The Inward Rules Of The Zakah

The Inward Rules Of The Zakah

Know that he who seeks the road of the Afterlife through the zakah has certain duties to fulfil. These are as follows:

THE FIRST DUTY is to understand the purpose behind zakah, which is three matters: the first is testing those who claim to love Allah by giving away what they love; the second is to purify oneself from miserliness which is one of the destructive matters and the third meaning is expressing thankfulness for the blessing of wealth.

THE SECOND DUTY is secrecy. It is farther removed from the desire to be seen and heard. Giving it openly also humiliates the poor, but if he fears that secrecy will make people accuse him of not paying it, he should give it openly to the poor who do not mind taking it in front of everyone and then give to others in secret.

THE THIRD DUTY is that he must not ruin his zakah by thinking he has done a favor and by causing harm, for this might happen when one sees himself as being good and gracious towards the poor. Were he to consider the matter with care, he would realize that the poor person is the real good doer by accepting Allah’s right that purifies the payer.

If he also keeps in mind that giving zakah is a way of giving thanks for the blessing of wealth, there is not real transaction left between him and the poor. He must not belittle the poor for their poverty, for virtue does not come with money and deficiency does not come with the lack of it.

THE FOURTH DUTY is that he should consider what he has given as something little because if he should make much of it he would feel proud with it. Indeed, it is said that a good deed is only complete through three things: belittling it, hurrying it, and concealing it.

THE FIFTH DUTY is that he should [when giving], select from his wealth, the most lawful and best and dearest to him. As for choosing the lawful type, it is because Allah is good and accepts nothing but the good.[1]

As for choosing the best, it is because Allah says:

“And do not aim toward the defective therefrom, spending.” [Qur’an 2:2671]

In doing this, he must consider two things:

The first is the right of Allah Exalted and Most High to be glorified: with that in mind, this is chosen for the best possible purpose. After all, if a person presents bad food to his guest, he will incite the guest’s malice against him.

The second is his own right: what he gives away now is what he shall meet tomorrow at the resurrection, so he really ought to choose the best for himself.

As for choosing the dearest to him, it is because Allah says:

“Never will you attain the good (reward] until you spend [in the way of God] from that which you love.” [Qur’an 3:9]

When Ibn ‘Umar (radiyAllahu ‘anhu) would notice that he loved something of his wealth dearly, he would offer it to Allah. It has been narrated that once when he arrived at al-Juhfa, he was ill and said: “I desire fish.” They looked for him but only found one, which his wife then took, prepared, and presented to him. Then a poor person came to them and Ibn ‘Umar told him: ‘Take it.’ Upon seeing this, his wife told him: ‘SubhanAllah! You have tired us, and now you give away our food!’ But Ibn ‘Umar replied: ‘The servant of Allah desires it greatly.’

It has been narrated that once a beggar came to the door of al-Rabi’ Ibn Khuthaym[2] so he said: ‘Feed him sugar.’ The others said: ‘We should feed him bread; it helps him more,’ but he replied: “Woe unto you! Feed him sugar, for al-Rabi’ loves sugar.’

THE SIXTH DUTY is to seek for his sadaqah people through whom it becomes pure. These are specific people from the eight categories who have the following characteristics:

1. First he should seek the pious, for by doing so he will return their concern back to Allah Most High.

‘Amir Ibn ‘Abdullah Ibn al-Zubayr (radiyAllahu ‘anhum) used to choose between the people while they were in prostration. Then he would go to them with a purse of dinars and dirhams and put it by their sandals in such a way that they sensed it but not where he was. When he was asked: ‘What stops you from sending it to them?’ he replied: ‘I really dislike the thought of their faces changing color upon seeing my messenger or meeting me.’

2. The recipient should be one of those who have devoted themselves to supporting knowledge and spreading the religion. That equals strengthening the Shariah.

3. Remembering that blessings come from Allah alone without focusing on the means except by giving thanks to others as much as the Shariah dictates: those who always recite praises when given will also blame a person when he does not give.

4. Concealing one’s poverty, need, and complaints: The fourth quality is [that the recipient], having concealed his poverty, need, and complaint. As Allah Most High says:

“An ignorant [person] would think them self-sufficient because of their restraint” [Qur’an 2:2731]

The seeker will not catch these in his net unless he looks for them and asks the people of every locality about men with these characteristics.

THE FIFTH QUALITY is that the recipient should have a family or being restrained by illness or debt: such a person is among the restricted ones,’ and being charitable towards him is a way of releasing him.

THE SIXTH QUAlITY is that he should be a relative close of kin so that the gift would be both a sadaqah and maintaining the ties of kinship.

If someone has two or more of these characteristics giving to him is better. The superiority of giving to him depends on how many of these characteristics he has.

[The Inner Secrets Of Worship By Imam Ibn Qudamah Al-Maqdisi, p.60-64]


[1] As mentioned in the hadith of Abü Hurayrah (radiyAllahu ‘anhu) related by Muslim #1015; and Tirmidhi #2992.

[2] The al-Shāmiyyah edition says: “Khaytham.” Refer to al-Mughni fi Dabt Asma’ al-Rijal by al-Fattani

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