Issue 133 » August 31, 2001 -
The Repentance (9) - Ayah 103
"(O Prophet) Take alms (of Zakah) out of their riches in order to cleanse them and bring about their growth (in righteousness)"
The Muslim Ummah is a practical and caring community. It recognizes the value of material well-being and the fact that people naturally stand in need of one another. The major instrument for ensuring such a caring and healthy community is the institution of Zakah (Almsgiving, which is one of the five pillars of Islam). Zakah consists of an annual contribution of 2.5% of one's income or "appropriated" wealth to public welfare.
Islam teaches people that the poor and the deprived have a 'title' or a 'right' in the wealth of the rich [70:24-25] and constantly exhorts the rich to meet that obligation. In this sense, the rich stand in need of the poor, in order to be 'purified', as the above verse mentions. If they do not fulfill this 'right' of the poor, they will be called to account. It is also interesting to note, the Arabic word Zakah comes from the same root word as Tazkiyyah which signifies 'growth', 'increase', 'nurturing', in addition to 'purification'. In a nutshell, the purpose of Zakah is both to purify one's wealth and to increase him or her in righteous deeds. Unfortunately, today very few Muslims practice this pillar of Islam.
The following are four of the many benefits of Zakah:
1. Being a religious duty, it offers the donor the inner satisfaction of a duty accomplished. The funds on which Zakah has been paid bring blessing, satisfaction and reward in this world and the next; funds on which no Zakah has been paid will bring suffering, misery, and punishment in this world and the hereafter. The very word Zakah has another meaning: 'sweetness'. It implies that those funds on which no Zakah has been paid are 'bitter'.
2. Zakah makes for social welfare and solidarity and eliminates class and economic barriers; it eliminates arrogance on the part of the giver and removes humiliation on the part of the receiver.
3. The need to pay Zakah acts as a stimulus to investment of income in productive enterprise, for capital that is allowed to remain idle would progressively be used up in Zakah payments. Invested in production, it adds to society's wealth and could help in job creation.
4. Zakah is a great promoter of wealth circulation throughout society, which is one of the main features of any healthy economy. The Quran condemns the accumulation and circulation of wealth in the hands of the rich only.
[compiled from "Islam: The Natural Way" by Shaykh Abdul Wahid Hamid, pp. 118-119]
GLIMPSES OF THE PROPHET'S SEERAH
One of the Ansar (indigenous people of Madinah) once prepared food and sent it to the home of 'Ali ibn Abi Talib (radhi Allahu 'anh). When Ali and Fatimah sat down, Fatimah remembered her father, the Prophet of Allah, and said, "This is such nice food, I wonder if my father has eaten his dinner." Ali immediately went to invite him (salla Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam) over to their home for dinner. Rasul Allah happily accepted the invitation and accompanied Ali home. As he entered the house, he saw that Fatimah (radhi Allahu 'anha) had decorated the house with expensive curtains. He immediately turned around and left. Ali approached him and asked, "Why are you upset, O Rasul Allah? What have we done?" He calmly answered, "It is not permitted for a Messenger of Allah to enter a house which has extravagant decorations!"
Something to consider: If the Prophet were to visit YOUR home today, would he feel comfortable and welcome entering it ?
BUILDING INTER-PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS
Role of Relationships in Personal and Social Transformation
One Hadith says "A man always follows the way of his friend". Therefore, for personal transformation and tazkiyyah (spiritual purification), this brotherhood provides the reinforcement, the encouragement and the guidance to remain on the right path and change oneself.
To attain social transformation, the Quran says "Those who believe, and do hijrah and do jihad, with their possessions and lives in the way of Allah, and those who give them protection and sanctuary and help them, they are the friends of each other" [Surah al-Anfal:72].
But later the Quran says similarly "The Unbelievers are protectors, one of another: Unless ye do this. (protect, each other), there would be tumult and oppression on earth, and great mischief" [Surah al-Anfal:73]. In order to remove societal corruption and to achieve social transformation, there should be a strong cohesive group which is prepared to struggle in this way.
Similarly for facing the trials and tribulations that are inevitable in this way one needs mutual support. Alone it is difficult to withstand the pressures, the tortures, the obstacles which are bound to come as you go a little forward on the way because the Quran has promised them. "Do those who say we believe think that they will be left without being tested. No, they will be tested!" [Surah al-Ankabut :2].
This unity and cohesiveness is necessary for successful struggle as well. Because the real strength of the jama'ah is derived from unity and cohesiveness and the real source of weakness is the internal dissension. The Quran says "And obey Allah and His Messenger; and fall into no disputes, lest you lose heart and your power depart" [Surah al-Anfal:46]. This tells us the importance of brotherhood and the relationship between one person and another.
What is the Nature of this Relationship in Islam?
This nature can be very simply expressed by two elements.
The first being that this relationship is for the sake of Allah alone and for no other motive. This relationship is not for the sake of company, not for the sake of drawing aid and help, not for carrying sorrows and joys, nor deriving worldly benefits but as I said only for the sake of Allah.
This is not to deny all those things which must flow from it, which I shall explain, but the motive should be solely for the sake of Allah alone. It is said that on the day of judgement Allah (subhana wa ta'ala) will say "Where are those who used to love each other just for My sake? Today I will provide them the best of rewards".
The second is that the word chosen by the Quran to express this relationship is ukhuwwah (brotherhood). "They are like brothers to each other" and the word chosen by the hadith is hubb (love). Now ukhuwwah (brotherhood) and hubb (love) are not things which one can go on and explain precisely in words. They are something which belong to the world of inner experience!
The verse from Surah Anfal indicates the immensity of this task, which in my view is perhaps the most difficult task in this world. That is why the Quran has used a language addressing the Prophet himself "If you would have spent all the wealth on this earth you would not have been able to join their hearts in love and affection. It is only Allah who has done so" [Sura al-Anfal:62]. So this not only tells us that we should trust Allah for this but this also pictures before us the great immensity of the task.
Many a time questions are raised as to how to achieve concentration in Salah. In my view all those tasks are much easier than the task of maintaining a perfect interpersonal relationship of brotherhood and love. That is perhaps the most difficult task. That is why you will see that while the Quran has not devoted any space to tell us how many rakahs there are in the salah and how to perform it as well as all the details of the rituals, it has however gone to great lengths to explain how one Muslim should conduct himself with respect to others. The whole of Surah al-Hujurat is full of such instructions and they are spread throughout the text of the Quran itself.
But what it indicates is that in the sight of the Quran, this is the most important thing. Individual ethics and aesthetic spiritual experiences may be easy to attain but to live with justice, mercy, compassion, kindness and love with others is not that easy a task. And therefore this requires certain qualities and resources.
... to be continued ...
[from "Interpersonal Relationships" by Ustadh Khurram Murad (rahimahullah)]
QUOTES TO PONDER UPON
"A remarkable feature of the Islamic
Shari'ah (code of life) is that it is an organic whole. The entire
way of life propounded by Islam is animated by the same spirit and
therefore, any arbitrary division of the scheme is bound to affect
the spirit of Islam as well as the structure of the Islamic order.
In this respect, Islamic way of life might be compared to the human
body. A leg separated from the body cannot be called one-eigth or
one-sixth man, because after its separation from the body, the leg
cannot perform its function. Nor can it be placed in the body of some
other animal with the aim of making it human to the extent of that
limb. Likewise, we cannot form a correct judgement about the utility,
efficiency, and beauty of the hand, the eye or the nose of a human
being outside the context of their place and function within the living
The same can be said about the scheme of life envisaged by the Shari'ah. Islam signifies a complete way of life which cannot be split into separate parts. Consequently, it is neither appropriate to consider the different parts of the Shari'ah in isolation, nor to take any particular part and bracket it with any other '-ism'. Islam can truly function smoothly only if one's whole life is lived in accordance with it."
[from "The Islamic Way of Life" by Sayyid Abul A'la Mawdudi (rahimahullah), pp. 19-20]