Khutbas by Hajj Abdalhaqq
Zakat Khutba (20th October 2006)
First Khutba Friday 20th October 2006
Zakat 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. An obligation imposed by Allah.
Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise.(9:60)
Ibn ‘Umar, radiya’llahu ‘anhuma, reported that the Messenger of Allah, salla’llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said, "I have been commanded to fight people until they testify that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah and establish the prayer and pay the zakat. If they do that, their lives and property are protected from me except for the right of Islam; and their reckoning is up to Allah."
The end of Ramadan is a time when many Muslims address themselves to their need to fulfill their annual obligation to Allah of paying zakat. I am not talking here about zakat al-fitr which every Muslim must give before the Eid prayer and which I will go over a little later, I am talking about the third pillar of Islam, that culling of individual wealth which Allah has made it an annual obligation to take from those who have and distribute among those who do not have; the zakat which Allah puts together with salat in the Qur’an nearly thirty times; the zakat about which the first khalifa of Islam, Sayyidina Abu Bakr as-Siddiq, radiya’llahu ‘anhu, said, despite the extremely precarious situation of fledgling Muslim umma at that time: ‘By Allah, I will fight anyone who makes a distinction between the prayer and zakat. Zakat is the right which is due on wealth. By Allah, if they refuse me a hobbling rope which they used to pay to the Messenger of Allah, salla’llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, I will fight them for it!’; the zakat which is that essential political element within the deen which ensures the social cohesion of the Muslim umma; the zakat which to all intents and purposes no longer now exists.
This is something we have focused on many times but it is a matter of such primal importance that we must continue to dwell on it until it is resolved and zakat is once more correctly re-established and fulfilling its vital politically empowering role within the umma. The ancient Roman senator Cato used to finish all his speeches in the senate, no matter what subject he was speaking on, with the words: “Delenda est Carthago.” “Carthage must be destroyed.” He did this over a period of years until finally the necessary steps were taken and Carthage, which had been the one power preventing Roman supremacy in the Mediterranean basin, was indeed finally destroyed. It is necessary for us to have the same kind of insistence regarding zakat until it too has been restored to its rightful role.
A great number of Muslims give almost no thought at all to the crucial matter of zakat but most of those who do, think that by calculating two and a half percent of their savings and donating that to a Muslim charity, they have discharged their obligation to Allah. Such people are often quite affronted by the suggestion that they have not in fact really paid zakat but the truth is that what they consider to be zakat has almost nothing to do with zakat as it was understood and practised by the first community and indeed all the Muslims down to the modern age. As we have pointed out on numerous occasions two absolutely essential elements are missing: political authority and the correct means of payment.
Zakat is categorically not an act of private charity. The Prophet, salla’llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, was ordered by Allah to take zakat from people’s wealth and it is clear from the words of Abu Bakr as-Siddiq quoted earlier that he considered its collection to be a fundamental part of Muslim governance. This connection between zakat and the political governance of the Muslims was confirmed by the Imams of all the schools of fiqh and the scholars who have followed them throughout the centuries. From its origin the collection and distribution of zakat was an integral and inseparable function of Muslim governance. It is not that zakat merely may be collected and distributed by the Muslim authorities, it is that from the very beginning it has been in the very nature of zakat that that has been the case. Yet for almost a century the organic connection between zakat and Muslim governance has been lost. Once the vital link between zakat and governance has been severed it means that the pillar of zakat, as it has always been understood by all the Muslims throughout the whole history of Islam, has, to all intents and purposes, disappeared.
Regarding the means of payment, there has never been any dispute that zakat can only be paid in certain limited and very specific ways, using particular agricultural crops, certain clearly delineated animals, and the metals of gold and silver. The crops and animals are levied from within the agricultural environment where they are produced and the zakat on all other types of wealth on which zakat is due must be paid in actual gold and silver. No matter whether you sell furniture or clothing or pharmaceuticals or books or any other kind of trade goods, if your stock has a value over the nisab for zakat you must pay the zakat you owe in gold and silver. And the same applies to any standing wealth you hold no matter what form it takes, whether it is in cash, or shares or any other type of investment; if it is over the minimum amount on which zakat is due, the zakat on it must be paid in gold or silver. It may not be paid using paper money.
Although some modernist Muslims have tried to adapt and compromise the shari‘a to make it fit in with the present economic environment, the truth is, as many ‘ulama have made indisputably plain, that the deen cannot be fudged in this way. The shari‘a on this matter is clear: zakat on monetary wealth and trade goods may only be paid in actual gold or silver. Payment using paper money does not discharge the obligation of zakat. In his landmark fatwa on this subject, Shaykh ‘Illaysh, the last truly independent Shaykh al-Azhar, definitively clarified this matter beyond dispute. He was asked about whether zakat should or should not be paid on the paper money at that time in circulation in the Osmanli realms. His reply was categorical: “No zakat is paid on it, as zakat is restricted to cattle, certain types of grain and fruit, gold, silver, the value of turnover stock and the price of stored goods. The items mentioned are not included in any of the above categories.”
According to his understanding, for zakat purposes paper money is worth literally no more than the paper it is printed on. But even if you argue that because it is the only legal tender there is no other way of estimating wealth, it still makes no difference. Paper money is then considered, from the point of view of zakat, as a kind of trade good like any other in the market place which has its value among all the other commodities and can be exchanged for them. So the value of any standing wealth you hold in paper money must be assessed for zakat as stored goods and the required amount paid in gold or silver since it is not in itself something on which zakat is due.
The net result of this situation is that, notwithstanding the undoubtedly sincere intentions of many millions of Muslims throughout the world who do their best to put aside an amount of their wealth every year to fulfill their obligation to Allah of paying zakat – and Allah best knows our hearts and will reward us according to our intentions – the truth is that the obligation to pay zakat, as it has always been understood by the Muslims, is not being discharged anywhere. This is because the necessary connection between zakat and Muslim governance has been severed and because the zakat of money and merchandise, is not being paid in the only acceptable form in which it is permitted to be paid – gold and silver. Unless and until this situation is remedied, the third pillar of our deen will remain missing and any hope of seeing the reality of Islam once more flourishing on the earth will be no more than wishful thinking.
Zakat must be restored.
Second Khutba Friday 20th October 2006
Whatever the Messenger gives you you should accept and whatever He forbids you you should forgo.
Have taqwa of Allah - Allah is severe in retribution. (59:7)
Establish salat and pay zakat and obey the Messenger so that hopefully mercy will be shown to you.
The men and women of the believers are friends of one another. They command the right
and forbid the wrong, and establish the prayer and pay zakat, and obey Allah and His Messenger.
They are the people Allah will have mercy on. Allah is Almighty, All-Wise.(9:72)
Firstly since Ramadan is rapidly drawing to a close it is necessary to draw your attention to something I mentioned earlier, something which the Prophet, salla’llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, made the successful conclusion of the month of fasting dependent on: the zakat al-fitr.
Zakat al-fitr was imposed by the Prophet, salla’llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, as an obligatory tax to be paid by or on behalf of every Muslim at the end of Ramadan, no matter what their age, sex, economic circumstances or social status. A man must pay for all those Muslims for whose upkeep he is normally responsible – wives, children, servants or other dependents. People who live alone must, of course, pay for themselves individually. The point is that zakat al-fitr is owed by every single Muslim at the conclusion of the month of fasting and its importance is made clear by the fact that in one hadith the Prophet, salla’llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, made the acceptance of the fast by Allah dependent upon its payment.
The amount owed by every individual as zakat al-fitr is one sa‘a, which is equivalent in weight to about two kilos, of the staple food of the people in the locality where they live; so in a place where the staple food is bread the zakat al-fitr is that quantity of wheat per person, where it is rice, then it is rice, and so on. Where various foods are eaten then it could take the form of whatever grain or pulse or dried fruit are acceptable in that area.
Zakat al-fitr falls due on the last evening of the fast of Ramadan after the ‘Id has been announced and is best discharged before the ‘Id prayer the following morning, although there is no harm in paying it after the prayer. It is also permitted to pay it during the last couple of days of Ramadan. It should be given to people in the community who are known to be poor. Unlike other types of zakat it can be distributed individually and does not have to be centrally collected, although there is no harm in doing that if you wish it to be distributed by the amir on your behalf.
Having hopefully made the matter of zakat al-fitr clear, I would like to return to the matter of zakat on monetary wealth we looked at in the first khutba and the need to pay it using actual gold and silver. There have been mutterings and reluctance on the part of a lot of Muslims, including some from among our own ranks, regarding the use of gold and silver rather than paper money to pay zakat. “It is impractical,” they say, “and unnecessarily inconvenient to use gold and silver.” And they argue that it is more pragmatic in the circumstances, from the point of view of both the payer and the recipient, that paper money should be used for payment. This argument is ludicrous and, what is more, very dangerous for the deen.
Our deen is not based on convenience. It is extremely inconvenient in some circumstances to do wudu in the way that the Prophet, salla’llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, demonstrated to us. So why don’t we simply dab a little water on our foreheads like the Christians do; that would be far more convenient. It is extremely inconvenient on some occasions to do salat in the way that the Prophet, salla’llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, demonstrated to us. So why don’t we just kneel down and point our hands skywards once a week like the Christians do; that would be far more convenient. It is extremely inconvenient at certain times, as all of us have found out during the past month, to fast in the way that the Prophet, salla’llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, demonstrated to us. So why don’t we merely give up eating sweets for a few days like the Christians do; that would be far more convenient. No, we cannot, turn something as important as the proper payment of zakat, the third pillar of our deen, into a matter of convenience.
Certainly it is one of the important functions of the amir to ensure that gold dinars and silver dirhams of the right weight and purity are available to the members of the community so that they can be easily acquired when they need them to pay their zakat. And it is also important in the present circumstances that recipients of zakat in gold and silver should be able to convert them easily into whatever form will make it simplest for them to fulfill their needs; although it is to be hoped that more and more businesses will start accepting payment for their goods and services in dinars and dirhams so that their conversion into other forms of currency will become less and less necessary. What is beyond dispute, however, is that gold and silver are the indispensable prerequisite for the payment of zakat on monetary wealth and trade goods and any other form of payment is unacceptable.
It is moreover clear that the re-introduction of gold and silver coinage made necessary by zakat will have benefits which extend far beyond it. The destruction of Dar al-Islam was largely achieved through usurious financial instruments which removed gold and silver from the hands of the Muslims and it is by means of these same financial instruments that the whole world, including all the Muslims, is still held in thrall. As long as we are enmeshed in the present economic system, it is all but impossible to establish and implement Allah's deen. We have to free ourselves from it and that will only be possible by reversing what was done to us and turning the techniques of the usurers back on themselves. The re-adoption of the use of gold and silver currency in the present economic environment will achieve this by bursting the grotesquely overinflated balloon of usurious finance and putting power back into the hands of those who worship Allah and follow His Messenger.
So, by Allah, it is incumbent on us to re-erect the fallen pillar of zakat and give it back its pivotal fiscal status at the heart of the Muslim Umma. In other words zakat as an implemented political reality; the zakat which Abu Bakr as-Siddiq, radiya’llahu ‘anhu, risked everything to uphold; the zakat whereby the poverty of the poorest Muslims will really be relieved; the zakat which will ensure the social cohesion of Muslims everywhere; the zakat which will be the key to the destruction of usury economics; the zakat which will once more give Islam its rightful dominance in world affairs.
Zakat must be restored.