So this is the “dastaan” (account) of the state of the poor who suffered and also the dastaan of the rich who were the cause of the suffering of the poor of the recent past in a small community in Zanzibar. In this respect Imam Ali (a.s) warned: “Allah (swt) has fixed an obligation, the livelihood of the poor in the wealth of the rich. Therefore, it is because some rich persons have denied (the poor their share) Allah (swt) will question them.”
If the Qur’anic verses 5:48, 6:53 and 165 are consulted, it will be found with great worry that the poor in a community serves, by a divine design, as a means to test or try the rich. Many of the rich in the community will fail the test.
The poor are now long gone as if they never existed. Gone also are those who were not poor. What do exist however are the records with Allah (swt) as to who among the rich owed Zakaat to the poor as the rightful dues to them, as ordained by Him, and died without having paid any such dues in their life time to the poor.
There are as many as 27 verses at various places in the Qur’an which pronounce the twin-obligation of Zakaat and Salaat together, apart from the other verses which mention Zakaat without a linkage to Salaat. Those who choose to reject the obligation of Zakaat and applied the dues of the poor to their own use and thereby sinned against Haq un Naas, can offer no excuses after death.
Of the basic wajibat, the easiest to perform and in contrast, the most rewarding is paying Zakaat. Easy is in the sense that Allah wants back for the poor only 2.50% of “the wealth” (see Q. 9:103) bestowed by Him and held by the rich in excess of the annual basic needs. Rewarding is in the sense that Allah has given assurances; one – of success for the soul (see Q. 23: 1-4), two – no fear and no grief after death (Q. 2:277) and third – multiplication of wealth (Q. 30:39) to those who have not failed, refused or neglected to pay Zakaat together with the performances of other wajibaat. These assurances are virtually a guarantee for more wealth in this life and the Paradise in the next life.
The linkage of wajibat of Salaat to that of Zakaat is understandable because the Holy Prophet explained in short that Islam was worship of the Creator (Khaliq) and compassion for His creatures (makhlooq).
Perhaps the rich in defense would say, of course after death, that they were not aware of the poverty of others who though lived together as brothers and sisters with them in a small community; or that the poor did no come out to beg. The reply to them is in the Quran: “(Alms are) for the poor who are confined in the way of Allah – they cannot go about in the land; the ignorant man thinks them to be rich on account of (their) abstaining (from begging); you can recognize them by their mark; they do not beg from men importunately, and whatever good thing you spend, surely Allah knows it (2:273).
The verse suggests the need to help the poor voluntarily also for the pleasure of Allah on top of the performance of the obligation of Zakaat whose collection and distribution is otherwise centralized. Woe! When neither was paid. The examples of poverty given in this article were glaring enough for all to know at that time as to who needed help privately and discreetly besides those who were known to be entitled to the Zakaat dues. Woe! when neither of the two groups was paid.
It is noticed therefore that the verse 2:177 makes a clear distinction between voluntary alms-giving and the wajib Zakaat dues when it defines the attributes of a true Mu’min and Muttaqi. He pays both. In addition to Zakaat, a good Muslim is required not to force a needy to repay a loan, if it was given in a form of a “qardh-e-hasanaat” and the needy is still unable to repay. “Qardh-e-hasanaat” is highly recommended by Allah swt, in the Qur’an.
Now with that much divine compassion for the poor, why shouldn’t a nonperformance of the wajibat of Zakaat be a grievous sin? Quite understandably, the denial to the poor of their dues subjects them to a sever trial of keeping themselves upright and avoiding sins while they struggle for their livelihood, though others may falter and succumb to varieties of sins in sheer desperation and ramification of property.
Recent research studies carried out at the University of Bergen, Norway and the Institute of Psychiatry at the King’s College, London reveal that those who suffer from depression and anxieties risk early death. It is known that a life of poverty is attendant with depression and anxieties which are commonly shared by all the adult members in a family. A number of illnesses can be ascribed to poverty as the primary cause.
Another recent research shows that poverty is also a major cause for the birth of unhealthy children. This consequence of poverty in turn becomes the cause of the continued poverty in the family.