The Islamic Bulletin
The Islamic Bulletin
It is not simply voluntary contribution to someone or some cause, nor a
government tax that a shrewd clever person can get away with. Rather,
it is a duty enjoined by God and undertaken by Muslims in the interest
of society as a whole. The Qur’anic word Zakah not only includes
charity, alms, tithe, kindness, tax, voluntary contributions, etc., but it also
combines with all these God- mindedness and spiritual as well as moral
motives. That is why there can be no equivalent to the word Zakah be-
cause of the supreme originality of theQur’an, the Divine Book of God.
The literal and simple meaning of Zakah is purity.
The technical meaning of the word designates the annual amount in
kind or coin in which a Muslim with means must distribute among
the rightful beneficiaries. But the religious and spiritual significance
of Zakah is much deeper and livelier.
Here is an explanation of the far-reaching effects of Zakah.
1. Zakah purifies the property of the people with means and clears it
from the shares which do not belong to it anymore, the shares which
must be distributed among the due beneficiaries. When Zakah is
payable, a certain percentage of the wealth should be distributed
immediately in the right manner, because the owner no longer has
moral or legal possession of that percentage. If he fails to do so, he
is obviously retaining something which does not belong to him. This
is corruption and plain usurpation from every point of view, moral
and spiritual, legal and commercial. It means that the unlawfully
retained percentage makes the whole lot impure and endangered.
But, on the other hand, if the poor’s dividends are assorted and
distributed among due beneficiaries, the remaining portions of the
lot will be pure and decent. Pure capital and decent possessions are
the first requisites of permanent property and honest transactions.
2. Zakah does not only purify the property of the contributor but also
purifies his heart from selfishness and greed for wealth. In return, it
purifies the heart of the recipient from envy and jealousy from hatred
and uneasiness; and it fosters in his heart, instead, good will and warm
wishes for the contributor. As a result, the society at large will purify
and free itself from class warfare and suspicion, from ill feelings and
distrust, from corruption and disintegration, and from all such evils.
3. Zakah mitigates to a minimum the sufferings of the needy and
poor members of society. It is a most comforting consolation to the
less fortunate people, yet it is a loud appeal to everybody to roll up
his sleeves and improve his lot. To the needy it means that it is by
nature an emergency measure and that he should not depend on it
completely, but must do something for himself as well as for others.
To a contributor it is an invitation to earn more so that he can benefit
more. To all parties concerned, it is, directly as well; as indirectly, an
open treasure for spiritual investment that compensates abundantly.
4. Zakah is ahealthy formof internal securityagainst selfishgreedandsocial
dissension, against the intrusion and penetration of subversive ideologies.
It is an effective instrument in cultivating the spirit of social respon-
sibility on the part of the contributor, and the feeling of security and
belonging on the part of the recipient.
5. Zakah is a vivid manifestation of the spiritual and humanitarian
spirit of the responsive interactions between the individual and the
society. It is a sound illustration of the fact that though Islam does not
hinder private enterprise or condemn private possessions, yet it does
not tolerate selfish and greedy capitalism. It is an expression of the
general philosophy of Islamwhich adopts a moderate and middle but
positive and effective course between the Citizen and State, between
Capitalism and Socialism, between Materialism and Spirituality.
The Rate of Zakah
Every Muslim, male or female, who, at the end of the year, is in posses-
sion of approximately fifteen dollars or more, in cash or articles of trade,
must give Zakah at the minimum rate of two and one-half percent. In
the case of having the amount in cash the matter is easy. But when a
person has wealth in business stocks or trade articles, he must evaluate
his wealth at the end of every year according to the percent of the total
value of the wealth. If his investment is in immovable property like rev-
enue buildings and industries, the rate of Zakah should go by the total
net of the income, and not of the total value of the whole property. But
if he puts up buildings and homes for the trade or selling, Zakah rate
should go by the total value of the entire property. Also if someone is a
creditor and the indebtedperson is reliable one shouldpay Zakah for the
amount he has lent because it is still a portion of his guaranteed wealth.
In all cases it should be remembered that one pays for his net balance.
His personal expenses, his family allowances, his necessary expendi-
tures, his due credits- all are paid first, and Zakah is for the net balance.
It should also be remembered that the rate of 2.5% is only a minimum.
In times of emergency or arising needs there is no rate limit; the more
one gives, the better it is for all concerned. The distribution of Zakah
serves all purposes for which numerous funding raising campaigns
are launched. The Zakah fund substitutes for all the other funds. It
is authentically reported that there were times in the history of the
Islamic administration when all people of the vast Islamic empire had
enough to satisfy their needs, and the rulers had to deposit the Zakah
collection in the Public Treasury. This shows that when the Zakah
law is enacted properly it minimizes the needs of the citizens and
enriches the Public Treasury to such an extent that there may be no
needy or poor and that enormous amounts of surplus are available.
The unfailing power of this effective measure of the public interest
stems from the fact that it is aDivine injunction, an ordinance fromGod
Himself. It is not a personal matter or a voluntary contribution; rather,
it is an obligation for the fulfillment of which one will be responsible
to God directly. Because Zakah is the legislation of God Himself to be
enforced in the common interest, no Muslim is allowed to neglect it.
When it is not observed properly, the rightful authorities of the State
must interfere on behalf of the public to establish the institution
and see to it that it is enforced.
The Due Recipients of Zakah
The Holy Qur’an classifies the due recipients of Zakah as follows:
The poor Muslims, to relieve their distress.
The needy Muslims, to supply them with means whereby they earn
The new Muslim converts, to enable them to settle down and meet
their unusual needs.
The Muslim prisoners of war, to liberate them by payment of ran-
The Muslim in debt, to free them from their liabilities incurment
under pressing necessities.
The Muslim employees appointed by a Muslim governor for the
collection of Zakah to pay their wages.
The Muslim in service of the cause of God by means of research or
study or propagation of Islam. This share is to cover their expenses
and help them to continue their service.
The Muslim wayfarers who are stranded in a foreign land and in
need of help.
The due recipient of Zakah is one who has nothing to meet his
necessities or has little (less than $15.00) at the end of the year. If
one has approximately $15.00 or more he must be a contributor,
not a recipient of Zakah. If a recipient receives his share and finds
that is sufficient for his immediate needs with a balance of about
$15.00, he should not accept any more. He should return whatever
he may receive to other eligible recipients.
Zakah may be distributed directly to individuals of one or more of the
said classes, or to welfare organizations which look after them. It may
also be distributed in the form of scholarship to bright and promising
Muslim students and researchers, or in the formof grants to welfare or-
ganizations and public service institutions which patronize such causes.
A disabled or invalid poor Muslim is preferable to one who is able
and capable of making some earnings. The contributors should
use his best judgment in finding the most deserving beneficiaries.
The taxes we pay to governments nowadays do not substitute for this
religious duty; it must be earmarked as a special obligation and paid
separately, aside from the government taxes. However, the Muslims of
North America may take advantage of the tax laws that allow certain
deductions for charity. They should pay their Zakah to the deserving
beneficiaries and then claim the sums paid as proper legal deductions.
The contributor should not seek pride or fame by carrying out his duty.
He should make it as covert as possible so that he may not be victim-
ized by hypocrisy or passion for vanity which nullifies all good deeds.
However, if the disclosure of his name or the announcement of his
contribution is likely to encourage others and stimulate them, it is
all right to do so.
Zakah is also obligatory on the cattle and agricultural product.
The shares payable in this regard vary form case to case, and need
detailed discussion. So the reader may be advised to consul the
elaborate sources of Law and religion.
Parents are to be treated well at all times, and The Almighty’s
blessings in having enabled you to do this virtuous act, be con-
sidered as a great asset in this world as well as in the Hereafter.
The respect we ought to pay our parents has been time and again
emphasized in the Holy Qur’an. In one of the verses it is stated:
“Thy Lord hath decreed that ye worship none but Him, and ye
be kind to your parents.” (Qur’an 17:23)
Showing Gratitude towards Parents
Be grateful to your parents. It is one of the cardinal principles of
good manners and the acknowledgement of debt. One should
be grateful to the parents for all the kindness, extraordinary love,
and unparalleled sacrifices hey undergo in bringing us up. The
Almighty has decreed that when we render thanks to Him, we
should express gratitude to our parents as well.
“And we have enjoined on man (To be good) to his parents: In
travail upon travail did his mother bear him. And in years twain
was his weaning: (hear the command), ‘Show gratitude to Me
and to thy parents: to Me is (thy final) Goal.’” (Qur’an 31:14)
On the authority of Hazrat Abu Ayub Khalid Ibun Zaid Al-Ansa-
ri(R.A.), who said: A man requested; “Prophet (S.A.W)! Tell me
the action which will get me admitted to Paradise and keep me
away from the Hell.” He answered:
“Worship Almighty and do
not associate anybody with Him: establish Prayer; pay Zakat
and join the ties of kinship.”
-(Bukhari and Muslim)
On the authority of Abu Sufian Sakhr Harb (R.A.), who said:
During his meeting with Hercules, the Roman Ruler, the latter
asked him; ‘What does your Prophet (S.A.W.) ask you to do?’ I
said: ‘He asked us to worship only One God, and not to associ-
ate anybody with him; not to follow the habits and practices of
our ancestors; he further asks us to perform prayers (Salat), tell
the truth, keep chaste, and to treat our blood relations well.’
-(Bukhari and Muslim)
Note: “Not to follow the habits and practices of our ancestors”
means that in previous times, people used to follow what their
parents did; such as, worshiping idols, stealing, killing, and com-
mitting other sins Because their ancestors sinned, people assumed
it was justified. The Prophet (S.A.W.) commanded them to change
their behavior and become more righteous.
On the authority of Ibn ‘Umar (R.A.), who said: The Prophet
“He who just returns the visits of his relatives
does not completely fulfill the obligation of relationship. But
he who ignores the mistakes of his relatives, forgives them,
and visits them in order to bind the ties of relationship when
they are broken does fulfill the obligations of relationship.’
On the authority of Jubair bin Mut’im (R.A.), who said: The Prophet
“He who breaks off the ties of blood will not enter
-(Bukhari and Muslim)
Note: This Hadith preaches the person who breaks off relations
with his family by not visiting them or helping them will not go
On the authority of Abu Usaid Malik Ibn Rubia Al-Saedi (R.A),
who said: While we were sitting with the Prophet (S.A.W.) a man
of the Bani Salamah tribe came and said: “O Prophet (S.A.W.)!
Is there anything, I can now do in benevolence towards my
parents after their death? The Prophet (S.A.W.) answered: “
by praying for them and soliciting mercy and forgiveness
towards them, fulfilling their promises and undertakings,
doing kindness to those who may be related to you through
them, and respecting their friends.”
Note: “Benevolence” means kindness.
Showing Tolerance towards Parents
You should always try to please your parents and avoid deeds
that may hurt their feelings, especially when they get old and
In old age people do tend to make unusual demands and claims
but it should be tolerated cheerfully without any retort in anger
or frustration. It is mentioned in the Holy Qur’an:
“Thy Lord hath decreed that ye worship none but Him, and that
ye be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old
age in thy life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel
them but address them, in terms of honor.” (Qur’an 17:23)
Service of Parents
Parents should be served earnestly and with sincerity; always
keeping in mind the unparalleled kindness and affection shown
by them. It is the service of our parents that would lead to our
redemption and earn for us The Almighty’s blessings.
Your Love and Obligation towards Your Parents
Love your parents and this love should be regarded as an honor
and means of recompense and redemption in the Hereafter. Had-
rat Ibn Abbas narrates the following Hadith of the Holy Prophet
“Dutiful and good natured children who cast one loving and
affectionate look at their parents, receive from The Almighty
blessing equivalent to one approved Hajj (pilgrimage).” -(Mus-
When the Parents are Non-Muslims
Even if the parents are non-Muslims, they are to be treated well
and all courtesy be shown to them. But obedience in matters of
religion should be refused and they are not to be followed if they
ask you to commit a sin or an act of associating somebody with
The Almighty. It is stated in the Holy Qur’an:
“We have enjoined on man kindness to parents: but if they
(either of them) strive (to force) thee to join with Me (in wor-
ship) anything of which thou hast no knowledge, obey them
not, ye have (all) to return to Me, and I will tell you (the truth)
of all that ye did.” (Qur’an 29:8)
Prayers for Parents
Always pray for your parents, recalling their kindness and beg
for their weal from The Almighty and His Mercies for them. It is
mentioned in the Holy Qur’an:
“And, out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility,
and say: “My Lord! Bestow on them Thy mercy even as they
cherished me in childhood.” (Qur’an 17:24)
Special Treatment of the Mother
One should have special regard for his/her mother. It is the moth-
er that carries the fetus in her womb for nine months and then
nourishes the child with her milk. It is stated in the Holy Qur’an: