Zakat should be in such a way that the recipient does not have to require it again
It is common knowledge that zakat is one of the foundations of Islam, and it is also the most efficient social security institution. Zakat, which applies to those who have a certain amount of asset, is the obligatory act of an annual donation of a specified amount of wealth to those of low-income, the poor, or religious services. This act is, in fact, exist in all divine religions (The Holy Quran: Surah Maryam 19/31,55; Old Testament, Book of Deuteronomy, 14/29; The Bible, Gospel of Luke: 18/12,22).
A person who gives zakat both purifies herself/himself and her/his assets and extends a helping hand to those in need. At the same time, it contributes to minimising the results of the difference in sustenance (An-Nahl 16/71; Az-Zukhruf 43/32), which depends on many reasons, and the income distribution imbalances created by people.
According to the holy books, especially the Quran, the necessities of human beings are available in nature. However, human beings have been unfair and ingreatful in both obtaining and fairly distributing these blessings. Thus, it can be said that the disruption of the socio-economic order is the result of human’s own doing. (Ibrahim 14-32-34; Rum 30/41-42; Bible, Letters to Romans, 14/20)
Zakat is one of the most efficient ways of restoring this deteriorating order. However, has zakat become an influential institution that can fulfil this function in our control? Have Muslims been conscious of spending their wealth, or in fiqh terms, are they mature enough? Is the divine message in the verse “Do not give trust to the weak-minded, the property which Allah has given to your responsiblity for protection” (Nisa 4/5) on our agenda? Are the responsibilities of wealth, in other words, the obligations/rights towards Muslims, Islamic societies and the future of Islam being respected, and can it be delivered faultlessly to the rightful owners? Is the zakat potential of the Islamic world adequately reflected to the recipients, which are called masarif al-zakat (At-Tawba 9/60)? Finally, do we have a zakat policy based on common sense and divine ruling, which is isolated from all kinds of political, sectarian, racial and regional considerations?
It is compulsory to seek answers to these fundamental questions while also addressing the secondary issues, may be even before, such as the goods, production, capital and values that are subjected to zakat. It is a fact that we as Muslims and the Islamic World do not lead knowledge, opinions, thoughts, education, culture and arts globally in this day and age. It is also clear that Muslims face countless challenges in this period. When taking these into account, we should realise that consuming our energy with internal conflicts is futile, and we should not be content with the search for happiness in our little world. Instead of acting with the ummah as a unity, we can not have the luxury (poverty, weakness, exiguity) to act with narrow civilian affiliations and carry on reading our lives with the codes of the past that are no longer alive.
I fear that this attitude that does not comply with the dignity, honour, and universal teachings of Islam, will not please Allah (swt) and His Messenger (pbuh) and wipe Muslims off the face of history .
Today, as Muslims, our opportunities are much better according to yesterday. The Islamic world has improved its material assets and gained economic advantages in many areas. Despite this, the existence of Muslim geographies as among the poorest parts of the world is difficult to justify. Are we not to blame for the fact that millions of Muslims live below the hunger limit in a world where a single Islamic country has an annual export income of four hundred billion dollars from just one item? Thus, in this context, zakat should be handled with particular importance and value.
Parochial evaluation of zakat and its application as the form of transferring an unsubstantial amount to someone in need in due time, prevent the sufficient benefit of zakat. Zakat should be paid in such a way that the person who receives it should not require it again in the future. In other words, the amount and form she/he receives should assist in placing him/her in a position that gives zakat.
Caliph Umar (ra), knowing this reality, told “When you give, make them wealthy.”. The most practical way to make people rich is to indicate the methods that can help them profit and support them financially in this path. As a matter of fact, Caliph Umar (ra) gave three camels to a person who complained about his poverty and thus provided him the opportunity to start up his business. Unfortunately, this effective method has been forgotten today, and zakat is limited to product or cash payment.
TKBB Advisory Board Member Prof. Dr. Ahmet Yaman