The Spiritual Importance of Zakat
What is Zakat
Zakat in Shariat refers to making a Faqeer, i.e. a needy person who is not Maalik-e-Nisaab, i.e. one who is not solvent in the terminology of Shariah, the Maalik, i.e. the owner, of a portion of wealth for the sake of Allah, as has been stipulated by the Shariah.
We know well that to pay Zakat is a direct injunction of the Holy Qur’an. Does the Holy Qur’an speak about those who spend from that which Allah has given them?
Indeed, Zakat is a direct injunction. Almighty Allah says, ‘It is not real virtue, to simply turn (your) faces towards the East or the West. Indeed, real virtue is to bring Imaan (Believe) in Allah, and the Last Day, and in the Angels, and Divine Books, and in the Prophets; and in the love of Allah, to give your cherished wealth, to (your) relatives, to the orphans and to the destitute, and to the traveller, and to the mendicants; and to free slaves; and to keep Namaaz well established, and to pay Zakaat; and those who keep to their word, when they make a promise; and those who are patient in times of calamity and adversity, and during Holy War. These are those, who have truly kept to their word, and it is they who are the (truly) pious.’ [Surah Al Baqarah (2), Verse 177]
The Holy Qur’an does certainly speak about those who spend in the way of Allah, as mentioned in the opening verses of Surah Al Baqarah. Referring to them Almighty Allah says,
And (who) spend in Our way from the sustenance which We have given them.
[Surah Al Baqarah (2), Verse 3]
What is the wisdom behind paying Zakat?
Zakat is a means of purifying and cleansing our wealth from any defects. This is a blessing of Almighty Allah upon those who have been blessed with wealth. Those who pay their Zakat are also blessed with the Dua of Sayyiduna Rasoolullah صلى الله عليه وسلم.
Almighty Allah says,
‘(O Beloved)! Take from their wealth Zakat (charity), by which you may purify them and cleanse them; and make (a) bountiful Dua for them; undoubtedly, your Dua (prayers) is the tranquillity of their hearts. And Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.’ [Surah Tauba (9), Verse 103]
Some people feel that if they pay their Zakat they will have a loss in their wealth. Does the Qur’an mention anything about the benefits of those who spend for the sake of Allah?
To have such a thought is to fall into the trap of shaitaan. There is an immense blessing in paying your Zakat. In fact, paying Zakat, etc. increases your wealth, rather than decreasing it. Almighty Allah says:
‘And whatever you spend in the Way of Allah, He will give (you) more in exchange for it, And He is the Greatest Sustainer.’
[Surah Saba (34), Verse 39]
Almighty Allah further says,
‘An example of those, who spend their wealth in the Way of Allah, is like that seed, from which there grow seven shoots, and in every shoot are a hundred seeds; And Allah may increase it even more than this, for whomsoever He Wills; And Allah is Most Resourceful, All-Knowing. Those who spend their wealth in the Way of Allah, and after spending it, neither do they show favour, nor cause discomfort; their reward is with their Rub; and neither will they face any fear, nor shall they grieve. To speak with kindness and to forgive, is better than that charity, which is followed by maltreatment; and Allah is All Supreme, Most Forbearing.’ [Surah Baqarah (2), Verse 261-263]
We should strive to spend in the way of Allah, that which is most beloved to us. When giving from our wealth, we are achieving this, as today, a person regards his or her wealth as their most important (worldly) belonging and they cherish it and keep it in safes and vaults.
Almighty Allah says,
‘You can never achieve true virtue until you do not spend the things most cherished to you, in the way of Allah; And Allah is (All) Aware of all which you spend.’ [Surah Aal e Imraan (3), Verse 92]
It is in Bukhari, Muslim, the Musnad of Imam Ahmed and Sunan Tirmizi from Hazrat Abu Hurairah ؓ that Rasoolullah صلى الله عليه وسلم said, ‘Giving Sadaqa (Charity) does not lessen your wealth; and if a servant forgives the shortcomings of someone, Allah Almighty will increase his honor; and one who shows humility for the sake of Allah, Allah will exalt him (i.e. grant him Excellence and Respect).’
Does the Holy Qur’an mention the misers and their outcome?
Yes indeed! The Holy Qur’an explicitly speaks about those who are miserly in spending their wealth for the sake of Allah. Almighty Allah
‘And those who are miserly in that, which Allah has bestowed upon them by His Grace, should never regard this as good for them; but it is detrimental for them. Soon, that in which they were miserly will become the noose around their necks on the Day of Qiyaamat.’
[Surah Aal e Imran (3), Verse 180]
What does the Qur’an say about those who hoard their wealth without paying what is due for the sake of Allah?
The Qur’an warns such people by reminding them of the evils of the past nations, and at the same time, it reminds them of the outcome of hoarding gold and silver and not paying its dues. Almighty Allah says,
‘O you who Believe (i.e. O Believers)! Certainly many Rabbis and Monks, wrongfully usurp the wealth of the people, and hold them back from the way of Allah; and (as) for those who count and hoard gold and silver, and do not spend it the Way of Allah, give them the suitable news, of an excruciating punishment. The day when it will be (intensely) heated in the fire of hell. Then with it, their foreheads, their sides, and their backs will be branded. This is what you hoarded for yourselves, (so) now relish the taste of your hoarding.’ [Surah Tauba (9), Verse 34-35]
It is said that in the hereafter wealth on which Zakaat was not paid, will appear to in the form of a snake. Is this correct?
Yes, this is true. It has been mentioned in the Hadith Shareef on the authority of Hazrat Abu Hurairah ؓ that Sayyiduna Rasoolullah صلى الله عليه وسلم said, ‘To whomsoever Allah gives wealth and he does not discharge its Zakaat, on the day of Qiyaamat, it will appear in the form of a bald-headed snake, with two spots on its head. The snake will be placed as a noose around his neck, and it will grab his cheeks and say, ‘I am your wealth. I am your treasure.’ After this, Sayyiduna Rasoolullah صلى الله عليه وسلم recited this verse until the end of the verse). [Sahih Bukhari Shareef]
A similar narration concerning the outcome of one who does not pay his or her Zakaat is clearly explained from Hazrat Abu Hurairah ؓ. ‘The wealth for which the Zakat was not discharged will appear on the day of Qiyaamat in the form of a bald-headed snake. It will pursue its owner and he will flee (from it), until he finally thrusts his fingers into its mouth.’
What has been mentioned in the Hadith Shareef about a person who does not pay or intentionally delays paying his or her Zakat?
There is a Hadith Shareef which is narrated on the authority of Hazrat Abu Hurairah ؓ and is found in Sahih Muslim Shareef, that Nabi صلى الله عليه وسلم said, ‘If a person is the owner of gold and silver and if he does not pay its Zakat, then on the day of Qiyaamat, plates of fire will be prepared for him, which will be heated in the fire of hell, and his sides, forehead, and his back will be branded with it. When it is about to cool down, then the same will be repeated again. This will be the affair of a day, which will last for fifty thousand years until judgment will be pronounced amongst the servants. He will now see his path, whether it leads him towards Jannat or it leads him towards Jahannam. Nabi صلى الله عليه وسلم was asked about the camels, and He صلى الله عليه وسلم said, ‘One who does not discharge what is due on him, then on the day of Qiyaamat he will be made to lay down on a huge plain, and all those camels will come forth in a healthy condition, and they will trample over him with their hooves, and bite him with their mouths. When their last herd passes over him, the first will return (to trample over him), and with regards to the cattle and goats.’ He صلى الله عليه وسلم said, ‘Such a person will be made to lay down on an open field, and all of them (i.e. the cattle and goats) will appear. None of them will have twisted horns, none will be without horns and none will have broken horns. They will gore him with their horns, and they will trample on him with their hooves.’
Did any of the Sahaba of Rasoolullah صلى الله عليه وسلم deal firmly with those who refused to pay their Zakat?
Yes, they did. There is a Hadith Shareef reported in Sahih Bukhari Shareef from Hazrat Abu Hurairah ؓ that after Rasoolullah صلى الله عليه وسلم (passed from this physical world) and when Siddique e Akbar ؓ became Khalifa, some people in Arabia became kaafir (they rejected Zakat being Fard). Siddique e Akbar ؓ commanded Jihad against them. Ameer ul Mo’mineen Farooq e Azam ؓ said, ‘Why are you fighting against them?’ Whereas Rasoolullah صلى الله عليه وسلم said, ‘I have been commanded to fight against the people until they proclaim ُ and one who has proclaimed hasََ protected his Deen and wealth, and his privileges in Islam and his accountability is with Allah (in other words, what need is there to fight them, whereas they have already proclaimed Siddique e Akbar ؓ said, ‘By Allah, I will make Jihad against those who differentiate between Namaaz and Zakat (i.e. those who accept Namaaz as Fard and reject Zakat). Zakat is the due of wealth. By Allah! If they presented a baby goat in the court of Rasoolullah صلى الله عليه وسلم and they refuse to give that (now), then I will make Jihad against them for it.’ Farooq-e-Azam ؓ says, ‘By Allah! I observed that Almighty Allah had opened the chest of Siddique ؓ. Thus, I acknowledged that it is he who is on the path of righteousness.’
What harm is caused to pure wealth when Zakat is not separated from it?
It is extremely destructive and it is regarded as mixing, i.e. combining it with your wealth. It is reported from Ummul Mo’mineen A’isha Siddiqa that Rasoolullah صلى الله عليه وسلم said, ‘Zakat will not be mixed
in any wealth, without causing it to be destroyed.’ [Imam Bukhari reported it in his Tarikh and so have Imam Shafa’i, Baz’zaz & Baihaqi] Some of the A’ima have said that the meaning of this Hadith is that, if
Zakat is Waajib upon a person and he did not discharge it, but rather he left it mixed with his wealth, then this Haraam will destroy whatever Halaal he has. Imam Ahmed said the meaning of this is that if a wealthy person, i.e. one who is financially solvent, accepts Zakat; it will destroy his wealth because Zakat is for the Faqeers, i.e. one deserving Zakat. Both interpretations of this Hadith are correct.
Can an entire community be ruined due to non-payment of Zakat?
Yes, non-payment of Zakat can harm and cause loss to entire communities. Tabrani reported in Awsat from Hazrat Buraidah ؓ that Rasoolullah صلى الله عليه وسلم said, ‘Allah will afflict a nation who does not pay its Zakat, with drought.’
At times, we hear people saying that they have had many losses in their wealth, and no matter what they do they are unable to save themselves from the losses. Could this be due to the non-payment of Zakat?
Most definitely, people fail to realize that the greatest investment in their businesses is their Zakat. Non-payment ruins one’s wealth. Tabrani reported in Awsat from Farooq-e-Azam ؓ that Rasoolullah صلى الله عليه وسلم said, ‘That wealth which is ruined in dryness and wetness (i.e. on land and water), is ruined due to not discharging Zakat.’
What is the punishment for those who do not pay their Zakat timeously?
It is in Sahihain from Ahnaf bin Qais that Sayyiduna Abu Zarr ؓ said, ‘An intensely hot stone from the fire of hell will be placed on the tip f their breasts (i.e. those who shun Zakat), which will break through the
chest and exit from the shoulder and it will (then) be placed on the shoulder bone, causing it to break through the bones and exit from the chest.’
It is also mentioned in Sahih Muslim Shareef, that Hazrat Abu Zarr ؓ said. I heard Nabi Kareem صلى الله عليه وسلم saying, ‘It will break through the backbone and exit from the side, and it will break through the nape and exit from the forehead.’
Tabrani reported from Ameerul Mo’mineen Hazrat Ali الرکیم وجہ للّٰا رکم that Nabi Kareem صلى الله عليه وسلم said, ‘The needy will never face being unclothed or hungry but at the hands of the wealthy. Hear this! Allah will hold such wealthy people strictly accountable, and He will punish them severely.’ Allah saves us from non-payment of Zakat, and from having to face this punishment. Aameen.
What will be the condition on the day of Qiyaamat, of the wealthy who did not pay their Zakat?
They will be embarrassed and harmed by the hands of the rightful recipients who were deprived of their rights. Tabrani reports from Hazrat Anas ؓ that Rasoolullah صلى الله عليه وسلم said, ‘On the day of Qiyaamat, the wealthy will be harmed by the hands of the needy. The needy will say, ‘(O Allah) they unjustly held back from us in our rightful due (from their wealth) which You made Fard upon them.’ Almighty Allah will say, ‘By My Honour and Majesty! I will bless you with My closeness and I will keep them distant.’ Ibn Khuzaimah and Ibn Hib’ban reported in their Sahih from Hazrat Abu Hurairah ؓ that Rasoolullah صلى الله عليه وسلم said, ‘Three (types of) people will be the first to enter Hell. From amongst them, one of them will be a wealthy person who did not pay from his wealth, what is due for Allah.’
Does non-payment of Zakat also harm one’s other Ibaadat?
Yes, it does. Tabrani has mentioned in Kabeer with the merit of Sahih, that Hazrat Abdullah ibn Mas’ud ؓ says, ‘We have been commanded to perform Namaaz and give Zakat, and the Namaaz of the one who does not pay his Zakat, is not accepted.’
From all the above it becomes very clear that paying your Zakat protects and fortifies your wealth. Is there any Hadith Shareef that mentions this in particular?
Yes, it does fortify your wealth and this has been mentioned explicitly in the Hadith Shareef. Abu Dawud reports a Mursal narration from Hazrat Hasan Basri ؓ and Tabrani and Baihaqi have reported from a
huge Jama’at of Sahaba-e-Kiraam that Rasoolullah صلى الله عليه وسلم said, ‘Give your Zakat and fortify your wealth in powerful fortresses; and treat your ill through Sadaqa, and when evil descends, then seek assistance in Dua (supplication) and weeping (in the Court of Allah).’ It is further mentioned in the Hadith Shareef from Ibn Khuzaimah who reported in his Sahih and Tabrani reported in Awsat, and Haakim in Mustadrak from Hazrat Jaabir ؓ that Rasoolullah صلى الله عليه وسلم said, ‘Verily Allah has removed harm (evil) from the wealth of one who has paid his Zakat.’
Note: For a detailed explanation of the Laws of Zakat, study Bahaar e Shariat Volume 5 which is available in English on,