Zakat (Alms Giving) – The Purity and Eternity! (Part 4)
Part 4 : Implementation
When it comes to Zakat, many a time people discuss only about items, rates and the difference of opinions among scholars about these. But, they tend to ignore the very important side- that is establishing a Zakat system in place. Many times, Qur’an discusses Zakat right after mentioning Salah. The very first problem arose in the Islamic society after the demise of beloved Prophet, who established an ideal Zakat system, was some people declining the payment of Zakat. Some hypocrites claimed that Prophet is no more, so they don’t have to pay Zakat. This is how Khalifa Abu Bakr(R) responded to them: I swear upon Allah, I will declare war against those who distinguish (offering one and denying another) between Salah and Zakat. And the Companions of Prophet supported him.
The hesitation in giving out wealth is a human nature. Remember what Qur’an says: Indeed mankind, to his Lord, is ungrateful. And indeed, he is to that a witness. And indeed he is, in love of wealth, intense.[Qur’an 100: 6-8]
Salah is the duty assigned upon every person [Fard Aian] but must be established in congregation [Jamath]. Hajj is the obligation of a person but must be performed along with the mass of believers. The same is the case with Juma(Friday) prayer. The same way, Zakat is an individual’s responsibility. It’s his duty to keep track of his income and calculate Zakat at the end of every year and pay it. However, Prophet had carried out the distribution of Zakat in a collective manner.
The Commandment of Allah to Prophet was like this: Take, [O, Muhammad], from their wealth a charity by which you purify them and cause them increase, and invoke [ Allah 's blessings] upon them. Indeed, your invocations are reassurance for them. And Allah is Hearing and Knowing. [Qura'n 9:103]. Neither Prophet himself nor his family members were entitled to take or make use of any amount from the collected Zakat wealth. It was collected to utilize in the community. When Mua’d (R) was sent to Yaman for preaching, Prophet advised him like this: “…invite them to testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah, and that Muhammad is His Apostle. And if they obey you in that, tell them that Allah has enjoined on them five prayers in each day and night. And if they obey you in that tell them that Allah has made it obligatory on them to pay the Zakat which will be taken from the rich among them and given to the poor among them…” (Part of Hadith Bukhari 24:1521)
Today, neither Prophet is alive among us nor we have an Islamic government in most of the countries, to collect Zakat. But there are establishments in every Islamic community that carry out it’s social needs and responsibilities mostly attached to Masjids. So, to be more closer to Sunnah, it’s recommended to collect Zakat through such reliable forums in a community and they distribute it among the poor in the community. This is the correct way of following sunnah of prophet. According to the opinion of scholars, if there is no established set up available in a locality to collect and distribute Zakat, then one can distribute it individually. However, it is unfortunate to see that many people misuse and misinterpret this sincere opinion of renowned scholars and distribute Zakat according to their whims. This is indeed against the teachings of Qur’an and Sunnah. If the Zakat wealth is collected and distributed through the local masjid in a community, no doubt that it will help eliminate the financial difficulties of many people in that community.
Even when the modern financial experts are praising and understanding the practicability of Islamic financial system at every era, which completely relays on Zakat and prohibits all types of riba (usury), if we believers fail to understand the core and depth of it, definitely it would be showing ingratitude to our Lord.