Zakaat – An obligation, a necessity
By: Mushtaq Hurra
The turmoil has brought unending and relentless miseries upon common masses of Kashmir for the last three decades or so. From killings, rapes, custodial disappearances to huge loss of wealth and property, Kashmiris have been victimized both politically and economically.
Frequent bandhs and strikes which are seen as the only way of protecting the violations have also added to economic woes of the masses and in fact has given rise to an economically downtrodden and underprivileged class whose survival has become extremely arduous.
The surge in the number of orphans and widows during past few decades has become a perplexing reality in the valley and in view of all these factors, one can imagine the importance of a societal and philanthropic approach that is needed to be adopted so as to be of some assistance to each other and to the vulnerable sections.
Many charitable trusts and NGO’s have come up here over the years to help poor and destitute, most of whom have suffered the direct consequences of conflict and have been rendered helpless. Though these trusts take care of many in terms of their educational and other requirements but a big chunk of such people remain unattended and unreached. As a matter of fact, the people of the state must, in personal capacities, try and do their bit.
It is pertinent to mention that helping the deserving isn’t necessarily to be done through charitable trusts only and people can reach out to them at individual levels as well. But sometimes people fail to identity the deserving ones which is a pre-requisite to pay alms and other obligatory taxes like Zakat. Quran has clearly mentioned all the categories of those people who deserve alms and other generous donations.
Charitable trusts carry out different surveys and have the data and figures in their possession. So, it is easy for them to reach out to the needy. Moreover these trusts are not funded by political dispensations and rather run their operations through alms, donations and contributions by riches and wealthy class.
For this purpose, Islam has laid stress on the payment of obligatory tax called Zakaat on the surplus wealth and money of the believers. Though, it is meant to safeguard us from the flames of hellfire but its real purpose is to ensure a society where destitute and poor are not craving for morsels of food while others enjoy more than they need. This sharing also ensures that no one is pushed to the wall in order to satiate his/her needs of food.
Literally, Zakaat mean that which purifies. It purifies our riches, wealth and property. It is not the mere payment of an obligatory tax which guarantees us a place in the paradise and to win the consensus of Allah but it is a system which propagates love and brotherhood among masses of different complexions, caste and creed. It enables us to understand the misfortune and tragedy.
There are many philanthropic people across the globe who probably contribute to please their conscience but believers have a different reason to contribute. Muslims just need the pleasure of Allah swt which is the basic motive behind their every ritual and charitable gesture.
Philanthropic Muslims prefer to pay Zakaat in the holy month of Ramadhan were the reward is increased to seventy times. It is the month of earnings and harvest for them.
Ironically, many Muslims fast punctually, attend prayers at fixed times daily even perform Hajj as well but evade Zakaat as they fear the reduction in their riches which is a mere inhibition and myth. It purifies our wealth and increases it dramatically.
During the reigns of Caliph Abu Bakr Sideeq (May Allah be pleased with him), when some Muslims had refused to pay Zakaat, He had virtually waged a war against them.
Holy prophet SAW and his Companions never went after the accumulation of material pursuits though many went after its acquisition but their sole aim was to earn it legitimately and then spend it in the way of Allah to win His pleasure.
Here, the case is different. We have not been asked to give everything in charity and rather have been commanded to pay only 2.5% of our surplus and additional wealth to those who are in need and for whom this can actually ensure food for them for some time. Our faith is incomplete without Zakaat as it is one of the five pillars of our faith. It ensures perfection in faith, tranquility of heart and mind and the pleasure of Allah swt.
With the number of needy and destitute rising every day, it is our moral and religious responsibility to purify our wealth and property by paying Zakaat for a greater cause.
How can we eat lavishly when our neighbor is starving? It is against the basic tenets of Islam to see our brethren hungry while as we enjoy savory, delicious foods and cuisines.
So, our orators and Imaams need to stress on the importance of this aspect of your faith and deliberate about the significance of Zakaat. The opulent class must shun the superstition that paying Zakaat reduces wealth rather they must cement the belief that it is Allah who turns particles into mountains.
Allah swt will definitely ask us about our power, wealth and property. So, to make our account easy, we must pay off the obligatory taxes in order to brighten our hereafter and adorn our world.
The writer teaches at Middle school Poshwari Naidkhai.