Zakat: An Act of Devotion and Worship
The objective of Zakat, as emphasised in the Qur’an, is a glorious objective of purification and upliftment (Surah Al-Taubah 9:103). In that sense, Zakat washes away sins and impurities in the same way that Salaah washes away sins and impurities. This is why it is mentioned in the sayings that Zakat carries the “dirt” (awsakh) of people.
Allah created the worlds with the objective of worshipping and praising Him. Creation worships Allah using all their faculties and abilities, including physical, mental and material forms of worship. Some financial worships of previous nations required them to feed their material resources to a burning fire. Islam as the final and complete message doesn’t allow wastage of resources. Therefore, all financial worships in Islam find their route to the pockets of the poor and needy.
The inner intention when discharging Zakat should be based on the fulfilment of the Commandments of Allah. The objective is to engage in a specialised form of worship, solely for the pleasure of Allah. The individual who sincerely dispenses his Zakat most definitely becomes the recipient of the promised rewards and benediction of Allah. Surah Al-Baqarah (2:276) tells us that: “Allah will deprive usury of all blessing, but will give increase for deeds of charity: For He does not love the one who is ungrateful and wicked.”
The Hadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him) enunciates this concept very beautifully: “When a slave of Allah pays Zakat, the Angels of Allah pray for him in these words: “O Allah! Grant abundance to him who spends (in Your cause) and destroy him who does not spend and restricts to himself his wealth.”” (Bukhari)
Abdullah bin Abi Aufa narrated: When the people brought Sadaqah to the Prophet (peace be upon him) he used to say, “O Allah! Bless them with your Mercy.” Once my father came with his Sadaqah to him whereupon he i.e. the Prophet (peace be upon him) said. “O Allah! Bless the family of Abu Aufa.”
(Bukhari) When a Muslim pays Zakat, Allah increases his sustenance. Although at a human level it may seem that giving of wealth means reduction of wealth, in reality it is not. At a metaphysical level, Allah blesses the giver of Zakat to an extent that is beyond human perception. This is very well-defined by the following Hadith: “Charity does not diminish wealth.” (Muslim)
Sadaqah and Zakat are mentioned in the Qur’an and Sunnah, sometimes interchangeably, and often refer to the same thing, i.e. the obligatory payment.
1. The word Zakat is mentioned 30 times in the Qur’an.
2. Salaah and Zakat are interlinked in 28 places in the Qur’an.
3. Zakat is not linked with Salaah in 2 places in the Qur’an. (Surah Al-‘Araf 7:156 & Surah Ar-Rum 30:39)
4. Zakat always refers to the annual obligatory fixed payment from one’s wealth.
On the other hand:
1.The word Sadaqah is mentioned 13 times in the Qur’an.
2.Sadaqah covers the meaning of obligatory and voluntary charity.
3.Sadaqah is referred to as feeding the poor as an expiation for shaving the head while in Ihram. (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:196)
4.Sadaqah means the obligatory charity (i.e. Zakat) in 2 places. (Surah Al-Taubah 9:60 and 9:103).
Warning Against the Rejection of Zakat
Several Hadith mention the warning the Prophet (peace be upon him) gave to those who reject the payment of Zakat. His warning of severe punishment in the hereafter was aimed at awakening dormant hearts and shaking miserly souls to give, both by positive encouragement and fear of punishment. If they do not perform this duty with awakened consciences, the power and authority of the state was used to collect Zakat.
Abu Hurairah (RA) reported: The Messenger of Allah said: “He who is given wealth by Allah but he does not pay its Zakat, that wealth is made for him, on the Day of Judgment, into the form of a huge bald serpent with two horns, encircling that person and squeezing him all day, then holding him by lips telling him, ‘I am your wealth, your treasure that you hoarded.’” Then the Prophet (peace be upon him) quoted [Surah Al-Imran 3:180], “And let not those who covetously withhold the gift that Allah has given them of His grace think that it is good for them. Nay, it will be worse for them. Soon shall the things which they covetously withheld be tied to their necks like a collar on the Day of Judgment.” (Bukhari)
Not only did the Prophet (peace be upon him) issue a stern warning with regard to the punishment in the Hereafter, but he went on to warn of a punishment in this life as well, both from Allah and from the State.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Zakat is never intermingled with any amount of wealth without destroying and rotting it.” (Bukhari). This saying has two meanings according to Al Mundhiri. Firstly, that whenever due Zakat is not paid it will be a cause for ruining that wealth. “Whenever any amount of wealth is destroyed in the land or in the sea it could be because its Zakat was not paid.” (Al-Tabarani). Secondly, if a person who takes Zakat as recipient without deserving that Zakat and mixes it with his wealth, it will be a reason for rotting all his wealth. (Ahmad)