throughout the community). This is since if some wealth is given out, its range is broadened and many people benefit from it, contrary to when the wealth is just preserved amongst the rich, since the poor will not gain any part of it.
All of these benefits that come from giving Zakaat show clearly that Zakaat is something necessary and required in order to rectify the individual and the society. How perfect is Allaah, the All-Knowing and Most Wise!
Zakaat is required to be given on specific forms of wealth, which include:
1. Gold and silver, on the condition that they meet the nisaab (minimum requirement). With regard to gold, the nisaab is 11 3/7 Saudi pounds, and for silver it is 56 Saudi Riyals worth of silver or whatever equals that amount from other forms of paper currency. One is obligated to pay a quarter of a tenth Zakaat on the above (i.e. 2.5%). It makes no difference if the gold and silver come in the form of cash, coins or jewelry.
Furthermore, one must pay Zakaat on a woman’s gold and silver jewelry if it meets the nisaab, regardless of whether she wears that jewelry or lends it out. The reason for this is because the evidences that mandate that Zakaat be paid on gold and silver are general and not detailed. And it is also because there are specific ahaadeeth that indicate the obligation of giving Zakaat on jewelry, even if it is worn, such as what has been reported by ‘Abdullaah bin ‘Amr bin al-‘Aas (radyAllaahu ‘anhu) that:
“A woman once came to the Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) with her daughter who had two gold bangles on her hand. So the Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: ‘Do you pay Zakaat on this?’ She said: ‘No.’ So he (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: ‘Would it please you if Allaah made you wear two bangles of fire instead?’ So she took them of and said: ‘They are for Allaah and His Messenger.’” [It is stated in Buloogh-ul-Maraam: “Reported by the Three and its chain of narration is strong.”]
Another reason is because this is more cautious and the most cautious approach takes precedence.
2. Also from the wealth that one is obligated to pay Zakaat on is: Business merchandise, which includes everything that is prepared for business purposes, such as real estate property, automobiles, livestock, household goods and other types of wealth. It is obligatory to pay a quarter of a tenth (i.e. 2.5%) on these items.
After holding the item for one year, one must estimate how much it is worth and pay 2.5% (Zakaat) on it, regardless of whether it now costs more, less or the same amount as what he originally paid for it. As for the items he prepares for his personal use or which he leases, such as real estate property, automobiles, appliances and so on, then there is no Zakaat due on them based on the Prophet’s (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) statement: “A Muslim is not obligated to pay Zakaat on his slave or his horse.”
However, Zakaat is due on things that are rented out, when their year time-limit is reached, as well as on gold and silver due to what was stated previously.
Footnotes: Translator’s Note: Meaning Abu Dawood, An-Nasaa’ee and At-Tirmidhee
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