Despite being the third pillar of Islam and a directive from Allah (SWT), Zakat payment is actually a way of purifying, growing, and blessing one’s wealth. However,

this directive if not properly implementing continues to fail in meeting its objective ACTIVITIeS were recently brought to a standstill in a Nairobi mosque when two Muslims got into an argument about Zakat. One was shouting at the other about misusing Zakat-ul-mal money given previously and had returned to begging. The accuser had hit the roof on realizing that the charity given to the poor man had not helped. The accused was only grumbling something under his breath to the effect that the money was not that much after all. The exchange illustrated ignorance by a section of Muslims towards Zakat  as the givers expect the poor to work magic with the money they are given while the receivers expect more from the givers. Zakat-ul-mal (alms for the poor) is the third pillar of Islam. It actually means purification, growth and blessing of one’s wealth by paying what is owed to Allah (SWT) as part of a Muslim’s belief in him. Allah states in the holy Quran: “And they were not commanded except to worship Allah, [being] sincere to him  in religion, inclining to truth, and to establish prayer and to give zakah.  And that is the correct religion.” Al- Bayyinaah 98:5. Sheikh Issa Suleiman, the deputy imam at Adams Mosque in Nairobi, attributes this ignorance to Muslims not paying their Zakat the way Prophet Muhammad (SAW) taught. “Putting people in queues and then giving them KShs200 is not Zakat but is swadaqa,” says sheikh Suleiman.

“If Zakat was paid the way our Prophet taught us we would be economically strong.” Islam draws its strength from unity. If Muslims came together in Zakat as they do in prayers and hajj pillars the little money each person gives would make a big impact in the community but unfortunately there is no Bait-ul-mal.

Business networking
Mosques, sheikh Suleiman suggests, could suffice as Bait-ul-mal due to their central nature in Muslim communities. They can be used to collect money and help beggars start and establish businesses under their guidance while at the same time promoting those businesses to the ummah. “This would help the poor grow their businesses and be in position to give Zakat themselves while providing a service to the Muslim community through business networking,” says sheikh Suleiman. According to sheikh hassan Kinyua Omari the problem is not just that few people are giving Zakat wrongly but that the majority of Muslims lack knowledge on how money is calculated. “More than 90% of Muslims in Kenya do not pay their Zakat,” he reveals. he  is a lecturer at University of Nairobi and a host of ‘Uchumi na Uislamu’ a programme that discusses issues of economy and Islam on Iqra FM.
A mistaken belief has been that only the rich are obligated to pay Zakat with majority of Muslims excluding themselves from this pillar of Islam assuming they don’t have enough money.
“Zakat is obligatory when nisab  (the minimum amount) is reached or exceeded on things that are payable for Zakat,” says sheikh Kinyua. He continues: “When a certain amount of money is reached then Zakat becomes obligatory. The nisab for money is measured in gold. If the money one has in his or her possession can buy 85 grams of pure gold then he must pay 2.5% of that money for Zakat.” The money must have been rounded by one lunar year (355 days) for it to be payable.

“The current market price for 85 grams of gold is $1000 or KSh85,000 so if you have saved that sum of a year you will pay KSh2125 which is 2.5%.” The following people can receive zakat “… the poor and for the needy and for those employed to collect (zakah) and for bringing hearts together (for Islam) and for freeing captives (or slaves) and for those in debt and for the cause of Allah and for the [stranded] traveler - an obligation [imposed] by Allah. And Allah is Knowing and Wise. Al-Taubah 9:60 “Failure to pay Zakat means you are holding on the rights of others and you will be punished for that by Allah (SWT),” warns sheikh Suleiman.

Husband and wife pay individually
While either the husband or the wife can pay Zakat-ul-fitr on behalf of the family in the month of Ramadhan and not after Idd-ul-fitr prayers, Zakat-ul- mal is different as both the husband and wife pay individually from what each one owns. Do financial institutions especially Islamic banks and Saccos have a duty to inform their clients when their accounts reach the nisab? That, says sheikh Kinyua, would be the responsible thing to do but these institutions have issues of confidentiality, privacy and lack knowledge in  calculating Zakat.

“Zakat is an individual’s obligation and responsibility,” he elaborates. “Just like we personally do government tax returns why can’t we do the same for the Allah – the Judge of Judges?” Majority of Muslims pay their Zakat in the month of Ramadhan due to many blessings that come with the pillar of Saum (fasting). But there is a disadvantage with  this timing as the receivers assume the money is Zakat-ul-fitr and use it for the celebrations. “Come the end of Idd the poor have nothing to their name,” remarks Imam Suleiman. For Sheikh Kinyua the poor have their priorities misplaced because instead of investing and growing  the little they get they use it all for consumption. “Some have used the money to marry second wives instead of investing in small businesses.”

If this cycle of poverty is to end Muslim scholar will have to teach Zakat together with Swala (prayers) next to each other like they appear in the holy Quran.



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  • Comment Link prokop Monday, 05 December 2016 11:01 posted by prokop

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