Allah-SWT has laid down clear cut instructions for the distribution of obligatory alms. They will not be distributed at will rather, Allaah-SWT has assigned portions to the various categories of destitute Muslims. According to a Hadith the authority to distribute Zakat has not been delegated to any Prophet-AS. Allaah-SWT has pronounced it Himself. However, voluntary alms can also be given to non believers at one's discretion, including those given on Eid al Fitr, as Islam aims at the welfare of the entire mankind. In this world of causes and effects, the distribution of wealth is indeed a great trial for mankind. Some people are blessed with more than the others, which is a test for both to see how they fulfill their duty towards Allaah-SWT . Every socio-economic system of the world, be it monarchy, or dictatorship, communism or democracy, makes the rich richer and the poor poorer. The monarchy distributes offices amongst the royal families like inheritance, while dictatorship is not much different. Communism impoverishes and subjugates the masses while making the ruling lot so rich and giving them such privileges that even the monarchs cannot dream of. As for the democracy, its greatest champion is the United States, where a person once elected as Senator, sticks there for generations together. All matters are directly or indirectly referred to him and he constantly maintains his hold over people. Islam has the distinction that it has enjoined upon its followers to spend one fortieth of their annual savings on the less privileged and has encouraged voluntary alms. It suggests spending on the poor for atonement of sins. These measures are indeed for discouraging the concentration of wealth in few hands. An obligatory alm, that is, Zakat has to be collected from the Muslims and given to those Muslims who deserve to receive it. However, voluntary alms can be given to anyone.
The Disbursement of Zakat
Zakat can be spent on eight categories of deserving Muslims namely:
- The destitute having no means of livelihood, no home or possessions.
- The poor who has a place to live in and possessions but so inadequate that he cannot make both ends meet.
- The collectors; i.e. those assigned the task to collect Zakat. Their salary can be paid from Zakat. The Commentators have discussed this at length. The point at issue is that when remuneration is forbidden for any other act of worship, why are the collectors given a salary from Zakat? A very simple answer given is that since all their time is spent in collection of Zakat, the wages they receive are not for the task of collecting Zakat but for their time. Relying on this plea the wages of a tutor of the Quran or the Imam of a masjid have been justified. Secondly, it is the duty of the Muslim ruler to collect Zakat as against the prevailing custom of giving it individually due to the absence of an Islamic System of State. Otherwise it is the responsibility of the head of the Islamic State to appoint Zakat Collectors as clearly enjoined by the Ayah: "Take from their wealth obligatory alms." Since the ruler himself is the defender of the rights of all the poor and helpless citizens, the collectors appointed by him collect Zakat as supporters of the poor. They receive their salary through the ruler as representatives of the poor. The author of Mu’arif al Quran, Mufti Muhammad Shafi does not approve of paying remuneration from the Zakat to the envoys of the religious schools, because they are not appointed by the Muslim ruler. Therefore, they should be paid from other sources.
- The newly converted Muslims who face financial difficulties because of their conversion. To encourage them it is appropriate to help them from Zakat.
- Freeing of the slaves. Bondage is indeed a curse and if a human being can be freed of its yoke by giving money, it must be done.
- On those who do not have the resources to pay back their debts.
- In the Cause of Allaah-SWT . This term is very general and may create the misunderstanding that spending on any good cause is justified. Had this been the case, Allaah-SWT would certainly not have spelled out categories of the deserving, as the general term "in His-SWT Cause" would have sufficed. The scope of the term is indeed determined by the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet-SW and the practice of our noble ancestors. The Sunnah authenticates spending on the pilgrims, especially those on whom pilgrimage has become obligatory but they are hindered by a shortage of funds or need help during their journey, and in furtherance of objectives of Jihad. The social welfare institutions like charity hospitals or religious schools, however, do not qualify to receive Zakat under this general term.
- The wayfarer, who may have had no financial worries at home but deserves to be helped during the journey. These are the decrees of Allah-SWT, the Wisest and all Knowing.
Further details of the disbursement of Zakat may be seen in Mu'arif al Quran. Now since Allaah-SWT has determined the expenditure of Zakat so there is no room for any objections by anyone. It is indeed the fruit of hypocricy that objections are raised against Allaah-SWT and His-SWT Prophets-AS.
Annoying the Holy Prophet-SW
There are some amongst the hypocrites who annoy the Holy Prophet-SW. They think that since he-SW believes in whatever is told to him-SW, they may revile him-SW and Islam and if it is reported, they can simply refute. Their pretext will also be easily accepted like others. Even today a person who deliberately, for some personal gain, makes a false statement with reference to Islam is guilty of vexing the Holy Prophet-SW
So the hypocrites must know that it is only because of the Holy Prophet-SW‘s graciousness and patience that he-SW despite listening to their false claims he does not contradict them on their faces. Otherwise it is not that he is unaware of the facts. The Holy Prophet-SW is blessed with Divine Revelation, which exposes the hypocrites, and it is not easy to deceive him-SW. He-SW also listens carefully to the sincere and devoted believers who keep him-SW informed over the activities of the hypocrites. However, it is his-SW generosity that he-SW does not openly denounce the hypocrites and keeps quiet so that they are not embarrassed.
Tawajjuh-a Source of Spiritual Progress
To get the Tawajjuh of the Holy Prophet-SW is nothing ordinary, but a special Divine Favour. It cannot be attained by just anyone but is the lot of the truly devoted and sincere believers. When he-SW listens carefully to any one of them, he-SW is actually giving him-SW Tawajjuh, which is a source of elevating the devotee's spiritual status. A hypocrite on the other hand, can never imagine such favour. In other words, a hypocrite is deprived of the Holy Prophet-SW ‘s Tawajjuh. This is also true of a Shaikh's Tawajjuh, because it also elevates the spiritual status of a seeker. The hypocrites should rather wait for a doom from Allah-SWT, for all those who tease the Holy Prophet-SW will be subjected to a very painful punishment.
O' Muslims! These hypocrites also try to delude and please you by swearing that they did not say anything bad or could not carry out a certain task because of some unavoidable circumstances. They should have tried to please Allaah-SWT instead Who-SWT has the Knowledge of the Unseen. Pleasing the Holy Prophet-SW through obedience is indeed pleasing Allaah-SWT and is the essence of faith. Without obedience the declaration of faith is impossible to prove.
Have the hypocrites not yet discerned that being at war with Allaah-SWT will abase them not only in this world but also-in the Hereafter? In fact it amounts to opposing the Holy Prophet-SW and all those who opposed him-SW have been disgraced and destroyed. Is this not an admonition for them? The hypocrites only fear an exposure of their true feelings by the Divine Revelation. Today also some people obtain verdicts to suit their purpose through bribe and by concealing the actual facts, knowing fully well that they are wrong, only to deceive the masses. This indeed is hypocrisy and an affront to Allah-SWT's Greatness. The Holy Prophet-SW must inform them that Allaah-SWT shall expose their intentions and tricks in this life and shall abase them in the Akhirah in front of the entire creation.
Making Fun of Islamic Doctrines is Infidelity
When the Holy Prophet-SW asks the hypocrites about their improper acts, they plead that they were merely joking. How dare they mock at Allah-SWT, His-SWT Commandments and His-SWT Prophet-SW, which besides being a serious crime, is plain disbelief? This excuse itself is weightless, for even if they had been believers, this conduct has stripped them of faith, as they themselves confess that they had been joking about Islam. It is infidelity to make fun of the Almighty and His-SWT exalted Prophet-SW, or to mock at His-SWT Commandments. Some may be blessed with the chance to repent after this crime. They are those who have not personally mocked His-SWT Commandments but were only a part of the group indulging in such behaviour. However, those who make fun shall never be given an opportunity to repent and will certainly be punished. Verily, it is a crime which deprives a person of even the capacity to repent.