Charity is an act of utmost importance in all the religions of the world. All religions including Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Judaism and Zoroastrianism promote charity in a big way. In Islam it again assumes a much more methodical and organised shape.
(1) Charity is included as one of the pillars of Islam and is a fundamental duty on every Muslim who has wealth beyond a specified value. Zakahliterally means purifier. Muslims have been told that it deterges not only their wealth but their soul as well. Those regularly paying their dues have been promised huge reward in Hereafter; a grievous punishment awaits those who fail. Muslims living in an Islamic state have to pay Zakah in accordance with the guidelines provided by the government, failing which law will take its course of action.
(2) Zakah is paid every year at the time of the choosing of a person in a non-Islamic country and that of government in an Islamic country. Normally, it is paid during the month of Ramadhan.
(3) A minimum percentage of 2.5% of all the wealth that one has at the time of assessment is to be paid. The rules can be readjusted in accordance with the needs of the hour in an Islamic country.
(4) Apart from Zakah, there are other forms of compulsory taxes as well. These include Ushr, which is the tenth of the produce of the land, Khhums,which is the fifth of spoils (and possibly other unexpected incomes) andFitra, which is an amount to be given on the occasion of Eid to fellow poor Muslims. Besides these compulsory forms of charity, a Muslim is regularly encouraged to be as generous as possible. Sadqa and Khairaat are non-compulsory kinds of charity, which God describes as “loan to God” that He will repay multi-fold in Hereafter.
(5) Unlike other religions, Islam is also a socio-political system as well, which provides clear guidelines for the state. As will be discussed later in the book, in the chapter on socio-economic system, the regime of charity in Islam if formally applied to the tax structure of a country will result in a much better mode of the generation of revenue and promotion of economic parity. It will suffice here to say that Islam envisages a tax structure based primarily on Assets and Production taxes in contradistinction with the currently popular one dominated by income and consumption Taxes. The importance of Zakah and Ushr in the economic system and the extraordinary role of Islamic economic system in social peace will be dealt with later.
Zakah in Quran
· They ask thee how much they are to spend; Say: “What is beyond your needs.” (2: 219/A)
Also on produce (Ushr)
· Give of the good things which ye have (honourably) earned, and of the fruits of the earth which We have produced for you, and do not even aim at getting anything, which is bad, in order that out of it ye may give away something, when ye yourselves would not receive it except with closed eyes. (2: 267/A)
· ..eat of their fruit in their season, but render the dues that are proper on the day that the harvest is gathered. (6: 141/A)
· Alms are for the poor and the needy, and those employed to administer the (funds); for those whose hearts have been (recently) reconciled (to Truth); for those in bondage and in debt; in the cause of God, and for the wayfarer...(9: 60/A)
· It is not righteousness that ye turn your faces Towards east or West; but it is righteousness-to believe in God and the Last Day, and the Angels, and the Book, and the Messengers; to spend of your substance, out of love for Him, for your kin, for orphans, for the needy, for the wayfarer, for those who ask, and for the ransom of slaves...(2: 177/A)
· (Charity is) for those in need, who, in God’s cause are restricted (from travel), and cannot move about in the land, seeking (for trade or work). (2: 273/A
Open and hidden
· If ye disclose (acts of) charity, even so it is well, but if ye conceal them, and make them reach those (really) in need, that is best for you: It will remove from you some of your (stains of) evil. (2: 271/A)
(Note: Zakat is two and a half percent (according to the popular fiqh rulings) of the accumulated wealth including the precious metals like gold and silver to be paid at the end of each year. Ushr is the ten per cent of the produce for the naturally watered fields and five percent for the artificially watered fields. This again is the popular fiqh position, which I think can be re-evaluated in accordance with the situations prevailing at a particular time in specific societies.)
V. Hajj (Pilgrimage)
Faith and prayer are primarily meant to ensure physical, mental, social and spiritual peace of individuals. Fasting and Zakah are aimed, in addition, at social and national peace. With Hajj, the system of peace assumes globaldimensions. The annual pilgrimage at Mecca , the birth city of Muhammad (Peace be upon him!) and the seat of Ka’ba, the first place of the worship of God on the earth, is a reminder to the world that Islam’s mission of peace has global aims. And it is a reminder to Muslims that they must earnestly endeavour in that direction. It disseminates the message of universal brotherhood and equality irrespective of race, colour and creed not only among Muslims but also among the rest of mankind. Pilgrimages are popular in many religious communities, but again the pilgrimage of Islam has a very special significance:
(1) It is associated with the first place of worship on the earth, which serves as a symbol of monotheism, giving this a special historical and evolutionary significance. The symbolisation is of paramount importance. This being the greatest symbol of the unity of God it also becomes the greatest symbol of the unity of mankind. It is reminded that since the beginning of the human history man has been told to worship only one God. If certain sections of the human race have chosen to dilute monotheism, in one way or the other, or have stooped to frank polytheism, it is their own error of judgement. The gathering at Mecca is also a symbol of the finality of Muhammad (Peace be upon him!) as the Prophet of God and Qur’an as the guiding force. If the world desires to have perfect peace in this world and Hereafter, they must bow to the commands of God, dispatched to them through the embassy of Muhammad (Peace be upon him!). The unity of mankind cannot be a practical reality unless the whole of mankind submits to one system. Only a system of God can be the rallying point for them. Thehistorical significance of the place linking it to Adam, the forefather of all human beings and Abraham, the Patriarch of all Semitic religions including Judaism, Christianity and Islam is indisputable. This refreshes in the minds of Muslims their relationship with the whole mankind and their very special relationship with Jews and Christians. Thus Muslims extend an olive branch to the whole mankind especially to Jews and Christians conveying to them that they have common historical, spiritual and biological roots.
(2) It is a comprehensive, highly systematic and perfectly co-ordinated exercise having spiritual, collective, socio-economic and global dimensions. Pilgrims understand that this is a lifetime opportunity to seek God’s forgiveness for their sins, enhance their proximity to their Guardian and mend their ways. They sacrifice their time, their money, their emotional attachment to their nears and dears and their physical comforts for the pleasure of God. Their total involvement in spiritually elevating rituals for several weeks goes a long way to make them better human beings; a person who has performed Hajj has an increased credibility in the eyes of the people.
(3) People from all over the world gather at Mecca not only to pay obeisance to the Lord but also to listen to the sermon of Imam, who has an unparalleled opportunity to bring home Islam’s message of universal brotherhood, equality, justice, peace, to call for unity against the forces of evils, destabilisation, oppression and exploitation and to emphasise the role of God’s system in the world affairs. All pilgrims adorn the same cloth, join prayers together without any discrimination and invoke God collectively. This provides a unique spectacle of equality and brotherhoodand determination to fight against evils.
(4) Visits to various places of historical importance at Mecca and Medina rekindle revolutionary fervour in hearts, minds and souls of pilgrims. They recollect the huge sufferings of Prophet Muhammad (Blessings and Peace be upon him!) and his followers in the face of the severest kind of persecution and hostility, their unflinching faith in God, their unshakeable determination and their ultimate triumph. When they return home, normally they are much transformed persons; most of them if not all demonstrate visible changes in their attitude towards themselves and the people around themselves. They are less likely to reach the same level of vices they had touched before they had embarked upon the pilgrimage. Many of them lead a truly pious life throughout the rest of their life.
Pilgrimage in Quran
or bow, or
at a time
Pilgrimage thereto is a duty men owe to God,- those who can afford the journey...(3: 97/A)
….If any one undertakes that duty therein, Let there be no obscenity, nor wickedness, nor wrangling in the Hajj. (2: 197/A)
It is no crime in you if ye seek of the bounty of your Lord (during pilgrimage). (2: 198/A)
And complete the Hajj or ‘Umra in the service of God. But if ye are prevented (From completing it), send an offering for sacrifice, such as ye may find, and do not shave your heads until the offering reaches the place of sacrifice. And if any of you is ill, or has an ailment in his scalp, (necessitating shaving), (he should) in compensation either fast, or feed the poor, or offer sacrifice; and when ye are in peaceful conditions (again), if any one wishes to continue the ‘Umra on to the Hajj, he must make an offering, such as he can afford, but if he cannot afford it, he should fast three days during the Hajj and seven days on his return, making ten days in all. This is for those whose household is not in (the precincts of) the Sacred Mosque. (2: 196/A)
Safa and Marwa
……..when ye pour down from (Mount) Arafat, celebrate the praises of God at the Sacred Monument , and celebrate His praises as He has directed you, even though, before this, ye went astray. (2: 198/A)
Then pass on at a quick pace from the place whence it is usual for the multitude so to do, and ask for God’s forgiveness. (2: 199/A)
Safa and Marwa are among the Symbols of God. So if those who visit the House in the Season or at other times, should compass them round. (2: 158/A)
The first House (of worship) appointed for men was that at Bakka: Full of blessing and of guidance for all kinds of beings: in it are Signs Manifest; (for example), the Station of Abraham; whoever enters it attains security...(3: 96-97/A)
PART I: FAITH
- Faith (Iman) and Submission (Islam)
- Monotheism versus Polytheism
- Life of the World and Hereafter
- The Qur’an on Christianity and Judaism
- The Qur’an on Priesthood and Monasticism
- Man: Aims and Nature
- Fundamental Duties-I
- Fundamental Duties-II
- Fundamental Duties-III
- Fundamental Duties-IV
- Fundamental Prohibitions
- Fundamental Rights
- Laws related to Civil Matters
- Guidelines concerning Criminal Laws
- Social System of Islam
- Rights of women in Islam
- Political System of Islam
- Economic System of Islam
- Spiritual and Moral System: convictions, Ethics and prayers
PART V: THE HISTORY OF CONFRONTATION
- THE HISTORY OF CONFRONTATION I - ADAM, IDRIS, NUH (NOAH); HUD; SALIH
- THE HISTORY OF CONFRONTATION II - IBRAHIM (ABRAHAM); LUT (LOT); ISMAIL, ISHAQUE (ISAAC) AND YAQUB (JACOB); YUSUF (JOSEPH
- THE HISTORY OF CONFRONTATION III - MUSA (MOSES); SHU’AIB; ELIAS (ELIJAH); AYUB (JOB); DAUD (DAVID); SULAYMAN (SOLOMON); PEOPLE OF SHEEBA;ZUL-QARNAIN
- THE HISTORY OF CONFRONTATION IV - ZAKARIYAH, MARIAM (MARY), YAHYA (JOHN), AND ISA MASIH (JESUS CHRIST)
- THE HISTORY OF CONFRONTATION V - PROPHET MUHAMMAD, COMPANIONS OF THE CAVE
- Between the right and the wrong