Zakat is the greatest task of Islam

By Imam Lavdrim Hamja – Kenosha, August 19, 2011

All thanks belong to God, Who guided us in the straight path and belief, If He would have not guided us for surety we would have been among the losers. O God, we thank you for your forgiveness which you have said in the Qur’an: “No one knows what happiness he’ll receive in the hereafter for that which he has worked”.

Greetings and salutations are upon our messenger, Muhammad (a.s), which has said: “God has prepared for the believers in the Paradise, for his believing slaves, goodness which his eyes have never seen before, his ears have not heard before and his mind cannot comprehend.” Peace and blessings be upon the prophet’s family, his companions and to all of those who pursue his path till the Day of Judgment.

There is nothing better for a person, as in this world, and for the hereafter, than to submit to His Creator, in which He has created for his servants a great and everlasting reward, He calls upon us to hasten in doing good works and good deeds, which it will give us in return paradise which the width is greater than heaven and the earth. Listen what the Almighty God says:

وَسَارِعُوا إِلَى مَغْفِرَةٍ مِنْ رَبِّكُمْ وَجَنَّةٍ عَرْضُهَا السَّمَاوَاتُ وَالأَرْضُ أُعِدَّتْ لِلْمُتَّقِينَ الَّذِينَ يُنْفِقُونَ فِي السَّرَّاءِ وَالضَّرَّاءِ وَالْكَاظِمِينَ الْغَيْظَ وَالْعَافِينَ عَنِ النَّاسِ وَاللَّهُ يُحِبُّ الْمُحْسِنِينَ.

“Be quick in the race for forgiveness from your Lord, and for a Garden whose width is that (of the whole) of the heavens and of the earth, prepared for the righteous, – Those who spend (freely), whether in prosperity, or in adversity; who restrain anger, and pardon (all) men;- Allah loves those who do good; ( Al Imran 133-134)

In order to receive all these, which God has prepared for the believers, we must remember that the first thing we must do is to fulfill the obligatory duties which God has given us, then we can slowly continue to move and perform more good works in voluntary basis. This is very important to note because there are many Muslims who neglect obligatory duties and do things which are pleasant, sunnah thinking that is the way to win God’s Mercy and His paradise. This is better explained by prophet’s hadith which it says:

قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم – إن الله تعالى قال : من عادي لي وليا فقد آذنته بالحرب ، وما تقرب إلي عبدي بشيء أحب إلي مما افترضت عليه ، و لا يزال عبدي يتقرب إلي بالنوافل حتى أحبه ، فإذا أحببته كنت سمعه الذي سمع به و بصره الذي يبصر به ، و يده التي يبطش بها ورجله التي يمشي بها و لئن سألني لأعطينه ، و لئن استعاذني لأعيذنه –رواه البخاري .

“… God Almighty says’… No person can come closer to Me with something other than I have made obligatory upon him, then he continues to come even closer by doing voluntary things”.(Buhari)

Praise is to God we are in the month of Ramadan and Muslims, wherever they might be during this month of abundance they increase their good deeds and their alms giving and for surety they will receive their reward from their God. And we should not forget that it is a duty upon every wealthy Muslim, that before he gives Sadaka, he should first fulfill the duty of Giving Zakat. In Islam deeds are according to the intention, therefore whatever a person gives from his wealth, but has not given his Zakat with intention, he has not fulfilled Gods duty which he is obligated.

Zakat is among the greatest duty in Islam, which regulates the financial and economical system of the Muslim state. God has ordered us in the Quran saying: “And perform your prayers and give Zakat”, while the prophet when Gabriel asked him what is Islam, he answered: “Islam is to declare that there is no other gods except Allah and that Muhammad is His messenger, to perform prayers, to give Zakat, to fast during the month of Ramadan, and to perform pilgrimage (hajj) if one has the means.” (Muslim)

Let us understand clearly, dear brothers and sisters, that Almsgiving (Zakat) is among the great obligatory duties of Islam, in which we come closer to God. He has made it obligatory for two reasons which are important for the life of a person. To cleanse your soul and wealth, the soul from grubbing and the greed, while the wealth from the sins and other various bad deeds.

خُذْ من أموالهم صدقة تُطَهّرهم وتُزكيهم بها

“Of their goods, take alms, that so thou mightiest purify and sanctify them;” (Taube: 103)

Duties of Islam have certain functions which are determined for the life of an individual and Muslim society as a whole, and every neglect, or misuse of its duties leads to celestial imbalances causing great trouble and turmoil in the lives of the people. Hence, when a muslim does not fulfill his duty imposed by God, that muslim not only has done a major sin, for not obeying God, but at the same time has another sin, because he has caused disorder in the economic system and financial havoc in the Islamic society and state, creating poverty and neglecting investment in certain areas of people’s lives. If a Muslim does not give zakat, then with what should the poor who benefit from it can be paid, which is an obligation and mandated by God.

“Alms are for the poor and the needy, and those employed to administer the (funds); for those whose hearts have been (recently) reconciled (to Truth); for those in bondage and in debt; in the cause of Allah, and for the wayfarer: (thus is it) ordained by Allah, and Allah is full of knowledge and wisdom.” (Taube: 60)

If we today do not give our zakat, then how shall we maintain our schools, hospitals, religious places, Mosques, orphanages and so on? That is why they are overwhelmed with poverty in the Muslim places, in which they know the laws of God but do not practice them.

قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم: يا معشر المهاجرين خمس خصال أعوذ بالله أن تدركوهن : ما ظهرت الفاحشة في قوم حتى أعلنوا بها إلا ابتلوا بالطواعين والأوجاع التي لم تكن في أسلافهم الذين مضوا ، ولا نقص قوم المكيال والميزان إلا ابتلوا بالسنين وشدة المئونة وجور السلطان ، وما منع قوم زكاة أموالهم إلا منعوا القطر من السماء فلولا البهائم لم يمطروا ، ولا خفر قوم العهد إلا سلط الله عليهم عدوا من غيرهم فأخذوا بعض ما في أيديهم ، وما لم تعمل أئمتهم بما أنزل الله في كتابه إلا جعل الله بأسهم بينهم .

The Prophet (a.s) said: “O Muhajeerin, there are 5 things in which I pray to Allah that you should never live to see:

1. When immorality becomes open among a group of peoples, then they shall be tried with diseases and direful pain which they have not seen before.

2. When people will cheat in measurement and scale of balance, then they shall be tried with difficult years with absence of food and dictatorship.

3. When people cease to give zakat from their wealth, then Allah will cease the rain from the sky and if it were for the animals never would Allah allow any rain to fall.

4. When people break their promises and their oaths, then Allah shall send them a leader from outside which then they will extort their wealth from them.

5. When the Imams will cease working according to Allah’s message, then Allah will throw between them division and enmity. (Ibn Maxhe)

Muhammad Reshid Rida, in his commentary regarding the verse of zakat has said: “Islam, with the obligation of zakat, is distinguished from all other religions and laws. This is also claimed to be true by intellectuals from all over the world. If the Muslims would have performed this obligatory duty as it should, amongst them you would have not seen a single person who was poor, because God has given us an everlasting abundance, but the greater part of the people have neglected this duty. From its negligence; they have received the fruits of such benefits being the most poverished people economically and politically. They have lost the leadership; they have lost their dignity, becoming dependent and needy to other people, even in education of their sons and daughters.

If it were said to one of them: why don’t you build schools for yourselves as preachers, monks and atheists have done for their principles? They will answer: We do not have the financial means for such a thing! The truth is they do not heed to their religion and do not hasten in energy and envy others in order to build something like that.

They see the sons and daughters of other faiths in which they spend and contribute for their schools, universities and humanitarian organizations which their faith has not made it obligatory upon them but are obligated by envy for their peoples. Muslims maintain to be depended and the needy! They neglected their religion and by losing this religion they have lost this world:“They forgot God and He made them forget themselves, such are the evildoers.” (Hashr: 19)

It is a fact that if all Muslims or the majority of them were to give Zakat regularly and if they were to divide it accordingly, that would have been enough to regain the Muslim pride. Then, it would have been enough to return that which other people have ripped from the Muslim lands and the saving of muslims from poverty and need. All this comes from their wealth of 2.5% from their excessive wealth. (Tefsir Menar, vol.20)

Dear brothers and sisters, truly the poor and the needy have a need for help during the whole year not only during the month of Ramadan. But the blessed month of Ramadan is the time and the best way to give zakat of this great mandatory duty which we have. Do not forget that God does not have a need for your wealth, it is He who gave you the wealth in the first place and one day for surety you shall be asked for it, therefore, heed to His orders while giving zakat in haste. He shall reward you in multiple times, He shall increase your good deeds, and you shall not fear nor anguish your reward shall be paradise. Listen if you want His promise:

إنَّ الذين ءامنوا وعملوا الصالحات وأقاموا الصلاة وءاتوا الزكاة لهم أجرهم عند ربهم ولا خوف عليهم ولا هم يحزنون

“Those who believe, and do deeds of righteousness, and establish regular prayers and regular charity, will have their reward with their Lord: on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.” (Bakare: 277)

There are people whom they heed to the laws of this world because of fear that they might have from their taxes, while others might follow these laws because of their education, their feelings and moral aspect. Same thing goes for the duties and laws of Islam. God and the prophet, as in the Quran and the hadith tells of the punishment that e person has if he does not fulfill or heed to these laws, but they also tell of the great rewards a person has if he fulfills those laws. Therefore, without going any further since this is a broad subject, this topic of zakat is a lengthy subject and we cannot do justice with only ne Hutbe, but I will mention few verses and hadiths, which tell of the punishment of those who do not give zakat, but also the rewards of those who do.

{والذين يَكْنِزُون الذهبَ والفضةَ ولا يُنفقونها في سبيل الله فبشرهم بعذاب أليم

“And those who hoard gold and silver and don’t spend it in the way of Allah – give them tidings of a painful punishment…”(Taube 34)

إنَّ الذين ءامنوا وعملوا الصالحات وأقاموا الصلاة وءاتوا الزكاة لهم أجرهم عند ربهم ولا خوف عليهم ولا هم يحزنون

“Those who believe, and do deeds of righteousness, and establish regular prayers and regular charity, will have their reward with their Lord: on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.” (Bakare: 277)

Abo Hurayra (r.a) transmitted: A man came to the Prophet and said to him: Tell me a thing of which if I do I’ll enter paradise. The Prophet said to him: “Worship God and do not associate anything with Him. Perform obligatory prayers, give alms and fast during the month of Ramadan”. The Bedouin said: By Him who’s my soul is in His hand I will not add anything to these which you have said to me. When the Bedouin left, the Messenger said: “Whoever wishes to be satisfied to see a man from paradise let him see that person.” (Buhari & Muslim)

O Allah, accept our fasting, our prayers, the zakat and forgive our sins and our shortcomings!

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