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Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura
10 May 2013 / 29 Jamadilakhir 1434
Zakat – Spirit of giving and social equality.
Dear Friday Jemaah,
Let us pray to Allah s.w.t, at this moment which is full of barakah, that He may grant us taqwa and keep us on the righteous path with a firm belief in Allah and the Hereafter. Let us also make doa that we will continue to be steadfast in heeding Allah’s commandments and avoiding what He has prohibited upon us.
When we first began learning about Islam, all of us were taught about the five pillars of Islam; professing the syahadah, performing our prayers, paying the zakat, fasting during Ramadan and to perform the Hajj when we are able to do so. If we examine these five pillars, they are not just for us to memorise and repeat. They are also the fundamentals of our religious life.
It contains a profound message, that Islam is not only for one’s spirituality or for the Hereafter, but it is also aimed at helping people live a meaningful and a more systematic life in this world. Islam provides humankind with ethics and moral systems aimed at safeguarding people from oppression, conflict, and injustice.
It aims to, among others; highlight of the importance of maintaining a balance between managing and distributing wealth to all of humankind. One example is that of zakat. Zakat is ordained by Allah and its key objective is to provide a social safety net for those in need.
Zakat is also aimed at ensuring a balanced and equitable economic growth, where the wealth is redistributed within the society. At the same time, zakat can purify one from being miserly, stingy and selfish, while developing one’s spirituality.
This is why Allah s.w.t. has stressed that zakat is a means for us to gain Allah’s blessings. Allah s.w.t. says in Surah At-Taubah verse 71:
Which means: “The believing men and believing women are allies of one another. They enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and establish prayer and give zakat and obey Allah and His Messenger. Those – Allah will have mercy upon them. Indeed, Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise.”
The philosophy of zakat is in line with Islam’s concern of wealth inequality within the society. Thus, the philosophy of Zakat tends to a sharing system. It is a form of wealth partnership between the wealthy and the rich together with the poor, the destitute and needy.
Zakat underscores Islam’s concern for social equality. The richer a society, the more it should lead to an increasing amount of zakat collected. And when the amount of zakat collected grows, the rightful recipients of zakat of the asnaf zakat will be cared for.
My dear brothers,
Besides the outward benefits of zakat, it also aims to cleanse the giver (the one who pays zakat) of any ill-feelings of miserliness and selfishness, and at the same time it also helps to purify the recipient of jealousy and envy. Zakat reminds us of the importance of establishing a social and economic system based on ethics and morality and not one that is founded on selfish interests.
Imagine if we are in a society where the income gap between the wealthy and the poor is extremely wide, and no assistance is being given to those in need. Desperation and discontent between the rich and the poor will cause conflicts, animosity and maybe even the loss of blood. In fact, we have witnessed these in some other countries.
This is the exact outcome or scenario that Islam wants to avoid, when it makes zakat obligatory for the various sources of income and wealth.
In fact, the spirit of giving and sharing is strongly encouraged in Islam, and we are encouraged to give whatever that is within our means. Rasulullah s.a.w. once said:
Which means: “Save yourself from the fire even by giving half of a date-fruit (in charity). And if you do not find a half date-fruit, then (you can do it through saying) a good pleasant word”. [Bukhari and Muslim]
Oh, how the Prophet s.a.w wanted to instil the spirit of giving that even with one piece of date, Rasulullah s.a.w. encouraged us to share.
Giving away something, no matter how small its value or amount may be, as long as it is for the sake of Allah, it will teach us to not be attached to the material comforts and wealth of this temporary world.
If we are to spend only to satisfy our worldly desires, then the satisfaction that we get will not be permanent, and in fact we may be easily grow tired of it.
Imagine if we were to buy a watch or new clothes today. Within a short period of time we may get tired with our new purchase and may then desire for another new one. This is normal because this world is temporary and when we spend only for this world, then the satisfaction and happiness that comes with it will also be temporary.
However, if we are to spend for the sake of Allah, The Eternal One, then insya Allah, the satisfaction and happiness we feel will also be everlasting. And Allah has reminded us in Surah An-Nahl verse 96:
Which means: “Whatever you have will end, but what Allah has is lasting. And We will surely give those who were patient their reward according to the best of what they used to do.”
Let us continue with this spirit of giving and sharing. Together with these values and the system of Zakat, let us hope to achieve an equal society and may Allah protect our sincerity in maintaining relationships with each other.
May each contribution that we make for the sake Allah bring us closer to Him. May our good efforts continue and help us to enter Paradise. Amin Ya Rabbal ‘Alamin.