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Fiqh Al Zakah – A Comparative study of Zakah, Regulations and Philosophy in The light of Quran and Sunnah – Volume 1

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Fiqh al Zakah English Version Vol 1Book Sample

AUTHOR INTRODUCTION – Fiqh al Zakah English Version Vol 1

 Praise be to God and prayer and peace on the messenger of God, his family, his companions, and those who follow his guidance. Out of the five pillars of Islam, Zakah is the socio-financial one. By performing zakah along with tawhid (belief in the oneness of God) and establishing prayers a person becomes Muslim.

As a member of the Muslim community he or she deserves the brotherhood and allegiance of Muslims, as indicated by the Qur’anic verse “but if they repent, establish prayers, and practice zakah they are your brethren in faith”.

 Even though zakah is usually mentioned with the methods of worship of Islam, such as prayer, it is in fact a part of the socio-financial system of Islam. For that reason, it is always studied under the heading of Financial and Political Issues of the Islamic Society. Therefore, it is no wonder that Muslim scholars are eager to analyze the details of zakah from all angles.

Explanatory Issues – Fiqh al Zakah English Version Vol 1

 Commentators on the Qur’an study and explain the verses about zakah including verse 267 in Sura al Baqarah, verse 242 in Sura al ‘An’am, verses 34, 60, and 103 in Sura al Tawbah, and several other verses, among commentators, those who specialize in ahkam (Injunctions of the Qur’an) such as Abu Bakr al Razi, al Jassas Abu Bakr bin al ‘Arabi, and Abu ‘Abdullah al Qurtubi, have detail contributions to the explanation of the verses of zakah.

Scholars of hadith study the traditions of the Prophet that deal with zakah. You will find a chapter on zakah in all books of Sunnah, especially those sorted according to articles of fiqh such as Muwatta’ Malik, Sahih al Bukhari, Sahih Muslim. Jami ‘al Tirmidhi, Sunnan al Nasa’i, Sunnan abi Dawud, and Sunan Ibn Majah. In Sahih al Bukhari alone, the chapter of zakah contains 172 sayings attributed to the Prophet Muhammad (P) Muslim agreed with him on All but of the Prophet’s sayings. In aslo contains 20 sayings of the companions and the followers.

Jurists study zakah in their books as the second major worship in Islam. It is usually listed right after prayers, in line with the sequence found in Qur’an and Sunnah.

Scholars specialized in the financial and administrative issues of Islam look at zakah as a component of its socio-financial tem. So we find zakah in al Kharaj of Abu Yusuf, al Kharaj of Yahya bin Adam, al Amwal, of Abu ‘Ubaid, al Ahkam al Sultaniyah, of al Mawardi (Shafi’it), al Ahkam al Sultaniyah of abu Ya’la (Hanbalite), and Al Siyasah al Shar’iyah, of Ibn Taimiyah.

Need for new study

Since the subject of zakah has been extensively researched, and its references are abundant, one may ask, why do we need a new study of zakah? Does the contemporary Muslim library need a new work such as the one we are embarking on, (which studies zakah, its objectives, its effects on the life of the individual and the society and its status among contemporary socio-financial systems?) The answer to this question is yes, for the following reasons.

1. This important tenet of Islam needs to be re-examined, combined in one volume and represented in a contemporary style. The authors of old times wrote for their own ages with their own styles. Each era has its own style, as the Qur’an says, “we sent not an apostle except to teach in the language of his own people in order to make things clear to them”.

There are two main subject in Islamic economics that deserve to be studied in this time because of their relevance. One is an essential obligation or a pillar of Islam. The other is a prohibition, a major sin. The first subject is zakah, the second riba (interest). There is no disagreement among Muslims about the obligatory nature of the first, nor the prohibition of the other, for denying this obligation or that prohibition amounts to apostating.

However, the issue of riba received more attention of scholars than the issue of zakah. Great scholars such as Abu A’la al Mawdudi ((Al Riba published in Arabic.)) Muhammad Abdullah Draz ((His paper on “al riba”, read in the conference on Islamic jurisprudence, Paris 1951.))  ‘Isa ‘Abdu, Muhammad Abu Zahrah ((His booklet Prohibition of Riba. As An Economic Institution published in the series mentioned in footnote 6)), Muhammad Abdullah al ‘Arabi ((His paper “Private Ownership and its limits in Islam” read at the Congress on Islamic Research, Cairo and published in the first collection of proceedings of the Congress)), Muhammad Abu Sa’ud ((His book Outlines of Islamic Economics and his paper “Is It Possible To Establish an Islamic Bank” published by Makatabah al Manar)), Muhammad Baqir al Sadr ((His book: Our Economics, published by Dar al Fikr, Lebanon; also his book Interest Free Bank)), and Muhammad ‘Uzair ((His paper “Factors of Success in an Interest Free Eank” published by Maktabah al Manar.)), have written books, papers, and articles on riba, whether from a pure Islamic point of  view or from a position influenced by the Western capitalistic stance on money and life. In spite of the fact that there is always room for more rigorous and more extensive research, one can note that a reasonable amount of research has emerged on this issue.

As for the issue of zakah, there is very little concern for its research by scholars. Such an important matter like zakah still needs more study and research, especially since it is one of the fundamental obligations of Islam and a cornerstone of its financial, economic, and social systems.

Scholars differ on details of Zakah – Fiqh al Zakah English Version Vol 1

2. Muslim jurists differ on many details of zakah. Each has his own opinion and arguments, and there are sometimes contradictions among their interpretations, which leaves the majority of people in chaos and confusion about what opinion to choose.

There is a great need to review these interpretations, opinions, and arguments, to discuss them with certain degree of neutrality, to examine them in the light of the criteria descending from God, and to show which among them is the most worthy.

 To this need the late Shiekh Mahmud Shaltut referred’ in his book Islam, Doctrine and Law ((Al Islam, Doctrine and Law, page 109, Dar al ‘IIm print, Egypt.)), saying under the title “Zakah, A Principal Religious Pillar”.

The late Shaltut called for a reviw of those differences among schools of thought, which he feared may mar the essence of this obligation. Fuch a review should be based on the ultimate objectives of zakah as cited in the Qur’an, so Muslims could understand and apply it on the same level.

3. There are new matters that did not exist in the past and were not known to the ancient jurists. These  new matters require new religious injunctions. Today, Mulims ask many questions about zakah that must not be left without answers. Questions such as how to consider new forms of wealth other than Iivestock, agricultural produce and fruits.

These new forms of wealth include huge buildings for rent, enormous factories and plants, machines and equipment, and all kinds of fixed and circulating capital that provide tremendous flow of income out of their production lines and rental proceeds such as ships, cars, planes and hotels.

Zakah for new trading and industrial corporations

There are new trading and industrial corporations, the new forms of income of professionals like physicians, engineers, and lawyers and huge numbers of employees receiving wages and salaries. Are all these zakatable or not, and if they are zakatable, what is the percentage of zakah on them? When is it due? And on what basis in Shari’ah is it founded.

Many measures and terms mentioned in the texts on zakah, such as al wisq in agricultural products, sa’ in the fast-breaking zakah, darahim and dananir in the zakah on money require new definitions and translation into today’s measures. Are these quantities given and fixed or can we change them in response to changes in economic and social circumstances, such as a change in the purchasing value of money?

There are new taxes with progressive or flat rates imposed by contemporary governments with certain social purposes attached to them. The relation between such taxes and zakah should be studied, and the areas of similarities and differences must be pointed out. The substitutability of these taxes and zakah must be investigated and their coexistence must also be examined.

Questions like these are waiting for answers and Muslim scholars are looked at to provide such answers. To say that the door of ijtihad is closed would incorrectly leave these issues unsettled. None can close the door of ijtihad since it was opened by the messenger of God (P).

Methodology of jurisprudence – Fiqh al Zakah English Version Vol 1

Reliable scholars of ‘usul (methodology of jurisprudence) are determined that ijtihad can be exerted on individual issues, since some people may specialize in certain areas of jurisprudence. In our days this specialized ijtihad becomes the common rule rather than the exception. Hard work and exerted preparation are required to understand the texts of the original sources of this religion from the linguistic and the religous points of view, and those who have prepared themselves well for ijtihad can obviously exercise it.

While I believe that giving fulfilling answers to such questions requires a collective ijtihad exercised by a group of muslim schloars, I maintain that individual effort and resarch undoubtedly pave the way for sound collective ijtihad until a time comes when Muslim states make it feasible for reliable scholars to work together as teams of collective ijtihad.

4. Unfortunately, there are a few misgivings among some Muslims about zakah. Some look at it as a very meager amount given by the rich to the poor only to sustain the latter’s life and keep him barely at the poverty line, i.e. in permanent need of the condescendent charity of the rich. This picture has no place in the institution of zakah in Islam, though it is regrettably practiced by many.

We even find some reputable journalists in Egypt writing that zakah does not fit our society because the contemporary social and economic systems must be based on work and production instead of charity as if zakah were simply a charity for beggars or a support for the idle14. Another writer called Islamic social justice “charity socialism” ((Khalid Muhammad Khalid in his book Min Huna Nabda’, from here to there.)). All this reveals an ill intention to mislead readers or at least an enormous ignorance about zakah and emphasizes the need for a new study which I believe is an obligation on Muslim scholars.

Lack of enough literature in contemporary Muslim library

Researchers interested in financial and economic issues of Islam have expressed their surprise that the contemporary Muslim library lacks a serious and comprehensive study on zakah in spite of its important place in this religion of Islam ((Mahud Abu Al Sa’ud in an article in the journal Al Muslimun, few years back)). The Higher Council of Islamic Affairs in the Ministry of Awqaf in Eqypt felt this need by announcing nine years ago zakah as one of few major research areas and allocating prizes to the best research papers written on zakah.

This need was further stressed by the Congress on Islamic Research held in Cairo, March, l963, and attended by Muslim scholars from more than forty countries. In their resolution, the conferees declared “The issues of zakah, financial resources in Islam, means of investment, their relation to individuals and society, and the private and public rights are the major issues of

Objectives of this study – Fiqh al Zakah English Version Vol 1

contemporary concern because these subjects represent the point of convergence in Shari’ah of worship and social behavior. For this very reason, the Congress considers these issues as a main theme for its coming session ((Proceedings of the first session of the Congress of Islamic Research, page 314.)).” The present piece of research endeavors to fulfill the following purposes:

A. Gathering the dispersed texts from their original sources in Qur’an, hadith, and commentaries as well as jurisprudence books of all schools of thought, books on financial and religious policies and general books on Islamic culture, and rearrange them in one whole theme that helps to understand zakah in Islam. 

B. Investigating the differences and disagreements among scholars in an attempt to find the most sound opinions in the light of the evidence in Shari’ah, Muslims’ needs and their common contemporary interests.

C. Answering questions on zakah arising from modern economic practices, questions cannot continue neglecting anymore.

D. Attempting to reveal the nature zakah as an Islamic obligation, comparing it with other modern taxes, and showing the similarities and differences between them.

E. Presenting the objectives and goals of zakah and its effects on Muslim society in solving problems like poverty, destitution, and begging and in facing socio-economic miseries and showing the precedence of zakah with regard to social solidarity and social insurance.

F. Correcting misgivings about zakah, which are caused by misunderstanding or erroneous application anl debating objections raised by the enemies of Islam.

Poor in Ancient Civilizations

Poverty and destitution are as old as history. It is fair to say that all human communities have some people who call for the care of the poor. Feeling for others’ sufferings never ceased throughout the history of humanity and attempts to provide relief and to solve Problems continue in all civilizations. In spite of all that, the situation of the poor has been extremely bad. It has always been a dark spot in human history.

 All societies had such injustice and did not follow the humanitarian advice of their philosophers and prophets. One historian talks about the relations between the rich and the deprived poor in ancient civilizations in the following way: “In every nation that existed on earth one could easily recognize two classes of people, the rich and the poor.

The rich class exercised power and always became richer and inflated while the deprived class was weak and smashed down to earth. With that contradiction the social structure of that civilization would eventually fall apart, with the rich wondering why everything was deteriorating.” ((The late scholar Muhammad Farid Wajdi, author of the Encyclopedia of the Twentieth Century and for many years editor of the al Azhar Review. His book Islam a Universal and Eternal Religion, is quoted above, pp 179-181, first print.))

Egypt in its early history was like a godly paradise on earth, producing all kinds of goods that were more than abundant for its people and at the same time its poor classes could not find even the mere sustenance of food, because the rich class left nothing of substance for them.

Famine during XII dynasty in Egypt – Fiqh al Zakah English Version Vol 1

When the great famine hit Egypt during the region of the XII dynasty, poor people sold themselves as slaves to the rich who made them even suffer more. In ancient Babylon the situation was the same. The poor had no rights to the fruits of their land in spite of huge production. The ancient Persia, Greece, and other kingdoms were also similar. The poor were driven by whips and sticks to lowest jobs an were punished severely and sometimes savagely slaughtered for the slightest errors. In Sparta the rich left for the poor rocky lands that was not fertile, so they lived on suffering. In Athens, the rich used to sell the poor as slaves if they failed to pay tolls imposed on them. In Rome, the source of Western law, the rich ruled over the whole nation, distinct and high-ranked, reducing others to untouchables compared

to them. The poor were forced to obey them and this often forced them to escape and find their way out of Rome. As described by Mitchle said about the Roman Empire: “The poor were descending deeper and deeper into poverty while the rich were increasing their wealth. When the Roman empire was abolished and European kingdoms rose in its place, the plight of the poor became even worse. They used to be sold with the land like livestock under the fuedal system of these kingdoms.”2 

The Concern of Religions for the Poor  – Fiqh al Zakah English Version Vol 1

All religions, including man-made religions, did not neglect this humanitarian social issue, without which brotherhood and quality of life would not be realized. More than four thousand years ago in Babylon, Hamurabi, in introducing the first known recorded law on earth, stated “God’s had sent me to prevent the omnpotents from suppressing the powerless subjects and to guide people and secure prosperity for creatures.”

Thousands of years ago, people, in ancient Egypt, expressed the sentiment that it was their religious duty to give bread to the hungry, cloth to the naked, and passage on their boats to the incapable, or to be father of the fatherless, husband of the widow, and a protector to the outcast in cold winter. ((from a lecture by Dr. Karl Schobens in the Seminar on Social Studies, third session, p. 546.))

The Concern of the Heavenly Religions – Fiqh al Zakah English Version Vol 1

The voice of heavenly religions was Iouder in calling for care of the poor and powerless than other secular systems, for the former had deeper effects than any human philosophy or man-made law. I cannot believe any Messenger of God to have passed through the world without calling for the care of the poor, which is called in the Qur’an zakah. In the Holy Qur’an, which is the most authentic heavenly document existing on earth today, we find mention of the messages of Ibrahim, Ishaq, and Ya’qub.

God says: “And We made them leaders, who guide men by our command, and We sent inspiration to do good deeds, to establish regular prayers, and to practice zakah, and they constantly served Us.”4 Isma’il’s message is described following: “And also mention in the story of Isma’il who was strictly true to what he promised. He was an apostle and a Prophet and he enjoined on his people prayer and Zakah, and he was most acceptable in the sight of his Lord.”

iWe also see the pledge of bani Isra’il: “And we took a covenant. from the children of Isra’il: worship none but God, treat with kindness your parents and kindred and orphans and all those in need, speak fair to the people, be steadfast in prayer, and practice zakah. Then did ye turn back except a few among you, and ye backslide”. In another verse this pledge is described “God did afore time take a covenant from the children of Isra’il, and We appointed twelve captains among them and God said I am with you if you establish regular prayer, practice zakah, believe in apostles, honor and assist them and loan to God a magnificent loan.

In other verses – Fiqh al Zakah English Version Vol 1

Verily I will wipe out from you your evils, and admit you to gardens with rivers flowing beneath, but if any of you after this resisted faith he has surely wandered from the path of rectitude. The message of Jesus Christ is described by his own words as a baby in the cradle “And He hath enjoined on me prayer and zakah as long as I live.

About the People of the Book in general, God said, “And you have been commanded no more than this: To worship God, offering Him sincere devotion, be true in faith, establish regular prayer and practice zakah, and that is the religion right and straight.

In the Old and New Testaments as they exist today, we find many recommendations and directives to have mercy for the poor and to care about the widow, the orphans, and the weak. In the Old  Testament, proverbs 22:13 we read “If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the  helpless, he will cry for help himself and not be heard. –A gift given in secrecy placates an angry man.”

In proverbs 22

In proverbs 22: ” The kindly man be blessed for he shares his food with the poor” And in proverbs 27: “he who gives to the poor will never be in need and he who prevents the poor and turns his eyes away from him will have my wrath.” And in Deuteronomy 15:7-11 “When one of your fellow countrymen…becomes poor, do not be hard-hearted or closefisted with your countrymen in his need.

Be open-handed towards him and lend him on pledge as much as he needs…Give freely to him and do not begrudge him your bounty, because it is for this very bounty that the Lord, your God will bless you in everything that you do or undertake. The poor will always be with you in this land, and for that reason I command you to be open-handed with your countrymen, both poor and distressed, in your own land.”

In 14:22-29 of the same “Year by year, you shall set aside a tithe of all the produce of your seed, of everything that grows on this land… At the end of every third year, you shall bring out all the tithe of your produce for that year and leave it in your settlements so that the Levites, who have no holding or patrimony among you and aliens, orphans and widows in your settlement may come and eat their fill. If you do this the Lord, your God, will bless you in everything to which you set your hand.” 

New Testament, Luke 13:33 – Fiqh al Zakah English Version Vol 1

In the New Testament, Luke 13:33 “Sell what you have and give charity” and in Luke 13:10-14 “he who has two garments must give to he who has none. He who has food must do the same.” In Luke 11:41 “let what is in the cup be given in charity and all is clean.” And in Luke 14:l2-14 “Then he said to his host when you are having a party for lunch or supper, do not invite your friends, your brothers, or other relations or your rich neighbors, they will only ask you back again and so you will be repaid.

But when you give a party, ask the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind and so find hapiness for they have no means to repaying you, but you will be repaid on the day when good men rise from the dead.” In Luke 21:1-4, “He looked up and saw the rich people dropping their gifts into the chest of the temple treasury, and he noticed a poor widow putting in two tiny coins, I tell you this, ha said, ‘This poor widow has given more than any of them, for those others who have given had more than enough, but she, with less than enough, has given all she had to live on”.

In Matthew 5:41,42 “Give them what you are asked to to give and do not turn your back on a man who wants to borrow” and in Matthew 6:1-4 “Be careful not to make a sham of your religion by charitable giving before men, if you do, no reward awaits you at your Father’s house in heaven.

Thus when you do an act of charity, do not announce it with a flourish of trumpets as the hypocrites do in synagogues and in the streets to win admiration from men. I tell you this: they have their reward already.  Do not let your left hand know what you right is doing. Your good deed must be secret and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” In Matthew 10:42 “and if anyone gives so much as a cup of cold water to one of these little ones, because he is a disciple of mine, I tell you this: that man will assuredly not go unrewarded.”

Notes on the Stand of Religions Towards Poverty 

These are supreb examples of the care of previous religions toward the poor and the needy and this was the essence of the message of heavenly scripts before the Qur’an. Some observations, however, must be recorded.

1. These texts do not go beyond recommendations and encouragement to be merciful toward the poor and wary of selfishness and miserlihood. It is a loud call to voluntary and individual charity. 

2. These statements on charity do not make it compulsory so that those who abstain from charity do not feel that they have left an essential part of their religion and that they would be punished by God in this life and in the afterlife. 

3. It is left to the human conscience to give charity: the state is not given any authority in its collection and distribution. 

4. The amount that should be given, the kinds of wealth that are subject to give from and circumstances and conditions of the fulfillment of this charity are not specified. This makes it impossible for state to institutionalize it on any religious grounds. 

5. Caring for the poor does not reach the extent of a rigorous attempt to deal with the problem of poverty, to eliminate it, to dry its sources or to transform the poor into property owners and landowners. These calls ended at attenuation of the misery and suffering of the poor.

Consequently, the poor and weak remain at the mercy of the rich and powerful. If the latter are motivated by the love of God, the sense of an afterlife, or their own conscience, then the poor are helped and relieved. But if the faith of the wealthy is wicked, if they love accumulation and exclusive pursuit of their own desires, the poor is left to their suffering without anyone to defend their rights against the rich. This is usual when charity is left voluntary and up to the conscience of individuals.

The Benevolence of Islam in Dealing with Problem of Poverty 

Islam is unprecedented in the extent of its care for the poor and its zest to solve the problem of poverty whether through directives and recommendations that exhort Muslims to have mercy on the poor, by means of legislation and laws, or through implementation and application. 

The Care Provided in the Qur’an for the Poor in the Makkan Period 

It is apparent that as early as the first few months of the Makkan period when Muslims were still a handful of men and women prevented from practicing and calling for this new religion and not constituting a political entity, that the humane social aspect of Islam — caring about the poor and the destitute, was highly evident. This concept is expressed in the Qur’an as “feeding the poor”, “spending of the sustenance that God has provided”, “a right to he who asks and to the deprived who does not ask”, or “a right to the destitute and the wayfarer”, and sometimes, the term “establishing zakah”, is used. 

It suffices to read in the Makkan suras the following great verses: 

Feeding the Poor is a Requirement of Faith – Fiqh al Zakah English Version Vol 1

     In sura al Muddathir, one of the very early revelations of the Qur’an, we see a scene from the day of judgment. The righteous people in their heavenly gardens inquire of the dis-believers and liars whom the fires of Hell encompasses, what were the reasons for their punishment. Among those reasons are neglecting the rights of the poor, letting him be beaten by hunger, nakedness, and suffering, and turning their faces away from him.

God says: “Every soul will be held in pledge for its deeds except the companions of the right hand they will be in gardens of delight. They will question each other and ask of the sinners, ‘What led you into hellfire?’ They will say, ‘we were not of those who prayed, nor were we of those who fed the indigent, but we used to talk vanities with vain talkers and we used to deny the day of judgment.

Similar to feeding the poor is clothing, sheltering, and providing necessities for them. In sura al Qalam, God tells the story of those who owned a garden and collected its fruits at night in order to prevent the poor and needy that come on harvest day from taking some charity.

Those who denied charity – Fiqh al Zakah English Version Vol 1

Because of that God sent to them a quick punishment. The verses read: “Then there came on the gardens a visitation from thy Lord which swept away all while they were asleep so the garden became by morning like a dark and desolate spot whose fruits had been gathered. As the morning broke, they called out one to another, ‘Go ye to your tilthe be times in the morning if ye would gather the fruits’, so they departed conversing in secret, low tones, saying, ‘let not a single indigent person break in upon you into the garden this day?’, and they opened the morning strong in an unjust resolve but when they saw the garden they said we have surely lost our way. Indeed, we are shut out of the fruits of our labor. Said one of them, more just than the rest,

‘Did I not say to you why not glorify God?’ They said, “Glory to our Lord, verily we have been doing wrong.’ Then they turned one against another in reproach. They said, ‘Alas for us we have indeed transgressed. It may be that our Lord will give us in exchange a better garden than this for we do turn to Him in repentance.’ Such is the punishment in this life, but greater is the punishment in the hereafter if only they knew.” ((Sura al Qalam, 68:19-33.)) 

Encouragement to Take Care of the Indigent – Fiqh al Zakah English Version Vol 1

The Makkan verses did not conclude by calling for mercy on the indigents, encouraging and providing for their needs, and making it fearful to neglect or be harsh to them. The Makkan verses went farther, in considering that on each believer there is a duty to the indigent, i.e., believers should urge others to help the poor. The Qur’an considered abstention from encouraging others to aid the needy a feature related to

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