Second Zakat Conference of South East Asia (Padang, Indonesia, 1.11.2007)
Ahmad von Denffer
(Chairman Muslime Helfen, Germany)
Having been invited to attend and contribute to the “Second Zakat Conference of South East Asia” as Chairman of one of the Muslim Humanitarian Organizations from outside the South East Asia region, and having been assigned to speak on the subject of “Adopting Zakat as a culture in Muslim society”, I understand the role assigned to me as to shed some light on the question, how the qur’anic institution of zakat may become more deeply rooted and more fruitful among Muslims. I shall attempt to accomplish this to some extent by basing my thoughts initially on guidance fromIslamic sources as well as on some actual insights and experience gained over years of working in an organization that deals with zakat, and also on common sense.
“Muslime Helfen” – which translated into English means something like “Muslims help” or “Muslims assist” (meaning “Muslims are there to help and assist people in need”) – was established by German speaking Muslims in 1985 as an independent charitable humanitarian organization with the purpose to provide assistance to needy people in distressed areas, wars, famines and other emergencies. (For more information please refer to our website www.muslimehelfen.org , which although in German language only, will give you some idea of our activities and projects). Naturally, as is the case with almost all Muslim organizations, some of the funds that are made available to our organization, do come from zakat. However zakat is neither the only source of funds nor the most significant one. Actually “sadaqah” in the wider sense, meaning free and undesignated donations for charitable purposes, seems to be of higher importance to our fundraising department. Nevertheless zakat is a crucial matter too, since we understand the role of our organization – apart from providing assistance to people in need – as also assisting Muslims in our country to discharge their zakat-related duty in an efficient manner.
SPENDING BASED ON FAITH
Discussing the issue of zakat, more often than not Muslim scholars, authors and speakers deal with it as a matter of rules and regulations, of weights, figures and percentages. Important as they are, I shall not touch upon these rules of zakat, since they refer to the implementation. The question I shall deal with is not implementation, but “implantation”, i.e. which measures are we to take to ensure that zakat becomes an integral part of Muslim society.
At this point I would like to make a statement which may initially sound controversial. However if you look at it more closely, it will be easily understood. This statement is as follows: Zakat is spending based on faith and conviction rather than based on the letter of the law.
Now let me explain: When I say “Zakat is spending based on faith and conviction rather than based on the letter of the law” I do not mean to belittle the importance of the various rules and regulations related to zakat. They are without doubt essential for the implementation, and all in all they are derived from thesunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (s).
Rules and regulations however are observed and followed by people only, if either they are enforced, or they are understood. Generally, to observe laws, is not what people are likely to do. It is an essential part of human nature to take care of one’s own personal interest first. Take the example of the red traffic light. Hardly anyone of us, who drives a car, would be able to claim that he has never ever driven on, while the traffic light was on red. Irrespective of the well-known rule and even irrespective of the high fine that one may have to pay, sometimes traffic rules are broken and when questioned about it, the good excuses put forward are usually based on personal interest: I was in a hurry, I had an important appointment, etc.
On the other hand, in most cases we do observe the traffic rules, and this is because either we are forced to, or because we understood. We all know that when caught the fine imposed by traffic-police would be high. At times we may even loose our driving-licence. If we would all drive with highest speed irrespective of other drivers legitimate interest to also use the roads and cross the junctions, not only other peoples healths and lives would be at risk, but also our own health and life. Realizing this, we understand that it is in our own interest and for our own good to take note of and pay attention to the need of others.
The same is true with regards to zakat. In some Muslim societies, there may even be laws in force that would compel people to pay their zakat. However, in most Muslim societies, it is left to each and every individual’s discretion as to whether he or she will pay zakat or not. We may under these circumstances describe zakat as a “voluntary, self-imposed taxation”, since in most Muslim societies it cannot be legally enforced and those, who do not observe, cannot be legally punished.
Interestingly enough, the qur’anic approach seems to take care of that particular situation. Whatever Qur’an tells us about zakat primarily, is not dealing with rules and regulations. Rather Qur’an is relating zakat to faith. Already at the very beginning of suratu-l-baqara, thesurah following immediately after the introductory suratu-l-fatiha, we read:
“Alif. Lam. Mim. This is the Scripture wherein there is no doubt, a guidance unto those who ward off (evil); Who believe in the unseen, and establish worship, and spend of that We have bestowed upon them; (2:1-3)
Muslim scholars interprete “establish worship” as referring to the five daily prayers, and “spend of that We have bestowed upon them” as referring to the institution of zakat. Both, prayer – as-salah – as well as zakat are preceded by “believe in the unseen”, which is “iman”, or faith. Belief in “al-ghaib – the unseen” is not primarily belief in spirits, ghosts and jinns.Tabari in his tafsir explains “they believe – yuminun “ as “they “they hold for true” and “they declare to be true – yusaddiqun“ (based upon Ibn Abbas ) as well as “they fear – yakhshaun”. Furthermore he quotes az-Zuhri saying: “Faith means action – al-iman al-’amal” and also “al-iman at-tasdiq” (Abd Allah). With regardsto “al-ghaib – the unseen” this refers according to Ibn Mas’ud as quoted by Tabari to “what is hidden from the servants (of Allah) regarding paradise and fire (of hell)” and according to Qatada to “paradise and fire and resurrection after death and day of resurrection.”
REWARD AND PUNSIHMENT
Now with this reference to the “Day of Resurrection” we do have an element of “law and punishment”, because since zakat is a prescribed duty for Muslims, whosoever evades it, must expect to be held responsible for it on theDay of Judgement.
Abu Huraira reported God’s messenger as saying, “If any owner of gold or silver does not pay what is due on it, when the day of resurrection comes plates of fire will be beaten out for him, they will be heated in the fire of jahannam, and his side, forehead and back will be cauterised with them …” (Muslim) andAbu Dharr reported the Prophet as saying “If any man has camels, cattle or sheep on which he does not pay what is due, they will be produced as large and fat as can be on the day of resurrection and will trample him with their hoofs and gore him with their horns. As often as the last of them pass him the first of then will be brought back to him until judgement is pronounced among mankind.” (Bukhari, Muslim)
However, the fear of punishment on the Day of Resurrection depends on faith, and there is no fear of such punishment, unless there is belief in resurrection and in life in the hereafter.
Similarly, the hope for reward in the life to come, follows from belief in Allah. There are many references in the Qur’an to the reward for those who spend and pay zakat. Their reward will be paradise. I shall quote only two examples:
“Far removed from it (the fire) will be the righteous, Who giveth his wealth that he may grow (in goodness), And none hath with him any favour for reward, except as seeking (to fulfil) the purpose of his Lord Most High. He verily will be content.” (92:17-21)
“Successful indeed are the believers, Who are humble in their prayers, and who shun vain conversation, And who are payers of the poor-due (zakat)…” (23:1-4) … “These are the heirs, Who will inherit Paradise. There they will abide.” (23:11-12)
FOR THE SAKE OF ALLAH
However, even before belief in the unseen including belief in the coming of a day of Judgement and belief in reward and punishment, there is faith in Allah, and Qur’an tells of “the righteous ones – al-abrar” in paradise:
“Lo! The righteous shall drink of a cup whereof the mixture is of water of Kafur (camphor), A spring whereof the slaves of Allah drink, making it gush forth abundantly, (Because) they perform the vow and fear a day whereof the evil is wide-spreading, And feed with food the needy wretch, the orphan and the prisoner, for Love of Him, (Saying): We feed you, for the sake of Allah only. We wish for no reward nor thanks from you; Lo! We fear from our Lord a day of frowning and of fate.” (76:5-10)
Again, in suratu-l-baqara we read:
“It is not righteousness that ye turn your faces to the East and the West; but righteous is he who believeth in Allah and the Last Day and the angels and the Scripture and the Prophets; and giveth his wealth, for love of Him, tokinsfolk and to orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and to those who ask, and to set slaves free; and observeth proper worship and payeth the poor-due …” (2:177)
Central here is the motivation for giving one’s wealth. The righteous one feeds with food and gives his wealth “for love of Him”, which means “for the sake of Allah” or “out of love for Allah”. Love for Allah” here is the opposite of “fear of the Day of Judgement.” What you give out of fear, is given and surrendered, but not voluntarily, out of your own free will. Somehow you are compelled to it. What you give out of love is voluntarily given and surrendered, not only out of your own free will, but keenly and with eagerness and joy.
Let me transgress here for a minute or two: The above is an impressive example of how the words of Qur’an conveys a multi-level understanding by a single expression. One level of understanding does not at all exclude another one, to the contrary, each level of understanding refers to another aspect of one and the same subject. For to spend voluntarily and freely,
1. it is necessary to be able to overcome one’s own love for possession of things and therefore to overcome one’s own selfishness.
2. the one who succeeds with this, would also perceive the action that results from this achievement as something desirable and gratifying and therefore he would love “to give”, i.e. actually give readily and with joy.
3. How can one succeed in overcoming one’s love of possessing and one’s own selfishness? Well, if one values Allah’s will higher than one’s own wishes and whims, if one follows the word of Allah, although one’s own selfishness recommends the opposite, if for the sake of Allah one renounces one’s own wanting and will, which means through love for Allah. For actually love is renunciation on my part, is to disregard my own personal interest, is to give up, abandon and surrender myself.
MUSLIM CULTURE AND “AMR BI-L-MA RUF WA NAHI ‘ANI-L-MUNKAR”
Now if it is correct to say that Zakat is spending based on faith and conviction rather than based on the letter of the law, whosoever is concerned with “adopting zakat as a culture in Muslim society” must also be concerned about faith and conviction of Muslims.
In the Qur’an, the Muslim community or society is described in the following words:
“Ye are the best community that has been raised up for mankind. Ye enjoin right conduct (ma’ruf) and forbid indecency (munkar); and ye believe in Allah…” (3:110)
Muslim scholars hold this to mean that “to enjoin right conduct (ma’ruf) and forbid indecency (munkar)” is a prerequisite that Muslims have to meet and fulfil, before they may perceive themselves to be described as “the best community”. In other words: In a society or culture which is described as “Muslim” an activeendeavour to establish what is right and to prevent what is wrong must be undertaken. Since zakat is a duty laid upon the Muslims by Allah and therefore considered to be right and good, active endeavours to establish and implement zakat become a feature and prerequisite of a Muslim society or culture. Of course there are many ways for “amr bi-l-ma ruf wa nahi ‘ani-l-munkar”, and I need not go into details about that here. However it should be understood that an institution concerned with zakat must also in one way or another be concerned with seeking to promote what is good and prevent what is evil.
PEOPLE IN NEED MUST BE TAKEN CARE OF
Part of “ma’ruf” is to take care of people in need. Abu Talha reported Gods messenger as saying, “The most excellent sadaqah consists in your satisfying a hungry stomach.” (Baihaqi)
Mus’ab b. Sa’d told that Sa’d considered himself better than his inferiors, so God’s messenger said to him, “Are you (pl.) given help and provision for any other reason than the presence of your weak ones?” (Buchari)
The word “you” here used is in its plural form and therefore not directed to Sa’d alone. Rather all people are addressed in this manner and they are reminded that if they find themselves better off than others, this should not be understood as a privilege alone but also as an obligation. In order to do justice to his or her role in society, the one who is better off needs to take care of the weak ones.
This is what Qur’an calls “the Ascent” or “the high path”:
“What will convey to thee what the Ascent is! – It is to free a slave, And to feed in the day of hunger, An orphan near of kin, or some poor wretch in misery, And to be of those who believe and exhort one another to perseverance and exhort one another to pity.” (90:12-17)
Furthermore, Allahs messenger (s) said: “Anything good (ma’ruf) is sadaqah.“ (Jabir, Hudhaifa; Buchari, Muslim) and in another hadith this is still further elaborated. Allahs messenger said: “Anything good (ma’ruf) is sadaqah, and it is part of good to meet your brother with a cheerful face and when you pour from your bucket into the container of your brother.” (Jabir, Ahmad, Tirmidhi)
IMAN IS EXPRESSED IN PRACTICAL TERMS BY AMAL SALIH
We have already heard that early companions of the Prophet Muhammad (s) saw the close relationship between faith and action. As az-Zuhri said: “Faith means action – al-iman al-’amal”. By this is meant: Man’s actions reflect his belief. An action based on faith in Allah is commonly called “amal salih – righteous deed”, and iman is expressed in practical terms by “amal salih”. There are numerous references to such actions in the Qur an:
“And whoever hopeth for the meeting with his Lord, let him do righteous work (amal salih) and make none sharer of the worship due unto his Lord.” (18:110)
“Lo! Allah causeth those who believe and do good works (‘amilu-s-salihaat) to enter the Gardens underneath which rivers flow. Lo! Allahdoth what He intendeth.” (22:14)
Although zakat is a prescribed duty to Muslims, whosoever fulfils his obligation will be rewarded for it, and it is in this sense that even fulfilling an obligatory duty such as zakat is at the same time a righteous deed – amal salih. Paying zakat is amal salih, because paying zakat is an action based upon faith.
AMAL SALIH IS SADAQAH AND THE MEANS TO PROVE IMAN
It will be benefical at this point to recall the basic meaning of the root word “sadaqa”, which is “he spoke the truth” and thus the opposite of “he told a lie” (kadhaba). It is used in this way both in the Qur an as well as in various ahadith. However as a technical term “sadaqah” means something else. Raghib al-Isfahani in his explanation of the term gives us the clue as to how these two meanings are related. He wrote: “as-sadaqah is what a man hands over of his property with regards to drawing near (to Allah) such as az-zakat, however as-sadaqah actually means the voluntary (donation) und zakat the obligatory one, and the obligatory one is called sadaqah, when its owner aims (by it) for truthfulness (as-sidq) in his action.”
In other words: By means of sadaqah a believer makes come true by his action what otherwise he expresses by words. Or put even more simple: sadaqah is the “amal salih” which “makes” faith (iman) come “true” by action.
ZAKAT IS ONLY ONE PART OF THE WIDER CONCEPT OF SADAQAH
Zakat is only one part of the wider concept of sadaqah. It is specially concerned with material things, which people may earn and own. However there are many other forms of sadaqah. Jabir and Hudhaifa reported Gods messenger as saying, “Every act of kindness is sadaqah.” (Bukhari, Muslim)
Abu Musa al-Ash’ari reported Gods messenger as saying that every Muslim must give sadaqah. He was asked how this could apply to one who had nothing and replied that he should work hard with his hands, gaining benefit for himself thereby, and give sadaqah. He was asked what would happen if he were unable to do this or did not do it, and replied that he should help one who was in need and sad. He was asked what he should do if he did not do that and replied that he should enjoin what is good. He was asked what he should do if he did not do that, and replied that he should refrain from evil, for that would be sadaqah for him. (Bukhari, Muslim)
Abu Huraira reported Gods messenger as saying, “Forgiveness was granted to an unchaste woman who coming upon a dog panting and almost dead with thirst at the mouth of a well, took off her shoe, tied it with her head-covering, and drew some water for it. On that account she was forgiven.” He was asked whether people received a reward for what they did to animals, and replied, “A reward is given in connection with living creature.” (Bukhari, Muslim)
Anyone who is concerned with zakat will of course be aware that zakat is but one although specific form of sadaqah. Its purpose has been described by Qur an as follows:
“Take sadaqah of their wealth, wherewith you mayst purify them and mayst make them grow and pray for them. Lo! Thy prayer is an assuagement for them. Allah is hearer, knower.” (9:103)
This refers to the person that pays zakat, He is the one who benefits from it by gaining purification and growth. As to the recipients of zakat, the Qur’an explains that zakat is a means to provide them relief and assistance, of which they are in need:
“They ask thee (o Muhammad) what they shall spend. Say: That which ye spend for good (must go) to parents and near kindred and orphans and the needy and the wayfarer. And whatsoever good ye do, lo! Allah is Aware of it. “ (2:215)
Finally, as to the extend of spending, Qur’an explains that there is no real limit:
“… And they ask thee what they ought to spend. Say: That which is superfluous. Thus Allah maketh plain to you (His) revelations, that haply ye may reflect.” (2:219)
Since there are always people in need, and since zakat is an annual duty, paying of zakat, receiving it and distributing it is an unending, ever-recurring enterprise. Abu Huraira reported Gods messenger as saying, “Sadaqah does not reduce property.” (Muslim)
This is normally understood to be an encouragement for people to pay their zakat and not to worry that they might have to face a reduction or loss in property. However taken in the context just mentioned, this word of the Prophet (s) also indirectly implies that in this world the issue of zakat will never be fully accomplished and therefore requires continuous attention. For if sadaqah does not reduce property, it also means that after a year has passed, zakat becomes again incumbent on it, and so the process of purification and growth continues. Thus zakat remains a continuous source of support for the needy and blessings for the donors.
Muslim institutions collecting zakat funds and distributing them should place special emphasis on this when introducing their work and their projects to the general public and to the donors of zakat. They should provide special and detailed information in particular about the phenomenon of growth and development, which occurs after purification in sound projects and takes shape in many forms of blessings.
TRUSTWORTHYNESS AND RELIABILTY
Last not least let me address a very practical issue: In order to be able to serve people in need funds are required, and zakat provides such funds. As pointed out, although zakat is prescribed by Islam as fundamental duty and may therefore also be called “ a law”, nevertheless in most Muslim societies it still is more a “voluntary self-imposed tax” rather than a “legal obligation” in terms of applicable state-law.
Muslims as believers will in principal be ready and prepared to pay their zakat. However, in order to encourage them even more, they will need to be convinced that the hard-earned money and property they hand over will be put to proper use and benefit those, who it is intended for. Even in those instances, where zakat is regulated by state-law, there may be reservations to hand over zakat-money to the respective government institutions, because some government institutions are perceived to be corrupt and confidence is lacking that they will distribute the funds in the correct manner. In the majority of cases, zakat money will be taken by non-governmental organizations, and they have to take as much care, if not even more care than governmental institutions to ensure proper handling of zakat and other funds.
Trustworthiness and reliability are crucial in dealing with peoples funds. It is therefore of highest priority that any institution that handles zakat money must deal with it in the most convincing way.
In this regard, one of the basic requirements is transparency. Any institution that receives and distributes zakat money is to publish its balance sheets periodically, informing the public in general and those who paid zakat to it in particular about funds received, funds spent and administrative costs involved. Only in this way can transparency be achieved, and transparency is at the roots of developing credibility and trust.
Another requirement is to spend the money on good and convincing projects. Sure, the categories of recipients entitled to receive zakat money are clearly defined, and scholars have well explained what is meant by these categories today. Still, there are better ways and others, less effective and less efficient, how to put the money to use. Any institution that receives and distributes zakat money is to strive for highest quality with regards to implementation of its projects.
A third requirement is to share with the public in general and those who paid zakat to it in particular the good results brought about by and successful achievements of the institution that deals with zakat money. Usually this is dealt with under the heading of “p-r” – public relations activities. However here I have to remind that not all kinds of such activities are appropriate. More often than not in this type of activities what is considered to override all other considerations is success. You want your institution to appear to be successful, to be first, to be best. You hope that due to this image that you have achieved in public, more and more people will support you. Be aware that for you as a Muslim institution it is not sufficient to appear to be successful, to appear to be first, to appear to be best. Rather you have to appear to be what you actually are.
If the image your institution has in the eyes of the public does not correspond with the true nature of your institutions, you may achieve some short term success and temporary fame. In the long run, you will loose, not only in the hereafter, but also in this world. Sooner or later the discrepancy between what you claim to be as well as what you claim to do on the one hand and what you actually are as well as what you actually do on the other hand will become visible. In this way, all trust and confidence you had initially gained will be lost and those who had previously entrusted you with distributing their zakat money will look for alternative ways and means, provided they have not also been de-motivated and discouraged by their negative experience with your institution and therefore given up paying zakat. Yes, indeed, even that may happen in some cases, and at least partly your misconduct will have been cause to the misconduct of such people.
Honesty and proper accountability are prerequisites to successfully handling zakat money.
Abu Humaid as-Saa’idi said that God’s messenger appointed a man of Azd called Ibn al-Lutbiya to collect the sadaqah and when he returned he said, “This is for you, and this was given me as a present.” So the Prophet delivered an address, and after praising and extolling God he said, “To proceed: I employ men of your number to deal with certain matters which God has entrusted to me, yet one of them comes and says, ‘This is for you and this is a present which was given to me.’ Why did he not it in his father’s or his mother’s house and see whether it would be given to him or not? By him in whose hand my soul is, whoever takes any of it will inevitably bring it on the day of resurrection carrying it on his neck, be it a camel which rumbles, an ox which bellows, or a sheep which bleats.”… (Bukhari, Muslim)
This hadith is not referring to those who collect zakat as mentioned in suratu-t-tauba about recipients of zakat, where it is said: “The sadaqaat are for the poor and the needy and those who collect them, and those whose hearts are to be reconciled, and to free the captives and the debtors, and for the cause of Allah, and for the wayfarers; a duty imposed by Allah. Allah is Knower, Wise.” (9:60)
“Those who collect” sadaqaat, i.e. zakat may be compensated for their efforts involved in an appropriate manner as has been explained by Muslim scholars. Instead the above hadith warns of misappropriation and mishandling of zakat by those who collect zakat, while another instruction has also been issued with regards to those who may receive it:
Abdallah b. ‘Amr reported God’s messenger as saying, “Sadaqah may not be given to a rich man, or to one who has strength and is sound in limb.” (Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud)
What is meant by “one who has strength and is sound in limb” has been put in other words in another hadith as “one who is strong and able to learn a living.” (Ubaidallah b. ‘Adi b. al-Khiyar; Abu Dawud, Nasa’i)
While these words of the Prophet (s) may be understood to relate to sadaqah in its wider sense, and not to zakat as such, still it is clear that in principle they apply to zakat as well.
In other words: For an institution to distribute the zakat money it has been entrusted with in a responsible manner, necessary care has to be taken to see to it that those who receive zakat money and benefit from projects out of zakat funds are the ones these funds are intended for. This may sometimes turn out to be a particular difficult task. However credibility and trustworthiness of an institution and therefore success in this world depend on it, quite apart from Allah’s reward in the hereafter.
Allahs messenger (s) spoke of a man, who said: Most certainly I give sadaqah!, and he went out with a sadaqah and put it in the hand of a thief, and in the morning (people) said:Sadaqah has been given to a thief! (The man) said: O Allah, you be praised, most certainly I give sadaqah!, and he went out with a sadaqah and put it in the hand of an adulteress, and in the morning (people) said: Sadaqah has been given at night to an adulteress! (The man) said: O Allah, you be praised, most certainly I give sadaqah!, and he went out with a sadaqah and put it in the hand of a rich man, and in the morning (people) said: Sadaqah has been given to a rich man! (The man) said: O Allah, you be praised because of the thief and the adulteress and the rich man! Then someone came to him and it was said to him: As to your sadaqah for the thief, it may well be that he tries to abstain from theft, and as to your sadaqahfor the adulteress, it may well be that she tries to abstain from adultery, and as to your sadaqah for the rich man, it may well be that he is taught thereby and will spend from what Allah has given to him.” (Abu Huraira; Buchari)
This of course refers to unintentional mistakes with regards to recipients of zakat and sadaqah. However it is good to know that as long as the right intention (nijja) is there, rewards and blessings of amal salih are never lost.
PRAYER FOR THOSE WHO PAY ZAKAT
Finally, although it may seem to be a minor issue only, it is necessary to remind institutions and persons collecting and distributing zakat of the sunna of the Prophet Muhammad (s), who prayed for the persons, who paid zakat. This is indicated in the verse of the Qur an already quoted above:
“Take sadaqah of their wealth, wherewith you mayst purify them and mayst make them grow and pray for them. Lo! Thy prayer is an assuagement for them. Allah is hearer, knower.” (9:103)
Also Abdallah b. Abi Aufa told that the Prophet said when people brought him their sadaqah, “O God, bless the family of so and so.” (Bukhari, Muslim)
This may also be done in different ways by any institution that deals with zakat today. One of the simple ways is to print these words on the receipt that is being handed over, when zakat money is being received by an institution. Which ever way is chosen, remember:
Whosoever collects, distributes and receives zakat should always remember Allah and pray for the person who made his zakat money available.
To conclude, let me summarize: I had been invited to speak on the subject of “Adopting Zakat as a culture in Muslim society”, which I understand as to shed some light on the question, how the qur’anic institution of zakat may become more deeply rooted and more fruitful among Muslims. Any attempt “to adopt zakat as a culture in Muslim society” should be based on the insight that Zakat is spending based on faith and conviction rather than based on the letter of the law. There also references to “rewards and punishments” on the “Day of Resurrection” and therefore to “law” – however central is the motivation for giving one’s wealth. The righteous one feeds with food and gives his wealth “for love of Him”, which means “for the sake of Allah” or “out of love for Allah”.
In a society or culture which is described as “Muslim” an active endeavour to establish what is right and to prevent what is wrong must be undertaken (amr bi-l-maruf wa nahi ’ani-l-munkar). Since zakat is a duty laid upon the Muslims by Allah and therefore considered to be right and good, active endeavours to establish and implement zakat become a feature and prerequisite of a Muslim society or culture. Part of “ma’ruf” is to take care of people in need. In order to do justice to his or her role in society, the one who is better off needs to take care of the weak ones. An action based on faith in Allah is commonly called “amal salih – righteous deed”, and iman is expressed in practical terms by “amal salih”. The word “sadaqah” basicly means “to speak the truth”and it is also used as a term for zakat. Sadaqah is the “amal salih” which “makes” faith (iman) come “true” by action. Zakat is only one part of the wider concept of sadadah. It is specially concerned with material things, which people may earn and own. Muslim institutions collecting zakat funds and distributing them should provide special and detailed information about the phenomenon of growth and development, which occurs after purification in sound projects and takes shape in many forms of blessings.
Muslims as believers will in principal be ready and prepared to pay their zakat. However, in order to encourage them even more, they will need to be convinced that the hard-earned money and property they hand over will be put to proper use and benefit those, who it is intended for. It is therefore of highest priority that any institution that handles zakat money must deal with it in the most convincing way.
One of the basic requirements is transparency.
Another requirement is to spend the money on good and convincing projects.
A third requirement is to share with the public the good results and successful achievements.
Trustworthiness and reliability are crucial in dealing with peoples funds. Honesty and proper accountability are prerequisites to successfully handling zakat money.
Finally, success and reward are solely granted by Allah. Therefore, whosoever collects, distributes and receives zakat should always remember Allah and pray for the person who made his zakat available.
These were the main thoughts that I was able to present to you in this session regarding measures not to be overlooked, if one wishes to “adopt Zakat as a culture in Muslim society”. May Allah forgive our shortcomings and accept whatever useful we do.