Question: What is importance of zakat?
Zakat is mentioned together with salat in many places in the Qur'an al-karim. It is said "Perform salat and give zakat" in it. Allah curses a person who does not give zakat. Such a person has dirtied his/her clean wealth. As a result, he/she will be subjected to famine, and that wealth will go through destruction. It is stated in hadith-i sharifs:
(The best act of worship is salat. After it, it is zakat.) [Tabarani]
(Protect an ill person with alms and wealth with zakat.) [Daylami]
(Allahu ta'ala made zakat fard in order for your wealth to become pure and fine.) [Hakim]
(The salat of a person who does not give zakat is not accepted.) [Tabarani] (As not giving zakat is haram, such a sinner's salat is valid, and he/she has been absolved from the debt of salat. However, he/she cannot attain the rewards given in return for salat.)
(He who does not give zakat has dirtied his clean property.) [Tabarani]
(He who does not give zakat is in the fire in the Hereafter.) [Tabarani]
(If the zakat of the rich were not sufficient for the poor, Allahu ta'ala would give the sustenance of the poor through other means. If there is a hungry poor person, it is because of the cruelty of the rich.) [Al-Askari] (It is haram for a person who is in good health and works to ask someone for zakat. If zakat is given to him without him asking for it, it is not sinful to take it. Zakat is given to those who are ill or disabled to such an extent that they cannot work or those who work but cannot make both ends meet, on condition that they do not own the amount of nisab. Allahu ta'ala creates such types of poor ones one-fortieth among people.)
(A society that does not give zakat will be deprived of mercy and goodness. But for animals, it would not be shown any mercy.) [Tabarani]
(The wealth on which zakat is not given is destroyed on land and in the sea.) [Tabarani]
(The one who gives zakat will be protected against the harm of that wealth.) [Bayhaqi]
Our Master the Prophet said "The wealth on which zakat is not given will become dragons and cling to the neck of its owner" and then recited the following verse (which means):
(Those who do not give zakat of the wealth that Allahu ta'ala granted them think that it is better for them and that they will remain rich. Nay, they do themselves harm. That wealth will be a means of torture in Hell. It will cling to their necks in the shape of a snake and bite them from head to toe.) [Al-i Imran 180]
In order to escape this bitter torment, it is essential to give zakat on wealth and ushr on agricultural produce. Zakat is given one-fortieth and ushr is given one-tenth. The Qur'an al-karim says (what means):
(Those who hoard up property and money, give them the tidings of a bitter torment. The money and property on which zakat is not given will be heated in the fire of Hell and they will be pressed against the foreheads, the flanks, and the backs of their owners like a seal.) [At-Tawbah 34,35]
Even a Muslim who does not perform salat or fast must give zakat, too.
It is haram not to give zakat and not to pay a debt. It is written in fiqh books "The du'a of a person who commits and eats haram is not acceptable" and "The voluntary acts of worship of a person who has obligatory acts of worship to make up are not accepted." As a wealthy person who does not give zakat has extorted the rights of thousands of poor people and has not obeyed the order of Allahu ta'ala, none of his/her good deeds is accepted.
The gold given to a poor person should not be so much that it will make him/her reach the border where he/she is Islamically considered rich. Giving zakat as much as the amount of nisab or more to a poor person who does not have any debt is permissible, but makruh. If the poor person has a debt of 10 grams of gold, it is not makruh for him/her to accept 100 grams of gold as zakat. Silver and gold are trading merchandise for whatever purpose they are kept. Their zakat must be given if they reach the amount of nisab.
It is haram for a person who has a day's food to ask for zakat or sadaqah. However, it is permissible to accept sadaqah or zakat if it is given without him/her asking for it. Zakat must be given to the needy.
Question: It is said in the 34th verse of Surah at-Tawbah: "There is a bitter torment for those who hoard up gold and silver and do not spend it in the way of Allah." Does it not prohibit saving money?
Our Master the Prophet explained the Qur'an al-karim. It is stated in a hadith-i sharif:
(The property on which zakat has been given is not kanz.) [Abu Dawud, Hakim, Hatib]
(The word kanz means treasure and wealth that has been hoarded but not benefited.)
In the wealth of a Muslim, no one has any right except zakat. Our Master the Prophet said, "There is no right, except zakat, in wealth.) (Ahkam-us-Sultaniyya)
Question: An Islamist with a socialist mentality says, "The money on which zakat has been given is considered kanz if it is not invested. It is wajib to take that money from him and to give it to the poor. There is Qur'anic verses and hadiths about this matter." What is the ruling (hukm) of our religion on this matter?
Kanz means any wealth that is saved, hoarded, and stocked for a purpose except a useful one. There is a bitter torment for wealth on which zakat is not paid, not for wealth on which zakat is paid. No one has any right in a Muslim's wealth, except the right of zakat. A pertinent hadith-i sharif is as follows:
(It is kanz to save gold and silver for a purpose except paying a debt or spending in the way of Allah.) [Tirmidhi, Imam-i Ahmad]
Umm Salama, our blessed mother, narrates: "I asked the Messenger of Allah ('alaihis-salam) whether my gold jewelry was in the category of kanz that was prohibited in the Qur'an al-karim. He answered, "If the zakat of something is given when it reaches a quantity on which zakat must be given, it is not counted as kanz.) [Abu Dawud, Hakim]