by Khalid Mustafa Abdul Kader
In the name of Allah, The Most Merciful, The Compassionate
This could be a deep pit. Do not fall into it!
The laws of Islam, known as Shari’ah, are a manifestation of Allah’s, Glorified be He, mercy not just to Muslims but to all humanity. It removes from human beings harmful, burdensome customs and superstitions and aims to simplify and ease their day-to-day lives. One aspect of this multi-faceted mercy is social and economic justice achieved through a major pillar of Islam, namely, Zakat.
Most Muslims nowadays have come to calculate and pay Zakat either during the holy month of Ramadhan or the first ten days of Thu al-Hijjah as these are blessed days during which rewards are multiplied.. In any case a Muslim should plan for this annual event not forgetting that it can be paid in full or in part in advance in cases of emergencies.
If there are Muslims who do not appreciate the importance of paying Zakat, they are to be reminded of its significance and the great benefits derived from it by the “giver” and the recipient.(the word giver is placed in inverted commas because the actual Giver is Allah alone Who takes it from one person and gives it to another not forgetting that it is His in the first and final analyses). Indeed the word Zakat is mentioned throughout the Qura’an, mostly in conjunction with Salat in eighty two verses, denoting its lofty position in Islam, and there are numerous ahadeeth of the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessing be upon him, extolling its virtues. Let us remember that “Zakat is one of three major shares of Islam”; the other two being Salat and Fasting. (This hadeeth was narrated by Ayesha, may Allah be pleased with her)
This article will concentrate on two things only; namely that Zakat does not diminish one’s wealth and the consequences of deliberately withholding its payment when it becomes due. The first refers to the misconception that spending reduces wealth. That may be true of indiscriminate or useless expenditure. Spending on one’s family and friends is rewarded in this life and the hereafter. However, Zakat results in great blessings in this world by way of Baraka in wealth, health and general wellbeing of individuals and communities. Furthermore, it is sufficient to remember that the rewards of the next life will be of such a magnitude that will make a person wish (then) that he had done more in this life. As for the consequences of withholding payment of Zakat one needs to carefully contemplate on verses 17-33 of Surat Al-Qalam (the meanings of which are stated below) and their tafseer.
As you read these verses close your eyes, yes close your eyes, and shut your ears from hearing the external noises; look through your mind’s eyes and let your subconscious (your soul) listen. And who is better than Allah, The All-Seeing, The All-Hearing, can allow you to see, feel and hear the things that may have taken place hundreds and thousands of years ago. (If you wish to talk to Allah, resort to prayer and supplication and if you wish to listen to Him, recite the holy Qura’an.
When the idolaters of Quraish denied the Prophethood of Mohammed, peace and blessings be upon him, rejected his Message and swore to fight him, Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala revealed:
“Indeed, We have tried them (Quraish) as We tried the companions of the garden, when they swore to cut its fruit in the [early] morning ۞ Without making exception ۞” 17-18:68
According to Tafseer Ibn Katheer these were men from the people of the Book whose father had died and left them with an abundantly fruitful vineyard. Whilst alive he used to apportion the proceeds between his family, spend some to improve the land and donate the rest to the poor and needy. After him, his sons thought that their father was unwise to give anything away and swore they will keep everything to themselves.
Let us see what happened ….
“So there came upon the garden an affliction from your Lord while they were asleep ۞ And it became as though reaped ۞ “19-20:68
The whole vineyard looked so dark as if it were devastated by a raging fire!!
“And they called one another at (early) morning ۞ “21:68
“[Saying], “Go early to your crop if you would cut the fruit ۞ “22:68
Picture, if you will this most powerful image that will enable you to see the moving “shadows” in the darkness of the dawn and hear their whispering voices as they conspired to defraud Allah, Glorified be He of that which is rightfully His and was given to them in trust.
“So they set out, while lowering their voices ۞ [Saying], ‘There will surely not enter it today upon you [any] poor person’ ۞” 23-24:68
“And they went early in determination, [perceiving themselves]
able ۞ “ 25:68
“But when they saw it, they said, “Indeed, we are lost ۞ “26:68
They could not believe what they saw because they knew their vineyard was bearing so much fruit and was lush green not charred black, so they thought they had missed the way in the darkness!! But then they realised that they were in the correct place and said:
“Rather, we have been deprived ۞ “27:68
“The most moderate of them said, “Did I not say to you, ‘Why do you not exalt [Allah]? ۞” 28:68
“They said, ‘Exalted is our Lord! Indeed, we were wrong-doers’ ۞”
“Then they reproached one another, blaming each other ۞ “30:68
But blame does not avail. They needed to admit their error of judgment and repent to The Most Merciful.
“They said, “O woe to us; indeed we were transgressors ۞ Perhaps our Lord will substitute for us [one] better than it. Indeed, we are toward our Lord desireous ۞ “31-32:68
Then Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, concludes this section of the Surah reminding us of the greater punishment of the Hereafter:
“Such is the punishment [of this world]. And the punishment of the Hereafter is greater, if they only knew ۞ “33:68
What could other punishments await a person in this life and the hereafter?
Denial that Zakat is a duty that Muslims owe to Allah will take a person out of the fold of Islam. Anyone who does not pay Zakat when it is due from him/her, knowing that it is a duty is sinful but will not be considered out of the fold of Islam, and shall forfeit such an amount equivalent to the amount of Zakat due to the Treasury. In the Hereafter the Holy Qura’an is quite explicit as stated in the following two verses (and many others), the meanings of which read:
“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 ۞ “180:3
This is just for a start “on the Day of Resurrection”; a day that is equivalent to fifty thousand years of this life!
“And those who hoard gold and silver and spend it not in the way of Allah – give them tidings of a painful punishment ۞” 34:9
Pray to Allah, The Oft Forgiving, The Most Merciful to forgive us our short-comings and sinful actions. Ameen.