Minggu, 05 Desember 2010

Zakat is one of the five pillars of Islam

In the Name of Allah the Most Kind the Most Merciful

Zakat is one of the five pillars of Islam. It is a cardinal obligation which is unanimously agreed by all because this is proven from the noble Quran, the blessed Sunnah and from consensus (ijma’).

According to the blessed Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and the practice of his companions, Zakat should be distributed among the deserving people in the region or country where it is collected. Ordinarily transferring Zakat to other places is not correct and generally ill-advised (makruh).

Muslims need to take care of their needy brothers and sisters wherever they are through extending generous charitable donations. There is an acute need for such help in our time. However, Zakat is of a special category and must be used in such a way that justice is done to local needs and our duty here in our own country is not neglected. Zakat cannot be a substitute for general charity (sadaqah) towards the many Muslims who are suffering from poverty, deprivation, homelessness and starvation around the world so badly need.

In the hadith that talks about the Messenger’s instructions to his companion Muadh when he was sent to Yemen we are told that he (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “O Muadh! You are going to a community who are of the People of the Book. So, first invite them to bear witness that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. If they accept this, then inform them that Allah makes five prayers in a day and night obligatory for them. If they accept this, then inform them that Allah makes charity (i.e., Zakat) obligatory for them. (It is) to be taken from their rich and given to their poor.” [Bukhari]

Based on the last part of this hadith, all the four schools of jurisprudence (madhabs) establish that as a rule Zakat should be distributed locally and not transferred elsewhere.
  • According to the Hanbali School, “It is preferred to distribute all of the Zakat to the poor of his area. It is not permitted to reassign it to (a location) where prayer is to be shortened (if one travelled to it) – though if one does so it suffices – unless there are not any poor people in the land, in which case he distributes it in the land closest to him.” [Al-Hajjawi in Zad al-Mustaqni’]
  • According to the Shafi School, “If the (eight) categories are found in the place where Zakat is collected, it is forbidden and invalid to transfer the Zakat elsewhere – except if it is being distributed by the ruler, in which case he may shift it to another place.” [Ibn Naqib in Umdat as-Salik]
  • According to the Maliki School, transferring Zakat is not permissible unless there is a pressing need to do so. [Al-Bassam in Tawdih al-Ahkam min Bulugh al-Maram]
  • According to the Hanafi School, “It is disapproved to transfer the Zakat of one land to another; unless he distributes it to his poor relatives or to a people needier than his own.” [Al-Zayla’i in Nasab al-Rayah Takhrij Ahadith al-Hidayah] This is also the opinion preferred by Ibn Taymiyyah.

In the UK, collection and distribution of Zakat needs to be undertaken by honest, reliable and competent organisations that are trusted both by Muslims and the British government, registered as a UK Charity, and who are above board with their accounts being vetted by a leading independent firm of chartered accountants. Such organisations must be soundly Islamic, broadly visible and reputable, and have wide contact with the community. Moreover, such organisations must have relevant experience in social issues and charitable work, civic engagement and working through various statutory bodies. JIMAS is just such an organisation.

There are five issues connected to Zakat.

1. The person on whom it is obligatory

It is obligatory on every adult Muslim who completely owns a certain minimum amount (nisab) of wealth.

Three of the great scholars of Islam of the Schools of Jurisprudence have held that Zakat is also obligatory for minors too.

The nature of Zakat can be seen either like an act of worship such as prayer or fasting, or it can be seen as an obligatory right of the poor over the rich.

Those who prefer the first view exclude minors and the insane from its obligation because acts of worship become compulsory only after the person reaches a certain age of maturity (bulugh). Those who preferred the latter view did not take into account the age or sanity of the person on whose behalf Zakat was paid if they were wealthy enough. The schools of Malik, Shafi and Ahmed all follow the latter.

The jurists also differed about a person who is in debt. They took into account such things as the type of debt, amount owed compared to what one possesses and the type of wealth. Their opinion was again in light of the two ways of understanding the nature of Zakat mentioned earlier. It seems that for a person who has an ongoing serviceable debt, such as a mortgage on a property whose repayment is kept up, Zakat is obligatory.

2. The kinds of wealth subject to Zakat

Zakat must be paid on money, gold and silver.

The jurists differed about Zakat on gold and silver depending on how they are used. They can be used in transaction, as some form of currency or as a medium of monetary exchange, or they can be used as personal jewellery. According to their understandings of the hadiths available, Abu Hanifah gave the verdict that Zakat is compulsory on personal jewellery whereas Malik and Shafi thought not.

3. The nisab and the rates of Zakat

An ounce of silver costs around six pounds in the UK. All four Schools of Thought agree that Zakat should be levied on 40 ounces or above of silver. This gives a nisab of around £240.  Zakat is 2.5% on wealth which meets the nisab or more than that.

4. The time for payment of Zakat

The wealth has to be there for a complete year (hawl) before paying Zakat on it becomes an obligation.

The time chosen should not be exclusively set aside for Ramadan. It needs to be at different times throughout the year from different people in order to maintain cash flow and effective utilisation of the Zakat funds. It is a common yet mistaken belief that paying Zakat in Ramadan carries extra reward. Perhaps the obligatory pillar of Zakat is confused with general charity known as Sadaqah. Sadaqah was given by the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) more in Ramadan. All good deeds carry extra reward in this blessed month. However, there is nothing that makes payment of Zakat in Ramadan a special virtue.

As to whether Zakat can be paid before the year is out or not, then again depending on which of the two understandings is accepted by the jurist about the nature of Zakat, they have differed. Those who understand that it is a specific act of worship require waiting for the period to elapse whereas those who understand that it is a right of the poor over the better off permits giving it earlier. Malik did not allow giving it before the period was up (hawl) whereas both Abu Hanifah and Shafi allowed it.

5. The persons to whom Zakat is given

There are eight categories of people who deserve Zakat. It is the responsibility of the relevant organisation in the UK to fairly identify, select and then manage distribution of Zakat funds to those people, through independent liaison, and co-operation with local and governmental bodies where appropriate.

Alms are for the poor, and the needy,
and those employed to administer the (funds);
for those whose hearts need to be reconciled;
for those in bondage, and in debt;
in the cause of Allah;
and for the wayfarer:
(thus is it) ordained by Allah,
and Allah is full of knowledge and wisdom.
[Surah at-Tawbah(9): Ayah 60]

These categories are: the poor, the needy, workers in Zakat administration, people whose hearts need to be reconciled (mu’allafat qulooobuhum), captives, debtors, in the cause of Allah and wayfarers.

Mu’allafat quloobuhum: This is a general right. According to Abu Hanifah and Shafi who these people are needs to be carefully considered by those who are in a position to judge such matters. An ideal example of such a person who can judge would be a Home Secretary of a land. In the UK they are the Muslims who are in a position of leadership through practical work, research, analysis and consultation, and have a good grasp of the condition of the population, the politics of the country and the challenges faced by Islam and the Muslims. Many types of people, both Muslims and non-Muslims fall into this category. In this category, individuals or groups who are close to becoming Muslims deserve Zakat. Another group of people are those who have recently embraced Islam. They may be alienated from their family and friends besides coming into the Ummah shackled by heavy debts. Yet another group who may be given Zakat are those whose harm towards Muslims is averted by doing so.

JIMAS has been spearheading pioneering work in collection and distribution of Zakat in the UK for a number of years. By the grace of Allah we are breaking new grounds through co-operation with local government bodies, charities and independent yet personal liaison. To illustrate some examples, we bring relief to struggling single parent families, Muslims who are at the point of eviction or repossession, breadwinners who have lost their means of income, mothers who are in crushing debts, Muslim asylum seekers and refugees facing a harsh life of severe restrictions of work and varying measures of hostility, end to end difficulties of homelessness, and economic hardships of being a foreign student. Our work extends to the society at large through classes, exhibitions, seminars in state schools, town halls, museums, churches and discussion forums on various faith based or political platforms. We attend to all this without turning a blind eye to the needs of various Muslim organisations providing vital supporting services, whether a help line or a hostel to Muslims, and provide assistance to them in turn.
This year make JIMAS your Charity Organisation of Choice to carry out the obligatory duty of Zakat collection and distribution in the UK on your behalf. Help us to consolidate and progress this work that is already done for the sake of Allah and bring greater justice to this aspect of our life as a collective responsibility.
  • We collect and distribute Zakah with zero overheads
  • We are focused on those who deserve Zakat in the UK strictly according to the Shariah.
  • We are experienced, have a continuing long history of engagement in da’wah, richly involved in British civic society and recognised for our non-partisanship, honesty and even-handedness.
  • Giving Zakat to us is safe, legal and avoids all suspicions that arise in the current political climate.

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