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Massive Online Encyclopedia of Islam : ZAKAT, ZAKAH

Required charity of a Muslim. Legal and compulsary, one of the 5 pillars of Islam. Sadaqa is meritorious and voluntary giving. It is given by free Muslims (not slaves), who have a certain amount of wealth. A person with less than this does not need to give zakat. Generally, it is 1/10th of fruits and produce of the soil, but 1/40th of money and merchandise. This is done before the beginning of the month of Muharram, the first of new year. Giving the Zakat is considered an act of worship and is one of the five Pillars of Islam. The Qur'an lists the people who are to receive zakat (at-Taubah 9:60) as : poor, needy, collectors, destitude, needy travellers, for freeing captives, debtors, for Islam, and new converts (YA:, RK:) / prospective converts (P:, S:, SA:). Muhammad used to give money to new and prospective converts. Regarding payment for prospective and new converts, we are told:

After the Battle of Hunayn and Siege of Taif, some Quraysh converted because their political world disintegrated. This apportioning of charity was meant to complete their integration and be comfortable with their decision. Also, those others who were on the brink of conversion at this time were included by this verse. (A Muslim provided this background on s.r.i.)

Al-mu'allafah qulubuhum... These were petty Arab chiefs with whom Muhammad made terms after the battle of Hunayn (A.H. 8/A.D. 629), in order to secure their aid. (Nabih Amin, in footnoes of al-Ghazzali, The Mysteries of Almsgiving, tr. Nabih Amin Faris, 1966, p. 23)

The category comprises of `Those whose hearts are made to include to truth' or `Those whose hearts are to be reconciled.' The Prophet of Islam used to pay a portion of Zakat sometimes to the new converts. New converts to any religion leave behind them a whole society that displays active hostility against them. They are in danger of losing their lives. They certainly in most case lost business and get involved in hardships and discomforts of a varied type. To such of the new converts, the Prophet of Islam as a symbol of their entering a brotherhood which was alive to their interests, used to dole out certain sums. Upon this modest but much needed help depended the moral stamina and economic rehabilitation of those who were thus cut off from old associates. He used, sometimes, by payment of Zakat to win over the hearts of leaders of clans and tribes and secure their goodwill for the Musalmans and ward off their potential evil designs against the Muslim society which was then only spring into existence. Payment was again made under this head to the needy, who were expected ultimately to understand and embrace Islam. When after the death of the Prophet such people came to Hazrat Abu Bakr the first Caliph, to receive their share of the payment, Hazrat Umar pointed out to them as follows:

"The Messenger of Allah used to give you a share in order that there may grow up in your hearts a love for Islam. Now, by the grace of God, Islam has grown stronger and has been exalted.

If therefore, you are steadfast in your faith all well and good. If you will it otherwise, the sword will be the only judge between you and ourselves."

Hazrat Abu Bakr agree to this and their share was thus dropped. This happened in the presence of all the companions of the Prophet, therefore the cancellation of this share is deemed to carry the unanimous approval of the companions of the Prophet and hence all those who have written on this subject have treated this category of beneficiaries as extinct. According to Al-Mawardi Mu`alla fati qulubohum has four categories. (1) Those whose assistance and support has to be enlisted for the Musalmans, (2) Those who have to be desisted or dissuaded from inflicting harm on the Muslims. (3) Those who are to be paid for inviting others to Islam and (4) Those whose tribe or community displays an inclination towards acceptance of Islam. Of these four categories, those who are Muslims have to be paid out of the share set apart for [Arabic here...] and those who are mushriks ought to be paid out of the spoils of war, or Mal-i-Musalibat. (Sheikh Ata Ullah, M.A., Revival of Zakat, Ripon Printing Press, Lahore, pp. 77-78)

The modest amount can actually be very huge indeed. As much as 100 camels were given. (see Mohammad Ali Al-Sabooni, Mukhtasar Tasfeer Ibn Katheer (ibn Katheer's Concise Quran Commentary), Vol. 2, p. 150)

According to Alshafi and his followers, Zakat cannot be disbursed to an unbeliever in order to draw him to Islam. According to Imam Malik, with the prosperity and ascendency and power which Islam wields, it is not necessary to expend Zakat in winning the support of the non-believers. The cause has terminated and the practice no longer remains necessary. According to later malikites, the disbursement of this share has not been abrogated and Zakat may still be disbursed to unbelievers under this head, provided there is adequate sense of certainty as to their embracing Islam. (Sheikh Ata Ullah, M.A., Revival of Zakat, Ripon Printing Press, Lahore, p. 80)

The need for winning the hearts and enlisting the sympathy of others (non-Muslims), shall always remain, and with the present-day position of the Musalmans, particularly in countries where they live side by side with non-Muslims, a generous treatment of neighbours, particularly the needy amongst them and their leaders who can instill in them a better understanding of Islam and dispel the effects of centuries of malicious propaganda against Islam and the Muslims, is essential..... Even the vast scope of drawing people to Islam has not been properly explored. If Zakat can be spent on presenting Islam to the non-Muslims, there are rich and unexplored fields awaiting that noble effort.

The object is to draw people to the fold of Islam, and it cannot under all circumstances and for all times be achieved by paying out doles in cash. The funds are there. The object has been defined and the means so long as they are honest do not matter. ... If that has got to be done, as it surely must be, how can we say that the object has ceased to exist? [emphasis mine] (Sheikh Ata Ullah, M.A., Revival of Zakat, Ripon Printing Press, Lahore, p. 81)

The fourth group comprises those whose hearts are reconciled [to Islam] (al-mu'allafah qulubuhum). These are the nobles who embraced Islam. They are obeyed and respected among their followers, and by giving them [a portion of the zakah] they are confirmed in Islam while their peers and followers are attracted and encouraged. (al-Ghazzali, The Mysteries of Almsgiving, tr. Nabih Amin Faris, 1966, p. 58)

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