The Zakat according to the Quran

Traditionalist islam considers the Zakat as an obligatory charity or as an act of purification, but the Zakat as defined by the Quran cannot refer to these concepts, and it is prooved through the use of the word “Zakat” and its different declinations, throughout the verses of the Quran.

Definition of the word “Zakat”

Etymologically, “ZAKKA” means “rise“, “growth“, “development“, applied to a person it can be translated as “a sane (physical and spiritual) growth“.

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The Zakat according to the Quran is not the Zakat according to traditionalist islam, which is about obligatory charity and purification.

The Quran is its own dictionnary and every word of the Quran finds its own definition in the Quran itself. By gathering all the verses which contain declinations of the word “Zakat“, we can easily guess the real meaning of this word and the not the deviated meaning of traditionalist islam. In the following verse, Allah uses a declination of the word “Zakat” and its antonym, which allows us to deduce the meaning of the word “Zakat“.

By the Soul, and the proportion and order given to it, and its enlightenment as to its wrong and its right. Truly he succeeds that elevates it/improves it/grows it/zakkaha/زكاها, And he fails that deprecates it/damages it/declines it/dassaha/دساها. S91:V7-10

Zakka” is the antonym of the words “deprecate/damage/decline/dassa/دس, and therefore can be translated as “to grow/to elevate/to improve (physically and spiritually)“. We have the same declination in the words “Zakat” and “Salat“, the “at” is a form of superlative. The word “Sala” which means “contact/relationship/link“, in its superlative form “Salat“, means “the best in term of contact (with God)“, Zakat is translated as “the best in term of (physical and spiritual) evolution“.

Implementation of the Zakat

It is a mistake to translate, like the traditionalist muslims do, the word “Zakat” as “purification” or “obligatory charity“. “To purify oneself” or “to give alms” is a clear way to elevate our souls, but there are a lot of other ways, and the Zakat is not limited to these concepts, but is something which is much more general, and which is about all what can be implemented to make ourselves grow positively according to the Criterion of God.

Etymologically, the word Zakat, which is about a sane growth, has nothing to do with the concepts of obligatory charity and purification. The proof in this verse which makes a clear distinction between Zakat, purification and obligatory charity.

Of their wealth take Sadaqa/alms/صدقة, that so /toudahirouhoum/thou mightest purify them/تطهرهم and touzakihoum/elevate them spiritually/تزكيهم; and pray on their behalf. Verily thy prayers are a source of security for them: and Allah is One Who heareth and knoweth. S9:V103

This verse makes a clear distinction between alms, purification and Zakat, and the reason for that is that these 3 concepts are completely different.

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Each time that God prescribes in the Quran to give alms, it is through the word “sadaqa/صدقة/alms“, and never under the term “Zakat“. And each time, it matters with purification, it is the word “””tahara/طهر/to purify oneself” which is used in the Quran and not the word “Zakat“.

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Giving alms is certainly a way to implement the Zakat, but it is not the only way.

That which ye lay out for increase through the property of (other) people, will have no increase with Allah: but that which ye give for the sake of the elevation of your soul/Zakat, seeking the Countenance of Allah (will increase): it is these who will get a recompense multiplied. S30:V39 

The Zakat is about spiritual elevation, and we can see it through these verses in which a declination of the word Zakat is used:

“As for the youth his parents were people of Faith, and we feared that he would grieve them by obstinate rebellion and ingratitude (to Allah and man). So we desired that their Lord would give them in exchange (a son) خَيۡرً۬ا مِّنۡهُ زَكَوٰةً۬/spiritually better and closer in affection. S18:V80-81 

Hast thou not seen those who think that they can elevate themselves spiritually by their own/يُزَكُّونَ أَنفُسَہُم‌ۚ? Nay,― but Allah يُزَكِّى /doth spiritually elevate whom He pleaseth But never will they fail to receive justice in the least little thing. S4:V49

In the following verses, the Zakat is always associated to the “signs of God“, “books of God“, and to “wisdom“. The direct consequence for those who are careful to the signs of God, those who study the books of God, those who seek wisdom, is the Zakat, the spiritual elevation.

“Our Lord! send amongst them a Messenger of their own who shall rehearse Thy Signs to them and instruct them in Scripture and Wisdom, and to elevate them spiritually/youzakkihim/يزكيهم; for Thou art the Exalted in Might the Wise.”  S2:V129

A similar (favour have ye already received) in that We have sent among you a Messenger of your own rehearsing to you Our signs, and spiritually elevating you/youzakkikoum/يزكيكم , and instructing you in Scripture and wisdom, and in new Knowledge. S2:V151

Allah did confer a great favour on the Believers when He sent among them a Messenger from among themselves, rehearsing unto them the Signs of Allah, spiritually elevating them/youzakkihim/يزكيهم, and instructing them in Scripture and Wisdom, while, before that, they had been in manifest error. S3:V164

 It is He Who has sent amongst the Unlettered a messenger from among themselves, to rehearse to them His Signs, to elevate them spiritually/youzakkihim/يزكيهم, and to instruct them in Scripture and Wisdom― although they had been, before, in manifest error, S62:V2

Zakat and Salat

In various verses of the Quran, the Zakat is associated with the Salat, which shows that these 2 concepts are deeply connected. In traditionalist islam, there is no connection between Salat and Zakat. One can perform the Salat without paying the Zakat (as the Zakat is considered as the obligatory charity in islam), and one can pay the Zakat without performing the Salat. In the Quran, the concepts of Zakat and Salat seem to form an inseparable pair, and seem to deeply depend on each others, one cannot exist without the other.

And be steadfast in the Salat and implement the Zakat, and bow down your heads with those who bow down (in worship). S2:V43

… And be steadfast in the Salat and implement the Zakat. then did ye turn back except a few among you, and ye backslide (even now).  S2:V83

And be steadfast in the Salat and implement the Zakat: and whatever good ye send forth for your souls before you, ye shall find it with Allah; for Allah sees well all that ye do.  S2:V110

Those who believe, and do deeds of righteousness, and are steadfast in the Salat and implement the Zakat, will have their reward with their Lord: on them shall be no fear nor shall they grieve. S2:V277

Hast thou not turned thy thought to those who were told to hold back their hands (from fight) but be steadfast in the Salat and implement the Zakat? When (at length) the order for fighting was issued to them behold! a section of them feared men as―or even more than―they should have feared Allah: they said: “Our Lord! why hast Thou ordered us to fight? Wouldst Thou not grant us respite to our (natural) term, near (enough)?” Say: “Short is the enjoyment of this world: the Hereafter is the best for those who do right: never will ye be dealt with unjustly in the very least!  S4:V77

But those among them who are well-grounded in knowledge, and the Believers, believe in what hath been revealed to thee; and what was revealed before thee; and (especially) those who are steadfast in the Salat and implement the Zakat and believe in Allah and in the Last Day: to them shall We soon give a great reward. S4:V162

Allah did aforetime take a Covenant from the Children of Israel, and We appointed twelve chieftains among them and Allah said: “I am with you: if ye (but) be steadfast in the Salat and implement the Zakat, believe in My Messengers honour and assist them, and loan to Allah a beautiful loan, verily I will wipe out from you your evils and admit you to Gardens with rivers flowing beneath; but if any of you after this resisteth faith, he hath truly wandered from the path of rectitude.” S5:V12

Your (real) friends are (no less than) Allah, His Messenger, and the Believers, those who are steadfast in the Salat and implement the Zakat, and they bow down humbly (in worship). S5:V55

Is it that ye are afraid of spending sums in charity before your private consultation (with him)? If, then, ye do not so, and Allah forgives you then (at least) be steadfast in the Salat and implement the Zakat; and obey Allah and His Messenger: and Allah is well-acquainted with all that ye do. S58:V13

and also in the verses S7:V156, S9:V5, S9:V11, S9:V18, S9:V71, S19:V31, S19:V55, S21:V73, S22:V41, S22:V78, S24:V37, S24:V56, S27:V3, S31:V4, S33:V33, S73:V20, S98:V5

It is not by chance that the Salat is always mentioned in binomial with the Zakat. The Salat is all what concerns our relationship with God, and the Zakat concerns all the actions that we’ve done in order to proove our faith to God, these 2 concepts are the 2 main components of the religion of God: our faith in God (Salat), and our good actions (Zakat). The Salat and the Zakat are deeply connected: our relationship to God encourages us to make good actions in order to please God, and as God is pleased by our good actions, He gives us the opportunity to make even more good actions, it is a virtuous circle, which is the signature of the true path of God. Salat and Zakat are indissociable, one cannot go with the other, they represent the 2 pillars of religion: faith and good actions.

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In the following verse, God defines the criteria of the good believer:

For the  submitted ones, men and women― for believing men and women, for devout men and women, for truthful men and women, for men and women who are patient and constant, for men and women who humble themselves, for men and women who give in charity, for men and women who fast (and deny themselves) for men and women who guard their chastity and for men and women who engage much in Allah’s praise― for them has Allah prepared forgiveness and great reward. S33:V35

God does not mention in this verse the Salat and the Zakat, yet, they are supposed to be the 2 mains obligations which shall be observed by the true believer. This is because the true Salat according to the Quran is not only the daily prayer, but is a much more geneal concept which concerns all what makes our relationship with God, and this verse actually details what defines our relationship with God: submission, faith, obediance, devotion, God’s praise

For the  submitted ones, men and women― for believing men and women, for devout men and women, for truthful men and women, for men and women who are patient and constant, for men and women who humble themselves, for men and women who give in charity, for men and women who fast (and deny themselves) for men and women who guard their chastity and for men and women who engage much in Allah’s praise― for them has Allah prepared forgiveness and great reward. S33:V35

The other component of this bionomial is the Zakat, ie all the actions that we’ve done in order to proove our good faith to God, is also defined in this verse. Those who reach elevation, ie those who implement the Zakat, are those who are truthful, patient, constant, chaste, humble, generous, fasting.

For the  submitted ones, men and women― for believing men and women, for devout men and women, for truthful men and women, for men and women who are patient and constant, for men and women who humble themselves, for men and women who give in charity, for men and women who fast (and deny themselves) for men and women who guard their chastity and for men and women who engage much in Allah’s praise― for them has Allah prepared forgiveness and great reward. S33:V35

The following verse definitely confirms that the true Zakat is not the islamic obligatory charity.

Gardens of Eternity, beneath which flow rivers: they will dwell therein for aye: such is the reward of those who implement the Zakat.  S20:V76

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Allah says that the reward for those who implement the Zakat is the paradise, but the islamic Zakat, ie the islamic obligatory charity, is not enough to grant the paradise to anyone. But, if we consider the true meaning of the word Zakat, which refers to all the good actions that can be done in order to get closer to God, then yes, God has promised for those who seek all ways to get closer to Him, ie those who actively practice the Zakat, the paradise.

The true Zakat according to the Quran represents a half of the whole religion, and the other half is the Salat. The Zakat is the implementation of any action which can get us closer to God. Allah repeats again and again in the Quran that only our good deeds can give us our ticket for the paradise, and the good actions are acquired by the implementation of the Zakat. Salat and Zakat represent the entire religion: our faith in God, and our good deeds.

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The Zakat according to traditionalist islam is limited to the concept of obligatory charity, and is not about the accomplishment of any good action, in a general way, allowing us to get closer to God. Basically, the engine of the believer is the search of any good action to please God in his daily life, this is the true practice of the Zakat, and then, the search of the good action has progressively disappeared and has been replaced by the accomplishment of the islamic rites forged by the Hadiths, rites which are non sense and which create issues and do not solve problems. Today, the priority for the people of the religions is not the search of the good action, but is in the accomplishment of religious rites, proper to each religion, disconnected from good and evil, supposed to allow the access to the paradise.

Today, the only thing which has remained from the true Zakat in traditionalist islam is giving alms, and even their rule in this matter has been deviated, and is not what God has prescribed. God has never fixed in the Quran a fixed rate on our incomes, and I do not even mention that at end with their 2.5% tax and their many other rules to calculate their islamic obligatory charity, the amounts which shall be paid are often very low. In short, nothing remains from the true Zakat in traditionalist islam.

The Quran prescribes to the believers to give alms, but the Quran does not impose any rate on it. Each one is free to give whatever he wants, or not to give, each one receives what he gives. The only recommandation in matter of alms in the Quran is that Allah advocates us to give what is beyond our needs, and to choose the middle way: not to give too much, not to give too few.

They ask thee how much they are to spend; say: “What is beyond your needs.” S2:V219

The Quran provides the list of all those who may benefit from our alms by order of priority:

It is not righteousness that ye turn your faces towards East or West; but it is righteousness―to believe in Allah and the Last Day and the Angels and the Book and the Messengers; to spend of your substance out of love for Him, for your kin, for orphans for the needy, for the wayfarer for those who ask and for the ransom of slaves; to be steadfast in the Salat and practise the Zakat; to fulfil the contracts which ye have made; and to be firm and patient in pain (or suffering) and adversity and throughout all periods of panic. Such are the people of truth the Allah-fearing. S2:V177 

They ask thee what they should spend (in charity). Say: Whatever ye spend that is good is for parents and kindred and orphans and those in want and for wayfarers. And whatever ye do that is good―Allah knoweth it well. S2:V215

The Quran says that it is not for us to judge those who receive our alms, God does not command us to limit our alms to the believers, but to give it to all the needy ones regardless of their beliefs … whereas the islamic Zakat is a communitarian alm which is only limited to the muslims. Once again, God’s rule is perfect: by commanding us to give alms to any needy one regardless of his beliefs, this allows some lost ones to come back in the path of God, whereas the islamic Zakat is a communitarian Zakat, and put a barrier between the muslims and the non-muslims.

Summary

The true Zakat according to the Quran concretely consists in any action, behaviour, thought, word, effort… which is done in order to obey God and therefore to get closer to God. This explains why God insists so much on the Zakat in the Quran, the same insistence than for the Salat, our relationship with God. The true believer shall be focused on the accomplishement of the good action on a daily basis, this is what is concretely the Zakat, no need to be in a religious background to make a good action, at any time, at any place, at any activity, there is always a way to please God. The implementation of the Zakat also includes giving alms, but the alm according to the Quran is free and depends on each individual’s choice. The Zakat can be implemented in much various other ways such as studying God’s books, being careful and responsive to God’s signs, seeking for wisdom, performing spiritual retreats, fasting, but also through behaviours such as being truthful, enduring, humble, chaste, fair, good, generous, forgiving, controlling our anger, …, seeking any action which is good for us and for the others.

The implementation of the true Zakat according to the Quran allows us to put at the center of the religion the search for all form of good, whereas the traditionalist sects such as islam, judaïsm, christianity, focus on their own non sense forged religious traditions. Allah commands us the Salat and the Zakat: establishing a true relationship with God and performing the good actions, these are the 2 engines of the religion of God, these are the 2 ways which allow us to truly elevate our souls and to get closer to God.

 

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