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REFORMER SAYYID QUTB INTERPRETS THE ZAKAT OF ISLAM ERRENOUSLY


50 - In this book World's Peace and Islam, Sayyid Qutb wrote:

"Zakat is collected from the main wealth in an amount of two-and-a-half per cent every year. The state collects this tax as it collects every tax. It is the state again which is in charge of its expenditure. It is not a procedure that takes place between two individuals face to face. Zakat is a tax. The state collects it and spends it on certain places. Zakat is not an individual gift of alms that passes from hand to hand.

"If, today, some people divide the zakat of their property by themselves and distribute it with their own hands, this is not the way or system which Islam commands."

Sayyid Qutb, being unable to refrain from repeating Ibn Taymiyya's words on zakat, departed from the Ahl as-Sunnat scholars also on this point. Mawdudi and Hamidullah, too, write the same about zakat. The four madhhabs of the Ahl as-Sunnat unanimously report that 'zakat' means 'to give (tamlik) a certain part of one's fully possessed zakat goods obtained in a halal way to seven out of eight kinds of Muslims described in the Qur'an al-karim'. In the Hanafi madhhab, it can be given even to only one of them. These seven kinds of Muslims are: faqir; miskin; 'amil, the collector of the zakat of stock animals and that of farm products called 'ushr; one who is on hajj or ghaza; one who is far away from his home or property; one in debt; the slave who is to be set free. It is commanded in the Qur'an to give zakat also to the eighth class of persons called al-muallafat al-qulub who were some disbelievers, who were hoped to become Muslims or whose harm was to be prevented, or some weak Muslims who had newly embraced Islam. Rasulullah ('alaihi 's-salam) had given zakat to all these three kinds of people. But Hadrat 'Umar (radi-allahu 'anh) who was in charge of bait al-mal during the time of Hadrat Abu Bakr (radi-Allahu 'anh), read the ayat quoted by Ibn 'Abidin and the Ma'adh hadith reported by Ibn 'Abidin to be quoted in all al-kutub as-sitta and said that Rasulullah ('alaihi 's-salam) had abolished the giving of zakat to al-muallafat al-qulub. The Caliph and all the Sahabat al-kiram admitted this and the ijma' formed that it had been abolished and none of them would be given zakat any more. Abolition (nash) could be done when Rasulullah ('alaihi 's-salam) was alive, and ijma' could be done after his death. Those who cannot comprehended this delicacy suppose that Hadrat 'Umar (radi-Allahu 'anh) himself abolished it and they speak ill of the Sahabat al-kiram and fiqh scholars. As it is reported in Badayi' and other books, it is always permissible to give goods or money to the enemy in order to help the religion and to prevent their harm, but it can be given not from the zakat but from another division of bait al-mal. Then, it has not been prohibited to give something to the persons called al-muallafat al-qulub, but it has been prohibited to give them zakat.

There are four types of zakat goods: gold and silver; commercial goods; quadruped stock animals; crops. The zakat of the products growing from the earth is called 'ushr. It is written in Majma' al-anhur and Radd al-mukhtar, "The State had been collecting every kind of zakat from the rich until Caliph 'Uthman (radi-Allahu 'anh) left it to them to deliver personally the zakat of gold and silver and commercial goods. He did this so that the officials who collected the zakat should not torment the people or take zakat from the debtors. Thus he also protected the debtors from imprisonment. All the Sahabat al-kiram agreed with him and ijma' took place. When the possessors of these kinds of goods give their zakat, the State cannot demand it. If it demands, it will be opposing the ijma' ". To say that one cannot give the zakat himself means to hold the ijma' of the Sahabat al-kiram of the time of Hadrat 'Uthman (radi-Allahu 'anh) of no account. The Ahl as-Sunnat scholars, having comprehended the greatness of the Sahabat al-kiram, have not followed their own points of view and understanding but adapted themselves to the ijma' of the Sahabat al-kiram.

The Ahl as-Sunnat scholars declare that the rich person has to hand his zakat to the poor. If a rich person nourishes an orphan under this guardianship with the intention of zakat, he does not give the zakat at all. He should give the food to the child and the child should eat its own possession. If a rich person puts the gold on a table and a poor one takes it from the table, it will not be accepted as zakat; the rich person must see the poor or his representative take it. If he, with the intention of zakat, lets the poor one live in his house and if he does not take hire, it will not be accepted as zakat, for he has to give goods to the poor. Of the four types of zakat goods, the legal (mashru') State collects the zakat of certain animals and crops and of the commercial goods brought into the city from abroad. But the State has to distribute what it has collected to poor Muslims, i.e., it collects it as a representative of the poor. For none of the charitable deeds and public services such as building mosque, fountain, road or dam or performing hajj or jihad can the money of zakat be spent. Every type of zakat should be handed to one of the seven kinds of persons or to his representative. The State cannot use the zakat it has collected in other fields but gives to the seven kinds of persons. It is more thawab for the rich person to give it to his poor relatives, poor pious Muslims and to the poor who study knowledge. The Hadith says, "O my umma! I swear by Allahu ta'ala, who has sent me as the Prophet, that Allahu ta'ala does not accept the zakat given to others while one has poor relatives," that is, it will not be rewarded in the next world. It cannot be given to mulhids, that is, to those men of bidat who have become unbelievers like the Mushabbiha.

It is revolution to overthrow and annihilate the State. Muslims who disobey the commands of a mashru' State are baghis (rebels). As it is written in Ibn 'Abidin's Radd al-mukhtar, if a Muslim who lives in dar al-harb or under the oppression of baghis or of a cruel government has given the zakat of animals and 'ushr to them and knows that what he gave them has been handed to one of the certain seven kinds of people by them, or if he himself has distributed them to the poor, a mashru' State cannot take zakat and 'ushr for a second time; but, if they have taken the zakat of gold and silver and commercial goods, the rich person has to repeat it by giving the poor. Some books considered baghis and cruel governments to be poor people if they were Muslims, and regarded it to be jaiz for them to collect every kind of zakat and spend them as they wished. This clearly tells that zakat has to be given to the poor.

In Durr-i Yakta, one of the most valuable Turkish 'ilm al-hal books, it is written: "Of the four types of zakat goods, gold and silver and commercial goods are called al-amwal al-batina (secret possessions). It is not permissible to investigate secret possessions and to ask for their zakat. It has been left to their possessors to estimate the amount of such possessions and give their zakat. The possessor is free to give his zakat to any poor person he likes. The animals of zakat and farm products are called al-amwal az-zahira. It has not been left to the owner to estimate the amount of al-amwal az-zahira and to distribute its zakat to the poor. These will be done by the 'amil, the official sent by the imam of Muslims."

What men need and keep for use is a possession. A few seeds of wheat, a spoonful of soil, a drought of water are not possessions, since not all or some people keep them.

If paper money would not be used with the value written on them, they would be of no value, for these pieces of paper, when prohibited to be used as money, would become of no currency in markets, become useless and would not be kept for use. Ibn 'Abidin wrote on "Sarf" in his Radd al-mukhtar: "If flus (copper coin) is legal tender, it will be money worth the value written on it. If the value written on it is canceled, it becomes worthless." So is the paper money. He wrote on the thirteenth page, "The promissory note has two meanings; the value written on it and the paper's own value. The value written on it indicates the possession which is dain, that is, one's own possession which one does not have with oneself. The paper's own value is very little." He wrote on the sixteenth page that the values written on the notes or checks of salary that will be received from the State indicate one's possessions that are dain. So are the values on paper money.

The zakat of one's full possessions, that is, his goods which he is permitted and able to save or use, should be given. If they are not his full possessions, their zakat need not be given. If the zakat goods are in his hands, they are called 'ain. If someone else keeps them, they are called dain. In trade, it is different for the goods to be 'ain or dain. Mabi', goods that have been bought, become one's possessions after contract but it is not permissible to use them before delivery. For this reason, these goods are not one's full possessions before delivery. They cannot be added to the account of zakat before delivery. Before the saman (exchange, payment) of a property sold is paid, it can be given to anybody if it is 'ain in the agreement, that is, if it is sold for cash. If the saman is dain in the agreement, that is, if it is sold on credit, it can be given [as a present, alms, etc.] only to the debtor (buyer). For this reason, the saman also will be added to the account of zakat before it has been taken.

Whether 'ain or dain, one year after one's full possessions of al-amwal al-batina reach the amount of nisab (the border of richness), it is fard to determine one-fortieth of it and give it as zakat. It is written in the book Durr al-mukhtar that its zakat is given in five manners, as follows:

1) If some dain property is in a poor person's hands and if all or a part of it is donated to that poor person, the zakat of the part that has been donated will have been given as dain, too. If dain property in a rich person's hands is donated to him, its zakat has to be given to the poor as 'ain in addition by the donor.

2) The zakat of a property which is 'ain should be given as 'ain. That is, in order to give the zakat of a property which is present, the owner will reserve one-fortieth of this property which is in his hands and give it to the poor.

3) The zakat of a property which is dain cannot be given as dain. It should be given as 'ain, that is, the zakat of one's property which someone else keeps must be given out of his property which is present in his hands. If he has no property present, he asks for and takes as much as the amount of the zakat of his property from the one who keeps his property and then gives it to the poor.

4) It is not permissible to give the zakat of a property which is 'ain as dain, that is, it is not permissible to donate what he has lent to other poor people to a poor person as the zakat of his property which is present in his hands. But, it is permissible for him to command the poor person to get the debt which someone else owes him, as the zakat of his property which is in his hands, for it will become 'ain when the poor man takes the property or gold from debtor, and thus the zakat of his property which is 'ain will have been given as 'ain. The zakat of a property which a poor person keeps as dain cannot be given from that dain property, for the remainder will become 'ain when he takes it from the poor person and the zakat of 'ain will have been given as dain, which is not permissible.

5) If one donates a part of the dain which a poor person owes him to that poor person, the zakat of that part will have been given. It will be necessary to give the zakat of the remaining part separately as 'ain. He cannot count what he has donated as the zakat of the remaining part, for the remainder will become 'ain when he takes it back and the zakat of 'ain cannot be given as dain and is not permissible.

It is written in Al-fiqhu 'ala 'l-madhahibi 'l-arba'a, which covers the teachings of fiqh according to each of the four madhhabs separately, that while it is necessary in the three madhhabs to give the zakat of paper money, its zakat is given when the gold or silver equivalent of it is obtained in the Hanbali madhhab.

The zakat of paper money is given not out of their own value but out of the values written on them, for their own value is very little and it cannot reach the border of richness. As already written above, the values on them indicate the property which is dain. Since the zakat of dain cannot be given as dain, the zakat of paper money cannot be given in paper money. It is necessary to give it as 'ain, that is, to get the dain property into one's hands and then give it to the poor person. Moreover, any kind of debt must be paid from the zakat goods first. While there are zakat goods, that is, gold and silver or commercial goods, it is not permissible to pay the debt by giving another property, for example, rugs and pearl which are used in the house and the zakat of which is not to be given. The zakat of paper money, too, is a debt which one owes to the poor. He has to pay this debt from the zakat goods. Gold is the zakat goods of the person who is not a tradesman but who is rich only by possessing paper money, because paper money is the equivalent of gold. They are not the equivalent of silver. If a person has various zakat goods such as gold, silver, commercial goods and zakat animals, he has to pay his debt from gold and silver first. [Ad-durr al-mukhtar, and Radd al-mukhtar, p.8.] The goods a person who is not a merchant buys are not his commercial goods. It is not permissible for him to buy something other than gold to give the poor as zakat, for the goods that are not commercial for him cannot be given as zakat. He has to buy gold and give it.

In order to give the zakat of commercial goods, their buying price must be as much as the amount of nisab in gold or silver money, and one-fortieth of the goods themselves or of their value will be given. Ash-Sharnblali says in the explanation of Ad-durar, "If the metal coins called flus are current, or if they are commercial goods, it is wajib to give the zakat out of their value." It is declared in a hadith quoted in Hidaya, "Calculating the value, five dirham of silver will be given for two hundred dirham." As it is seen, for the zakat of flus and paper money, not they themselves but as much gold as their value must be given. Those who are not merchants should give the zakat of their paper money only in gold. Merchants may give the zakat of their paper money either in gold or from the goods which they sell, but they cannot give it from other goods. [For more information on zakat, see Endless Bliss, V.]

A person might come forth and say:

"It was in ancient times to give the zakat in gold. Today, gold is not used. Paper money is used everywhere. Now, to say that the zakat has to be given in gold is to arouse difficulty for Muslims. Allahu ta'ala declare, 'Do not arouse difficulty, show easiness!' The use of paper money has become al-balwa al-'umumiyya. The scholars have given permission to use the thing which has become al-balwa al-'umumiyya. Then, why should not the zakat be given in paper money today?"

These words are not correct. They are both wrong and they are slanders against Islamic scholars. Because:

'Do not arouse difficulty in the religion,' does not mean 'look about for the easiest way of doing everything.' It means that one can do the easy way Islam allows. For example, when it is difficult for one to wash one's feet because of illness or very cold weather, one can rub (mash) his masts lightly with wet hands, for Islam has permitted it. Yet one cannot put on one's masts before washing his feet for easiness, because Islam has not permitted this easiness. The sick person can wash his feet with the help of someone else. If it is cold, he can use warm water and put on his masts after this. Islam has permitted this easiness also. It is not permissible to slight the words of religious scholars and exceed the easiness shown in fiqh books. Those who strive to change Islam according to their own reasons and points of view are called religion reformers or zindiqs. Such zindiqs have increased in Egypt and in the Hijaz today. They explain Islam in the way they wish. The religion-merchants, who give these heretics and zindiqs such titles as 'profound religious scholar of the present century', 'mujtahid', 'mujaddid' and 'martyr' and who translate and sell their poisonous books and who earn money by demolishing the religion and iman of the people, have been increasing in our country, too.

Our scholars have permitted al-balwa al-'umumiyya, that is, the things that are so widespread that it is hard to dispense with, after having studied the books minutely and finding among various ijtihads the easiest one even if it would be daif and reporting it to the people. When al-balwa al-'umumiyya is in question, it is permissible to give fatwa according to the most daif words of mujtahids. But, no scholar in any century has ever said permissible about something which no mujtahid had said to be permissible, nor can he say. As for religion reformers who do not belong to any madhhab, they write everything which comes to their minds. Both the worship and the faith of those who follow them will be corrupted.

It is very easy to give the zakat in gold. It is not difficult at all. It is not necessary to buy gold. A rich person who insists on distributing his zakat to the poor in paper money does as the books Ashbah and Radd al-mukhtar write how a rich person can donate the debt a poor person owes him as his zakat to him: he borrows from his wife or somebody else some gold of the same value as the paper money which he wants to distribute and is less than the amount of nisab. He says to a pious poor Muslim, "I will give the zakat to you and to some of my acquaintances. Our religion commands the zakat to be given in gold. In order to make it easy for you to change the gold into paper money, I want you to appoint so and so as your representative to take your zakat and gift it to anybody he wants. Thus, you will help me to follow Islam and, for this, you will be additionally rewarded in the next world!" A person in whom the rich man trusts is appointed as the representative. He gives the gold as zakat to the representative when the poor person is absent. This representative of the poor person takes the gold and, a few minutes later, presents it as a gift to the rich person. And the rich person distributes his paper money to that and other poor people, to schools for teaching the Qur'an, to Muslims who render service to the religion or perform jihad. If he distributes them to those whom it is not permissible to give and those who do not perform salat, he will not be rewarded in the next world though he will escape the punishment of not giving zakat. He returns the gold to the person from whom he has borrowed. If he has to give more zakat, he repeats this procedure.

To the one whose iman is firm, worshiping is not difficult but easy and sweet.



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