The Islamic Bulletin
The Islamic Bulletin
I learned about Islam through a
co-worker in 1989. As I began
reading the Holy Koran, I found
many interesting things. I like
how honor and respectable be-
havior is stressed in all Muslims.
Having lived 22 years in what
I deem a corrupt American
society, these teachings were a
breath of fresh air. I am interest-
ed in knowing where I can find
additional literature on Islam. I
have read a lot about it in the
library and I have also attended
several forums presented by
the Islamic group at S.F. State
University. I would also be
interested in an article about
inter-faith marriages between Moslems and Catholics. I have really
enjoyed your “Islamic Bulletin” and would like to subscribe to it
and receive it regularly.
- Maria Fernandez, San Francisco
Thank you for your letter and your interest in the Islamic Bulletin.
I agree an article about inter-faith marriages would be of great
interest to our readers.
Readers, please send your articles or stories on the above topic.
I found a copy of the Islamic Bulletin, Vol I, No. 2, Ramadan issue.
It is marvelous. Could you please send me a collection of the same?
I am a Muslim, and Afghan, a cultural servant and an editor of the
Nama-e-Khorassan. I will send you soon a copy of my magazine and
a Tafsir which I have published here. Hoping to hear from you soon.
- G H Koshan, Hayward
Please start participating by sending us your letters, comments
or suggestions so that we can make ‘The Islamic Bulletin’ your
San Quentin: Nine Bay Area Muslims have begun visiting and
teaching Islamic classes to both the Muslim inmates and newcomers
to Islam. The number of Muslims has increased to 300 with many
more interested in converting.
Every 3rd and 4th Thursday of each month visits are held between
6:00 and 9:00 pm. Islamic talks and Arabic classes are also held
weekly, as well as daily and Jumha prayers. There is also a full-time
Imam present, along with a library of books and Islamic videos. If
you would like to donate Islamic reading materials contact Imam
Rafiq Hassan at 415-454-1460 (Extension 2377).
Sofia: Bulgaria’s 1.5 million Muslims can now adopt Islamic names.
The country’s parliament passed a bill allowing the ethnic Turk and
Pomak Muslims to take Islamic names and also allowing them to
revert to their original names which were forcibly changed to Bul-
garian-Slavic origin under a policy of assimilation. The parliament
took up the bill on a priority basis when 3000 Pomack Muslims
made sit-in protests around the building. Ever since the departure
of the repressive regime of Todor Zhivkov, the new Bulgarian gov-
ernment has been pursuing a policy of liberalization.
Manama: “Baitul Qur’an”, $10 million academy-museum designed
to promote Islamic studies and preserving rare manuscripts of the
Qur’an was inaugurated. The “Baitul Qur’an” is a two storied building
with marble tiled exterior which resembles pages of the Qur’an with
engraved verses and chiselled classical Islamic Art embellishments. The
center comprises a mosque, school, lecture hall, library and museum.
The mosque has about 80,000 volumes related to Qur’anic research
in Arabic, English, and French. The library provides special facilities for
scholars and researches completewithword processors, stenographers
and recording devices. There is also a museum with a collection of
the world’s “most valuable and priceless manuscripts of the Qur’an.”
Algiers: Islamic Front controlled Municipalities in several towns and
cities of Algeria have introduced unisex schools and banned obscene
dresses on beaches along the Mediterranean coast. It has also banned
“Ra” music, a kind of Arabic rock music eulogizing love, sex, and
youthful revolts. These wide ranging reforms within amonth of Islamic
Salvation Front’s stunning success in the country’s first ever multiparty
elections have been widely welcomed in the country which had hith-
erto been ruled by socialists. Alcoholic beverages are also being phased
and the distribution of non-alcoholic drinks is being reorganized.
Editor, Islamic Bulletin
P.O. Box 410186
San Francisco, CA 94141-0186, USA
Zakat and Sadaqat - Introduction
Throughout this newsletter, the words sadaqah and zakah have
been used interchangeably which might cause confusion in some
of our readers’ mind. The reason for such confusion is obvious: if
sadaqah and zakah are the same, then why not stick to one term?
On the other hand, if the two vary in meaning, then why not use
their precise application according to the text’s demands? As such,
a little explanation is due.
Linguistically, sadaqah is derived from the root sadq or sidq, which
means “to speak the truth, to be sincere.” It can also mean, “candor
and efficiency.” The Qur’anic lexicon transfigures this verbal root
into sadaqah - a term applicable to the concept of a gift offered to
someone from one’s rightfully owned holdings without regret or
remorse or without any ulterior motives, in short, for the pleasure
of God, the Exalted. It therefore parts of four essential elements:
legitimacy of one’s holdings, sincerity of intention, altruistic motives,
and the condition that it is for God, The Almighty.
At first glance, sincerity of intention, altruism, and seeking God’s
pleasure may strike a case of redundancy. However, the three are
interdependent. For example, a person could be sincere in helping
others; he could also be motivated by altruism. Still, the two would
not endow it with the character of a sadaqah because of one missing
ingredient - that is, giving it for God, The Almighty alone. This is so
because sadaqah is not an exclusive concept.
Rather, it is embedded in the eschatology of Islam which paradox-
ically includes the concerns of this life as well. Not surprisingly, the
Qur’an refers to the giving of sadaqat as an essential component of
its program for mankind. While giving the oath of allegiance (bai’ah)
to Muhammad (S.A.W.), the companions used to promise that they
would, among other things spend in the way of God - whether they
were rich or poor.
Why sadaqat were tied in the bai’ah is a question worth pondering.
Though voluntary by nature, the promise to give sadaqat was an
essential part of the oath because, without such an undertaking, the
new community could not have survived even its first test. Sadaqat
symbolized in ameaningful way the solidarity and brotherhood among
the members of the Muslim ummah. They provided a safety net for
the newly initiated who were alienating themselves from their kafir
(unbelieving) society and thus facing economic hardships. Limiting it to
a specific amount would have been damaging to the very concept by
vitiating its voluntary character. At the same time, it would have denied
the community the vast resources that it garnished for its need through
sadaqat. Last, it would have retarded the spiritual and moral growth of
its members which the promise of Islam held for them. It is peculiar to
the spirit of Islam that it took not to be despised or ignored, and where
people felt bound to each other because they cared.
This kind of social realignment necessarily originated in the Islamic
concept that God is compassionate and Who, in the eloquent
words of the Qur’an, “kattaba rab-bukum ‘ala naf si hir-rahmah,”
has taken upon Himself mercy for the believers. The divine virtue
therefore had to be reflected in the believers’ character.
Sadaqat provided not only a catharsis for the individual sense of guilt
toward the deprived but they also imparted a sense of achievement
to the giver that he was a partner in the collective effort to usher in a
Thus, sadaqat had to go beyond the meaning of charity or be-
neficence. Even though giving away money was its most potent
expression, it never stayed imprisoned in its material mold; it
stretched itself to become a style of life - a new paradigm. That is
why, according to the ahadith, a sadaqah could be anything. Size,
amount, or form is immaterial. A flicker of smile that comes on a
believer’s face at the sight of another believer or his removal of
any hazardous material from a road is as valuable as a big donation
In a very remarkable hadith, Abu Musa al-Ash’ari reported that the
Prophet, (S.A.W.), as saying that every Muslim must give sadaqah
(charity). He (the Messenger) was asked how could this apply to
one who had nothing, and he replied that he should work with
his hands, gaining benefit for himself thereby and giving sadaqah.
Asked what would happen if a person was unable to do this or did
not do it, the Messenger replied that he should help one who is in
need and sad. Asked what he should do if he did not do that, he
replied that he should do if he did not do that, he replied that he
should refrain from evil, for that would be sadaqah for him.
- Sahih al-Bukhari, Sahih Muslim, Mishkat-al-Masabih, vol. 1, p. 403.
What matters in such cases is the intention. If it is for God, The
Almighty, then it falls within the ambit of worship. Paradoxically,
it does not assume the character of an obligation, even though in
some ways, its reward defies any time frame and continues bene-
fiting the doer as long as his sadaqah has validity to life. For exam-
ple, the construction of a school or the raising of a good Muslim
family survives the dead and any good accrued on them benefits
the dead. This is strikingly different from prayer (salah) and fasting
(siyam) which because of its esoteric nature go with the deceased
at the time of death.
The definition of Zakat is that portion of a person’s wealth which is
designated for the poor. The term is derived from the Arabic verbal
root meaning “to increase”, “to purify”, and “to bless.” It finds its
origin in God’s command to:
“Take sadaqah (charity) from their property in order to purify
and sanctify them.” (Qur’an at-Taubah:103)
That is why this kind of sadaqah is called zakah, for by paying it;
one is aspiring to attain blessing, purification, and the cultivation
of good deeds.
Taking into account its very nature, it is no wonder that zakah con-
stitutes one of the pillars of Islam. It is associated with prayer (salah)
in eighty-two Quranic verses. God, the Exalted One, prescribed it
in The Quran, His Messenger (pbuh) corroborated it by his sunnah,
and the community (ummah) upheld it. Ibn ‘Abbas reported that
when the Holy Prophet (pbuh) sent Mu’adh ibn Jabal to Yemen (as
its governor), he said to him: “You are going to a people who are
People of the Scripture. Invite them to accept the shahadah: that
there is no God but Allah and I am His Messenger. If they accept
and affirm this, tell them that God has enjoined five prayers upon
them during the day and night. If they accept that, tell them also
that He has enjoined sadaqah upon their assets which will be tak-
en from the rich of the Muslim community and distributed to the
poor. If they accept that, refrain from laying hands upon the best of
their goods and fear the cry of the oppressed, for there is no barrier
between God and it.”
At-Tabarani relates in al-’Aswat and as-Saghir, on the authority of
Ali, that the Prophet (pbuh) said:
“God has enjoined upon rich Muslims a due to be taken from
their properties corresponding to the needs of the poor among
them. The poor will never suffer from starvation or lack of
clothing unless the rich neglect their due. If they do so, God
will surely hold them accountable and punish them severely.” -
According to at-Tabarani: “It was only by Thabit ibn Muhammad
as-Zahid.” Of Thabit’s credibility, al- Hafiz in turn says: “Thabit
was an honest and trustworthy person. Al-Bukhari and others
related from him, and the rest of the narrators in the chain are
considered as accepted authorities.”
In the early days of Islam, no limit or restriction was placed on the
amount to be donated, for that decision was left to the individual
Muslim’s conscience and generosity. In the second year of hijrah,
both the type and the quantity of zakah revenues were determined,
and detailed illustrations were provided.
Zakah in Islamic Jurisprudence
“It is not righteousness that ye turn, your faces toward East or
West, but righteousness it is to believes in God and the Last Day,
and the angels, and the Book and the Messengers; to spend of
your substance out of love for Him, for your kin, for orphans, for
the needy, the wayfarer, for those who ask, and for the ransom
of slaves; to be steadfast in prayer and give zakat. To fulfill the
contracts which ye have made; and to be firm and patient, in pain
(or suffering) and adversity, and throughout all periods of panic.
Such are the people of truth, the God-fearing.” (Qur’an 2:177 )
To the Qur’anic word Zakah and the meaning it conveys, there is
no equivalent in any other language as far as we know. It is not just a
form of charity or alms-giving or tax or tithe. Nor simply an expres-
sion of kindness; it is all of these combined and much more. It is not
merely a deduction of a certain percentage from one’s property, but
an abundant enrichment and spiritual investment.