Summary lessons from the Ihya (5): Mysteries of Zakat (Charity)

Ihya series: Mysteries of Zakat

One of the reasons why it is difficult for most humans to give up potions of their wealth is the notion of entitlement or a false belief that the wealth they own is due to their hard work. More unfortunate is that most of us perceive the possession of wealth as “the source” of survival and enjoyment; thus, we do our best not to lose it, which leads to hoarding and stinginess. 

This attitude is an indication of a poor state of mind, unconsciously placing wealth in God’s position when it is taken as the source of survival. It is mostly a latent disease! When Allah (God) is asking us to give from what He has placed in our care (of possession), people shrug, they do not want to let go, so they reject the command and the offer from God. Their wrecking soul silently adopts a deceptive affirmation; “My wealth is more precious, I rather keep this money than obey you, God” or “Oh, I love you God, but I love the wealth you gave me more”. Some will give so that he does not get excommunicated or rebuked in society for not giving charity.  

One of the wisdom of Zakat is to help us renew our relationship with God, undeniably accepting He is our Lord who owns us and owns the things we own, recognizing and submitting to His commands willingly and accepting His dominion while having a good opinion of Him. In that case, whether there is benefit in Zakat for human beings or not should not be the real reason to give Zakat. It should be to submit to the will of God with all reverence.  

Lexically, Zakat can be interpreted to mean growth, increase in good, purification, or praise. Zakat in jurisprudence is the name for the minimum amount of property that must be paid to a certain kind of recipient annually. It is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. From these meanings, we can deduce the notion of purity, proximity, and property. If you make a claim to love God, the first way to prove it is how you handle God’s property in your possession. Refusing or delaying to give Sadaqah (the voluntary charity) or Zakat (obligatory charity) only exposes deficiencies in your Love for Allah and thankfulness for His property in your possession.  

In our dealings and transactions, we make mistakes; thus, our wealth may have unlawful traits; the job of Zakat is to purify it.

To help the reader relate to how Zakat can genuinely be a purification is the idea of blood cupping, a method of letting out a small amount of blood to purify the whole blood. It is a painful process, but the joy and willingness to go through the process override the pain because the result is known.

While Zakat has more merit because there is never a loss in a transaction with Allah (God), obedience to God is intrinsically a blessing, not to mention Zakat’s spiritual role in wealth or property. It is prescribed as an obligation on every Muslim – male, female, adult, and child with the property’s minimum amount required. The technicalities of how to give and when to give are detailed in Islamic jurisprudence.  

Zakat is paid for; 

  • Livestock 
  • Money 
  • Crops 
  • Wealth acquire from business in which 2.5% must be discharged 
  • Treasures 
  • Mines 

Zakat recipients are; 

  • Destitute, 
  • Poor, 
  • Zakat collector, 
  • For the reconciliation of the heart 
  • Those in debt 
  • Travellers in need of monies  

Zakat of Eidul Fitr is another type of charity given and it is an obligation on every free Muslim male, female and child provided one has the necessary amount of food which will be 2.036kg of grain or money value on the day of Eidul Fitr (festival for commemorating the end of fasting in the month of Ramadan) for himself and those he is obliged to support.   

The inward ambition of Zakat and Sadaqah is a test of character. “Character is a combination of qualities or features that distinguishes one person or group from another.” Spending willfully from what they love most distinguishes people who give charity.   

Allah (God) said in the Glorious Qur’an: You will not attain piety until you expend what you love; and whatever thing you expend, God knows of it. surat al Im’ran (3 vs. 92) 

Be careful of actions that can invalidate your Zakat. The etiquette of giving charity is to give it secretly. Sometimes it is better to make it public if you want to encourage others but you must be careful to avoid showoff from creeping into it. And be careful not to destroy your Zakat by holding yourself in favour over the person you are giving it to; in reality, he was the one doing you a favour. His acceptance of your charity is a purification for you. You have given them a temporary assistant but they have given you a permanent assistant. What some righteous people do is to give it out with their hands beneath the person they are giving it to so that they can recognize the higher hand is better than the lower hand. These are some of the spiritual etiquettes. And you do not humiliate and think less of the person you are giving it to.   

The Prophet said:

“Three things destroy, and three things save. As for the three things that destroy, they are greediness that is obeyed and desires that are followed, and a person becoming self-conceited (and proud) with himself. As for the three things that save, they are the fear of Allah in secret and public, and moderation in poverty and richness, and fairness in anger and pleasure.”

The pronunciation of the shahadah (testament of faith) is a commitment to the oneness of Allah in His action (being the creator of you and what you do), His attributes (e.g the most beneficent, the most merciful), and in His essence (actual existence belongs to Allah). Therefore, there is nothing except Allah is a blueprint. The condition of fulfilling this statement of Shahadah is that it does not remain in the heart of the one who believes in this statement any object of love except for the One, the unique, Allah (God). This also means that when it comes to other things people love, you should love them for the sake of Allah(God). Just paying lip service to Shahadah is of little benefit. The one that is tried is the one that is separated from the things they love and that is true patience. 

Wealth is beloved to human beings because it is through them that we enjoy the world. And that is why we do not like it being taken away. Those who don’t know this fact are impressed with the world and those who know are impressed with the one who causes the world to move. And by virtue of wealth, these individuals are intimate with the world. And they flee from death (even though in death is the meeting of the beloved) as they gain more love for the things of the world. So, individuals who say the Shahadah are put to test by examinations to check the veracity of their claims. To determine if they truly love Allah or they love Allah’s gifts to them. The test in Zakat to give out from possession is to ascertain where they place it in their heart. Abu Bakr Siddiq gave all his wealth. He said he left Allah and his messenger for his household; this is a reflection of the concept of what Allah (God) means to him. 

If a person is having the disease of Stinginess, Imam Al-Ghazali advises the person to perform the opposite, to continue to give until the disease of stinginess disappears. The Foundation of spiritual diseases according to scholars of Tazkiyyah (Purification of the heart) is heedlessness (from God). And the foundation of heedlessness is a type of Shirk because we paid attention to something other than Allah to make us forget Him. This is the case of Zakat. The fear of losing our possession leads to forgetting the source of the possession (God).  

In conclusion, to know your place or stand with Allah, giving or not giving Zakat and Sadaqah is the best way to know. The state of your heart while and when you give charity outwardly and inwardly determines your stance with Allah. Holding back also means you are telling Allah the things He places in your possession is better. May we be saved from such a notion.

May Allah grant us a heart that is not consumed by its own ambitions, ideas, and hopes but one consumed by the One who owns him. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *