الحمد لله، الحمد لله الذي طهر أموالَ عباده بالركن الثالث من الدين، وجعل في تطبيقه الصحيح سر صحة الأمة والمسلمين، نحمده تعالى ونستعينه، ونشكره تعالى ونستغفره ونستغيثه، نعوذ بالله من شرور أنفسنا ومن سيئات أعمالنا، من يهد الله فهو المهتد ومن يضلل فلن تجد له وليا مرشدا، ونشهد أن لا إله إلا الله وحده لا شريك له، له الملك و له الحمد، يحيي ويميت، بيده الخير، وهو على كل شيء قدير، ونشهد أن سيدنا و مولانا محمداً عبده ورسوله، وحبيبه وصفيه، بلغ الرسالة وأدٌى الأمانة ونصح الأمة، النبي الأمي الذي أرسله الله بالهدى والدين الحق، بشيرا ونذيرا بين يدي الساعة، صلى الله عليه وسلم وعلى آله وأصحابه ومن تبعهم بإحسان إلى يوم الدين.
أما بعد! فيا عباد الله اتقوا الله حق تقاته ولا تموتن إلا وأنتم مسلمون. يأيها الذين ءامنوا اتقوا الله وقولوا قولا سديدا يصلح لكم أعمالكم ويغفر لكم ذنوبكم. ومن يطع الله ورسوله فقد فاز فوزا عظيما. اتقوا الله فيما أمر وانتهوا عما نها عنه وزجر.
We spoke last week about the primary importance of the prayer in the deen of Allah, how it is the central support of Islam and in many ways its beating heart. Well if prayer enjoys that degree of importance and centrality then zakat is not far behind. For prayer and zakat are inextricably linked, indeed it is rare to find the one mentioned without the other. They are paired more than thirty times in the Book of Allah. Allah says, for example,
وَأَقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَآَتُوا الزَّكَاةَ وَأَطِيعُوا الرَّسُولَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُرْحَمُونَ
the translation of which is, “Establish the prayer and pay the zakat and obey the Messenger so that hopefully mercy will be shown to you.” This linkage is not just a marriage of convenience, a way of mentioning two of the pillars, it runs much deeper than that. There is a connection between these two acts in the Unseen, to the extent that the validity and well-being of the one is contingent on the well-being and validity of the other. Ibn Abbas famously said,
ثلاثة لا تقبل إلا بثلاثة، قال تعالى: “وَأَطِيعُواْ اللهَ وَأَطِيعُواْ الرَّسُولَ”، فمن أطاع الله ولم يطع الرسول لم يقبل الله طاعته، وقال: “أَنِ اشْكُرْ لِي وَلِوَالِدَيْكَ”، فمن شكر لله ولم يشكر لوالديه لا يقبل الله شكره، وقال: “وَأَقِيمُواْ الصَّلاَةَ وَآتُواْ الزَّكَاةَ”، فمن أقام الصلاة ولم يؤت الزكاة لا تقبل له صلاة
“There are three things that are not accepted until three other things are in place: Allah says, ‘Obey Allah and obey the Messenger’, so if anyone obeys Allah without obeying the Messenger, Allah will not accept his obedience; Allah says, ‘Thank Me and thank your parents’, so if anyone thanks Allah without thanking his parents, Allah will not accept his thanks; and Allah says, ‘Establish the prayer and pay the zakat’, so if anyone establishes the prayer without paying the zakat (that he owes), Allah will not accept his prayer.” And we know from last week’s khutba that if the prayer is not accepted, nothing else in a person’s life is even looked at. So, zakat, far from being some optional act of social welfare, is vital to a person’s individual well-being. It is non-negotiable, a pillar of Islam.
But, in the modern era, zakat is often misunderstood or misrepresented. Its importance has diminished in the eyes of many Muslims, not taken particularly seriously. Many view it as a tax, in an era where tax avoidance has almost become the duty of the wealthy, or as an obligatory act of charity, a private act of worship where the payment is left to the conscience of the individual. It is neither of those things as will be made clear in due course.
Before we deal with the question of what zakat actually is and how it is has been misunderstood, let us first look at its benefits. There is such anxiety around money in this day and age, with so many bills and taxes, that we have become wary of anything that appears to diminish it. Zakat can appear to some to be just one more drain on our resources, something which eats away at our savings. But it is in fact the opposite. It is the secret to your wealth’s increase, both in numerical terms and in terms of the degree to which it benefits you. For the knowledge that you will pay zakat on your wealth actually causes you to invest it and make use of it, rather than simply storing it away and leaving it to stagnate and depreciate. It ensures that the lifeblood of a society circulates in a healthy manner, and does not clot up and gather in a single place causing it to grind to a halt and die, which is exactly what riba does. Allah says,
يَمْحَقُ اللَّهُ الرِّبَا وَيُرْبِي الصَّدَقَاتِ
the translation of which is, “Allah obliterates riba but makes sadaqa grow in value!” And He says,
وَمَا آتَيْتُمْ مِنْ رِبًا لِتُرْبُو فِي أَمْوَالِ النَّاسِ فَلَا يَرْبُو عِنْدَ اللَّهِ، وَمَا آتَيْتُمْ مِنْ زَكَاةٍ تُرِيدُونَ وَجْهَ اللَّهِ فَأُولَئِكَ هُمُ الْمُضْعِفُونَ
the translation of which is, “What you give with usurious intent, aiming to get back a greater amount from people’s wealth, does not become greater with Allah. But anything you give as zakat, seeking the Face of Allah – all who do that will get back twice as much.” And the Prophet said,
مَا نَقَصَ مَالُ عَبْدٍ مِنْ صَدَقَةٍ
“A person’s wealth has never been decreased by sadaqa (i.e. zakat).”
Zakat is not a tax and must never be viewed as such. It goes against the grain to give taxes because you are giving someone else who has done nothing the hard-earned fruits of your labour. It is natural to begrudge taxation, it is the very definition of dhulm. But that is not zakat. You do not give away something which is yours to someone undeserving. For that part of your wealth, indeed all your wealth, was never truly yours. Allah says,
آمِنُواْ بِٱللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ وَأَنفِقُواْ مِمَّا جَعَلَكُم مُّسْتَخْلَفِينَ فِيهِ
the translation of which is, “Believe in Allah and His Messenger and give of that to which He has made you khalifas.” Al-Qurtubi says in his tafsir about the words ‘mustakhlafina fihi’ – ‘that to which He has made you khalifas’,
يعني أن الأموال التي بأيديكم إنما هي أموال الله؛ لأنه خلقها، ولكنه متَّعكم بها وجعلكم خلفاء بالتصرف فيها،
“They mean that the wealth that is in your hands is Allah’s wealth since it was He who created it. However, It is simply that He has given you the enjoyment of it and made you representatives of His when it comes to making use of it.” Our wealth is an amana, parts of which Allah has assigned to us and our families and dependents and parts of which He has assigned to the fuqara and the other categories to which zakat is due. When we give zakat, we are not giving charity at all, we are simply returning to others what is rightly due to them. We are simply obeying the Command of Allah, for Allah has said,
إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَامُرُكُمْ أَنْ تُؤَدُّوا الْأَمَانَاتِ إِلَى أَهْلِهَا
the translation of which is, “Allah commands you to return to their owners the things you hold on trust.”
Another thing about zakat is that it purifies your wealth – indeed that is the linguistic meaning of zakat – and purifies you. As Allah says،
تُطَهِّرُهُمْ وَتُزَكِّيهِمْ بِهَا
“to purify and cleanse them by means of it.” It takes away any taint that might unknowingly have attached itself to your wealth, thereby protecting you and it from harm. The Prophet said,
من أدى زكاة ماله ذهب عنه شره
“When someone pays zakat on his wealth, whatever bad there is in it is removed.” And he also said,
حصنوا أموالكم بالزكاة و داووا مرضاكم بالصدقة
“Protect your wealth by means of zakat, and treat your sick by means of sadaqa.”
Zakat uplifts the poor and purifies and enriches the wealthy. There is no shame in giving it, no shame in taking it and no shame in receiving it. It is an honour of the highest order. We ask our Lord to restore it to pride of place in all our societies and communities.
أقول قولي هذا وأستغفر الله لي ولكم ولسائر المسلمين من كل ذنب فاستغفروه إنه هو الغفور الرَّحيم
الحمد لله الحمد لله رب العالمين، وأشهد أن لا إله إلا الله وحده لا شريك له وأشهد أن محمداً عبده ورسوله، صلى الله وسلم وبارك عليه وعلى آله وصحبه، والتابعين وتابعي التابعين ومن تبعهم بإحسان إلى يوم الدين.
أما بعد! فيأيها الذين ءامنوا اتقوا الله ما استطعتم واسمعوا وأطيعوا وأنفقوا خيرا لأنفسكم. يا عباد الله أوصيكم وإياي بتقوى الله وطاعته وأحذركم وإياي عن معصيته ومخالفته.
Zakat is the missing pillar of the deen. Some of you may question this statement, some of you may get indignant at what you may perceive to be an attack on the integrity of your deen. “How can he say that?” you might be saying, “Is there not a proliferation of institutions that collect and distribute zakat? Do I not carefully ensure that my accountant calculates how much I owe and then ensure that I give it to the most deserving cause? Zakat appears alive and well.”
It is not, but before I explain why I say this, I would like to preface this by saying that Allah does not place a burden on a slave that is more than he can bear, and that he is only charged with doing what he is able. Allah says, as we say every week in the khutba,
اتَّقُواْ اللهَ مَا اسْتَطَعْتُمْ
the translation of which is, “Have taqwa of Allah to the extent that you are able.” What I say here is in no way an attack on any individual’s sincere attempts to obey the Commands of his Lord, it is just a recognition of where we are lacking as an umma in this day and age. And there is no doubt that we are lacking as an umma, for Islam is nowhere uppermost in the Land, and where it claims to be, it is so far removed from the actual teachings of the deen that it is as if it were not present at all.
We have mentioned before that Islam is a complete all-encompassing system, one that governs all aspects of our lives. It is not just a religion, it is not just the individual’s private and personal relationship with his Lord, his ibadat, it is also his relationship with everything else he encounters and comes into contact with in the course of his life, his mu’amalat.
The bane of the modern age is that it has separated these two aspects of life, what is called secularism. Religion should be limited to the mosque or church or temple and should not show its face in public in any shape or form. The most extreme examples of this are seen in China and France, but it is also true in almost every country of the world, even those who claim their legal system is based on the Commands of Allah. Nationality and race, even sexuality and profession, have supplanted religion – for want of a better word – as the central core of a person’s identity. Religion is an optional extra, a lifestyle choice. This way of viewing things can only work if Islam is relegated to being just about ibadat and the most personal and unobtrusive forms of mu‘amalat – i.e. marriage and possibly inheritance. As soon as the rest of the mu‘amalat are brought back in to the picture, a secularist mindset becomes impossible. This is where zakat comes in. Zakat is the bridge between ibadat and mu‘amalat, the glue that binds them together. For while it is an obligation on the individual, it cannot properly be established or implemented without a correctly functioning society using a real and usury-free form of currency to transact.
For zakat is a function of amirate, a function of governance. For zakat to truly be fulfilled in the way that Allah intends it to be fulfilled, there must be an amir who collects it and distributes it. It must be taken. In surat at-Tawba, Allah says,
خُذْ مِنْ أَمْوَالِهِمْ صَدَقَةً تُطَهِّرُهُمْ وَتُزَكِّيهِمْ بِهَا
the translation of which is, “Take sadaqa from their wealth to purify and cleanse them.”
According to the mufassirun, the word sadaqa in this aya refers specifically to zakat. So, in other words, Allah is commanding His Prophet, and by extension his khalifas and their appointees, to take the zakat from people’s wealth, not leave it up to them to decide whether or not to give it to him. It is not a matter of personal conscience. The reality of zakat is that it is taken and not given. This has always been the understanding of the Muslim umma and has always been the practice of its leaders, from the very inception of the Muslim state. Indeed, the very first thing that Abu Bakr did upon coming to power and being informed that the tribes who had paid zakat to the Prophet were now refusing to pay it to him, was to say,
والله لأقاتلن من فرق بين الصلاة والزكاة فإن الزكاة حق المال والله لو منعوني عناقاً كانوا يؤدونها إلى رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم لقاتلتهم على منعها
“By Allah, I will fight anyone who makes a distinction between the prayer and zakat. Zakat is the right which is due on wealth. By Allah, if they refuse me so much as a single goat which they used to pay to the Messenger of Allah, I will fight them for it!” He saw the institution of zakat as being such a fundamental cog to the welfare of the Muslim state that he was prepared to risk the survival of the nascent Muslim umma to restore it. This report indicates that, contrary to popular belief, the collection and distribution of zakat is the right of the amir, not the individual who pays it. The amir and his representatives take it from the rich and distribute it among the poor, as is indicated from the instructions the Prophet gave Mu‘adh ibn Jabal when he sent him to Yemen,
أعلمهم أن الله تعالى فرض عليهم صدقة تؤخذ من أغنيائهم وترد في فقرائهم
“Inform them that Allah has made it obligatory for zakat to be taken from their wealthy and given back to their poor.” This was the ijma of the four imams and of all the major fuqaha from their madhahib, and it applies just as much to hidden wealth, such as gold, silver and trade goods, as to apparent wealth, such as livestock and crops, as is proven by the statement of Umar ibn al-Khattab,
خُذ من المسلمين من أربعين درهما درهما…
“Take from the Muslims out of every forty dirhams one dirham,” for this statement specifies monetary wealth. Indeed the Hanafi jurist, Ibn Abi Sahl as-Sarakhsi, went so far as to say that anyone who pays his zakat to other than the ruler, has not met his obligation of zakat and still owes it. And Imam Ahmad is quoted in the book ash-Sharh ar-Rabbani li Musnad Ahmad as having said, “The khalifa alone has the authority and responsibility to collect and distribute zakat, whether by himself or through those he appoints, and he has the authority and responsibility to fight those who refuse to pay it.”
What we have mentioned here is indisputable and agreed-upon. And as such, it becomes incumbent upon us to put some form of proper leadership in place, or at the very least work towards that end. For the preconditions of an act of worship are as vital as it is. The fuqaha say,
مالا يتم الواجب إلا به فهو واجب
“Whatever is required by an obligatory act for it to be fully put into place is itself obligatory.” We cannot continue to accept an incomplete and compromised version of zakat, a shell of what it is meant to be, no longer a galvanising force, a tool of social regeneration that strengthens the leadership and eases the lot of the poor, but rather simply another form of philanthropy and charity, albeit one which is obligatory, that is either given to the poor members of one’s own family or to charitable institutions. But such institutions have no right to your zakat and make a mockery of it, failing to meet many of its basic requirements and conditions.
Firstly, they represent no leadership and do not themselves fall into any of the eight categories, even that of zakat collector since that is an appointed position, and so have no right to take any zakat from anyone. Therefore, they are misappropriating the funds of well-intentioned Muslims and preventing them from fulfilling their obligation correctly.
Secondly, even were we to say these organisations had the right to collect zakat, they do not properly fulfil the conditions of its distribution. Zakat must first be distributed locally before being sent abroad, but too often they send it all abroad and neglect those who live locally. Zakat must be distributed immediately or as soon as possible, but they put checks and measures in place that make that nigh on impossible. People in desperate need, unable to even put food on their own tables, are required to wait months to be cleared and declared eligible. And sometimes those checks have no basis in the Shar’. For example, a man recently came to me and told me he had approached a local zakat organisation for help, and they had demanded of him, amongst other things, his and his wife’s bank records. But according to the deen of Allah, even were his wife to be the wealthiest woman in the world, that would have no bearing on his own claim. She is not required to give him any of her wealth.
Zakat must only be distributed to the eight categories mentioned in the Quran – it must be given to them directly and not used on their behalf, but often these organisations use it to pay for a person’s education or build a well to give clean water to needy communities. These may be praiseworthy aims, but they are not valid uses for zakat. And that is to say nothing of the huge proportion of what is given that is absorbed by these organisations’ bloated infrastructures. The zakat you pay may end up paying for an office building or a secretary’s salary rather than helping those for whom it is intended.
As long as such organisations exist and abuse their positions thus, zakat will never be properly established. Instead, a proper structure of leadership must be restored, and that leadership must be entrusted with the reins of zakat, both its collection and distribution. Then, and only then, will the deen once again be whole and its house fully supported. We ask Allah to give us the success to do that and empower our communities by restoring their heads.
إِنَّ اللهَ وَمَلَائِكَتَهُ يُصَلُّونَ عَلَى النَّبِيِّ، يَا أَيُهَا الذِينَ آمَنُواْ صَلُّواْ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلِّمُواْ تَسْلِيماً.
اللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ وَسَلِّمْ وَبَارِكْ عَلَيْهِ وَعَلَى آلِهِ وَصَحْبِهِ أَجْمَعِينَ. وَارْضَ اللَّهُمَّ عَنِ الْخُلَفَاءِ الرَّاشِدِينَ أَبِي بَكْرٍ وَعُمَرَ وَعُثْمَانَ وَعَلِيٍّ، وعن أم المومنين عائشة التي أمرنا الله في سورة النور أن ندافع عنها، وَعَنْ سَائِرِ الصَّحَابَةِ أَجْمَعِينَ، خُصُوصاً اِلأَنْصَارَ مِنْهُمْ وَالمُهَاجِرِينَ، وَعَنِ التَّابِعِينَ وَتَابِعِي التَّابِعِينَ وَمَنْ تَبِعَهُمْ بِإِحْسَانٍ إِلَى يَوْمِ الدِّينِ.
اللَّهُمَّ اهْدِ وُلَاةَ أُمُورِ المُسْلِمِينَ لِمَا يُرْضِيكَ وَلِاتِّبَاعِ سُنَّةِ نَبِيِّكَ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ، وَثَبِّتْ أَقْدَامَهُمْ عَلَى الصِّرَاطِ المُسْتَقِيمِ، وَأَصْلِحْهُمْ يَا رَبَّ الْعَالَمِينَ.
اللَّهُمَّ بَارِكْ عَلَى شَيْخِنَا، وَعَلَى أَمِيرِنَا، وَعَلَى جَمِيعِ أُمَرَاءِ وَزُعَمَاءِ المُسْلِمِينَ.
اللَّهُمَّ بَارِكْ عَلَى المُسْلِمِينَ فِي هَذِهِ المَدِينَةِ، وَوَفِّقْهُمْ لِمَا تُحِبُّهُ وَتَرْضَاهُ يَا أَكْرَمَ الأَكْرَمِينَ.
اللَّهُمَّ أَعِزَّ الإِسْلَامَ وَالمُسِْلمِينَ، وَاخْذُلِ الْكُفْرَ وَالْكَافِرِينَ، وَانْصُرِ المُجَاهِدِينَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللهِ. وَاجْعَلْ كَلِمََتَكَ هِيَ العُلْيَا وَكَلِمَةَ الْكُفْرِ هِيَ السُّفْلَى.
رَبَّنَا ءَاتِنَا فِي الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً وَفِي الآخِرَةِ حَسَنَةً وَقَِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ.
إِنَّ اللهَ يَامُرُ بِالْعَدْلِ وَالإِحْسَانِ وَإِيتَاءِ ذِي الْقُرْبَى، وَيَنْهَى عَنِ الْفَحْشَاءِ وَالمُنكَرِ وَالْبَغْيِ، يَعِظُكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَّكَّرُونَ، وَلَذِكْرُ اللهِ أَكْبَرُ وَاللهُ يَعْلَمُ مَا تَصْنَعُونَ. وَقُومُواْ إِلَى صَلاتِكُمْ يَرْحَمُكُمُ اللهُ.