Q: When was the command to pay Zakat revealed to the Prophet (peace be upon him?)
A: It is mentioned in Tafsir ibn Kathir that the command to pay Zakat was revealed in Makkah. In the 2nd year after the Hijrah (migration) to Madinah, Zakat was institutionalised and obliged with all its specifications.
In Makkah, the verses on Zakat generally pertained to individual charitable payments, and it was left to the individual’s faith and own conscience to decide how much to give and whom to give it to.
We know Zakat was revealed whilst the Prophet was in Makkah as Meccan verses make reference to Zakat payments. For example, in the Meccan chapter titled, ‘The Ascending Stairways’ (Sūrah al-Ma’ārij), Allah Almighty makes reference to Zakat with the following words:
“And in whose wealth there is a right acknowledged. For the beggar and the destitute.” (Quran, 70:24-25)
Around eighteen months after the arrival of the Prophet (Allah’s blessings and salutations upon him) in Madinah, Zakat became institutionalised. Madinah verses gave clear directives ordering the payment of Zakat. In the Medinan period, the Prophet would send out Zakat collectors and distributors.
Great scholars such as Ibn Khuzaymah and Ibn Kathir were of the view that Zakat became obligatory in Makkah whilst other scholars are of the view that Zakat became obligatory after the Hijrah in al-Madinah .
And Allah knows best!
Mufti Faraz Adam