What is Zakaat then?
For one thing, Islam does refer to Zakaah as Sadaqah. So we are not that far off in calling it charity. But still that is not the full picture. It is not even the real story.
The Real Story of Zakaat
The root word of Zakaat in Arabic stands for purity – that is right, purity as in purifying something. Or cleansing maybe.
It also means growth, increase and development.
The closest equivalent I can think of in English for Zakaat, therefore, is “purifier” or “cleanser” – neither of them a very elegant expression. Sounds like a bad ad for a detergent.
Or “grower” maybe, but it sounds like someone in some exotic field of horticulture. Or maybe “multiplier” but that still does not sound entirely right, even when you realize that you are not talking about an abacus or a calculator here.
But here is a quick insight into the real story of Zakaat: It is a mechanism Allah devised for the all-round cleansing and purifying and development of the individual, the society and the entire culture under an Islamic setup – all at the same time. As such, it is a vital part of the overall mission of the Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, on earth.
And thereby does Allah make the individual, the community, the society and the entire world – and their wealth, prosperity, benefits, blessings and Barakats at all levels – grow and increase and multiply.
You probably need to write a whole paper to define the concept of Zakaat in Islam, if you want to do a semblance of justice to it. A whole book, maybe. Or a whole set of books.
Here is the Qur’an on that subject: Wa yuzakkeehim! – and he, the Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, cleans and purifies them and makes them grow, prosper, increase and multiply!
So, Zakaat is one of those divine instruments that Allah uses for his Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, to clean up his people and make them multiply; to clean up the society which they build and make it prosper; to clean up the wealth which they generate and make it grow; to clean up the institutions and infrastructure of that society and make them all full of blessings; to clean up the culture they create and make it strong, sound, happy and healthy; and to clean up the entire earth – or at least that part of it which they inhabit – and make it full of goodness and bounties.
Anyone has a better plan for our world and for all human beings in that world?
One little word, Zakaat, that is how much punch and meaning it packs. And this is the divine expression Muslims want to translate as “charity” and “tax” and “poor due” and all sorts of other things – and leave it at that.
My plea to the Muslims: Back off Muslims. Stop playing games with Allah’s language – of course all languages are Allah’s languages, some a bit more than some others – even if you cannot stop playing games with Allah’s Deen.
Deen as Religion?
Een Chay Bul’Ajabeest?
Muslims, you have already reduced to religion the very Deen that Allah sent to put an end to religious tyranny in the world. Talk about Shaitan’s strategy of co-opting what he cannot defeat or conquer.
Islam came so Allah can set people free from slavery to blind, unreasoned, unquestioning and fanatical religious faith, and free them from the control and authority of the people, institutions and power structures that represent, manage and enforce that slavery and bondage. Islam came so Allah can show human beings the way to highest forms of rationality, discovery and intellectual independence and self-reliance.
It came to make possible the soaring of the human spirit to its highest point – and teach human beings the ways of science and inquiry: God’s own way of teaching his people how to look for and crack open the mysteries of his creation in his universe.
And what do the Muslims do? They turn around; learn a little bit of English; swallow the entire bait of the Western-Christian-Biblical culture which is so deeply rooted in the English language; and start calling Islam “their religion.”
“Their” Islam? As if Islam came just to them, and not to the entire world? As if Allah sent his Rasul, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, for Muslims’ own personal benefit, and not as a message of love and mercy to all the worlds – Rahmatal lil-aalameen!
Islam, a “religion”? Well, everybody in the world had their own religion, so why shouldn’t the poor Muslims have a “religion” of their own? Right? Well, that was more or less the logic. As a result, Islam that came to provide a solution to religious tyranny, bigotry and oppression in the world, itself was very quickly turned by English-knowing Muslims into a part of the problem of “religion” in the world.
Don’t forget how some of the followers of Moses, Alaihis Salaam, once put in a request for a private more or less bovine God of their own. Ij’al lanaa ilaahan kamaa lahum aalihah, they said to hazrat Musa, Alaihis Salaam.
Paraphrase: Musa, why can’t we have a god, like they all have a god?
Is Islam a Religion? Since When?
Let us see if we can sort this out. At least let us have a shot at it. Let us try and see what happens. May Allah’s help and guidance attend our effort! I will just mention one or two points. That is all. But that should be enough to get us thinking on this subject, Inshallah.
First of all, that which we call religion is a highly specialized and technical thing. To begin with, it cannot be done without the shamans, the pundits, the priests, the Rabbis and other members of a “holy” hierarchy or clergy?