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1,001 Sayings and Deeds of the Prophet

Zakat

The merchant in the Prophet is very much in evidence in the hundreds of hadiths where God's Messenger sets down, in writing, what exactly is God's share of what He has given you.

One of the Prophet's last acts was to write a letter to the governors of conquered territories explaining their obligations regarding Zakat owed on camels and goats, with the amount to be paid in camels and goats. He died before it was sent.

Narrated Abdullah ibn Umar:

The Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) wrote a letter about sadaqah (zakat) but he died before he could send it to his governors. He had kept it with his sword. So Abu Bakr acted upon it till he died, and then Umar acted upon it till he died.

It contained: "For five camels one goat is to be given; for ten camels two goats are to be given; for fifteen camels three goats are to be given; for twenty camels four goats are to be given; for twenty-five to thirty-five camels a she-camel in her second year is to be given.

If the number exceeds by one up to seventy camels, a she-camel in her fourth year is to be given; if they exceed by one up to seventy-five camels, a she-camel in her fifth year is to be given; if they exceed by one up to ninety camels, two she-camels in their third year are to be given; if they exceed by one up to one hundred and twenty, two she-camels in their fourth year are to be given.

If the camels are more than this, a she-camel in her fourth year is to be given for every fifty camels, and a she-camel in her third year is to be given for every forty camels.

For forty to one hundred and twenty goats one goat is to be given; if they exceed by one up to two hundred, two goats are to be given. If they exceed by one up to three hundred, three goats are to be given; if the goats are more than this, one goat for every hundred goats is to be given. Nothing is payable until they reach one hundred. Those which are in one flock are not to be separated, and those which are in separate flocks are not be brought together from fear of sadaqah (zakat).

Regarding that which belongs to two partners, they can make claims for restitution from each other with equity.

An old goat and a defective one are not to be accepted as sadaqah (zakat)."

Az-Zuhri said: When the collector comes, the goats will be apportioned into three flocks: one containing bad, the second good, and the third moderate. The collector will take zakat from the moderate.

Az-Zuhri did not mention the cows (to be apportioned in three flocks).

Abu Dawud 9.1563

Allah instructed His Messenger on the calculation of the Zakat, at least where payment in camel was concerned.

Narrated Anas:

Abu Bakr wrote to me what Allah had instructed His Apostle to do regarding the one who had to pay one Bint Makhad (i.e. one year-old she-camel) as Zakat, and he did not have it but had got Bint Labun (two year old she-camel). (He wrote that) it could be accepted from him as Zakat, and the collector of Zakat would return him 20 Dirhams or two sheep; and if the Zakat payer had not a Bint Makhad, but he had Ibn Labun (a two year old he-camel) then it could be accepted as his Zakat, but he would not be paid anything.

Bukhari 24.528

Still, some had doubts.

Narrated Imran ibn Husayn:

Habib al-Maliki said: A man said to Imran ibn Husayn: AbuNujayd, you narrate to us traditions whose basis we do not find in the Qur'an.

Thereupon, Imran got angry and said to the man: Do you find in the Qur'an that one dirham is due on forty dirhams (as zakat), and one goat is due on such-and-such number of goats, and one camel will be due on such-and-such number of camels?

He replied: No.

He said: From whom did you take it? You took it from us, from the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him).

He mentioned many similar things.

Abu Dawud 9.1556

The Zakat is God's fee for purifying your property, and the best property you can hoard are virtuous women.

Narrated Abdullah Ibn Abbas:

When this verse was revealed: "[9:34 O believers, many of the rabbis and monks devour the property of the people unjustly and bar others from the Path of Allah.] And those who hoard gold and silver [and do not spend them in Allah’s Path, announce to them a very painful punishment.]" the Muslims were grieved about it.

Umar said: I shall dispel your care. He, therefore, went and said: Prophet of Allah, your Companions were grieved by this verse.

The Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) said: Allah has made zakat obligatory simply to purify your remaining property, and He made inheritances obligatory that they might come to those who survive you.

Umar then said: Allah is most great.

He (the Prophet) then said to him: Let me inform you about the best a man hoards; it is a virtuous woman who pleases him when he looks at her, obeys him when he gives her a command, and guards his interests when he is away from her.

Abu Dawud 9.1660

The obligations that define a believer are the five Pillars of Islam (not to be confused with the Pillars of Faith).

1. Shahadah, declaring allegiance to God.

2. Salat, daily prayers.

3. Zakat, annual charity.

4. Saum, month-long fasting.

5. Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca.

All religions have their rituals and demands from God, or His spokesperson at the time. Islam, however, is the only mainstream religion where not observing what makes you a believer in the prescribed manner, or indicating your intention not to do so e.g. the compulsory pilgrimage to Mecca, is a death defying act of rebellion against God.

The Koran may say there is no compulsion in religion, but in Islam coercion is everything, with the promise of death being the main incentive to do exactly as you have been told, or have been shown by the ultimate flesh-and-blood stickler, the Prophet Muhammad.

A pathetic hadith and example with which you may already be familiar if you have read my chapter on hadiths relating to prayer:

Narrated Abdullah bin Masud:

The Prophet recited Suratan-Najm at Mecca and prostrated while reciting it and those who were with him did the same except an old man who took a handful of small stones or earth and lifted it to his forehead and said, "This is sufficient for me."

Later on, I saw him killed as a non-believer.

Bukhari 19.173

Not paying the Zakat, unlike not mimicking the Prophet perfectly during prayers, did not always mean death.

Narrated Abu Huraira Allah's

Apostle ordered (a person) to collect Zakat, and that person returned and told him that Ibn Jamil, Khalid bin Al-Walid, and Abbas bin Abdul Muttalib had refused to give Zakat."

The Prophet said, "What made Ibn Jamll refuse to give Zakat though he was a poor man, and was made wealthy by Allah and His Apostle? But you are unfair in asking Zakat from Khalid as he is keeping his armor for Allah's Cause (for Jihad). As for Abbas bin Abdul Muttalib, he is the uncle of Allah's Apostle and Zakat is compulsory on him and he should pay it double."

Bukhari 24.547

Zakat was very much a tax in Allah’s Cause, which you could not avoid paying if you did not want the Prophet’s and later the Caliph’s troops showing up at your door, thereby elevating charitable donations to the equivalent of protection money.

When the tribe of the Bani al-Mustaliq embraced Islam, the Holy Prophet sent Walid bin Uqbah to collect the zakat from them. When he arrived in their territory, he became scared due to some reason and without visiting the people of the tribe returned to Madinah and complained to the Holy Prophet that they had refused to pay the zakat and had even wanted to kill him.

On hearing this the Holy Prophet became very angry and he made up his mind to dispatch a contingent to punish those people.

In the meantime the chief of the Bani al-Mustaliq, Harith bin Dirar (father of Juwairiyah, wife of the Holy Prophet), arrived at the head of a deputation, and submitted: "By God, we did not at all see Walid; therefore, there could be no question of refusing to pay the zakat and wanting to kill him …

According to Moududi, it was after this near assault on a people who intended to pay to avoid the punishment that Allah sent the following revelation, which neatly deflects criticism from His Messenger who was about to "cause some people distress unwittingly".

49:6 O believers, if a sinner brings you a piece of news, make sure you do not cause some people distress unwittingly, and so regret subsequently what you have done.

All Zakat collected was taken directly to the Prophet who counted it and branded what had been paid in livestock, the most common currency in which the obligatory charity was paid.

Narrated Abu Humaid Al-Sa'idi:

Allah's Apostle (p.b.u.h) appointed a man called Ibn Al-Lutbiya, from the tribe of Al-Asd to collect Zakat from Bani Sulaim. When he returned, (after collecting the Zakat) the Prophet checked the account with him.

Bukhari 24.576

Narrated Anas:

Bin Malik took 'Abdullah bin Abu Talha to Allah's Apostle to perform Tahnik for him. (Tahnik was a custom among the Muslims that whenever a child was born they used to take it to the Prophet who would chew a piece of date and put a part of its juice in the child's mouth).

I saw the Prophet and he had an instrument for branding in his hands and was branding the camels of zakat.

Bukhari 24.578

While some, if not the lion's share of the Zakat was used to fund the Prophet's military expeditions, it was the Khumus, which in a hadith is equivalent to a principle of Islam, that was earmarked for military conquests.

Narrated Abu Jamra:

I used to sit with Ibn Abbas and he made me sit on his sitting place. He requested me to stay with him in order that he might give me a share from his property. So I stayed with him for two months. Once he told (me) that when the delegation of the tribe of Abdul Qais came to the Prophet, the Prophet asked them, "Who are the people (i.e. you)? (Or) who are the delegate?"

They replied, "We are from the tribe of Rabi'a."

Then the Prophet said to them, "Welcome! O people (or O delegation of Abdul Qais)! Neither will you have disgrace nor will you regret."

They said, "O Allah's Apostle! We cannot come to you except in the sacred month and there is the infidel tribe of Mudar intervening between you and us. So please order us to do something good (religious deeds) so that we may inform our people whom we have left behind (at home), and that we may enter Paradise (by acting on them)."

Then they asked about drinks (what is legal and what is illegal).

The Prophet ordered them to do four things and forbade them from four things. He ordered them to believe in Allah Alone and asked them, "Do you know what is meant by believing in Allah Alone?"

They replied, "Allah and His Apostle know better."

Thereupon the Prophet said, "It means:

1. To testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and Muhammad is Allah's Apostle.

2. To offer prayers perfectly

3. To pay the zakat (obligatory charity)

4. To observe fast during the month of Ramadan.

5. And to pay Al-Khumus (one fifth of the booty to be given in Allah's Cause).

Then he forbade them four things, namely, Hantam, Dubba,' Naqir Ann Muzaffat or Muqaiyar; (These were the names of pots in which Alcoholic drinks were prepared)

(The Prophet mentioned the container of wine and he meant the wine itself).

The Prophet further said (to them): "Memorize them (these instructions) and convey them to the people whom you have left behind."

Bukhari 2.50

Islam was imposed by the force of arms and the threat of death almost from the outset, therefore, mentioning the payment of a war tax as a principal of Islam, early on, makes sense.

The payment of Khumus as a tax in the furtherance of Islamic conquest would remain as an pecuniary obligation, but as a Pillar of Faith it would be replaced by the Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca.

Of course, as unlikely as it seems, a senior moment i.e. lapse of memory cannot be ruled out, as may have been the case when the Prophet informed would-be Muslims of the three, not five, duties of a believer.

Narrated Talha bin Ubaidullah:

A man from Najd with unkempt hair came to Allah's Apostle and we heard his loud voice but could not understand what he was saying, till he came near and then we came to know that he was asking about Islam. Allah's Apostle said, "You have to offer prayers perfectly five times in a day and night (24 hours)."

The man asked, "Is there any more (praying)?"

Allah's Apostle replied, "No, but if you want to offer the Nawafil prayers (you can)."

Allah's Apostle further said to him: "You have to observe fasts during the month of Ramadan."

The man asked, "Is there any more fasting?"

Allah's Apostle replied, "No, but if you want to observe the Nawafil fasts (you can.)"

Then Allah's Apostle further said to him, "You have to pay the zakat (obligatory charity)."

The man asked, "Is there anything other than the zakat for me to pay?"

Allah's Apostle replied, "No, unless you want to give alms of your own."

And then that man retreated saying, "By Allah! I will neither do less nor more than this."

Allah's Apostle said, "If what he said is true, then he will be successful (i.e. he will be granted Paradise)."

Bukhari 2.44

One last comment on the Khumus. For reasons unknown, the war tax was also applicable to anything buried, everything from raw minerals to relics you unearthed, "Rikaz" in the following hadith:

Narrated Abu Huraira:

Allah's Apostle said, "There is no compensation for one killed or wounded by an animal or by falling in a well, or because of working in mines; but Khumus is compulsory on Rikaz."

Bukhari 24.575

After the death of God's Messenger, some believers thought they could avoid paying the Zakat, but they thought wrong.

Narrated Abu Huraira:

When Allah's Apostle died and Abu Bakr became the caliph some Arabs renegade (reverted to disbelief) (Abu Bakr decided to declare war against them),

Umar, said to Abu Bakr, "How can you fight with these people although Allah's Apostle said, 'I have been ordered (by Allah) to fight the people till they say: "None has the right to be worshipped but Allah, and whoever said it then he will save his life and property from me except on trespassing the law (rights and conditions for which he will be punished justly), and his accounts will be with Allah.'"

Abu Bakr said, "By Allah! I will fight those who differentiate between the prayer and the Zakat as Zakat is the compulsory right to be taken from the property (according to Allah's orders) By Allah! If they refuse to pay me even a she-kid which they used to pay at the time of Allah's Apostle. I would fight with them for withholding it"

Then Umar said, "By Allah, it was nothing, but Allah opened Abu Bakr's chest towards the decision (to fight) and I came to know that his decision was right."

Bukhari 23.483

Paying Zakat with sick or silky animals was a dangerous thing to do, for it was demonstrating an imperfect faith, often requiring a ruthless application of Islamic eugenics.

Narrated Abdullah ibn Mu'awiyah al-Ghadiri:

Abu Dawud said: I read in a document possessed by Abdullah ibn Salim at Hims: Abdullah ibn Mu'awiyah al-Ghadiri reported the Prophet (peace be upon him) as saying: He who performs three things will have the taste of the faith. (They are:) One who worships Allah alone and one believes that there is no god but Allah; and one who pays the zakat on his property agreeably every year. One should not give an aged animal, nor one suffering from itch or ailing, and one most condemned, but one should give animals of medium quality, for Allah did not demand from you the best of your animals, nor did He command you to give the animals of worst quality.

Abu Dawud 9.1577

Allah also did not especially care to get a male goat as His share either.

Narrated Anas:

Abu Bakr wrote to me what Allah had ordered His Apostle (about zakat) which goes: Neither an old nor a defected animal, nor a male-goat may be taken as zakat except if the zakat collector wishes (to take it).

Bukhari 24.535

Like the modern income tax, which the Zakat may have anticipated, there are no obligatory charitable donations due if your wealth in livestock, fruits and vegetables and valuable metals does not exceed a God-inspired amount.

Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri:

The Prophet said, "There is no Zakat on less than five Awsuq (of dates), or on less than five camels, or on less than five Awaq of silver." (22 Yameni Riyals Faransa).

Bukhari 24.561

If the Prophet's decrees got the respect reserved for revealed truths, Zakat today would still be collected the old-fashion way today. Forget the mail, let alone electronic transfers.

Narrated Abdullah ibn Amr ibn al-As:

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: There is to be no collecting of sadaqah (zakat) from a distance, nor must people who own property remove it far away, and their sadaqahs are to be received in their dwelling.

Abu Dawud 9.1587

As honest collector of Zakat is equivalent to someone who kills in Allah's Cause. Wow!

Narrated Rafi ibn Khadij:

I heard the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) say: The official who collects sadaqah (zakat) in a just manner is like him who fights in Allah's path till he returns home.

Abu Dawud 19.2930

The Prophet also elevated the humble shepherd who does all the other things, including paying the Zakat, to the rank of holy warrior.

It has been narrated on the authority of Abu Huraira that the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: Of the men he lives the best life who holds the reins of his horse (ever ready to march) in the way of Allah, flies on its back whenever he hears a fearful shriek, or a call for help, flies to it seeking death at places where it can be expected. (Next to him) is a man who lives with his sheep at a hill-top or in a valley, says his prayers regularly, gives zakat and worships his Lord until death comes to him. There is no better person among men except these two.

Sahih Muslim 20.4655

A sales or value-added-tax of sorts:

Narrated Samurah ibn Jundub:

The Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) used to order us to pay the sadaqah (zakat) on what we prepared for trade.

Abu Dawud 9.1557

The Prophet even made allowances for property-in-common in assessing Zakat owing.

Narrated Anas:

Abu Bakr wrote to me what Allah's Apostle has made compulsory (regarding Zakat) and this was mentioned in it: If a property is equally owned by two partners, they should pay the combined Zakat and it will be considered that both of them have paid their Zakat equally.

Bukhari 24.531

God's Messenger also made a distinction between the Zakat owned on what you grew, depending on where the water to irrigate your crop came from.

Narrated Salim bin Abdullah from his father:

The Prophet said, "On a land irrigated by rain water or by natural water channels or if the land is wet due to a nearby water channel Ushr (i.e. one-tenth) is compulsory (as Zakat); and on the land irrigated by the well, half of an Ushr (i.e. one-twentieth) is compulsory (as Zakat on the yield of the land)."

Bukhari 24.560

The Prophet never missed an opportunity to collect Zakat.

Narrated Abdullah ibn Amr ibn al-As:

A woman came to the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) and she was accompanied by her daughter who wore two heavy gold bangles in her hands.

He said to her: Do you pay zakat on them?

She said: No.

He then said: Are you pleased that Allah may put two bangles of fire on your hands?

Thereupon she took them off and placed them before the Prophet (peace be upon him) saying: They are for Allah and His Apostle.

Abu Dawud 9.1558

In the preceding hadith, if she had not paid Zakat on her bangles, God's Messenger should have known that the penalty was half the property (he wrote the rules from instructions from Allah, after all) on which the obligatory charity was not paid, therefore, he should not have accepted both bangles as payment, unless he accepted one as a gift.

Narrated Mu'awiyah ibn Haydah:

The Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) said: For forty pasturing camels, one she-camel in her third year is to be given. The camels are not to be separated from reckoning. He who pays zakat with the intention of getting reward will be rewarded. If anyone evades zakat, we shall take half the property from him as a due from the dues of our Lord, the Exalted. There is no share in it (zakat) of the descendants of Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Abu Dawud 9.1570

The Prophet's rules governing charity, whether it was obligatory charity like Zakat or the giving freely of something you owned to someone in need, were often flexible where he was concerned.

Narrated Um Atiyya Al-Ansariya:

The Prophet went to Aisha and asked her whether she had something (to eat). She replied that she had nothing except the mutton (piece) which Nusaiba (Um Atiyya) had sent to us (Buraira) in charity."

The Prophet said, "It has reached its place and now it is not a thing of charity but a gift for us."

Bukhari 24.571

No Muslim escaped paying some form of Zakat.

Ibn Umar said that Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) prescribed the payment of zakat-ul-Fitr (on breaking the fast) of Ramadan for people, for every freeman, or slave, male and female among the Muslims-one sa' of dried dates, or one sa' of barley.

Sahih Muslim 5.2149

Narrated Ibn Umar:

Allah's Apostle made it incumbent on all the slave or free Muslims, male or female, to pay one Sa' of dates or barley as zakat-ul-Fitr.

Bukhari 25.580

Zakat as a tax on income:

Narrated Ali ibn Abu Talib:

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "When you possess two hundred dirhams and one year passes on them, five dirhams are payable. Nothing is incumbent on you, that is, on gold, till it reaches twenty dinars. When you possess twenty dinars and one year passes on them, half a dinar is payable. Whatever exceeds, that will be reckoned properly."

Abu Dawud 9.1568

Zakat was also used by the Prophet to keep some believers believing.

Narrated Sad (bin Abi Waqqas):

Allah's Apostle distributed something (from the resources of Zakat) amongst a group of people while I was sitting amongst them, but he left a man whom I considered the best of the lot. So, I went up to Allah's Apostle and asked him secretly, "Why have you left that person? By Allah! I consider him a believer."

The Prophet said, "Or merely a Muslim."

I remained quiet for a while but could not help repeating my question because of what I knew about him. I said, "O Allah's Apostle! Why have you left that person? By Allah! I consider him a believer."

The Prophet said, "Or merely a Muslim."

I remained quiet for a while but could not help repeating my question because of what I knew about him. I said, "O Allah's Apostle! Why have you left that person? By Allah! I consider him a believer."

The Prophet said, "Or merely a Muslim."

Then Allah's Apostle said, "I give to a person while another is dearer to me, for fear that he may be thrown in the Hell-fire on his face (by renegating (sic) from Islam)."

Bukhari 24.556

Some of the tribes with whom the Prophet made alliances in preparation for the taking of Mecca did not care to pay the Zakat.  God's Messenger was a patient man; he knew it was only a matter time before he would make them see the error of their ways

Narrated Uthman ibn Abul'As:

When the deputation of Thaqif came to the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him), he made them stay in the mosque, so that it might soften their hearts. They stipulated to him that they would not be called to participate in Jihad, to pay zakat and to offer prayer.

The Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) said: You may have the concession that you will not be called to participate in jihad and pay zakat, but there is no good in a religion which has no bowing (i.e. prayer).

Abu Dawud 19.3020

Narrated Jabir ibn Abdullah:

Wahb said: I asked Jabir about the condition of Thaqif when they took the oath of allegiance.

He said: They stipulated to the Prophet (peace be upon him) that there would be no sadaqah (i.e. zakat) on them nor Jihad (striving in the way of Allah).

He then heard the Prophet (peace be upon him) say: Later on they will give sadaqah (zakat) and will strive in the way of Allah when they embrace Islam.

Abu Dawud 19.3019

With all that wealth that flowed to God's Messenger from all corners of the Arabian Peninsula, you could have expected the needy to descend on the Prophet's abode in Medina in droves looking for the promised charity.

God's Messenger obviously anticipated this, and issued dissuading hadiths, such as the following, warning about asking for financial help, and the benefits of working for a living and not asking for charity.

Narrated Hakim bin Hizam:

The Prophet said, "The upper hand is better than the lower hand (i.e. he who gives in charity is better than him who takes it). One should start giving first to his dependents. And the best object of charity is that which is given by a wealthy person (from the money which is left after his expenses). And whoever abstains from asking others for some financial help, Allah will give him and save him from asking others, Allah will make him self-sufficient."

Bukhari 24.508

Narrated Abu Huraira:

Allah's Apostle said, "By Him in Whose Hand my life is, it is better for anyone of you to take a rope and cut the wood (from the forest) and carry it over his back and sell it (as a means of earning his living) rather than to ask a person for something and that person may give him or not."

Bukhari24.549

The poor just had to hope that the person with the money became aware of their needs and gave to them without their asking. Good luck with that.

Narrated Abu Huraira:

Allah's Apostle said, "The poor person is not the one who goes round the people and ask them for a mouthful or two (of meals) or a date or two but the poor is that who has not enough (money) to satisfy his needs and whose condition is not known to others, that others may give him something in charity, and who does not beg of people."

Bukhari 24.557

Why a slave is like a horse when it comes to Zakat?

Narrated Abu Huraira:

Allah's Apostle said, "There is no zakat either on a horse or a slave belonging to a Muslim."

Bukhari 24.542

No Zakat was due on the property of a slave who was sold. This comes from an extrapolation of the respected hadith collector and preeminent Islamic jurist Imam Malik of what Umar ibn al-Khattab, a close friend and confidant of the Prophet and the second of the four Rightly Guided Caliphs, decreed.

Yahya related to me from Malik from Nafi from Abdullah ibn Umar that Umar ibn al-Khattab said, "If a slave who has wealth is sold, that wealth belongs to the seller unless the buyer stipulates its inclusion."

Malik said, "The generally agreed upon way of doing things among us is that if the buyer stipulates the inclusion of the slave's property whether it be cash, debts, or goods of known or unknown value, then they belong to the buyer, even if the slave possesses more than that for which he was purchased, whether he was bought for cash, as payment for a debt, or in exchange for goods.

This is possible because a master is not asked to pay zakat on his slave's property. If a slave has a slave-girl, it is halal for him to have intercourse with her by his right of possession.

If a slave is freed or put under contract (kitaba) to purchase his freedom, then his property goes with him.

If he becomes bankrupt, his creditors take his property and his master is not liable for any of his debts."

Malik 31.31.2.2