and payment of Zakaat in eighty-two different places in the Holy Qur’an. In addition, in many other places, Zakaat is
An oft-quoted Hadith of Rasulullah Sallallaho alaihe wasallam says: "Islam is based on five fundamentals: the
declaration of belief in Kalimah Tayyebah (the testimony that there is none to be worshipped except Allah and that
Muhammad Sallallaho alaihe wasallam is His Rasul), the observance of Salaat, the payment of Zakaat, fasting
during Ramadhan and the performance of Hajj" Another Hadith says, "Allah Ta’ala does not accept Salaat from a
person who does not pay Zakaat, for he has put in the Holy Qur’an the command to pay Zakaat along with the
command to observe Salaat; so do not differentiate between the two". (Kanz). The Ulama are agreed that it is an
act of Kufr (heresy) to deny the obligatoriness of any one of these five fundamentals. For, these are, as it were, the
five pillars supporting the entire structure of Islam and constitute the most important forms or worship.
Upon close consideration, these forms provide us two opportunities to approach the presence of Allah Ta’ala after
making declaration of faith (Imaan). Firstly, a Mo’min is in the spiritual presence of Allah Ta’ala while he is
performing Salaat. Rasulullah Sallallaho alaihe wasallam said, "A person performing Salaat has a direct
conversation with Allah Ta’ala; and, for the same reason Salaat is called ‘Me’raj-ul-Momineen’. Throughout Salaat,
a man is granted an audience by Allah Ta’ala and can present his needs to Him. And, as human needs are
numerous and keep arising from time to time, a man has the opportunity to appear in the presence of Allah, again
and again, to ask favours of Him. Many Ahadith mention the fact that whenever Rasulullah Sallallaho alaihe
wasallam faced any difficulty, he would at once take up Salaat.
Similarly, all the Rasuls of the past used to offer Salaat when they faced any difficulty. When a Mo’min is granted
audience by Allah Ta’ala through his Salaat, he praises and glorifies Him and then implores Him for Help, as in
Surah Fatihah. The Ahadith explaining Surah Fatihah state that, Allah Ta’ala responds by promising him that his
Dua’a (supplication) will be accepted. For the same reason, when the Azaan is called out and the Muazzin says,
"Come to Salaat", he also adds: "Come for Falah", which means ‘Come for success in this world and in the
Many Ahadith explain this point. Now as Allah Ta’ala grants, through Salaat, both worldly requirements and well
being in Akhirah, a Mo’min pays Zakaat as a token of his gratitude to Allah Ta’ala for granting him worldly gains, as
a consequence of his Salaat. Thus the command: ‘Observe Salaat and pay Zakaat’; may be taken to imply:
‘Observe Salaat and out of the bounties We grant you, as a reward thereof, spend a paltry fraction (two and half
percent) for the good of the poor who are attached to Us. In this way Zakaat becomes a mode of expressing
gratefulness to Allah Ta’ala for the favours bestowed upon a person through the audience. It is quite natural and
stands to reason, that a man should give something, out of the ample rewards bestowed upon him by the
Sovereign, to those attached to His court. Therefore, at many places in the Holy Qur’an, the Mo’mins are
commanded simultaneously to observe Salaat and to pay Zakaat, which may be interpreted as thus: Ask favours of
Us through Salaat and, out of what We bestow upon you, spend some thing on those of you who are attached to Us
and need assistance.
Allah Ta’ala has promised additional great rewards for this paltry amount that we spend as an expression of our
gratitude to Him, for the favours already bestowed on us. Secondly, we go for Hajj to make our physical appearance
in the House of Allah Ta’ala.
As Hajj involves a lot of toil and expenditure of money, its performance has been made obligatory (Fardh) once in a
lifetime and only for those who can afford to undertake the journey. Before going into the presence of Allah, we
purify ourselves of the filth of worldly passions through fasting during Ramadhan, which is also obligatory for a
believer. To purify ourselves, we restrict our quantity of food and restrain our passions, for these are the two
principal causes of spiritual laxity. It is for the above reason that the Hajj season closely follows the month of fasting.
The learned scholars of Islamic Jurisprudence also follow the same sequence when they treat these subjects in
The purifying effect of fasting, however, does not preclude other benefits of the month of Ramadhan, which are
equally important. Most of the Ulama are of the view that the Ayat containing threats of punishment for not spending
money as Sadaqah, some of which have been quoted in Chapter Two above, were revealed concerning the nonpayment
of Zakaat. Obviously, it is not easy to mention all such Ayaat and Ahadith. We shall therefore, refer only to
a few of them, by way of example.
A single Ayat or Hadith may suffice for a true Muslim to take heed; but it is no use quoting the whole lot of Ayaat
and Ahadith for a person who is a Muslim just in name. It is enough for an obedient servant to know that his master
has commanded him to act in such and such a way; but the disobedient ones will not heed a thousand warnings
until they are afflicted with punishment.
AYAAT ON PAYING ZAKAAT
Establish Salaat, and pay Zakaat, and bow your heads with those who bow (in worship). (al-Baqarah: 43)
Note: Commenting on this verse, Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanawi Rahmatullah alaihe writes:
In Islam, the devotional practices (A’amaal) fall under two broad divisions, the physical and the spiritual. The
physical may be subdivided into two sections, those performed with the body alone and those involving expenditure
of money. In this way, the A’amaal fall into three broad categories: The Ayat mentions all the three categories of
A’maal referring to one act of each kind: Salaat is a physical act of devotion, Zakaat means giving away money to
the poor, and Khushu is an inner spiritual quality.
The phrase: ma’araakioon meaning ‘with those who are engaged in practising humility’, suggests, very aptly, that
inward humility is better attained through association with the humble minded. (Bayan-ul-Qur’an). According to the
above explanation, the Arabic word ‘Ruku’ means devotional humility and there are many other subtle points about
the Ayat, for example:-
(i) Salaat is the most important devotional practise for a Muslim; that is why it has been mentioned foremost.
(ii) Zakaat comes next to Salaat, in order of importance.
(iii) Payment of Zakaat is an expression of gratitude for the favours of Allah Ta’ala, as detailed earlier.
(iv) By inference, we can conclude that all physical acts of devotion have higher value than spending money as a
(v) The outward or formal aspect of a religious practice has higher value than the inward aspect associated with it,
as ‘humility’ (which is an inner aspect of Salaat) has been mentioned after Salaat and Zakaat (which have physical
(vi) Associating with those who practice humility in their worship of Allah Ta’ala is highly important for cultivating this
quality in oneself. For the same reason, some divines stress the need to establish ‘Khankahs’, where this quality
can be easily acquired in their company.
(vii) The collective form of address in the Ayat; "Observe Salaat all of you" indicates that the instructions are meant
for all the members of the Community as general practices, rather than for those of the chosen few. If we ponder
further, we can infer more subtle points from the Ayat.
Another view is that the instruction ma’araakioon means perform Ruku which denotes the formal act of bowing in
Salaat. Commenting on the Ayat, Shah Abdul Aziz Rahmatullah alaihe writes, in his Tafseer-e-Azizi, Briefly the Ayat
means: Perform Salaat along with those who perform it; that is, perform it in a congregation. The command stresses
the need to practice Salaat with Jam’at (in congregation). Congregational Salaat is a distinguishing feature of Islam,
while other religions do not enjoin congregational prayers.
The Ayat refers to Ruku in particular, because the preceding Ayaat were revealed concerning the jews, and Ruku or
bowing is not part of their form of worship. Thus, the Ayat implies: ‘Observe Salaat like the Muslims’. As has been
explained in the book ‘Virtues of Salaat’, the Salaat is best performed with Jama’at so much so, the theologians
regard a Fardh Salaat performed without Jama’at to be a defective performance.
And My mercy embraces all things; therefore, I shall ordain it for those (in particular) who fear Allah and pay Zakaat,
and those who believe our revelations. (al-Araaf: 156)
Note: Hasan Radhiallaho anho and Qatadah are reported to have said that, in this world, Allah’s Mercy descends
upon every body, good or bad, but in the Akhirah, Allah’s blessings will be showered only upon the righteous people
who fear Allah.
Once a desert nomad came to Masjid-an-nabavi and, after performing Salaat, prayed thus, ‘O Allah, have mercy on
me and on Rasulullah Sallallaho alaihe wasallam and let no one else share thy Mercy with us’ Rasulullah Sallallaho
alaihe wasallam heard him praying and said, "You have restricted the extent of your Lord’s Mercy, which is infinite.
Allah Ta’ala divided His mercy into a hundred portions, of which He sent down one portion and distributed it in the
world. By it, all created beings – jinn, men and animals – show kindness to one another (to their children, kinsmen
and others) while Allah Ta’ala has kept back ninety-nine portions of His mercy".
Another version has: "Allah Ta’ala has hundred parts of mercy, of which He sent down one part to the world; by it,
the created beings are kind to one another and the animals show mercy to their young ones. And, He has kept back
ninety-nine parts for use on the Day of Judgment. There are quite a few more Ahadith corroborating this subject.
Indeed, we should rejoice to know that Allah’s Mercy is so vast in extent. The loving care of a mother who feels
restless when she finds her child in the slightest trouble, a father’s deep affection for his children upsets him when
he finds them in trouble, the mutual love of blood relations, the conjugal love between man and wife, the various
human sympathies and feelings of kindness for one another, which make it unbearable for one to see others in pain
– all these are manifestations of Allah’s Mercy asserting itself through the hearts of living beings. And, all those
affections, loves and sympathies, put together, make but a hundredth portion of Allah’s Infinite Mercy, of which He
has kept back the remaining ninety-nine portions with Himself.
What a shame to disobey the commandments of the Lord who is so infinitely Merciful, so full of compassion for His
Imagine a mother who treats her son most affectionately and think how great would be her sorrow if the son
disobeyed her! Then, how shocking would be the behaviour of a person who neglects the commands of Allah
Ta’ala, in spite of the fact that His Compassion and Mercy to men is much vaster, to which a mother’s affection for
her children stands no comparison.
That which you give in usury, in order that it may increase on (other) people’s property, has no increase with Allah;
but that which you give as Sadaqah (Zakaat, etc), seeking Allah’s Countenance, has increase manifold. (ar-Rum:
Note: Mujahid Rahmatullah alaihe says, commenting on this Ayat: "Giving in order that it may increase" includes all
manner of spending aimed at receiving more or better than what one has spent, whether the spender hopes to have
increase in this world or expects to receive bountiful rewards in the Akhirah. For, in both cases, money is spent in
order that it may increase. That is why usury and Zakaat have been mentioned together. Another tradition reports
Mujahid Rahmatullah alaihe as saying that the Ayat refers to gifts. (Durre Manthur).
That is to say, if someone gives a gift to a person in the hope of receiving a bigger gift in return, he shall, as a rule,
receive no increase in his money from Allah Ta’ala. Similarly, the gift-money given to a married couple on their
marriage and the money spent on arranging a feast for a person, in the hope of receiving from him a gift, calculated
to be costlier than the food to be served, shall bring no reward from Allah Ta’ala, who grants manifold increase to
those alone who spend money solely to seek His pleasure.
Sa’eed Ibne Jubair Rahmatullah alaihe says; "If a gift is given with the intention of receiving a return only in this
world, it shall bring no reward in the Akhirah. Obviously, when a person does not wish to be recompensed in the
Akhirah, why should he receive a reward in that life?" Ka’b Qurazi Rahmatullah alaihe says, "He who gives a gift to
a person with the intention of receiving a bigger gift in return, shall not receive any increase from Allah Ta’ala; but
he who gives a gift to someone solely for the sake of Allah Ta’ala, hoping for no return or favour from the
beneficiary, shall receive ever increasing returns from Allah Ta’ala". (Durre Manthur).
It becomes evident from the above that those who give Zakaat, gifts, etc., to the people in order to win their
gratitude, are, in fact, losing their own benefits owing to their insincere intention. The Ayat quoted at Serial No. 34 in
chapter one is also very relevant here:
"(they says) we feed you, for the sake of Allah only. We wish for no reward nor thanks from you". (ad-Dahr: 9)
And Allah Ta’ala has specifically asked Rasulullah Sallallaho alaihe wasallam not to spend money with the intention
of receiving an increase in return. In another place in the Holy Qur’an, Allah Ta’ala says, addressing Rasulullah
Sallallaho alaihe wasallam:
"And show not favour, seeking worldly gain". (al-Muddathir: 6)
As regards the rewards for spending in the cause of Allah Ta’ala and the increase promised for that, in this world
and the Akhirah, we have already quoted a number of Ayaat and Ahadith to that effect, in Chapter one above.
Therefore, those who spend for the cause of Allah Ta’ala should be very particular about the purity of their
intentions and should not at all expect a feeling of obligation from those who receive their gifts, nor expect to get
any material gain in return for their favours. Undoubtedly, it is binding upon the one receiving a gift to be grateful to
the giver and express his thanks to him.
But if the giver has any intention of expecting or receiving such thanks, his spending shall cease to be regarded as
an act of devotion performed for the sake of Allah; it will rather count as a deed performed for worldly gains.
Especially, in case of Zakaat, a man should not, in the least, think of obliging the poor because, while paying
Zakaat, he is performing his obligatory duty (Fardh) and doing no favour to anyone. Quite significantly, the Ayat
promises manifold increase to those who pay Zakaat, thereby seeking Allah’s pleasure.