Sadaqaah, Zakaah & Assisting al-Asra

12 Oct


إِنَّ الْمُصَّدِّقِينَ وَالْمُصَّدِّقَاتِ وَأَقْرَضُوا اللَّهَ قَرْضًا حَسَنًا يُضَاعَفُ لَهُمْ وَلَهُمْ أَجْرٌ كَرِيمٌ

 { Indeed, the men who practice charity and the women who practice charity and have loaned Allah a goodly loan – it will be multiplied for them, and they will have a noble reward }

[Al-Hadid ; 57:18]

 وَيُطْعِمُونَ الطَّعَامَ عَلَى حُبِّهِ مِسْكِيناً وَيَتِيماً وَأَسِيراً

 {And they give food, in spite of their love for it, to the Miskin, the orphan, and the captive}

[al-Insaan : 76:8]

عن ابي هريرة رضي الله عنه: ان النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قال: ما من يوم يصبح العباد فيه, الا ملكان ينزلان, فيقول أحدهما: اللهم أعط منفقا خلقا, ويقول اخر: اللهم أعط ممسكا تلفا
[Bukhari & Muslim] 

Abu Huraira رضي الله عنه reported Rasulallah صلى الله عليه وسلمas saying: ‘

There is never a day wherein the slaves [of Allah سبحانه وتعالى] get up at morn, but they are not visited by two angels. One of them says: “Yah Allah, give him more who spends [for the sake of Allah]” and the other says: “Yah Allah, bring destruction to one who withholds.”’
[Bukhari & Muslim]

Allah سبحانه وتعالى mentions the spending of our wealth in over thirty ayat, and of those one-third are commands wherein He سبحانه وتعالى has ordered us with its spending. What He سبحانه وتعالى has constantly informed and reminded us of in these ayat is that those who spend of their wealth for the sake of the Din and with the niyat to please Allah سبحانه وتعالى and to benefit the Muslims and the Religion have not lost of anything, and, in fact, have increased their reward; both in the dunya and the akhira, and it is, in fact, those who withhold of their wealth that are the losers.

It is from the established sunnah of Rasuallah صلى الله عليه وسلم‎ that he صلى الله عليه وسلم‎ did not like to keep any wealth with him for more than a day:

Narrated Abu Dhar رضي الله عنه :

While I was walking with the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلمat the Hurra of Medina in the evening, the mountain of Uhud appeared before us. The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلمsaid, “O Abu Dhar! I would not like to have gold equal to Uhud (mountain) for me, unless nothing of it, not even a single Dinar remains of it with me, for more than one day or three days, except that single Dinar which I will keep for repaying debts. I will spend all of it (the whole amount) among Allah’s slaves like this and like this and like this.” The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلمpointed out with his hand to illustrate it and then said, “O Abu Dhar!” I replied, “Labbaik wa Sa’daik, Yah Rasulallah!” He said, “Those who have much wealth (in this world) will be the least rewarded (in the Hereafter) except those who do like this and like this (i.e., spend their money in charity).”

And  on the authority of Jabir رضي الله عنه  that he صلى الله عليه وسلم‎ never denied a request for aid from a Muslim when he صلى الله عليه وسلم‎ was able to provide for them, he صلى الله عليه وسلم  so as reported in the two Sahih: Jabir رضي الله عنه  reported: Rasuallah صلى الله عليه وسلمnever said `no’ to anyone who asked him for anything.
[Bukhari and Muslim]

And from those things which we are permitted to have hasad or envy over is the man who has been given much wealth from Allah سبحانه وتعالى and he spends from it, in charity in the night and day. Thus giving in charity is from those acts that we should compete in and rival one another, as is clear in the hadith:

Narrated ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar رضي الله عنه : Allah’s Apostle صلى الله عليه وسلمsaid, ‘Do not  wish to be the like except of two men. A man whom Allah (سبحانه وتعالى ) has given the knowledge of the Book [al-Quran] and he recites it during the hours of the night, and a man whom Allah (سبحانه وتعالى ) has given wealth, and he spends it in charity during the night and the hours of the day.’

This is the case for the spending of wealth in general, but in specific to the captive, the Muslim prisoners. The Scholars and the Salaf have made it clear that spending upon the Muslim prisoners, supporting them and securing their release by means of our wealth, is from the most meritorious of actions, and the majority of the ulema hold it to be obligatory.

Imam Malik said: ‘It is obligatory on the people to redeem prisoners with their money. There is no contention on this point. Muslims need to free the ‘prisoners of war’ even if that would cost them all their wealth.’

Ibn Taymiyyah said: ‘Freeing the prisoners is one of the greatest compulsory deeds and spending ransom money and other means towards that, is one of the greatest ways to come close to Allah.’

Al-Qurtubi said: ‘Our scholars have said that ransoming the prisoners with money is waajib (obligatory), even if one dirham does not remain in the Islamic Treasury.’

‘If the believers who did not emigrate from the land of the enemy ask the Muslims for help whether in a military of financial form to release them, it is fardh on the Muslims to help and it is haraam to forsake them. The only exception is if the Muslims are bound by an agreement [lawful within the sharia’] with the non-Muslim entity. But this only holds if the withheld Muslims are not harmed. If they are oppressed then the Muslims need to help them.’

Imam Abu Bakr bin al Arabi (رحمه الله تعالى ) says: ‘Except if the Muslims are oppressed. In that case we need to secure their release until not a single eye among us blinks (even if we all die) or we spend all of our wealth in the process.’

Umar bin AbdulAziz (رحمه الله تعالى ) stated that if a Muslim prisoner asks for Muslims to pay for his release, it is mandatory [fardh] for the Muslims to pay it.

The madhab of al-Shafi’i (رحمه الله تعالى ) holds that freeing the prisoner is mustahab. The madhab of Imam Malik (رحمه الله تعالى ) and Ahmad ibn al Hambaal (رحمه الله تعالى ) state that it is fardh.

But They Are Criminals, Terrorists, Sinners… 

Even the fasiq amongst the Muslims (like the zani, the thief) or the wealthy can be given and benefit by sadaqaah and the giver is rewarded as well as explained by Rasulallah صلى الله عليه وسلم‎:

Narrated Abu Huraira رضي الله عنه : Allah’s Apostle صلى الله عليه وسلمsaid, ‘A man said that he would give something in charity. He went out with his sadaqaah and unknowingly gave it to a thief. Next morning the people said that he had given it to a thief. He said, “Yah Allah! All the praises are for you. I will give sadaqaah again.” And so he again went out with his sadaqaah and gave it to an prostitute. Next morning the people said that he had given his sadaqaah to a prostitute last night. The man said, “Yah Allah! All the praises are for you. [I gave my sadaqaah] to a prostitute. I will give sadaqaah again.” So he went out with his sadaqaah again and gave it to a rich person. [The people] next morning said that he had given his sadaqaah to a wealthy person. He said, “Yah Allah! All the praises are for you. [I had given sadaqaah] to a thief, to a prostitute and to a wealthy man.” Then someone came and said to him, “The sadaqaah which you gave to the thief, might make him abstain from stealing, and that given to the prostitute might make her abstain from illegal sexual intercourse, and that given to the wealthy man might make him take a lesson from it and spend his wealth which Allah (سبحانه وتعالى ) has given him, in Allah’s cause.’


Shaykh ibn Uthaymeen (رحمه الله تعالى) mentioned in his Majmoo’ Fataawa [18/331-339], while explaining zakaah, that the fourth category eligible to receive zakaah are those who Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) mentioned in the ayah:  {…to attract the hearts of those who have been inclined (towards Islam) } [9:60] :

These are people who may be given zakaah in order to open their hearts towards Islam, either a kaafir who we hope will become Muslim, or a Muslim to whom we give in order to strengthen his faith, or an evil man to whom we give zakaah so as to ward off his evil from the Muslims, and other cases in which it is in the Muslims’ interests to attract their hearts.”

And Shaykh al-Munajjid said: “If there is a Muslim who is a new convert and he is in prison, if he is poor or in debt, he may be given zakaah enough to suffice him and his family, and to pay off his debt. There is nothing wrong with giving him zakaah…if that will attract his heart and strengthen his faith and make him steadfast in Islam…  Allah has given a share of zakaah to those whose hearts are inclined towards Islam.”

Shaykh Ibn Uthaymeen (رحمه الله تعالى) further mentions:

[Although] this is an issue concerning which the scholars differed. The most correct view in my opinion is that there is nothing wrong with giving zakaah to attract a person to Islam and strengthen his faith, even if that is on an individual level and he is not a leader among his people, because of the general meaning of the words {to attract the hearts of those who have been inclined (towards Islam)}, and because if it is permissible to give to the poor because of his physical needs, then it is more appropriate that we should give to this one who is weak in faith in order to strengthen his faith, because strengthening a person’s faith is more important than nourishing his body.

If the kaafir can be given zakaah in hopes that it will bring them closer to Islam, or an “evil person” in hopes that it will repel his evil, then how can one say that a Muslim who may have sinned has less rights than the “evil” or a kaafir, when despite any sins or mistakes he is still a Muslim? Even giving to a prostitute a thief or a rich man will benefit the one who is giving, so if we sincerely give for the sake of Allah how then can we loose? What better way also to reform and help our brothers and sisters then to increase one in faith and drawing them nearer to Allah, Imaan and Islam through the kindness of our support, by means of visits or sending letters, books, gifts or money?

Can I Spend on the Prisoner from az-Zakaah?

To understand why the prisoner qualifies for receiving your zakaah we must know who Allah ordered us to spend upon. Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (رحمه الله تعالى) explains this in detail in his Majmoo’Fataawa [18/331-339]

There are eight categories on which zakaah must be spent, which Allah has explained clearly. He states that this is a duty imposed by Allah and that it is based on knowledge and wisdom. Allah, (تَعَالَى), says:

إِنَّمَا الصَّدَقَـتُ لِلْفُقَرَآءِ وَالْمَسَـكِينِ وَالْعَـمِلِينَ عَلَيْهَا وَالْمُؤَلَّفَةِ قُلُوبُهُمْ وَفِى الرِّقَابِ وَالْغَـرِمِينَ وَفِى سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَابْنِ السَّبِيلِ فَرِيضَةً مِّنَ اللَّهِ وَاللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ

{As-Sadaqaat (here it means Zakaah) are only for the Fuqaraa’ and al‑Masaakeen and those employed to collect; and to attract the hearts of those who have been inclined (towards Islam); and to free the captives; and for those in debt; and for Allah’s Cause, and for the wayfarer; a duty imposed by Allah. And Allah is All-Knower, All-Wise}

[al-Tawbah 9:60]

These eight are the categories who are entitled to zakaah and to whom it must be paid.

The first and second are the fuqara’ (the poor) and masaakeen (the needy). They should be given zakaah to meet their needs. The difference between the fuqara’ and masaakeen is that the fuqara’ are in greater need; one of them cannot find enough to suffice himself and his dependents for half a year. The masaakeen are better off than the fuqara’, because they can find half of what will suffice them or more. These people should be given zakaah because of their need.

But how can we evaluate need? The scholars said: They should be given what they need to suffice them and their families for one year, because when the year has passed, zakaah will become due again. Just as the year is the unit of time by which zakaah becomes due, so too the year should be the unit of time by which the poor and needy, who are entitled to zakaah, should be given zakaah.

The poor person is the one who has no income, or who has an income that is not sufficient. This varies from one time and place and family to another, but there are some cases which all are agreed are entitled to zakaah, because their income is so low. The fuqaha’ say: “The poor person who is entitled to zakaah is the one who cannot find enough for himself and his family for one year.

This is a good view, we should give the poor and needy person what will suffice him and his family for a full year, whether we give it in the form of food and clothing, or we give him money with which to buy that which suits him. What is important is that we give him what will suffice him and his family for one year.  And it is clear that those in prisons often fall under one or both of these first two categories, and that they and their families should be provided for regarding their needs and what is necessary for their maintenance for a year.

The third category is the one who collects the zakaah, and as this does not pertain to the prisoner we move unto the fourth category mentioned in the ayah. The fourth is: {to attract the hearts of those who have been inclined (towards Islam)}. These are people who may be given zakaah in order to open their hearts towards Islam, or to strengthen them in Imaan, as has been previously explained above.

The fifth category of those who are entitled to zakaah are: al-raqib (the bound). The scholars explained this in three ways: a slave or captive who has entered into contract to ransom himself, a slave or captive who is bought with the zakaah and freed thereby, and a Muslim prisoner who has been captured by the kuffaar; the kuffaar may be given zakaah funds to ransom this prisoner. This also applies to kidnapping: if a kaafir or a renegade Muslim has kidnapped a Muslim, there is nothing wrong with ransoming this person with zakaah funds, because the purpose is the same, namely releasing a Muslim from captivity. This applies if we are not able to force the kidnapper to release him without using this money, if the victim is a Muslim.

When asked whether ransoming Muslim prisoners using zakaah money was included in the phrase {…and to free the captives} [al-Tawbah 9:60] Shaykh Ibn Jibreen (رحمه الله تعالى) replied:

Ransoming Muslim prisoners who have been captured by kuffaar is better than freeing slaves, so it is included and indeed takes priority, because they suffer great harm by being separated from their families and because of the humiliation and torture. So saving them is even more important than saving slaves.

Umar ibn AbdulAziz (رضي الله عنه) sent a letter to the Muslim prisoners in Constantinople. He told them:

You consider yourselves to be ‘prisoners of war’. You are not. You are locked in the cause of Allah. I would like you to know that whenever I give something to the Muslims I give more to your families and I am sending so-and-so with five dinars for each one of you and if it wasn’t that I fear the roman dictator would take it from you I would have sent more. I have also sent so-and-so to secure the release of every single one of you regardless of what the cost would be. So rejoice! Assalamu Alaykum.

Thus it is clear that our Salaf as-Saleh saw the obligation of freeing the prisoners not to be limited only to ransoming or bailing them but also to supporting them, financially, while incarcerated as well as caring for their families, and that in giving, they gave the families of the prisoners precedence in difference to the extreme hardships that they faced and the difficulties placed upon them as a result of their separation and situation. So we see that the Muslim prisoner also falls under the fifth group mentioned in the ayah.

The seventh group mentioned are those: {for Allah’s Cause}. Shaykh Ibn Uthaymeen states:

What is meant here is jihad for the sake of Allah and nothing else. It is not correct to say that it means all kinds of goodness or charity, because if what is meant was all kinds of goodness or charity, there would be no point in Allah limiting it by His saying {Sadaqah is only for…} in the ayah be stating ‘innama’ (translated in the ayah as ‘only’) would have no meaning. What is meant by {for Allah’s Cause} is jihad for the sake of Allah. Zakaah should be given to those who are fighting for the sake of Allah, who are evidently fighting so that the word of Allah will be supreme. And they should given whatever they need of zakaah in the form of money, and so on.”

Some of the scholars have also said: {for Allah’s cause} may also include a man who devotes his time to seeking Islamic knowledge. He may be given zakaah for whatever he needs of maintenance, clothing, food, drink, accommodation and books of knowledge that he needs, because Islamic knowledge is a kind of jihad for the sake of Allah.

As such those who have who been imprisoned due to their wanting to make the Word of Allah uppermost, or for wanting to fulfil their obligations towards the Muslims oppressed by kaafir invaders or occupation, and who spend their time in the prisons of the kuffaar memorising the Book of Allah and studying the sciences of Fiqh, Seerah, Tafsir and Ahadith and other Islamic disciplines fall under those mentioned in the seventh group.

The eighth group Allah mentions is: the wayfarers, meaning the travellers, those away from their homes, or those who are cut off from everything and have no money. And being trapped in the prisons, away from their families and the jobs and their lives and the other Muslims they are indeed cut off from the means by which they might support themselves or their families and are considered by many of the fuqahah to be travellers.

As it has been mentioned by the scholars: “He is considered to be a traveler so long as that is not his home, even if he has a relative there such as a brother [or] sister…” if this is the case of the Muslim, that he is a traveler even in the home of his blood relative than what of the Muslim in a distant land and in the prison of his enemy.

And it is mentioned in Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah by Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (رحمه الله تعالى):

“…like one who stays in a place to engage in jihad against the enemy, or has been detained by the authorities or by sickness, but he has resolved that when the jihad ends with victory or a peace treaty, or the sickness or enemy power that is keeping him there ends, or he sells all his goods and so on, he will go back, then he is regarded as a traveler…”

Mufti Ebrahim Desai of South Africa was asked regarding our obligations to the Muslims prisoners today to which he replied:

‘When Muslims are imprisoned unjustly, as is the case in Guantanamo, it is the Waajib [obligatory] duty of all the Muslims of the world to do whatever is in their capacity to free these oppressed brothers. Together with our efforts, it is our duty to continuously make du’aa for them. And Allah knows best.’

Shaykh Jafar Idris of Sudan was questioned about the permits ability of giving Zakah to NGOs and groups working towards freeing the prisoners, he answered:

‘The basic position related to the giving of the zakah for the release of the prisoners, is that the effort should be made in order to gain their release. With the current context of Muslim prisoners around the world, the zakah can be used with any aspect of work related to freeing the prisoners. Of course there is no guarantee that the prisoner will be released, however the zakah money can go towards working towards that goal inshallah. There is nothing wrong with using the zakah money for the purposes of running an NGO that has this specific role. Allahu Alam.’

And Shaykh Salman al-Oudah said:

‘We must form commissions to keep track of their affairs from both a legal and a humanitarian perspective….We must be generous in our financial support. Whether we use our money to secure the release of some prisoners, or use it to defend their rights and publicize their plight, it is the same. We must also help their families on their behalf. All of this is spending in the way of Allah. It is in performing these acts of good that we as Muslims should strive to outdo each other.’

And thus it is clear that the prisoner is among those whom Allah mentioned when he made the paying of zakaah obligatory upon the Muslims. Now that we know the eight categories of to whom zakaah may be given, zakaah should not be spent on other interests, whether public or private. Based on this, we should not use zakaah to build mosques, repair roads, build libraries and so on, because when Allah mentioned the categories of those to whom zakaah may be given, He (سبحانه وتعالى) said: {a duty imposed by Allah. And Allah is All-Knower, All-Wise} meaning  these categories have come as an obligation from Allah, and are not subject to whims or desires or what seems best or good to our eyes or hearts.

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Posted by on October 12, 2011 in Campaigns, Maktabah


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