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Passion Islam I September 2009 SPECIAL FEATURE I 21
sickness, and some are physically strong As it is well-known, Zakaat is an act All charity, or Sadaqaat in Islamic
while others are weak. But believers are of Islamic worship, specifying a financial terminology, including Zakaat, is a tangible
brought up as Allah-fearing, nurturing a duty on every Muslim, male or female, gift which reflects man’s attainment of
lively conscience and a compassionate who has money in excess of a certain the highest degree of maturity in the
attitude. threshold. It is collected at specified rates, psychological sense of the word. A mature
A believer, who enjoys an abundance and its beneficiaries are clearly defined. person is one, who is always ready to give
of something other people have not been It aims to ensure full social security in without expectation of a reward.
given, will find that his active conscience Islamic society, including Muslims and As the age of 40 represents the climax
will not let him enjoy such abundance non-Muslims living within it. of a person’s maturity, it also represents,
fully, while others are deprived. He will Zakaat, normally, levied at a rate of 2.5 according to psychological studies, the
feel a twinge of conscience every time he percent on both capital and income, apart stage of giving in a person’s life. From
enjoys his blessings because others are from what is essentially needed for living that point onward, a person devotes more
not sharing that enjoyment, even though and business, is the obligatory part of of his ability and energy to being a giver.
it may not be a necessity. Although he Islamic charity, constituting the minimum He gives more and more, starting with his
knows that he is not responsible for the that every one liable to it should pay. Had children and including all humanity.
fact that others do not have what he has it not been set at a certain rate, and a Giving is a demonstration of love, and
been given in abundance, he will continue believer donates even double that rate, mature love is the love of giving to others,
to feel ill at ease, when he realizes that he he may still feel that he is not doing well not taking from them. If we watch children
has plenty while others have little. enough, or that he really has no right to carefully, we note that theirs is a love
A sense of guilt has been experienced keep for himself 95 percent of his money. based on taking from others. A child loves
by a person who escapes a massacre This feeling of failing to do one’s duty may his parents because he needs them and
or a concentration camp in war times, remain even when one pays 10 percent takes from them.
when others with him are killed. Such of his money to the poor, or even a higher A mature person, on the other hand,
sense of guilt is felt by such a person, share. Some people are so sensitive loves to give and is ready to sacrifice for
simply because he manages to escape, in this particular aspect that they would his beloved. However, romantic love by
while others do not, even though he has always be blaming themselves for not adolescents and young people has its
no role in their fate. He realises that his doing enough, even when they are doing distinctive aspects.
escape has not been at their expense, fine by all standards. Sadaqaat is an act that reflects feelings
but simply Allah has determined that he As it is Allah, Who has set the rate of love and compassion on the part of the
would live longer. If the case is so, we can of Zakat, this gives believers a sense of giver, who is considered to be ‘rich’ in the
imagine what feelings are experienced satisfaction that the fulfillment of this duty sense that he has more than he needs.
by a believer with a refined conscience, at its minimum rate is certain to provide Thus, it has a dual effect of purification:
when he has much to enjoy while others sufficient help. Allah, Who knows all, It purges the beneficiaries of any feelings
are deprived. has set this limit which He in His wisdom of grudge and class hatred toward rich
A believer will undoubtedly experience known to be sufficient to alleviate poverty people, and purges the rich givers of
something of the guilt-consciousness and eventually eradicate it from Muslim feelings of greed, self-aggrandisement
experienced by those who survive society. and miserliness. Allah says in the Qur’aan,
massacres and disasters. He will not be Thus, a believer would not belittle the ‘Those that are saved from their own
satisfied until he shares with those, who amount of the obligatory Zakaat, realizing covetousness are indeed the one who will
are deprived, something of the blessings that he or she could do more and pay attain to a happy state.’ (Quraan 59:9)
he enjoys. Does this mean that he should voluntary charity as they please, hoping Furthermore, Sadaqaat purges the
give everything he has in charity so as to for great reward from Allah. indeed, Allah hearts and minds of feelings of anger
join the poor and share with them their reward Sadaqaat, which means voluntary at their lot, reflected in an attitude of
deprivation? This is definitely a non- charitable donations to the poor, with upto displeasure with the Creator. They are
starter, as it is in direct conflict with human 700 times its value and even more. also free from hostility toward other
nature. Moreover, it remains at variance This means that Zakat is the minimum members of society which may result
with Divine wisdom, which has dictated and voluntary charity is wide open. from intense frustration. They no longer
that people differ in the type and amount However, the Prophet(Sallallaahu Alayhi experience feelings of being isolated or
of the grace their receive from Allah. Wasallam) did not allow his companions deprived, or that they are a class apart
We can discern here the wisdom of to give charitable bequests amounting to from the rest of society. A person’s poverty
imposing obligatory Zakaat or charity on more than one third of the total of their and deprivation, coupled with his heavy
a believer, which he pays out of what he property, in order not to jeopardize the responsibilities, may cause him to think
has over and above his needs for a full rights of their legal heirs. that Allah has deserted him, or that society
year. We also appreciate the benefit of the This last point applies to the property has shown him no compassion. This may
precise determination of the amount of one leaves behind on one’s death. enhance his sense of frustration and
Zakaat one pays out. During one’s lifetime, one is required to weaken his allegiance to the society.
It is merely 2.5 percent of one’s entire take care of one’s dependants, paying All these negative feelings may lead
wealth and property that is not essential their living expenses and other essential to different types of negative behaviour,
for his own and his family’s living. He may requirements. Dependants and close starting with immorality, prostitution, drug-
enjoy the other portion of 97.5 percent relatives have a stronger claim to be addiction and even violent crime. In fact,
provided that he spends it in legitimate looked after. Whatever a believer pays for they may lead, when experienced on a
ways. when he has paid out that portion his wife’s and children’s needs is credited wide scale, to violent revolution propelled
of Zakat, he may enjoy the rest without to him by Allah in the same category as by hatred and a blind desire for revenge.
a twinge of conscience. Should he give Sadaqat or charitable donations so that By contract, a believer, who is ready
more to charity, as he is encouraged to do, Allah may reward him for it as such. with his charitable donations, experiences
he feels greater satisfaction. This is the Beyond this, the best type of charity is a genuine sense of happiness and
case with a believer, whenever he or she defined by the Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi satisfaction as he pays his Zakaat and
decides voluntarily to do something good Wasallam) as the one that keeps the donor Sadaqaat. In paying them he fulfils part of
for Allah’s sake and in the hope of earning within good means. It must not take away the role Allah has assigned to man as His
reward only from Him. all his money, leaving him in poverty. vicegerent on Earth. Indeed by making
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