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Random thoughts

June 1, 2015

Zakat and fasting - pillars of Islam

Opinion

June 1, 2015

Random thoughts
Recently there have been many despicable terrorist attacks on innocent men, women and children. Thanks to the prompt and efficient action taken by the Rangers, police and army personnel, the terrorists have often been killed or taken into custody. Hopefully the concerted efforts of our security agencies will soon rid us of anti-state activists.
The holy month of Ramazan is just around the corner, bringing with it fasting and zakat – two of the most important pillars of Islam. Ramazan, the month in which the Quran was revealed, was declared a month of love and support by our Holy Prophet (pbuh) and he himself used to give to the needy. First, here are a few of Allah’s edicts on fasting: “O you who believe! Observing fast is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you that you may become pious” (2:183).
“You have to observe fast for a fixed number of days, but if any of you are ill or on a journey, the same number should be made up from other days. And as for those who can fast with difficulty (old, sick people), they have a choice to either fast or to feed a poor and needy person for every day missed. But whoever does good of (his) own accord, it is better. And that you fast is better for you, if only you knew” (2:184).
“The month of Ramzan is in which Quran was revealed. It is guidance for mankind and clear proof for the guidance to differentiate between right and wrong. So whoever of you sights the moon and is at home, must fast that month and whoever is ill or on a journey, the same number of days on which one did not fast must be made up from other days. Allah intends for you ease and He does not want to make things difficult for you. He wants that you must complete the same number of days and that must magnify Allah, i.e. to say Allah is the greatest for having guided you so that you may be grateful to Him” (2:185).
“It is made lawful for you to have sexual relations with your wives at night

during fasting. They are your comfort and pleasure and you for them. Allah knows that you used to deceive yourselves, so he accepted your repentance and forgave you. So now have sexual relations with them and seek that which Allah has ordained for you (offspring), and eat and drink until the light of dawn appears to you distinct from the black thread (darkness of night), then complete your fast till nightfall. And do not have sexual relations with your wives while you are in “aitkaf”(in a mosque avoiding all worldly deeds). These are the limits set by Allah so trespass them not. Thus does Allah make clear his edicts (proofs, evidence, lessons, signs, laws, revelations, verses, right and wrong (things). Allah sets limits on mankind that they become pious” (2:187).
Muhamad Asad wrote: “The purpose of fasting is to abstain from food and drink in order to feel with one’s own body what the poor and hungry feel. In this way, social responsibility is inculcated in the form of a religious postulate. Fasting is also for self-discipline – an asset of individual morality strongly accentuated in all Islamic teachings (as too, for instance, the total prohibition of all intoxicants, which Islam considers to be too easy an avenue of escape from consciousness and responsibility). In these two elements – brotherhood of mankind and individual self-discipline – lie the outlines of Islam’s ethical outlook”.
In the ‘Encyclopaedia of the Quran’ we read: “Three types of fasting are recognized by the holy Quran – ritual fasting, fasting as compensation for repentance (both from Surah Al-Baqara) and ascetic fasting (from Al-Ahzad). The fast is meant to allow us to seek nearness, and to look for forgiveness from Allah, to express our gratitude and dependence on Him, atone for our past sins and to remind us of the needy and the hungry.
“During Ramzan we are expected to put more effort into following the teaching of Islam by refraining from violence, anger, envy, greed, lust, profane language, gossip and to try to get along with fellow Muslims better. In addition, all obscene and irreligious sights and sounds are to be avoided.”
Zakat is the practice of charitable giving based on accumulated wealth. The word ‘zakat’ can be defined as purification and growth because it allows an individual to achieve balance and encourages new growth. The principle of knowing that all things belong to Allah is essential to purification and growth. Zakat is obligatory for all Muslims who are able to do so. It is a social responsibility of every Muslim to ease the economic hardship of others and to strive towards eliminating inequality.
Zakat consists of spending a fixed portion of one’s wealth for the benefit of the poor and needy. A Muslim may also donate more as an act of voluntary charity (sadaqah) rather than achieving additional divine reward. There are some principles that should be followed when giving zakat: 1) the donor must declare to God his intention to give zakat; 2) the zakat must be paid on the due date; 3) one must not brag of spending more than usual; 4) payment must be in kind (this means that, if one is wealthy, one should pay the required portion of one’s income. If a person does not have much money, they should compensate in different ways such as good deeds, good behaviour towards other, etc; and 5) the zakat must be distributed in the community from which it is earned (Encyclopaedia of Islam).
The importance of zakat in Islam is evident from the fact that, in almost all the verses in which Almighty Allah has ordered us to pray, paying zakat has also been mentioned. In Surah Baqarah, Ayat 273-274, Allah has ordained: “Zakat is for those in need, who in Allah’s cause are restricted from travel and cannot move about in the land seeking work for earning. The ignorant man thinks, because of their modesty, that they are free from want. They don’t beg and whatever good you give, be assured, Allah knows it well. Those who spend in charity, in secret or in public, have their reward with their Lord. On them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.”
An earnest request to all Pakistanis; don’t indulge in hoarding, profiteering and adulteration during the month of Ramazan. Allah’s punishment is severe – beware of it!
We have amongst us many philanthropists who are running hospitals, educational institutes, old peoples’ homes, etc. Together with my friends we are building a 200-bed hospital in Lahore to provide free medical care to the needy. The OPD is already functional but donations (zakat, salaqah) are required for the completion of the main building. Please send your donations to: Dr A Q Khan Hospital Trust, Lahore. HBL Iban No. PKG2HABB-0012497900374503, Swift code: HABBPKKA007.
Email: [email protected]

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