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Does "az-zakat" refer to moral purity or charity? (Verse 27:3)


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Author Topic: Does "az-zakat" refer to moral purity or charity? (Verse 27:3)  (Read 177 times)
Ruhi_Rose
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« on: January 18, 2018, 02:40:31 pm »

 BismEm



(27:3) الَّذِينَ يُقِيمُونَ الصَّلَاةَ وَيُؤْتُونَ الزَّكَاةَ وَهُمْ بِالْآخِرَةِ هُمْ يُوقِنُونَ

"Who establish worship and pay the poor-due and are sure of the Hereafter."  (27:3) - Surah An-Naml.

This Verse is in continuation with the preceding Verses 1 and 2 of Surah 27, so let me quote all 3 Verses.

"Ta. Sin. These are revelations of the Qur'an and a Scripture that make plain;
A guidance and good tidings for believers
Who establish worship and pay the poor-due and are sure of the Hereafter."  (27:1-3).


Salams dear folks ..

A friend of our family, focused on the original in Arabic, is of the opinion that ؤْتُونَ الزَّكَاةَ refers to moral and spiritual elevation.  The translation conveys the meaning of charity.  Any comments would be helpful. 
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Zeynab
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« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2018, 02:14:08 am »

Walaikum Salaam.  And so sorry to keep you waiting dear Sis.  Got a bit busy with my daily chores. 

That's an excellent query.  The answer needs to be analysed.  The Noble Quran definitely emphasizes on charity.   At the same time, some non-traditional segments are also of the opinion that traditionalists have to an extent distorted the direct Quranic definition of the words zakaa by over-emphasizing on charity for their own benefit.  As we know, traditionalists sometimes do have this problem.


(1)   Zakat literally means purity or purification.  Its connection with charity elucidates the purification of one's wealth by contributing a portion of it as charity to the needy. 


(2)   Now let us go further at the second step of this analysis.  According to Abu Alaa Maududi, I quote: "Some people have interpreted the words yu'tun-az-zakat in this Verse to mean that they should adopt moral purity. But, wherever in the Qur'an the word ita-i-zakat has occurred along with the word iqamat-i-salat, it means payment of the Zakat, which is the second pillar of Islam after the Salat. ....  Moreover, the Qur'an has used the word tazakka for adopting piety and purity and not ita' which is specifically used for the payment of the Zakat. In fact, what is meant to be expressed here is: In order to benefit fully from the guidance of the Qur'an, it's imperative that one should adopt the attitude of submission and obedience in practical life as well after the affirmation of the Faith.  Establishment of the Salat and the payment of the Zakat is the first indication that one has actually adopted such an attitude. If there is no such indication, it will become obvious that one is rebellious; they may have acknowledged The Ruler as such, but have not inclined to carry out His Commands."

This certainly makes sense.  The mention of salat and zakaa together do occur often in the Quran, where apparently the allusion is prayer and charity.  Also, this undoubtedly indicates the importance of charity for the purification of one's soul.  You can put it as the second pillar of Islam or however you decide to interpret its relevance, it remains a very important tenet after the regular, obligatory prayers. 

Let us look at Verse 24:21 for example. 

وَلَوْلَا فَضْلُ اللَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ وَرَحْمَتُهُ مَا زَكَىٰ مِنْكُمْ

In transliteration with English translation, the above verse can be analysed as: 

walawlā  = and if not

fazlu =  (for the) Grace of Allah

l-lahi  =  (for the) Grace of Allah

alaykum = upon you

waraḥmatuhu  =  and His Mercy

ma = not

zakaa =  (would) have been pure

minkum  =  among you


Thus, here the word zakaa surely alludes to moral piety. 


(3)  Moving to the third step of our analysis:  We have to admit that in translations the matter often becomes subjective depending on the instincts of the translator and the word they use in their translations.  In original Arabic the Word of Allah never changes.  Therefore in certain Verses, only Allah would know best the precise meaning of the word zakaa.  As examples we can include Verse 19:31 and 79:17-18.

The following Verse 19:31 -

وَجَعَلَنِي مُبَارَكًا أَيْنَ مَا كُنْتُ وَأَوْصَانِي بِالصَّلَاةِ وَالزَّكَاةِ مَا دُمْتُ حَيًّا

waja alani =  He (has) made me

mubarakan   = blessed

ayna   =  wherever

ma   =    wherever

kuntu   =   I am

wa-awṣānī   =   and has enjoined (on) me

bil-salati   =   (of) the prayer

wal-zakati  =  and zakah

ma   =   as long as I am

domtu   =  as long as I am

hayyan   =  alive

Pickthall's translation writes:
"And hath made me blessed wheresoever I may be, and hath enjoined upon me prayer and almsgiving so long as I remain alive,"

A modernist translation writes:
"And He made me blessed wherever I go, and He enjoined on me my commitments and purity as long as I live."

The international translation writes:
"And He has made me blessed wherever I am and has enjoined upon me prayer and zakah as long as I remain alive"

Pickthall has interpreted the word zakat in Verse 19:35 as charity or almsgiving.  The modernist has interpreted it as purity;  this person has also come up with a different interpretation for the Quranic expression bil-ṣalati.  He translates it as "commitments" but bil-salati definitely means prayer.   The internationally accepted translation has not translated the word zakah and has simply left it as in the original.  It's apparently the right step to take as in certain Verses the exact interpretation of the word zakah or zakat is only known to Allah alone.  Personally I am of the opinion that in Verse 19:35 the term zakah does imply to be charitable or use of charity to promote purification along with prayer as first priority.  For that reason the mention of salat precedes zakah.

Let's also study Verse 79:17-18 in which Allah Almighty commands Prophet Moses (pbuh) to speak to Pharaoh.

اذْهَبْ إِلَىٰ فِرْعَوْنَ إِنَّهُ طَغَىٰ
فَقُلْ هَلْ لَكَ إِلَىٰ أَنْ تَزَكَّىٰ
(Verse 79:17-18)

idh'hab   =   "Go
ilā   = to
fir'ʿawna   =  Firaun
innahu  =  Indeed, he
ṭaghā   =  (has) transgressed
faqul   =  and say,
hal   =   "Would
laka   =   (for) you
ilā   =   (to)
an   =   (that)
tazakkā   =  purify yourself?

Pickthall translation :   "Go you unto Pharaoh - Lo! he has rebelled -  And say (unto him): Have you (will) to grow (in grace)?

Modernist translation: ‘Go to Pharaoh, indeed he has transgressed and tell him, “Will you not purify yourself?”'

International translation:   "Go to Pharaoh. Indeed, he has transgressed.  And say to him, 'Would you [be willing to] purify yourself.

As you can see in the above translations the modernist and international translators have translated the original word "tazakka" (which comes from zaka) as 'purify' and Pickthall has translated it as 'to grow (in grace).' 


Conclusion:

Maududi has a point when  he mentions that the word "tazakka" in the Quran refers to purity and when the term zakaa occurs after salat, it refers to alms.   Beyond that, the interpretation rests upon Allah only. 

Readers are entitled to interpret to the best of their knowledge and conscience, but their interpretation must NOT be based on selfish motives or personal convenience, that is, picking an interpretation only because it's easy for them to adhere to and in the process disregarding the original by overlooking the broad Quranic ideology.

In my personal opinion, one needs to focus on every specific Verse of the Quran that contains the word zakah to analyze its particular reference that seems most likely.   I think the reference in Verse 27:3 is prayer and further purification of oneself through charity.  Needless to mention, charity is for the needy, not for the greedy mullahs or so-called ulemas who are eager to fund extravagant projects or personal ambitions.
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« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2018, 02:13:33 pm »



Wa'salam, JazekAllah Khair and many thanks dear, dear Sis.  No probem.  Take your time.   This is excellent analysis with the exact Quranic references ..... and I'm sure there are more Verses to convey this aspect.  So, we can say that Maududi's explanation sounds quite meaningful?  We can only interpret to the best of our own unbiased understanding and only Allah would know how far we're correct.  We may conclude that certain Verses where the term zakaa stands alone is more likely a reference to moral piety.   However I was thinking ..... when zakaa follows the word salat and someone interprets it as offering prayer plus purification of one's soul (through good conduct or deeds including charity), wouldn't that be an acceptable assumption too?
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« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2018, 02:46:00 pm »

Salam folks.  Wonderfully useful thread;  somehow the first 2 notifications missed my email box. 

Indeed very perceptibly analysed dear Sister Zeynab.



........However I was thinking ..... when zakaa follows the word salat and someone interprets it as offering prayer plus purification of one's soul (through good conduct or deeds including charity), wouldn't that be an acceptable assumption too?

Dear Sis Ruhi, your second query is also very important.

The term 'spend' is often translated in the Noble Quran as  anfaqū which usually specifically conveys the meaning of spending money for the right cause from what Allah has provided us.   An example is Verse 36:47.   "And when it is said to them, 'Spend from that which Allah has provided for you,' "    Another example is Verse 42:38 where the expression "they spend," or yunfiqūna is used.   Quoting the Verse  "And those who have responded to their Rab and established prayer and whose affair is (determined by) consultation among themselves, and from what We have provided them, they spend."   Then again another relevant example where the word spend or wa-anfaqū comes with  the word salat is Verse 35:29 quote "Indeed, those who recite the Book of Allah and establish prayer and spend (in His cause) out of what We have provided them, secretly and publicly, (can) expect a profit that will never perish -"    Thus, in my opinion, where the word "spend" or it derivative occurs we can be sure it refers to charity or giving money for the right cause.   From the same perspective, in those Verses where the word zakaa follows the word salat, one may conclude that the allusion is to the purification of soul through almsgiving for those who are regular in their prayer.   But as you suggested 'good conduct or deeds including charity' for the purification of soul along with prayer is just as acceptable. 

These are actually minor issues of interpretation.  I call it minor because if you get down to the details, whether you assume purification or charity, it often boils down to the same intent, that is, good deed or deeds to cleanse the soul.  Indeed there are many good deeds to cleanse the soul and charity is for sure one of them ... a very important one among many .... for those who can afford.  It's also important to know that charity is giving in accordance with one's means, whatever that is.  The ajr or reward of charity comes NOT from the amount given but with the depth of its connection with the love of Allah, whether the amount be $1 or $1 million.   However, wealthy folks shouldn't use this as an excuse to give much less than what they can comfortably afford, pretending to be of lesser means with the added pretense of sincerity.  They can fool the people but Allah is fully informed of what's in their hearts.   Neither should the arrogance of a wealthy person who can easily afford to give away $1 million allow them to grab carte blanche that regardless of their arrogant intent, the huge amount they gave is all that's needed for their moral redemption.  Not at all in such a case.


   
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« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2018, 02:58:22 pm »



A ton of thanks Sis Heba.  Your added input further helped immensely.  The thread is really clear to me now. 
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« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2018, 03:03:42 pm »



Indeed a very helpful input from you as always, dear Sister Heba.  I overlooked to take into account the difference between the words anfaqū and zakat.   

May Allah Almighty bless you, my sister, for your vast perception.    Ameen.
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« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2018, 03:09:02 pm »


You're more than welcomed Sisters. 

Sis Zeynab, in a lot of such analytical breakups on this topic, people often don't take into account the difference between these two words because, as I said, at the end it really comes to the same thing if you study it carefully.

Of course, the final interpretation of every Verse is up to Allah only. 
 
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« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2018, 03:25:03 pm »

Thoroughly educational considering that our offline discussion group at the community center briefly took up this topic a year ago.  They didn't at all clarify it as successfully as this.   The discussion came up from the literal definition of zakat which is purity.  So a brother asked a similar question as put up by Sister Ruhi.  A sister in our group responded to him elaborating on the link between purity and zakat.   I totally agree with that.

But the one answer she gave I didn't agree with was this:  When she said that zakat purifies wealth or income, the brother asked if that referred exclusively to Halal income.  In my opinion it does, that is, further purification of an already Halal income.  But that sister said it might even purify a non-Halal income or maybe little bit.  How can that be?   People earn big money through smuggling, murder, prostitution, porn etc.  Does that mean giving charity out of it makes it okay, even a "little bit" ?  Surely not.   Even if they gave "charity" it would only be a ritual and not for the love of Allah.  People who indulge in such practices don't even have the thought of Allah in their hearts, let alone giving alms for the love of Allah.

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« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2018, 03:32:58 pm »



  ................

But the one answer she gave I didn't agree with was this:  When she said that zakat purifies wealth or income, the brother asked if that referred exclusively to Halal income.  In my opinion it does, that is, further purification of an already Halal income.  But that sister said it might even purify a non-Halal income or maybe little bit.  How can that be?   People earn big money through smuggling, murder, prostitution, porn etc.  Does that mean giving charity out of it makes it okay, even a "little bit" ?  Surely not.   Even if they gave "charity" it would only be a ritual and not for the love of Allah.  People who indulge in such practices don't even have the thought of Allah in their hearts, let alone giving alms for the love of Allah.


لا حول ولاقوة إلا بالله   ..... she is absolutely wrong!   Haram income is Haram income. Period.  There's no question of using zakat as an excuse to "purify" it.  It can never be purified.  People indulging in Haram professions for a Haram income simply need to quit otherwise they only accumulate and spend Haram money, tarnishing and hurting their own soul each day of their earthly life. 
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« Reply #9 on: January 22, 2018, 03:35:25 pm »



Exactly Sister Zeynab, I couldn't agree with you more.
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« Reply #10 on: January 22, 2018, 03:40:10 pm »



I really don't know where that sister is coming from.   It's ideas like these that end up justifying Haram practices.  She really needs to get her facts straight otherwise such folks will only cause harm to the society.
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« Reply #11 on: January 22, 2018, 03:42:11 pm »



You're absolutely right sister Heba.  It's notions like these that eventually result in justifying Haram acts.
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« Reply #12 on: January 22, 2018, 03:45:09 pm »


She must be a typical hadithist.  Her idea of extended purification sounds similar to that hadith claiming wudu water washes away sins of zina. 
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« Reply #13 on: January 22, 2018, 03:46:51 pm »


Yes, I was thinking of the same comparison.  Just as obnoxious as that.   Majority of them out there are hadithists .. unfortunately.
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