Q: Was Zakat obligatory on previous nations?
A: We know from the various passages in the Quran that Zakat was enjoined upon the previous prophets and nations. The specifications of Zakat might have varied just like Ṣalāt and Fasting varied across different nations, but, the centrality of Zakat is identical across all nations.
The Quran gives examples in several verses telling us how Zakat was instructed to the previous Prophets. For example:
Zakat of Prophet Isma’il (peace be upon him):
“Also mention in the Book (the story of) Isma’il: He was (strictly) true to what he promised, and he was an apostle (and) a prophet. He used to enjoin on his people Salat and Zakat, and he was most acceptable in the sight of his Lord.” [Quran 19:54-55]
Zakat of the Banu Isra’il:
“And (remember) when We made a covenant with the Children of Israel, (saying): Worship none save Allah (only) and be good to parents and to kindred and to orphans and the needy and speak kindly to mankind; and establish Salaah and pay Zakat.” [Quran 2:83]
Zakat to the progeny of Prophet Ishaq (peace be upon him): and Prophet Yaqub (peace be upon him):
“And We sent them inspiration to do good deeds and to be diligent in the Salat and pay Zakat.” [Quran 21:73]
Zakat of Prophet Isa (Upon whom be peace):
“He said: Lo! I am the slave of Allah. He has given me the Scripture and has appointed me a Prophet. And has made me blessed wheresoever I may be and has enjoined upon me Salat and Zakat so long as I remain alive.” [Quran 19:30-31]
And Allah knows best!
Mufti Faraz Adam