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39 ZAKAT AND SADAQA – FITR (Olayiwolo Jegede) Among the five pillars of Islamic faith, Zakat, as described by the Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, occupies the third position after Kalimatul Shahadat and Salat. Its obligation upon the Muslims has been repeatedly stressed in the Holy Quran by Allah and His Prophet, Muhammad, peace be upon him, in the books of Hadith. God says in the Holy Quran: “The similitude of those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah is like the similitude of a grain of corn which grows seven ears, in each ear a hundred grains. And Allah multiplies it further for whomsoever He pleases and Allah is Bountiful, All knowing” (2:262) “0 you who believe, spend of the good things that you earne, and of what we produce for you from the earth, and seek not what is bad that you may spend out of it when you would not take it yourselves except that you connive at it. And know that Allah is Self Sufficient, Praiseworthy” (2:268) “If they repent, and observe the prayer and pay the Zakat, then they are your brethren in faith” (9: 11) ZAKAT Obligatory charity, while on one hand is the backbone of Islamic social and economic structure, has also been counted as part of worship which a Muslim is obligated to do for his Creator. In all the righteous acts which Islam exhorts us to do, some have been made compulsory for believers to perform while others have been left for them to undertake voluntarily. Zakat is compulsory alms which a Muslim is commanded to give in the way of Allah, in accordance with prescribed rules and regulations. The Holy Quran does not accept the claim of a believer unless he undertakes to pay Zakat. (9: 11) Elsewhere, Allah says: “Those who observe prayer and pay zakat and who have firm faith in the Hereafter it is they who follow guidance from their Lord and it is they who shall prosper” (31 :5,6). 40 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS Zakat therefore is a tax which Islam has prescribed for Muslims to use for running the affairs of the state and community. Basic resources, namely land, water, minerals etc. have been created for all mankind. In addition, the production of wealth requires the help and co-operation of a number of people besides the one who actually earns it, which implies that any sort of wealth earned by a person includes in itself, the share of many others who had contributed in one way or another towards its production. Rightly enough, Allah has said: We have made men subservient to each other. Zakat is thus prescribed to purify one’s earnings from the shares of others. The responsibility of collecting the zakat has been placed by· Islam on the Islamic government and, the items for its expenditure have been defined in an organized manner. The Quran admonishes: “Take alms out of their wealth so that you may cleanse them and purify them thereby” (9: 103). It also dispels the fear that payment of zakat would ultimately reduce the amount of individuals’ wealth. On the other hand, it is described to be a source of benefit for them, as this common fund would enable the government to widen the fields of activity and catering for the needs of the poor, without which a society can not really prosper: “Whatever you give in zakat seeking the favour of Allah, it is these who will ‘.ncrease their wealth manifold” (30:40) This verse promises that divine bounties are derived as a result of payment of Zakat. At the same time, this has been supplemented by a divine warning: “And those who hoard up gold and silver and spend it not in the way of Allah, give to them the tidings of a painful punishment” (9:34) At present the Islamic economic concept of payment of zakat is not in vogue as this has been replaced by a sort of western oriented system of taxation and the people are not held responsible to pay zakat to the government, even in Muslim states, whose governments profess Islam to be the basis of their constitution. Payment of zakat has been replaced by another system of taxation. ZAKAT AND SADAQA 41 BASIC PRINCIPLES UNDER PRESENT CONDITIONS As explained, a Muslim under a non-Islamic government, finds it difficult to pay zakat because of the reasons thus far adduced, coupled with lack of organization by the Muslims themselves. Nevertheless a Muslim must in one way or another pay the zakat as to do so is commanded by Allah. The following measures can be adopted to effect this payment. (1) If a person is paying tax to the government on such categories of wealth or earnings on which payment of zakat is made compulsory by Islam, his payment of tax ~i1l be considered to be substituted for zakat and this is the right of the government. (2) If the amount of tax paid ‘on one’s earning is less than the amount of zakat, he is obliged to pay zakat on the remaining difference. (3) If no tax is imposed by the government on certain categories of earnings while Islam has imposed on them, then the amount of zakat imposed by Islam should be paid. Before considering the categories of wealth on which zakat is paid, the Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, was reported to have said: (1) On every bone of the fingers charity is incumbent every day. One assists a man in riding his beast or in lifting his provisions, this is charity, and a good word is charity. Every step which one takes in walking over to prayer is charity and showing the way to another is charity. (2) Removal from the path that which is harmful is charity. To treat a wife tenderly and put a morsel in her mouth is charity. (4) To treat children affectionately and kiss them are charitable acts. (5) To extend consideration towards neighbours and send them presents are charitable acts. CATEGORIES OF WEALTH ON WHICH ZAKAT IS PAID (l)Gold, Silver and Money. (2) Animals, Camels, Cows, Goats etc. (3) Agricultural products, dates, grapes, oranges etc. 42 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS (4) Trading goods or capital. (5) Minerals. MffiASURESOFPAYMENT (A) On silver and gold 2.5% on 20 1/5 ounces and above after a year. This is equivalent to 5 Auqiah in Arab measure. On money 2.5 % on amount up to 100.00 in a year. (B) Agricultural products (Quran 6:142), Payment of 1/ 10th of zakat on products up to and above l600lbs. (C) Mineral Oil – 1/ 10th on 1600 lbs. (D) Vegetables – No zakat is paid but if sold and converted to money, this should be done. N.B. 115 on mineral resources should go to the state, This is called Khumus. SADAQATUL FITR OR FITRANA It is pertinent at this juncture to refer to Sadaqatul Fitr or Fitrana. Basically defined, it is the Sadaqah or obligatory charity to be paid at the end of Ramadhan and the payment was made incumbent by the Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, on every Muslim. It was reported by Nafiu that Ibn Umar said that the Holy Prophet, peace be upon him, made it incumbent on every male or female, free man or slave, the payment of one ounce of date or barley as Sadaqatul Fitr. (Bukhari”Kitabul Sadaqatul Fitr). It is also reported in the ‘same Hadith that this payment should be paid before going for Eid-prayer and any payment after Eid-prayer is nothing but mere giving of alms. TO WHOM SHOULD ZAKAT BE GIVEN? The Holy Quran is the best reference to answer this question which states: “The alms are only for the poor and the needy and for those employed in connection therewith and those whose hearts are to be reconciled and for the freeing of slaves and for those in debt and for the cause of Allah and for the wayfarer – An ordinance from Allah. And Allah is All Knowing, Wise”. This verse defines the objects and persons (eight in all) on whom zakat or sadaqatul fitr is to be spent and they are: (1) Those suffering from poverty or disease. ZAKATAND SADAQA (4) Trading goods or capital. (5) Minerals. MEASURES OF PAYMENT 43 (A) On silver and gold 2.5% on 20];5 ounces and above after a year. (4) New converts to Islam in need of financial help. (5) Slaves, captives and such other persons who are called upon to pay blood money to secure their freedom. (6) Those unable to pay their debts or who have suffered extraordinary loss in business. (7) Any noble cause (8) Those stranded on a journey for lack of money or those who travel in search of knowledge or for pronouncing social relations. Allah has emphatically ordained that Islam is a way oflife (30:31). The above treatise has lent support to the fact that an ideal Islamic government or society takes care of its people. This is why Allah makes it compulsory for every Muslim to pay Zakat and Sadaqatul Fitr. It is incumbent on all Muslims to pay their own Sadaqatul Fitr for according to the words of the Holy Prophet, peace be upon him, this is an expiation for any sin committed advertently or inadvertently during the month of Ramadhan. It does not behove any big Imam, Muallim, Sheikh, all powerful chairman, secretary or treasurer of any Islamic organization to connive at paying this blessed charity but seeking to devour whatever is collected. This is forbidden for it is solely for the poor and the less privileged. Sadaqatul Fitr should be paid and collected and distributed at least a day before Eidul Fitr to help the poor purchase food. Having taken food they will be extremely joyful to participate in the festivities terminating the month of fasting. May the blessings of Allah, be on all the true followers of the teachings of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. Amen