10 Nov Alms and Charity: Virtues of Zakat: Part 6
ZAKAT IS PURITY
Zakat is a process which yields a thorough purification. The provider, as well as the recipient, rid themselves of potential “dirt.” It forestalls a potential insurgency by the poor by eliminating any possible cause for social dissent and thus provides greater security for wealth through offering a small levy. In a hadith, zakat and sadaqa are labeled as “the dirt of humans (i.e. their wealth),”8 as wealth is only purified by giving up of a portion of the wealth one may possess so that they purify what they retain of their wealth after the extraction of zakat. In a sense, zakat is what cleanses wealth and what grants its provider a complete liberation from miserliness and all its insidious upshots. Zakat also demolishes the greed and avarice which is fed by the spurious illusion of worldly immortality. As for the recipients, zakat eradicates the potential hate and envy they may foster towards the wealthy as they succumb to the generosity of the hands offering them alms. A possible rebellion against God, due to unheeded destitution, is thus sturdily forestalled by zakat—a surfacing of its psychological cleansing.
Purity, the root meaning of the term zakat, implies a broad purification—an aim directly pointed to in the Qur’an: “Take alms of their wealth to purify and to sanctify them thereby…” (Tawba 9:103). The process of purification and sanctification here may have been ascribed to the Noble Prophet himself; if so, then he becomes the instrument that purifies and sanctifies; or, it may be ascribed to alms, in which case there is no mediator.
In declaring, “God has decreed zakat compulsory purify our accumulated wealth,” the Messenger of God has emphasized the same aspect. At the same time, the Messenger of God, his family and progeny were forbidden to receive zakat or sadaqa, as elaborated by the Prophet himself: “These alms are nothing but the dirt of humans (i.e. their properties and wealth); they are neither permissible to Muhammad nor his progeny.”
ZAKAT GRANTS PROSPERITY
Although the property on which zakat is given may seem to decrease, in actual fact, it ceaselessly increases through the blessing of God. As the True and Ultimate Possessor of the seen and unseen treasures, the Almighty God ensures that the ways of wealth increase for those who provide zakat, divine assistance which is constantly evidenced in the lives of a believer.
Hearts are in the absolute control of God. When He wills and desires, He can, with utmost ease, channel the hearts to do trade and transact with those who pay zakat, thus causing a spell-binding revival in their capital. This is nothing but the priceless prosperity attached to
zakat. This is not a mere benefit accrued from business experience; rather it is a guarantee from God and a soothing echo of His Messenger (upon whom be peace). In the Qur’an, the Almighty declares:
That which you give in usury in order that it may increase on people’s property has no increase with God; but that which you give in charity, seeking God’s countenance, has a manifold increase.” (Rum 30:39)
In effect, this reproaches those who invest unethically in interest with the aim of procuring profit in direct opposition to the stern decree of God, Who praises the payers of zakat and guarantees them an everlasting reward in the Eternal Abode. In another verse, it is stated: “God blights usury and makes almsgiving fruitful; He does not love the impious and guilty” (Baqara 2:276). The Qur’an elaborates the issue further: “Say: “Indeed my Lord enlarges the provision for whom He wills of His bondsmen, and narrows it for him. And whatsoever you spend for good He replaces it. And He is the Best of Providers” (Saba 34:39).
Both Satan and one’s own self (nafs) play a major role in pushing a person away from performing this obligation, fallaciously instilling the belief that zakat may cause a decrease in wealth, resulting in poverty. God, the Benevolent, accords us the following advice against this kind of deception: “Satan frightens you with poverty and commands you towards immorality. But God promises you His forgiveness and His bounty” (Baqara 2:268).
The Messenger of God has said, “Sadaqa never causes a loss in your wealth,” in conformance, as always, with the Qur’an. Two things, at least, must be understood from all this: firstly, the prosperity of God ultimately replenishes the trivial loss of capital; and secondly, zakat results in abundant rewards for even a small deed.
In essence, then, zakat is a process of ensuring the continuance of wealth rather than its loss, as highlighted by the Prophet: “Protect your wealth through zakat, cure your ill with sadaqa and be ready, against misfortunes, with dua (prayer).” “Offer charity, so you may also be granted charity” and “God, the Compassionate takes the pure sadaqa offered, and surely He only accepts what is pure, and bestows on it such prosperity that even it be a date, it grows larger than Mount Uhud.” This quote explicitly denotes the marvelous blessing attracted through sincere zakat.
In fact, the angels offer their daily prayers for the increase of the property out of which zakat has been offered as, again, informed by the Prophet: “Two angels descend each day; one of them praying ‘O God! Bestow prosperity on the wealth of those who are charitable,’ and the other imploring, ‘O God! Destroy the wealth of the miser.’”