10 Nov Alms and Charity: Virtues of Zakat: Part 7
ZAKAT IS A MEANS FOR MERCY
Zakat is a major instrument in attracting the mercy of God, as those who achieve His eternal compassion are, justifiably, those who observe divine commands. Nurturing compassion for others through taking care of their needs is, no doubt, a means to attain that limitless treasure—Celestial Mercy. The Noble Prophet (upon whom be peace) has highlighted this fact: “God treats with compassion those who treat each other with compassion. For that reason, have mercy on the earthly, so the Heavenly has mercy on you.” The Qur’an reinstates the mercy attracting aspect of zakat:
My mercy embraces all things; therefore I shall ordain it for those who ward off (evil) and pay the zakat, and those who believe in Our signs (revelations).” (A’raf 7:156)
Establish the prayer and pay the zakat and obey the Messenger, that perhaps you may find mercy. (Nur 24:56)
The Noble Messenger has further illustrated how charitable acts are virtually a magnet for the mercy of God: “Whoever has gathered, within himself, these four attributes will be immersed in
God’s mercy and granted Paradise: Protecting the poor, assisting the weak, kindness towards the slave and charitable towards the parents.”6 It should be stressed that all these praiseworthy acts entail, more or less, a degree of finance.
Zakat also acts as a shield, vigorously protecting the giver against numerous pitfalls of the soul; in such a way, it is another manifestation of Divine Compassion. However, if zakat ceases to be observed, the benefits may well be withdrawn, as pointed out by the Prophet: “The Celestial gates of compassion will shut on those who disregard zakat, depriving them of rain. Surely, if it weren’t for the roaming beasts, they would receive none of it (rain).”
The truth is that zakat is a strong means, now and the Hereafter, of procuring the boundless compassion of God. Wherever zakat is observed, animals also obtain a share in this divine feast of mercy; and in places where the observance of zakat has fallen, animals remain the only reason for the provision of rain, as the inhabitants have ignorantly slammed shut the gates of mercy by their disregard of the obligation of zakat.
ZAKAT PREVENTS MISERLINESS
The love of property has intrinsically been a part of human inclination for many concealed purposes. Overindulgence in this fondness, however, will indubitably result in a shameful dissipation. This innate inclination possessed by a human, in which overexploitation leads to miserliness, is highlighted in the Qur’an: “…Human souls are prone to selfish avarice” (Nisa 4:128).
In history, miserliness has been the sole culprit in the destruction of many civilizations, as reiterated by the Messenger of God:
Beware of miserliness, as those before you were ruined because of it. Their rulers enjoined miserliness, the public acted in accordance; their rulers ordered them to sever kindred ties, the public hastened to severe; their rules commanded transgression which they immediately saw too.”
One of the etymological derivatives of zakat is tazkiya, signifying purification. It purifies the poor of envy and hatred and conversely, purges the sinister disease of miserliness from the spirit of the rich. The acknowledgment of the rights of others in property, a notion that zakat inherently conveys, unfetters the benefactor from material obsession. Stinginess, a detrimental disorder, suffers defeat as the giver embraces the perception that what is given by God is simply to be spent in the manner, or location, desired by Him. The departure of miserliness from a person results in the arrival of an even greater fondness of God:
So keep your duty to God as best you can, and listen, and obey, and spend: that is better for your souls. And those who are saved from their own greed will surely prosper. (Taghabun 64:16)
Thoughtlessly withholding what is granted by God, then, is virtually treading on dangerous territory, as exhibited via the following Qur’anic admonition:
And let not those who hoard up that which God has bestowed upon them of His bounty think that is better for them. It is worse for them. That which they hoard will be their collar on the Day of Resurrection. God’s is the inheritance of the heaven and the earth, and God is aware of what you do. (Al Imran 3:180)