The wisdom behind legislating Zakah
Assalamu alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuhu!
As Muslims, we pay zakah. At the same time, we should know the wisdom behind it. Zakah has been legislated by Allah (swt). It is important to note that zakah is fruitful for a sound economy. Many Economies such as the Indian economy has many serious issues like poverty, unemployment and unequal distribution of wealth. There is a wide gap between rich and poor(especially in the capitalist economy). In such a kind of situation, the zakah system seems to be a problem solver. The zakah system improves our economic and social conditions. But, how? In this article, We will learn about it in sha Allah! As human being, we have little knowledge. Allah said in the Quran:
“And mankind have not been given of knowledge except a little.”(17:85)
But, Allah is all-knowing and wise. He knows what is better for mankind,
Allah intends (through this Quran) to explain to you (the rules) and to guide you to the ways of those (prophets who passed) before you, and to turn graciously towards you. Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise. (Quran 4:26)
Below, I have listed some important points on “wisdom behind zakah?”
1. Zakah is an important tool for poverty alleviation. Zakah is to be paid to certain categories of people. These people include poor and needy, because, they more deserve to take zakah money. These are the eight categories of people about home Allah (swt) said in the Glorious Quran:
“As-Sadaqah (Zakah) are only for the Fuqara’(poor), and Al-Masakeen (the needy), and those employed to collect (the Zakah), and to attract the hearts of those who have been inclined towards Islam, and to free captives, and for those in debt, and for Allah’s cause (i.e. for those fighting in holy battles), and for the wayfarer (a traveller who is cut off from everything); a duty imposed by Allah. Allah is All-Knower, All-Wise.” (At-Taubah: 60)
The word used for poor in the above-mentioned verse is “faqir”. A faqir is a person who does not have sufficient money to fulfil his and his family’s basic needs (food, clothing and shelter). Another word used in the above mentioned verse is “miskeen”. A miskeen is a person who possesses half or more of his needs. For example, the person needs 100 but he has 50 only to fulfil his and his family’s basic needs. So, it can easily be observed how zakah helps in fulfilling the needs of the poor and needy. We know very well, that in some cases poverty results in theft, murder and other serious crimes. Zakah system is a tool to safeguard against such dangers by fulfilling their needs.
2. Zakah minimizes the gap between the rich and poor.
Countries especially developing nations can adopt zakah system to minimize the gap between rich and poor. The existence of the interest-based economy is another reason for this gap. Zakah reduces economic inequalities. Inequalities mean uneven distribution of resources. The uneven distribution of resources results in poverty, hampered growth, crime and social unrest.
3. Zakah Promotes equal distribution of wealth
In many countries, there is inflation of wealth among the wealthy. The wealth is controlled by the rich in society. But, we see that zakah makes Muslim society like a single-family. The wealthy Muslims show compassion to those who do not have the wealth to fulfil their basic needs. Thus a person feels that he has brothers to whom he must do good as Allah(swt) has been good to him. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“and do good as Allah has been good to you” (al-Qasas 28:77)
So, the zakah system signifies that all Muslims are a one family. Just like all family members are taking care of each other.
An-Nu’man ibn Basheer reported: the Messenger of Allah(saw), said: the parable of the believers in their affection, mercy, and compassion for each other is that of a body. When any limb aches, the whole body reacts with sleeplessness and fever (Sahih Bukhari 5665)
The Prophet (saw) said: “The Muslims are like a single man. If the eye is afflicted, then the whole body is afflicted. If the head is afflicted, then the whole body is afflicted.” (Ṣahuh Muslim 2586)
4. Zakah increases wealth. Zakah also means growth. Zakah is also offered with the intention of growth in wealth of Zakah giver. As Allah(saw) says in the Glorious Quran:
“The example of those who spend in the way of Allah is just like a grain that produced seven ears, each ear having a hundred grains, and Allah multiplies (the reward) for whom He wills. Allah is All-Embracing, All-Knowing..” (2:261)
Some people ask that it seems illogical, how spending money can increase our wealth? It is an obvious question. Let’s take a practical example. We know that most of the wealth is possessed by rich businessman, industrialist and other wealthy peoples. When they spend money in the form of zakah or alms, the money circulates to the poor and needy. Now, these poor and needy folks got sufficient money to purchase goods and services. Demand for goods and services increases. These goods and services are provided by businessman, industrialist and others. So, these wealthy people are again earning more and more profit on their goods and services due to the circulation of wealth. So, in this way wealth increases by spending on those who deserve. If a person gives charity from his wealth, it will not reduce as mentioned in this Hadith:
Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger (saw) as saying: Charity does not in any way decrease the wealth and the servant who forgives Allah adds to his respect and the one who shows humility Allah elevates him in the estimation (of the people).”(Muslim, 2588)
It is also possible that a miser’s wealth may be destroyed by any calamity or contingent situation, such as fire or other disasters. He might fell sick and treatment may take millions of money.
5. Circulation of money in the economy
Just as for a healthy body, a smooth circulation of wealth is very important. Similarly for a healthy economy circulation of money is very important. Money circulation creates a link between producers and consumers. The producers buy the services of the factors of production with which factors of production purchase goods from the producers. Hoarding money and not spending leads to Leakages which disturbs the smooth functioning of the economy. Increase in savings depresses the circular flow of money which leads to unemployment and other problems.
6. Purification of the Muslims soul from greed. Let’s talk about the spiritual part. Zakah purifies the soul of Muslims from greed and selfishness. It also helps in removing love of this world from the heart and working for hereafter too. Giving zakah also signifies gratitude to God for the blessings in his wealth resulting in the gladness of the heart. When we give wealth, we feel good in our heart. It happens to everyone but if he gives gladly and willingly, not unwillingly. Because
Ibn al-Qayyim said in Zaad al-Ma’aad that giving and generosity are means of gladdening the heart, but no one benefits from that except the one who gives gladly and willingly and gives the wealth from his heart before he gives it from his hand. As for the one who gives from his hand but his heart is still attached to the wealth, his heart, he will never benefit from that giving.
7. Inculcation of good manners and love for the poor and needy.
Zakah makes a Muslim inculcate good manners by giving charity. Sparing time to help others and fulfilling the needs of poor and needy leads to self-satisfaction. It creates a sense of selflessness. Loving for others, what we love for us is an Islamic teaching.
The Prophet (saw) said: None of you will believe until you love for your brother what you love for yourself. (Bukhari and Muslim)
Believers are generous and helping each other and they behave in the best manner.
Abu Huraira reported: the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said: He who relieves the hardship of a believer in this world, Allah will relieve his hardship on the Day of Judgment. He who makes easy what is difficult; Allah will make it easy for him in the world and the Hereafter. He who conceals the faults of a Muslim, Allah will conceal his faults in the world and the Hereafter, for Allah helps the servant as long as he helps his brother. (Sahih Muslim 2699)