Zakat (Alms Giving) – The Purity and Eternity! (Part 3)

Part 3 : The excess beyond needs

In almost all discussions around Zakat, we often hear the words- ‘beyond needs’ , ‘spend the excess’ etc. Some people have mistaken this indication such that Zakat is applicable only for those who hold a fatty bank account. The word ‘excess’ in terms of Zakat is not explicitly said in Qur’an or Sunnah, but this has been interpreted by respected scholars by analyzing the mentions in Quran and Hadith.

…And they ask you what they should spend. Say, “The excess [beyond needs].” Thus Allah makes clear to you the verses [of revelation] that you might give thought. (Qur’an 2:219) Based on the indications from above verse in Qur’an and a Hadith which says Zakat is only for those who are in prosperity, scholars have come across the interpretation of ‘spend the excess’. Another Hadith narrates that Prophet ordered Mu’ad (R) to collect Zakat from the rich. It is natural to have differing opinions in defining what is Ghinaa (prosperity/sufficiency) and who is ghaniy ( self-sufficient). As nisab has been defined for every form of wealth, whoever is having wealth more than the particular nisab amount would fall in the category of ‘having excess’. That is the essence of rulings and definitions that our respected scholars and imaams had formulated.

We can divide our needs and spending into three categories. Necessity (darooriyyaath), need (hajiyyaath) and luxury (thahseenath). Darooriyyaath includes the basic needs of every human being – sustenance, shelter, clothing, treatment for ailements etc. However, some of these can transgress the boundaries of necessity and may fall in luxury, at times. Hajiyyath and thahseenath are not haram (prohibited) for a believer. However, he must not forget that Zakat is obligatory for the excess amount he has earned beyond his necessities. He can spend for hajiyaath and thahseenath from the left out wealth which has been purified with Zakat. For example, analyze the necessity, need and luxury in building a house.

Otherwise, if we take the word ‘excess’ literally (including need and luxuries) then there will be only a very minority group who would be levied Zakat. But, Zakat is not only for the millionairs having tremendous wealth like Bill Gates or Warren Buffet. We must understand that those who paid Zakat at the time of prophet and Khalifas were common people, not from ‘high class’ categories. We can not prepare a common list categorizing needs, necessities and luxuries, as the needs and necessities of people may vary according to geographies, circumstances etc. Therefore, we must seek honest guidance from our conscience. Believers are those who have carefully purified their wealth by ensuring that they don’t use even a single penny which is actually deserved for another.

May Allah include us among the best believers. Aameen…

English Rendering of article written by Brother Abdul Jabbar filed under Guest Articles

Read: Zakat – The Purity and Eternity – Part 1

Zakat – The Purity and Eternity – Part 2

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