On the authority of Abu Harayrah (may Allah be pleased with him), who said that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Allah the Almighty said: I am as My servant thinks I am. I am with him when he makes mention of Me. If he makes mention of Me to himself, I make mention of him to Myself; and if he makes mention of Me in an assembly, I make mention of him in an assembly better than it. And if he draws near to Me an arm’s length, I draw near to him a fathom’s length. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him running.
It was related by al-Buhkari (also by Muslim, at-Tirmidhi and Ibn-Majah).
It was recently related to me a story about the some Ulema always coming to a particular Zawiyya in Morocco every Ramadhan, and every year repeating the same discourses about wudu. The fact was that no matter how often you heard it you could get something new every time, and thus improve your performance of wudu which would in turn impact on your prayer. Similarly we are all quite used to hearing discourses and khutbahs about fasting as the month approaches, which we are all no doubt grateful for, as many of our questions get answered.
However, despite Zakat being Fard and one of the “five pillars.” it is still rare to hear any regular attention being paid to looking in depth at the fiqh of Zakat and how to go about implementing it in a manner that will be the most pleasing to Allah
For example, when we decide we want to be serious about the pillar of Sawm (fasting in Ramadhan) we follow a clear course of action:
1. First we study the fiqh of Fasting in Ramadhan
2. We find out it is completely different from other fasts
3. We see and accept the command to begin “when you see the moon”
4. We accept that this means a confirmed sighting a ‘geographically relevant’ location
5. We accept that someone in position of authority (such as Amir) must make the final decision
Now we are in a position to easily refute or dismiss those who:
a) want to begin ramadhan based on calculation rather than a physical sighting of the moon and thereby ignore a Qur’anic command and a confirmed sunnah;
b) those who for some strange reason feel we must be compelled to follow Saudi Arabia.
We can, and must, only unite around what is correct. Therefore we are forced to take on some additional education and actions that will enable us to implement what we have learned from the fiqh, namely:
1. Recognising and anticipating the different phases of the moon, what to look for and where to look for it.
2. The appointment and acceptance of Muslim leadership at a local level (amirate) and ultimately at national level.
Likewise, when dealing with the pillar of Zakat we must first go the fiqh, and we will discover that:
1. Zakat needs to be collected by an individual Muslim leader or those he appoints in his place;
2. Zakat on wealth must be valued in Islamic Gold Dinars (IGD);
3. Zakat must be paid and distributed “in-kind” which in the case of ‘wealth’ means in Gold dinars or their equivalent;
4. Zakat must be distributed locally;
5. Only when there are No Muslim in need locally can it go further afield, and even then starting with the next town as opposed to going abroad;
6. What many people give to Islamic charities would fall under the category of sadaqa and not the fulfilment of the Pillar of Zakat;
7. Zakat-al-Fitr is NOT the Pillar of Zakat.
As with the case of Ramadhan we can now confidently dismiss certain positions such as:
• the validity of islamic charities collecting Zakat;
• the practice of automatically sending “zakat” abroad;
• the assumption that UK Muslims don’t need Zakat;
• the presumption that it is generally “OK” to pay your Zakat to family members ;
• that it’s absolutely fine to let things continue as they are.
Allah says in Surah Tawba that ther are eight categories of people to whom the collected zakat must be distributed by the leader of the Muslims:
“Collected sadaqa is for: the poor, the destitute, those who collect it, reconciling people’s hearts, freeing slaves, those in debt, spending in the way of Allah, and travellers.” (9:60)
So now we are left with no choice but to take on at least these three main courses of action:
1. Concerning the islamic Gold Dinar & Silver dirham, we have an obligation to know their specifications and their value, to make them available for Muslims, whether solely for Zakat purposes, savings, abandoning riba or for dowry, and to make it easy for the recipients of Zakat to spend or redeem these dinars.
2. The implementation or acceptance of leadership on a local level for distributing Zakat locally and thus knowing who are the local worthy recipients who fit the specific categories.
3. The appointment and training of Zakat assessors and collectors
May Allah show us the truth as truth and make us follow it, and the false as false and make us avoid it.