Subtle points of Zakat part 1

>> Saturday, October 17, 2009

InshAllah the next couple of posts will be from the Ihya Ulum id din and will be on Zakat. The chapter on Zakat is very large so I will just share the "Subtle points" section of Zakat. The first subtle point seems to be the longest or at least is divided into the most parts.

In the Words of Imam Ghazzali

Some Subtle Rules of Zakat
There are some subtle points for a payer of Zakat and for one who travels in the path of the next world.
1st Subtle point: The Meaning and Object of Zakat
Zakat is the purification of properties. There are three reasons for its being a pillar of Islam.
The first cause: is to appreciate the two words of Kalema Shahadat, to take Tauhid firmly and to witness the unity of God. Promise reaches perfection when a unitarian has got no object of love except One, as love does not admit a partner. There is little benefit in uttering Kalima Shahadat by tongue only and the trial is in giving up of other objects of love except God. To the people, wealth and properties are objects of love as they are the instruments of earthly pleasures and getting love from others. Those who claim the love of God are tried and their objects of love are snatched away from them. For this reason God says: God purchased from the believers their lives and properties in exchange of paradise for them. This was said with regard to Jihad. Sacrifice of properties is easier than sacrifice a life which has been also mentioned here to gain the love of God From this angle of view, men can be divided in to three classes.
(1) The first class of men recognise Tauhid as true, fulfil their promise and spend their properties in the way of God. They do not hoard wealth. They do not deny that Zakat is not compulsory or them. Rather they say: For us, it is compulsory to spend all out properties. For this reason, Hazrat Abu Bakr brought all properties to the Prophet when he called for charities in the way of God. Hazrat Umar brought half of his property. The Prophet said to Hazrat Umar: What have you left for your family? He said: Hall of my wealth. He asked Hazrat Abu Bakr: What have you left for your family? He said: God and His Prophet. The Prophet said: The difference between you is in your replies.
(2) The second class of men are lower in rank. They spend their wealth at the time of necessity. The object in hoarding is not to enjoy pleasure but to spend in proportion to necessity and to spend their excess wealth in good deeds. They don't reduce the amount of Zakat. Many Tabeyins like Nakhyi, Shubi, Ata and others held that there are additional duties on wealth besides Zakat. The sage Shubi was asked: Is there any additional duty on wealth besides Zakat? He said: Yes, did you not hear the verse of God: Being prompted by divine love they spend wealth for their near relatives, orphans, the poor and the travellers. This is supported by the following verse: They spend out of what I have provided them with. God says: Spend out of what I have provided you. This means that whenever you will find a man in want, it is the duty of the rich to remove his want. This is an additional charity besides Zakat. The correct opinion according to theology is that whenever expense is necessary, to spend is Farde Kefayah as it is not legal to cause harm to the Muslims.
(3) The third class are those persons who rest contented by payment of only Zakat. They do not pay more or less. This is the lowest rank and the general people adopt this course as they are naturally miser, attached to riches and their love for the next world is weak. God says: If they beg of you and press for it, you become miser. There is a wide gulf of difference between those who (3) The third class are those persons who rest contented by payment of only Zakat. They do not pay more or less. This is the lowest rank and the general people adopt this course as they are naturally miser, attached to riches and their love for the next world is weak. God says: If they beg of you and press for it, you become miser. There is a wide gulf of difference between those who sacrifice their lives and properties for God and those who are defamed for miserliness.
The second cause is to be pure from miserliness as it is one of the causes of destruction. The Prophet said: There are three destructive guilts-to obey miserliness, to follow low desires and self-conceit. God says: Those who are saved from miserliness have got salvation. In this way, Zakat is the cause of purification of properties.
The third cause is to express gratefulness for the gifts of God as God's gifts on His servants are unbounded. The gratefulness for the gifts of body by doing divine services and the gratefulness for the gifts of wealth by expense of wealth are expressed. How unfortunate is he who sees no means of livelihood of a poor man and still does not give him charity in spite of his begging and who rather expresses gratefulness that God saved him from wants.


Avoid Loaded Language and Imam Ghazzali

>> Thursday, October 1, 2009

Eloquence is one of the attributes that a believer should have. How one gains the ability to articulate his ideas is by listening to others. My expository writing professor taught me to be a good writer you must be a good reader; you must read more than you write.
Today the Muslims (and people in general) love to argue and hate to listen or learn. Imam Ghazzali once advised that if you do not know the other person's point of view better than they do then you should not argue with him. And if you cannot understand why a person just as pious just as religious just as honest as you will take the opposite point of view as you then you do not know that person's point of view (meaning don't argue with him). Otherwise your argument will only be an attack on the other side. It will only be "loaded language".
Why did Imam Ghazzali take this position and advised us to adopt this? I turn to Anthony Weston's A Rulebook for Arguments to answer this question.

P.S. Before reading the answer I would like to recommend Weston's book to anyone who is an Islamic scholar, political scientist, journalist or anyone who writes. It is not a Islamic book but the material found in the book can also be found in the Nasihat or advices given to us by our scholars; the advices seem to be universal and subhanullah our religious scholars recognized them. Unfortunately the Muslims have not recognized them but the non-Muslims have.

In the words of Anthony Weston

Avoid loaded Language
Do not make your argument look good by caricaturing the opposing side. Generally people advocate a position for serious and sincere reasons. Try to figure out their view, even if you think they are dead wrong. A person who opposes the use of a new technology is not necessarily in favor of "going back to the caves," for example, and a person who advocates reduced military spending is not necessarily in favor of "giving in to aggression." If you can't imagine how anyone could hold the view you are attacking, you just don't understand it yet.
In general, avoid language whose only function is to sway the emotions of your readers or hearers, either for or against the view you are discussing. This is "loaded" language.
Electoral sabotage played an important role in the secret war in Brazil. The CIA invested some $20 million to finance conservatives in the ... Brazilian election. The money was used to buy candidates in eight of eleven gubernatorial elections ...*
Here the summary term "war" is itself loaded: military involvement is not alleged. "Sabotage" and "buy" are also inappropriate. An election might be truly "sabotaged" if ballot boxes throughout the country were stuffed, and an official might be "bought" if he or she were paid to vote as directed. In this excerpt, however, the CIA is accused only of giving money to conservative candidates in the election. It is not clear that anyone is "bought" merely by covert campaign contributions —especially if he or she is already committed to the point of view the CIA favors. Thus the opening sentence should read:
The CIA tried to influence the Brazilian election by giving money to conservative candidates.
The neutralized statement does not excuse the CIA's involvement. On the contrary, it now should be taken all the more seriously. Loaded language preaches only to the converted, but careful presentation of the facts can itself convert.