Zakat means purification, refinement and abundance. Extracting the due share of the poor from one’s belongings given by Allah as rizq (sustenance) nd giving them zakat purifies man from spiritual stains such as stinginess, greed and malicious trespass, and what’s more zakat causes abundance in property, the worship done with properties and money is thus called zakat. Because it is a proof for his sadaqat (or loyalty) of servitude to Allah, charity is also called “sadaqa”. In Islamic jurisprudence, zakat is to give certain mount of alms determined by Qur’an and sunnah from property and or Money to one or some of eight groups of people specifically mentioned in the Qur’an.
Risale-i Nur leaves the details of zakat to the books of jurisprudence and it deals with the issue in terms of strengthening unity and order in social life.
Zakat is mentioned in many verses in the Qur’an together with salat (prayer). Bediuzzaman explains the wisdom behind the mention of them together as follows: “The index and essence of worship done with body is salat, and the centre and focus of the worship done with property is zakat.”
(اَالصَّلاَةُ عِمَادُ الدِّينْ(, )اَزَّكَاةُ قَنْطَرَةُ اْ سْالِْلاَمْ) Concluded from the hadith just as the salat is the basic of the religion, the zakat is also the bridge of Islam. There are two divine principles, one protects the religion, and the latter protects safety.”
The Qur’an addresses all strata of all people until the end of the world and its rules and principles are eternal. The commands and principles in the Qur’an are so stable and powerful that it does not expire, or change, or grow old; on the contrary it displays its power, it becomes younger and younger.
As they do not obey and like the rules of the Qur’an, western civilization developed alternative systems to challenge the principles of Islam. Capitalism and socialism have been presented to humanity for two centuries as the best regimes, but man’s works and rules get older, change and are bound to be exchanged.
Imam Bediuzzaman says the root of all revolutions and evil behaviours is two statements. The first one is, “So long as I’m full, what is it to me if others die of hunger.” That statement removes the zakat from the social life. The second one is, “You work so that I can eat.” That statement causes the riba (interest) to be spread. Yes, the upper and lower classes in human society, that is, the rich and the poor, live at peace when in equilibrium. The most important condition for establishing order in social life is to make sure that there is no gap between social classes. The upper class and the rich should not pull away from the lower classes so much that they will cut their connection with them. Otherwise, the upper class imposes tyranny, cruelty and suppression down on lower classes and the lower classes nurture resentment and engage in revolts against them. Two strata of people have been in an emotional fight, intellectual clash and social unrest.
Thus, the modern civilization neither could achieve to reconcile these two strata of people with each other with its good morale and behaviour spreading schools, deterrent laws, every kind of security measurements including police and armed forces and media instruments, nor it cured those terrible wounds of social life; because, the first statement “So long as I’m full, what is it to me if others die of hunger” has led the upper classes into cruelty, immorality and brutality. And the second statement “You work so that I can eat” has led the lower classes into grudge, rage and clash and that situation has made humanity unrest for last a couple of centuries. The French and Bolshevik revolutions are proofs for these claims. Among the reasons of these revolutions were poverty and the economic gap between social strata as well as many social and political reasons.
Solidarity, reconcilement and equilibrium between social strata are just provided through the tradition of zakat and social solidarity. The basic of that equilibrium is upper classes’ compassion and sympathy towards lower classes and lower classes’ respect and submission to upper classes. The Qur’an abolishes the first statement by ordering the zakat, and abolishes the second statement by preventing the interest and it cures the social wounds. Considered from that point of view, it will be understood that zakat is very important for happiness and safety of the individual and the society.
Our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said in an sound hadith, ( ازََّكَاةُ قَنْطَرَةُ ا سْْالِلْامَْ ) about zakat which contains all kinds of solidarity and help. That means Muslims’ helping each other is only possible by passing through the bridge of zakat. Zakat is a means of help. The mechanism that provides order and safety in social life is zakat. The cure and healing for insurgencies, revolutions and unrest which prevent people from progressing is zakat and spirituality.
The modern civilization did not care about these principles of the Qur’an despite revolutions experienced in the past and it had to suffer more. I. and II. World Wars broke
out and caused more than 100 million people’s lives and unrecoverable physical and emotional losses and damages.
According to Imam Bediuzzaman one of the main problems of modern age is greediness for worldly life. High costs of living and greediness lead man into wrong and dangerous ways. Greed may lead people to accept or try to gain every kind of property, without questioning whether licit or illicit. It causes to prefer many bad things over necessary duties for the hereafter.
While people used to need a couple of items for living in old days, now they they think they need a hundred items to live due to misuse, wastefulness and extravagant desires. At those old times just two in ten people could be in need of help to supply his needs, but now, on the contrary just ten in one hundred can provide their one hundred items in pure licit (halal) ways and the rest, ninety are needy. Thus, the modern civilization impoverishes people a lot. Because of the excessive and manmade needs, it leads people to earn their life in unfair and illegal ways. Imam Bediuzzaman warns the ummah considering that point, as follows: “O brothers perplexed by preoccupation with your livelihood, and drunk on your greed for this world! Greed is harmful and pernicious; how is it then that you commit all kinds of abject deed for the sake of your greed; accept all kinds of wealth, without concern for licit or illicit; and sacrifice much of the Hereafter? On account of your greed you even abandon one of the most important pillars of Islam, the payment of zakat, and zakat is a means of attracting plenty and repelling misfortune. The one who does not pay zakat is bound to lose the amount of money he would otherwise have paid: either he will spend it on some useless object, or it will be taken from him by some misfortune.”
He clarifies his claim with such a tangible example: “In a veracious dream that came to me during the fifth year of the First World War, the following question was put to me : “What is the reason for this hunger, financial loss, and physical trial that now afflict the Muslims’?” I replied in the dream: “From the wealth He bestows upon us, Allah (SWT) required from us either a tenth or a fortieth so that we may benefit from the grateful prayers of the poor, and rancour and envy may be prevented. But in our greed and covetousness we refused to give zakat, and Allah (SWT) Almighty has taken from us a thirtieth where a fortieth was owed, and an eighth where a tenth was owed. “He required of us to undergo, for no more than one month each year, a hunger with seventy beneficial purposes. But we took pity on our instinctual souls, and did not undergo that temporary pleasurable hunger. Allah (SWT) Almighty then punished us by compelling us to fast for five years, with a hunger replete with seventy kinds of misfortune. “He also required of us, out of each period of twenty-four hours, one hour to be spent in a form of Divine drill, pleasing and sublime, luminous and beneficial. But in our laziness we neglected the duty of prayer. That single hour was joined to the other hours and wasted. As penance, Allah (SWT) then caused us to undergo a form of drill and physical exertion that took the place of prayer.”
Imam Bediuzzaman reminds an important point in terms of underlining zakat for solidarity and helping each other among people: “O people of nobility and good conscience! O people of generosity and liberality! If acts of generosity are not performed in the name of zakat, there are three harmful results. The act may have no effect, for if you do not give in the name of Allah (SWT), you are in effect imposing an obligation, and imprisoning some wretched pauper with a sense of obligation. Then you will be deprived of his prayer, a prayer which would be most acceptable in the sight of Allah (SWT). In reality you are nothing but an official entrusted with the distribution of Allah’s bounties among His servants; but if you imagine yourself to be the owner of wealth, this is an act of ingratitude for the bounties you have received. If, on the contrary, you give in the name of zakat, you will be rewarded for having given in the name of Allah (SWT); you will have offered thanks for bounties received. The needy person too will not be compelled to fawn and cringe in front of you; his self-respect will not be injured, and his prayer on your behalf will be accepted. See how great is the difference between, on the one hand, giving as much as one would in zakat, but earning nothing but the harm of hypocrisy, fame, and the imposition of obligation; and, on the other hand, performing the same good deeds in the name of zakat, and thereby fulfilling a duty, and gaining a reward, the virtue of sincerity, and the prayers of those whom you have benefited?
ZAKA T IN THE PROJECT OF MADRASATU’Z ZAHRA
Imam Bediuzzaman considers zakat and alike such as giving alms, presents, promised charity, donation and aids as important financial resources in Madrasatu’z Zahra Project which was his ideal in his lifetime. He declares that these resources should be utilized to establish and finance these kinds of educational institutions. He summarizes his ideas as follows: “Because of the services and contributions to Islamic World that Madrasatu’z Zahra is going to do, zakat, charity, and alms which are instruments of aid of Muslims will flow partly to that institution. If the intelligent people pay the zakat of their intelligence and the rich people pay their fortune’s zakat for benefit of the other people our ummah will catch on the other nations in progression.”
Imam Bediuzzaman states that sadaqah is not performed just through property or money but also zakat of knowledge, thought, strength and good deeds can be given.
Zakat is to worship by spending out the bounties that Allah (SWT) endowed us in the way that he demands. Considered that point, if we spend out every bounty for worship
and service for Allah (SWT) we pay its zakat as well as perform thanksgiving Allah for it. For example; zakat for mind is to use it for knowledge about Allah and zakat for knowledge
is to teach it to ones who do not know; zakat for eyes is to lead to truth, righteousness, exemplary, wisdom and worship.
In capitalism the property belongs to individual and he can use it however he wants. In socialism property belongs to state and state uses it however it wants. In Islam, the real owner of property is Allah (SWT). The right of use belongs to human unless he uses in the prohibited areas wastefully. To spend and use for the sake of Allah is worship and virtue.
Consequently: Solidarity, alliance and togetherness among classes of society are possible through going back to zakat, one of the pillars of Islam and its relatives giving alms, presents and donations in the social life. If humanity demands social justice, happiness, peace and welfare it should be mindful of zakat, the command of Allah in the Qur’an.