Zakat in Shi‘a Fiqh – Part four

By Sayyid Muhammad Rizvi (Toronto, Canada)

Final Comments


By looking at the tone of the article published in Federation Samachar and the conclusions that some readers have derived, it is necessary to make the following remarks:
First of all, I am really surprised that when it comes to their personal issues, people in our community always seek “expert advice;” but when it comes to religious issues, it becomes a plain field for everyone to make their decisions and even allow themselves to judge others’ motivations and think of it as “sazish/conspiracy” by the ‘ulama when they don’t like what they hear! It is implied that the majority of our jurists were sayyids, therefore they promote khums and ignore zakat!

Such people don’t realize that such thoughts eventually lead to accusing the Prophet of Islam himself of promoting his descendants! On this judgmental attitude, even the publishers are responsible for allowing this article to be published without getting it checked with the experts in the field for accuracy or at least allowing a response to it on the same issue.

Secondly, the reason why religious speakers talk more about some issues and less about some other issues has nothing to do with the so-called “sazish.” It all depends on what is relevant to the people in that time and area. Khoja community at large –in Africa and the West– are not in agriculture or raising cattle or in keeping gold/silver coins, and therefore these issues are not discussed that frequently or in detail just as judiciary matters or rules of the minor jihad are not discussed because they are not relevant to the community in these parts of the world.
The same can be said about discussion on khums. Khums is wajib on seven items but even when I wrote the book on that subject, I only dealt with two of the seven items. The others items (mines & minerals; precious stones obtained from sea by diving; treasures; land that a dhimmi kafir buys from a Muslim; the spoils of war) have not been discussed. Why? Those items were not discussed simply because they are not relevant to our times and our locations.

Finally, what is even more disturbing is a trend seen among some of those who like to promote a good cause, they always try to contrast it with something else even though the two would be unrelated. Obvious examples that come to mind of such artificial contrast between issues are niyaz versus charity, ‘azadari versus namaz, khums versus zakat, rituals versus socio-political activism. One can always promote charity without attacking niyaz; stopping niyaz is not going to divert that money towards the poor relief. One can always encourage the obligation of doing namaz without putting down ‘azadari; instead of creating that contrast, use ‘azadari to promote namaz. One can always urge people to give more in charity without putting down khums; highlight the importance of giving sadaqa which has been greatly emphasized in Islam and by the Ahlul Bayt.

One can always impress upon people the importance of participation in socio-political issues without putting down rituals. By creating unnecessary tension or contrast between two unrelated issues, one achieves nothing but failure in the actual cause that he is promoting.
However, this mentality is not new; it reminds me of an interesting discussion during the reign of ‘Umar ibn Khattab. Someone mentioned to ‘Umar the issue of the excess of the ornaments that were donated for the Ka‘bah and proposed that he should use those ornaments for financing the needs of the Muslim army. “What would the Ka‘bah do with the ornaments?” Indeed a very progressive idea! ‘Umar liked this idea, but then he turned to Imam ‘Ali and asked his opinion on it. Imam ‘Ali (a.s.) said: “When the Qur’an descended upon the Prophet (s.a.w.), the wealth was of four types:

  1. The property of the Muslims which he distributed among the heirs according to the fixed shares [in the
    Qur’an].
  2. The tax (fay’) which he distributed among those who were deserving of it.
  3. The khums which Allah has fixed the way of its disposal.
  4. The charities (Sadaqat) whose disposal also was fixed by Allah.
    “The ornaments of the Ka‘bah did exist in those days but Allah left them as they were, and He did not leave them out of omission nor were they unknown to Him. Therefore, you should leave them where Allah and His Messenger have placed them.” ‘Umar left the ornaments of Ka‘bah as they were and said to Imam ‘Ali: “If it had not been for you, we would have been humiliated.”

Let us not exercise the ijtihad of ignorance in religious matters and not impose our views on the views of the Prophet (s.a.w.) and his Ahlul Bayt (a.s.). Always remember the message of Almighty Allah: O you who believe! Do not venture ahead of Allah and His Messenger,
and be wary of Allah. Indeed Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.
O you who believe! Do not raise your voices above the voice of the Prophet, and do not speak aloud to him as you shout to one another, lest your good deeds should become futile while you are unaware of it.
(49:1-2)

About the author

He was born in 1957 in a family of ‘ulamã’ in Bihar, India. He comes from a region in Bihar (Siwan District, previously known as Saran) that has produced well-known Shi‘a scholars in the Indian sub-continent. Migrated to Africa with his parents where he received elementary education in English medium school. After that for two years, he studied Arabic and Farsi with his respected father and two other ‘alims in Dar-Es-salaam, Tanzania.

In 1972, at the age of fifteen, he went to the Hawza-e ‘Ilmiya-e Qum, Iran. During his ten years stay in Qum, he studied with various teachers; and moved from the levels of muqaddimãt to sutûh (equal to graduate level in secular universities) and, finally, attended the dars-e kharij (ijtihad lectures equal to post-graduate studies) of Ayatullah al-Uzma Shaikh Wahid Khurãsãni.

In 1982, he returned to India where he stayed at Gopalpur for about a year.

In June 1983, at the invitation of the Shia Muslim Community of British Columbia, he and his wife moved to Vancouver where he stayed till June 1991 and served Shi‘a Islam through his lectures, writings, and teachings. Based on his publications and educational background, in September 1987, the Simon Fraser University (Vancouver) admitted him in the post-graduate program at Masters’ level. This was even though he had no formal degree nor was he asked to sit for any exams. In 1990 he completed his thesis; and after successfully defending the thesis, was awarded the Master of Arts degree in History in 1991.

In July 1991, he moved to Toronto and till 1996 worked as the Director of Islamic Education & Information Center providing a variety of religious services to Shi‘as in North America. During this time, he was also involved in the founding of the As-Sadiq Islamic School, a full time Islamic school from KG to Grade 8 levels. Since July 1996, he has accepted the responsibilities of the Imam-e Jum‘a and Resident ‘Ãlim of the Jaffari Islamic Center / Jaffari Community Center.

He has traveled to most cities in Canada and U.S.A.; as well as to Australia, Guyana, Trinidad, United Kingdom, Dubai, Pakistan, Tanzania and Kenya for lectures.

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