Is Zakaah same as Tax
“For the system of Zakaah, the Quran commands the Islamic State or Government to take Zakaah from the Muslims (And of some of their wealth take alms – 9:103). Therefore, Zakaah is nothing but tax which the Islamic Government enforces upon Muslims. The Quran has not fixed any rate or amount because the fixing of the rate is dependent on the conditions of necessity. At certain provisional times of disorder, the Islamic State can take the entire surplus one has after meeting one’s own basic needs. (And they ask you what they ought to spend. Say: ‘That which is (spare) beyond your needs. (2:219) - That is why if there is no Islamic State, then Zakaah no longer remains”, writes Mr. Ghulam Ahmad Parwez on page 35 of his book Qurani Faisley.
From the above writings of Mr. Parwez, his beliefs (aqaa’id) regarding Zakaah can be clearly outlined as follows:
A. Zakaah is dependent on whether the government is Islamic or not. If the government is NOT Islamic, then there is no Zakaah. And the proof he presents is that wherever the commandment of Zakaah is mentioned, there is always mention of the collectors (‘amileen) of Zakaah.
B. The actual fixing of the amount (shar-h) of one’s wealth as Zakaah is not mentioned in the Quran. Therefore, whatever amount the Islamic State will fix and take from its citizens will depend on the existing condition and requirement of the Muslim Community. The fixing of the amount for Zakaah from each individual will depend on the Islamic Government in each respective time period and circumstances existing at that time.
C. There is no difference between Tax and Zakaah. In an Islamic State, whatever it takes from the people is called Zakaah. In a non-Islamic state, this is called Tax.
D. In an Islamic State, the government can, when necessary, take from each individual everything that is over and above their basic requirement. The verse which he quotes in brackets (2:219) refers to the voluntary charity, not the compulsory Zakaah.
Let us look at each of his claims listed above in a bit more detail.
A. Condition (SHART) of Zakaah:
Mr. Parwez’s belief that Zakaah is dependent on the government being Islamic or non-Islamic is contradictory to the teachings of the Glorious Quran. The reason being that in the early Makkan period the Islamic Rule had then not yet been established and there were no special collectors of Zakaah. There were just a few numbered Muslims who were continuously persecuted by the Kuffaar. But in this early Makkan period, the initial chapters of the Glorious Quran that were revealed commanded Muslims to pay their Zakaah (see Surah Ma’aarij, Zaariyaat etc.). This is our clear proof that the payment of Zakaah is NOT dependent on the government being Islamic or not. Allah has not made the payment of the Fard Zakaah dependent on the type of government. There were many prophets who could NOT establish their own Islamic government but their ummah was not excused from paying their Zakaah.
Note: A VERY DANGEROUS ASSUMPTION MADE BY PARWEZ:
If we start making Quranic commands and prohibitions conditional upon the Islamic State, then practising all the commands of the Quran become meaningless and unnecessary in a non-Islamic rule. For example, we can speculate, as Parwez did in his book Qurani Faisley, that salaah is an institution which can only be established in an Islamic rule. Similarly, one can also speculate and say that interest and usury is haraam only under an Islamic rule because the taking and giving of interest was made haraam only when the Islamic State was established. We can also speculate and say that the right to give divorce is not given to men but to the Islamic State because the Quranic injunctions of divorce were only revealed when the Islamic State was established. All of these assumptions will be regarded as mere speculation without any concrete proofs. The fact is that all Quranic commands and prohibitions are NOT dependent on the type of government, or whether they are done individually or collectively. The laws of the Quran are applicable in any condition. Yes, it would be better if we are in a truly established Islamic State and these commands can be practised and applied collectively, then it should be done collectively. But this does not mean that where we could NOT establish an Islamic State, or if an Islamic State is taken over by the kuffaar, then all Quranic commands which could have been done collectively are no longer valid. When Salaah can not be made invalid in an un-Islamic State, then on what grounds does Zakaah become void? To make difference between Salaah and Zakaah was the work of those apostates (Murtadoon) with whom Sayyiduna Abu Bakr (radiyallahu anhu) made Jihaad.
B. The right to change the fixed amount to be paid as Compulsory Zakaah:
In the Quran, there are two types of charity (spending wealth in the path of Allah).
(a) One type of charity is that which is greatly encouraged. It is voluntary and has no fixed amount, as Allah says: “And in their wealth there is a due share for the beggar and the deprived” (51:19). After Allah mentioning the quality of the believers of performing Salaah, He then mentions their quality of spending in charity and acts of compassion and kindness. And Muslims are encouraged that they should spend in the path of Allah as much as they can, and its limit is whatever is left for the individual after utilizing the wealth for his own requirements. Allah says: “And they ask you what they ought to spend. Say: ‘That which is (spare) beyond your needs.’ (2:219). Many other verses can be quoted to substantiate this voluntary charity. Some of which are as follows:
1. And in their wealth there was the right of the beggar and poor who does not ask others (51:19).
2. And spend your wealth in the path of Allah, and do not throw yourselves into destruction, and do good deeds. Truly, Allah loves the good-doers (2:195).
3. O you who believe! Spend of the good things which you have (lawfully) earned (2: 267).
4. So give to the kindred (relative) his due, and to the poor (who begs) and to the wayfarer. That is best for those who seek Allah's countenance. And it is they who are successful (30:38).
5. O you who believe! Spend of that with which We have provided for you before a Day come when there will be no bargaining, nor friendship, nor intercession. And it is the disbelievers who are the wrong doers (2:254).
Imam Muslim has also recorded a Hadith in his Sahih wherein Jaabir (Radiyallahu Anhu) said that Allah's Messenger said to a man: “Start with yourself and grant it some charity. If anything remains, then spend it on your family. If anything remains, then spend it on your relatives. If anything remains, then spend it like this and like that (i.e., on various other charitable purposes”.
(b) The other type of charity is compulsory. It is a Command and Injunction from Allah. In other words, the least amount that must be given out in charity and is binding upon all Muslims. Some of the verses explaining this type of compulsory charity (Zakaah) are:
1. And establish salaah, and pay the Zakaah, and bow your heads with those who bow (in obedience) (2:43).
2. And woe unto the polytheists who give not their Zakaah, and they are disbelievers in the Hereafter (41: 7).
3. And My mercy embraces all things, therefore I shall ordain it for those who ward off evil and pay the Zakaah, and those who believe in Our revelations (7:156).
4. But that which you give in Zakaah, seeking Allah's Pleasure, then they will have manifold increase (30:39).
Regarding the fixed amount of the compulsory Zakaah, Allah says: “And those in whose wealth there is a recognized right (haqqum ma’loom); for the one who asks and for the deprived” (70:24-25). In this ayah, the word recognized right (haqqum ma’loom) has been used, and the word “Ilm” has generally been used in the Quran to refer to Revelation “Wahy”, for example (2:145). Therefore, “Haqqum Ma’loom” refers to that amount that was specifically fixed by Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) by way Revelation (Wahy-ul-Khafi) and which was clearly and openly shown to the Sahabas. In an Islamic State, the government has the right to take Zakaah from Muslim citizens but only up to the compulsory limit fixed by the Prophet, and NOT everything as Parwez claims. The verse in which Allah says: “Take Sadaqah from their wealth in order to purify them and sanctify them with it, and pray on their behalf. Verily, your prayers are a source of security for them; and Allah is All-Hearer, All-Knower” (9:103) also makes it very clear by using the word “MIN AMWAALIHIM” (some of their wealth), not everything. Now it should be quite clear that whatever amount the Holy Prophet understood from “Haqqum Ma’loom” by way of revelation was exactly that which he took from the Sahabas as compulsory Zakaah for the welfare of the Islamic State.
Mr. Parwez further argues that the command of Zakaah appears 70 times in the Quran. If there was a fixed portion of wealth that had to be set aside for Zakaah, then why did Allah not mention this in His Glorious Quran? This argument is also baseless because then one can also speculate and argue on other commands of Allah. For example, the command of Salaah appears 700 times in the Quran. If Salaah is to be performed 5 times a day every day, then why did Allah not mention this number in the Glorious Quran regarding Salaah? This argument will also be regarded as immature and childish. The reason being that just as the various rules and regulations of Salaah are many; like the number of times to be performed daily, the number of raka’aat in each Salaah, the Azaan before the Salaah, Wudhu before the Salaah etc.; similarly there are various rules and regulations relating to Zakaah i.e. on whom is Zakaah compulsory, on which portion of one’s wealth, and what percentage of that portion of wealth (cash, gold, silver, diamond, cultivation - fruits etc.) should be given. Allah has left the exemplification of all these in detail to our beloved Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) by asserting: “Whosoever obeys the Messenger has indeed obeyed Allah”. Now if we still become arrogant and insist that our beloved Prophet has no right to legislate in these matters, then will this NOT be a total disobedience to Almighty Allah? This makes one really wonder what type of “Quranic scholar” Parwez was.
One point that is very often repeated in the official mouthpiece of the Parwezi Movement i.e. Tulu-e-Islam and that is: ‘The Messenger of Allah used to seek advice from the Sahabas and then fix the amounts to be paid as compulsory Zakaah depending on the situation of the time and the requirements of the Muslim Community’. This is such a great lie against our beloved Prophet that Parwez could NOT even provide one single proof from the books of history (tareekh) or the books of Hadith, not even a weakest of reports relating to his erroneous claim.
When it comes to Salaah, Parwez is quite and accepts the practice of the Muslim majority on this command of Allah. But when it comes to Zakaah, he refuses to accept the practice of the Muslim majority on this issue. As far as Zakaah being dependent on the change and specific requirements of the age is concerned, we can ask one question only. At the time of the rule of Sayyiduna Umar (radiyallahu anhu), many economic changes must have taken place leading up to his time of khilaafah. The Muslims ruled for six or seven centuries thereafter. How much more economic changes must have had taken place? But neither did Sayyiduna Umar nor any of the other Muslim rulers after him ever thought of changing the fixed amount of Zakaah from each individual, the amount that was fixed by our beloved Prophet. But Mr. Parwez has made those Ahadeeth relating to the fixing of the percentages of Zakaah as fabrications of the Jews, Allah forbid! The reason for all his stubbornness in not accepting these Ahadeeth and the practice of the Muslim majority on the fixing of the portion of one’s wealth to be paid as Zakaah is the fact that these regulations stand in the way of his own invention of communistic origin viz. Nizaam-e-Ruboobiyyah.
C. Zakaah and Tax – the difference:
According to Parwez, Zakaah and Tax are interchangeable words but they are basically the same thing. Whatever the Islamic Government takes from its citizens in the form of taxes is called Zakaah. But let us look at Zakaah and Tax in a bit more detail as, in real essence, there are no similarities between the two and they are NOT basically the same thing.
1. Basic difference:
In the Holy Prophet’s time, Muslims were commanded to pay Zakaah whilst non-Muslims were commanded to pay Kharaaj and Jizyah, according to the customs prevalent in those days. Jizyah was an annual tax levied on non-Muslims living in an Islamic state. In return, the duty of the Islamic state was to protect their lives and property just like any other Muslim citizen. Kharaaj was a tax levied on the producer of the landed property by a non-Muslim in the Islamic State.
The basic difference was that the conditions and amount of the Zakaah was fixed and this never changed, but the amount of what had to be paid by non-Muslims as Jizyah and Kharaaj always fluctuated from time to time. For example, in the Prophet’s time, Jizyah was fixed at one Dirham per annum for non-Muslims living under an Islamic government. This applied to every non-Muslim man and women, young and old, and children. But during the rule of Sayyiduna Umar, he brought about changes in that he excused the old, women and children from paying Jizyah. The remaining non-Muslim citizens were divided into THREE groups according to their earnings. Then the Jizyah was fixed at 4, 2 and 1 Dirhams according to their respective groupings. From this, it is very clear that in those times, Zakaah was taken to be a pillar (rukn) of Deen and its laws and regulations were not changed by the conditions and requirements of the Muslim community. Yes, changes were made on the amounts of Jizyah and Kharaaj from non-Muslims under an Islamic State as and when conditions necessitated them.
The fact that whatever else that was taken from Muslims besides Zakaah was called “Maks” and this was totally forbidden to be practised. There is a Hadith in Abu Dawood (Book 19, Number 2931) where Uqbah ibn Amir (radiyallahu anhu) narrates:
I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) saying: “One who wrongfully takes an extra tax (sahibu maksin) will not enter Jannah”.
According to Mishkaah, the meaning of “Saahibu Maksin” is given as “one who takes Ushr (10% tax paid by Muslims on the produce of the land) and also takes some additional amount over and above it”.
From these details, it is clear that “Maks” is that tax that is taken from Muslims in addition to their compulsory Zakaah; or it was the additional amount above the fixed portion of Zakaah which was taken from Muslims. This was regarded a great sin according to our beloved Prophet as reported in the Hadith quoted above.
2. Difference with regards to the objectives of Zakaah & Tax:
The objective of TAX is to take a portion of each employed person’s income and use this money to run a government or state and look after the necessary issues of both the state and its citizens. But the basic objective of ZAKAAH, according to the Glorious Quran, is the cleansing of one’s wealth and the purification of one’s soul. Allah, the Exalted, says:
(Surah Tawbah: 103)
In this ayah, Allah clearly mentions two distinct objectives of Zakaah.
The FIRST OBJECT is the cleansing of one’s wealth from any short-comings that may have been made during the acquisition of one’s wealth. By this, I don’t mean acquiring wealth through unlawful means that are clearly defined prohibited by the Quran and Ahadeeth e.g. speaking lies, deceiving people, engaging in haraam business activities etc. Zakaah given out from such wealth is not acceptable.
The SECOND OBJECT is the purification of one’s own self in that the owner of the wealth comes out clean from the germs of moral diseases that are generated by the greed for wealth.
This verse makes it quite clear that the legal enforcement of Zakaah is not exclusively designed to alleviate the suffering of the needy people. In fact, it is a financial obligation and an act of Ibaadah very similar to Salaah (Prayer) and Sawm (Fasting) that are acts of physical Ibaadah.
What has been stated here has its support in the practice of past communities. When some part of wealth was set aside for Allah, its use became impermissible for everyone. Rather, according to their custom, this offering of wealth was put at some detached place where a lightning came from the sky and burnt it up. This was regarded a sign of acceptance of their offerings. But it is the unique blessing on our beloved Prophet’s Ummah that their poor and needy have been allowed to use the wealth set aside as Zakaah.
3. Difference with regards to the origin of revenues collected from Zakaah & Tax:
From an Islamic point of view, people are generally divided into two groups economically:
1. One group of people are those from whom Zakaah is collected and these people are generally called the rich or the people of Nisaab (minimum amount upon which Zakaah becomes compulsory).
2. The other group of people are those amongst whom Zakaah is distributed, and they are generally the Fuqaraa (poor people) and Masaakeen (orphans).
The basic principle (usool) is that Zakaah can NOT be given to the rich or the people of Nisaab. Zakaah is only taken from them.
Tax is directly the opposite where the main portion of the money is taken from poor working class people. This tax is obtained either:
1. directly via income tax, property tax, wealth tax etc.; or
2. indirectly via sales tax, excise duty etc.
It is quite clear that in many countries, the major portion of tax is taken from the poor people. The main burden of tax is carried by this group of the community.
4. Difference with regards to the use of the Revenues collected from Zakaah & Tax:
The biggest and the most important part of the Zakaah Revenue is used for the basic necessities of the poor and needy. Zakaah is one of the five pillars of Islam and on whom this revenue from Zakaah is used is restricted to the poor and the needy. But Tax is used for the general administration and running of the state and its citizens, be they poor or rich. But in real life situations in many countries, the rich always try to manipulate this tax to their own advantage. They are the ones that make maximum use of this revenue from taxes. They cheat and show less income to pay less tax. But the majority of Muslims take Zakaah to be an Ibaadah just like Salaah, and the chances of cheating to pay less Zakaah is relatively very small. This then means that the revenue from taxes are taken from the poor and manipulated to be used more by the rich.
D. The taking of everything above one’s basic requirements for Zakaah:
Parwez asserts that at certain specific times and according to the requirements of the state, the government can take everything over and above one’s basic requirements. Implying as its proof, he quote the following ayah in brackets – which in essence really refers to the voluntary charity - (“They ask you as to how much they are to spend, say: ‘what is beyond your needs’” (2:219). Parwez has made tahreef (changes) of the general understanding (mafhoom) of this ayah of Kalaamullah and twisted it to suit his own so-called “Nizaam-e-Ruboobiyyah” invention based on communistic ideology. By using this very cunning trick, he tries to prove that at times of necessity, the Islamic State can take everything that is above one’s basic needs; and they should not feel sad about this because it is the so-called “the injunction of the Quran”. Now we get the total picture how Parwez tries to force his communistic ideology of “Nizam-e-Ruboobiyyah” onto the Muslim public. Furthermore, we see that Parwez is somewhat confused in his views regarding Zakaah between his books “Qurani Faisley” and “Qurani Nizam-e-Ruboobiyyah”. In the former, he takes Zakaah to be the same thing as Tax, whilst in the latter he defines the giving of Zakaah with a different terminology i.e. to give the basic necessities like food, clothes and shelter for the growth and development (his definition of ‘tazkiyyah’) of human beings (See Qurani Nizam-e-Ruboobiyyah: Page 87). But then what is the meaning of the ayah (“And of some of their wealth take alms so that you may purify them and sanctify them” - 9:103)? What is the purpose of the use of the word “MIN” (some of) in this ayah? Why has not Parwez elaborated on this ayah? Why is he so selective in picking and choosing verses of the Quran to suit his own communistic ideology?
Sadaqaat & Khairaat:
In his book “Qurani Faisley”, Parwez has similarly mocked at the concept of Sadaqaat and Khairaat given by individuals in an individual capacity. Here again, with his verbal gymnastics, he tries to make it the task of the State by saying that it must be collected and distributed in a collective capacity by the State. But what about the verse of the Quran wherein Allah says: “If you disclose (acts of) charity, even so it is well, but if you conceal them, and make them reach those (really) in need, that is best for you: It will remove from you some of your evils. And Allah is acquainted of what you do” (2:271).
In this verse we note that the addressee is not the state or the government but individuals because the state or government cannot give charity secretly. It has to keep record of all expenditures and therefore cannot keep anything secret. Islam has also given the individual great importance and the proof of this is the questioning and reckoning on the Day of Judgement on an individual capacity.
Parwez also says that the so-called “creator” of the poor and the needy nowadays are the capitalists. This kind of thought is also the product of communism. Contrary to this belief, Allah says: “It is We Who portion out between them their livelihood in the life of this world: And We raise some of them above others in ranks, so that some may command work from others. But the mercy of thy Lord is better than the (wealth) which they amass” (43:32). From this verse, it is quite clear that the division of the rich and the poor is not created as a result of capitalism, but Allah has made these divisions. I am not justifying capitalism which everyone knows is a great social evil. But the division of the rich and poor cannot solely and entirely be placed as a result of capitalism.
The presence of Fuqaraa in an Islamic State
Parwez says: ‘The system which Islam is trying to enforce is making the state responsible for every person’s needs and requirements. Therefore, in this system, the existence of the poor and needy is not possible’. (Qurani Faisley: 48). Note the errors that Parwez has committed by these statements:
A. It is definite NOT the responsibility of the state to look after the needs and requirements of every person. The state’s responsibility is to look after the needs and requirements of the poor and the needy i.e. those who are really dependent on the state for their well being. If it is the state’s responsibility to look after the needs and requirements of every person, then why does he not substantiate this with a Quranic verse or any Hadith, even if one with a very weak chain of narration (isnaad).
B. The possible existence of the poor and the needy in an Islamic State is proved from the following verse of the Quran wherein Allah says: “This day I have perfected for you your religion, completed My favours upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion” (5:3). This verse claims that Allah has perfected our Deen and as far as its chronological order of revelation is concerned, the chapter of this verse was number 112 i.e. one of the last chapters to be revealed. Then after this chapter, Surah Tawbah was revealed wherein Allah says: “Zakaah (charity) are for the poor and the needy, and those employed to administer (the funds), and for those whose hearts have been (recently) reconciled (to Truth), and for those in bondage and in debt, and in the cause of Allah, and for the wayfarer. (Thus it is) ordained by Allah. And Allah is full of knowledge and wisdom” (9:60).
From the above verses, the following facts emerge:
1. The Deen of Islam was complete just before the revelation of the verse contained in Surah Ma’idah (5:3).
2. In this completed system of Deen-e-Islam, the poor and the needy had been in existence. This proves that the existence of the poor and the needy has nothing to do with a specific period of time or a transient state of affairs of an Islamic State.
3. In the second verse quote above, Allah has used the wider word ‘Sadaqaat’ which includes both the compulsory Zakaah and the recommended Khairaat. This is very clear that just as it is the responsibility of the state to look after the poor and the needy, it is equally important for the rich community to do so with Zakaah and Khairaat.
But Parwez had not looked at these verses because his spectacle of communistic Nizam-e-Ruboobiyyah was a veil between him and the Word of Allah (Kalaamullah).
To substantiate his view of the Islamic State being responsible for everyone, Parwez uses a very weak Hadith, even if they contradict the Quran, wherein a statement is attributed to Sayyiduna Umar (RA) that he said: ‘During my reign, if a dog had to die on the banks of River Euphrates, then I will be answerable for it on the Day of Judgement’. But how contrary to the Quran this is when we look some Quranic verses e.g. Allah says: “And there is no moving creature on earth but its sustenance depends on Allah: He knows its place and its temporary deposit: All is in a clear Record” (11:6).
Sadaqatul Fitr or Postage Stamp
After much futile attempts at emphasizing (without any proofs from the Quran) that the Sadaqatul Fitr was organized collectively by a central authority,
Parwez makes the following statement: “… these include Sadaqatul Fitr, which the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) imposed at his time (i.e. some time after Emigration; the fasting have become obligatory in 4 H), when the Islamic Government was not yet regularly established and the Muslims were facing emergency requirements on every step”. (Qurani Faisley: Page 51). Even if the Prophet did collect Sadaqatul Fitr collectively, where is his proof that he used this for the accommodation and maintenance of the Muhajiroon (emigrants)? Let him produce even a very weak Hadith or historical report to substantiate his claim.
Parwez then makes mockery of Sadaqatul Fitr in the following way: “But now the non-centralism of our own authority is such that voices emphasizing the necessity of Sadaqatul Fitr will sound echoing from every nook and corner of the pulpit (mimbar). And you would have never heard anyone saying that the Sunnah of the Messenger (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) is that this Sadaqah was collected at a central place and then its distribution was made through the central authority. At present the only part of the Sunnah of the Messenger (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) made public is that before the Eid-ul-Fitr prayer is offered, the Sadaqatul Fitr be calculated and distributed among the poor on an individual basis. If this is not done, the fasting will remain suspended. These fasts do not reach Allah, as if Sadaqatul Fitr is not used for the betterment of the millah, but it is used as a postage stamp to send our fasts to Allah”. (Qurani Faisley: Page 51).
Mr. Parwez fails to understand that Sadaqatul-Fitr is not just a postage stamp. The purpose of Sadaqatul-Fitr is to purify the one who has fasted from any type of indecent act or speech that he might have committed while fasting. It is also a help to the poor and the needy. Abdullah Ibn Abbas (Radiyallahu Anhu) said: "The Messenger of Allah, Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam, enjoined Sadaqatul-Fitr on the one who fasts to shield him from any indecent act or speech which one might have committed during the fasting and for the purpose of providing food for the needy." (Abu Dawood and Ibn Maajah). This purpose in also proved from the verse of the Glorious Quran quoted earlier wherein Allah says: And of some of their wealth take alms so that you may purify them and sanctify them (9:103).
May Allah guide us all in deciphering the Truth from Falsehood. Ameen!
Requesting your humble du’as.
Abdul Haq Abdul Kadir
Umhlanga Rocks, KZN,