After Salah, Zakat is the greatest pillar of Islam. Generally, since in the usual series of Ibadat fasting immediately follows Salah, people have come to understand that fasting is as next to Salah. But from the Holy Qur'an we learn that in Islam Zakat stands second in importance to Salah. These are the two great pillars on which rests the structure of Islam. If these are removed Islam cannot survive.
Zakat means purity and cleanliness. A portion set apart from your wealth for the needy and the poor is called Zakat. because in this manner a man's wealth and along with it his own Nafs ?(self) becomes purified. The wealth of that person is impure who does not take out from the God-given wealth what is due to the poor and the needy. And along with his wealth his Nafs too is impure because it is filled with ungratefulness. His heart is so narrow, he is selfish and so much a worshipper of wealth that it pains him to render what is due in return for the Divine favour of bestowing on him wealth in excess of his real requirements. Can it be expected from such a person that he will ever do any good deed to please God and will make any sacrifice for the sake of his religion and faith ? This is why the heart of such a person is impure as also his wealth which he amasses in this manner.
By making Zakat obligatory Allah has put every person to test. That person alone who willingly takes out what is due to God from that wealth which exceeds his requirements, and helps with it the poor and needy, is useful for Allah and is worthy of being counted among the faithfuls. And that one whose heart is so narrow that he cannot make this much sacrifice for the Lord of the world, is of no use to Allah. He is absolutely unfit to be included in the community of the faithful. He is a rotten limb which may better be severed from the body, otherwise it will purify the whole frame. This is why when after the demise of the Holy Prophet (peace be on him) when some tribes refused to give Zakat, Hadrat Abu Bakr Siddiq (may Allah be pleased with him) waged a war against them, as is done against unbelievers even though they used to say Salah and professed faith in Allah and His messenger. From this it is clear that without Zakat, Salah, fasting and affirmation of faith are all useless. None of these is credible.
Look into the Holy Qur'an. You will see that from ancient times Salah and Zakat were ordained as compulsory for the Ummahs of all prophets and the Islamic religion was never bereft of these two items during the period of any prophet. After mentioning about Prophet Abraham and the Prophets of his race, Allah says in the Qur'an :
"And We made them leaders of men. They guided the people according to Our command, and We inspired in them the doing of good deeds and right establishment of Salah and giving of Zakat and they were worshippers of Us."
About Prophet Ishmael it is said:
"He enjoined upon his people Salah and Zakat and was acceptable in the sight of his Lord."
Prophet Moses prayed for his people :
"O God ! Bestow upon us the well-being of this world as also the well-being of the Hereafter".
Do you know in reply to it what Allah said ?
"I shall smite with my punishment whom I will. Although My mercy embraceth all things, but I shall ordain it for those who will fear Me and give Zakat and those who will believe in Our revelations."
Since the people of Prophet Moses were narrow-minded hankered after money, just as you see the condition of Jews even today, Allah plainly said in answer to the prayer of such a distinguished prophet : "If your people will give Zakat steadfastly, then the promise of My mercy is for them, otherwise listen clearly here and now that they will be deprived of My mercy and My punishment will encompass them". Similarly, even after Prophet Moses Beni Israel were repeatedly admonished on this account. Time and again covenants were taken from them to worship none save Allah and to be steadfast in Salah and Zakat (Al-Qur'an 2:10) till ultimately a clear notice was given :
"And Allah said : O Children of Israel ! I am with you, if you offer Salah, and give Zakat and believe in My messengers and support those messengers who are to come, and lend unto Allah a nice loan surely I shall remit your sins"
Before Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) the last Prophet was Prophet Jesus. The commandment about Salah and Zakat was given to him also by Allah, as is found in Surah Mary : "And hath made me blessed wheresoever I may be, and hath enjoined upon me Salah and Zakat so long as I remain alive."
This shows that the religion of Islam has been established from the beginning, in the ministry of every prophet, on the two great pillars of Salah and Zakat, and it never happened that any Ummah believing in God was exempted from these two obligatory duties.
Now see how these two Faraid (obligatory acts) go hand in hand in the Shariah of prophet Muhammad (peace be on him). On opening the Holy Qur'an what are those verses which you first see ?
These are :
"This Qur'an is the book of Allah whereof there is no doubt. It shows the right path of life in the world to the pious people. (Pious people are) those who believe in the unseen and observe Salah and spend of that We have bestowed upon them (in the path of Allah)."
It is then said :
"It is such people who have received guidance from their Lord and it is they who are (successful)."
That is to say those who have no faith and do not adhere to Salah and Zakat are neither receiving guidance nor can they achieve success.
After this, go on reading the same second Surah. After a few verses it is again commanded :
"Be steadfast in saying Salah and giving Zakat and bow your heads with those who bow (i.e. say Salah in congregation)."
(Al-Qur'an 2: 43)
A little further in the same Surah it is said :
"Righteousness is not merely that you turn your faces to the East and the West, but righteous is he who believeth in Allah and the Last Day and the angels and the Scripture and the Prophets; and gives his wealth, for love of Him, to kinsfolk and to orphan and the needy and the wayfarer and to those who ask, and to set slaves free; and says Salah and gives Zakat; and those who keep their treaty when they make one, and the patient in tribulation and adversity and time of stress. Such are they who are sincere Such are the God-fearing."
Then see further what is said in Surah Ma'idah :
"O Muslim ! Your real friends and supporters are only Allah, His messenger and believers, i.e. such people who say Salah and give Zakat and bow down before God. Therefore, whoso befriends Allah, His messenger and the believers is a man of Allah's party and Allah's party alone is going to be victorious."
A great rule has been expounded in this verse. First of all you learnt from it that the believers are only those people who say Salah and give Zakat. Those who discard these two pillars of Islam are false in their claim of being believers. Then it becomes known from this verse that there is a party of Allah and His messenger and the believers, and it is the task of the believer to leave others and join this party. If a Muslim befriends a person who is outside this party, may he be his father, brother, son, neighbour, countryman or any one else, and maintains with him relationship of affection and support, he should not expect that Allah would like to keep up relation with him as his supporter. Finally, it is also learnt from this verse that believers can gain domination only when they single-mindedly make Allah and His messenger and believers their patrons, supporters, friends, and companions.
Now go ahead. In Surah Tauba :Allah has commanded Muslims to wage war against disbelievers and polytheists, and has continuously given directions in several Rukus about war only. In this connection Allah says :
" Then if they repent from disbelief and polytheism, and affirm faith, and say Salah and give Zakat they are your brethren in religion."
This means that mere repentance for disbelief and polytheism is not enough. The proof of their having really repented from disbelief and polytheism and having affirmed faith can be furnished only in this way that they regularly say Salah and pay Zakat. Therefore, if by these deeds, they provide a proof of their faith, then they are your religious brothers, otherwise, do not consider them your brothers and do not end war with them.
Then a little further it is said in the same Surah :
"And the believers, men and women, are protecting friends of one another; they enjoin the right and forbid the wrong and they say Salah and pay Zakat and obey Allah and His messenger. As for these, Allah will have mercy on them."
Now you have heard that no person can at all become a religious brother of Muslims until after affirming faith he actually says Salah and pays Zakat. Faith, Salah and Zakat these three things put together bring into being the community of believers. Those who adhere to these three principles are integrated with this pure community and among them alone exists the relationship of friendship, affection, companionship and mutual support, while those who disregard these three principles are outside this community, though they may be Muslim in name. To maintain relations of friendship, affection and companionship with the latter means that you have broken the law of Allah and disrupted the party of Allah. How then do you expect to remain dominant on the world?
Now go still further. It is said in Surah Hajj:
"Verily Allah helps one who helps Him. Lo ! Allah is Strong, Almighty. Those who, if We give them power in the land, establish Salah and give Zakat and enjoin virtue and forbid evil. And with Allah is the sequel of events."
(Al-Qur'an 22 : 40-41)
In this verse, Muslims have been served with the same notice as was given to Bani Israel. I have just now told you what notice was given by Allah to Bani Israel. They were clearly told : " I am with you till such time as you say Salah and give Zakat, and co-operate with My prophets in the fulfilment of their mission, i.e. you will try to enforce My law in the world. The moment you gave up this work I shall withdraw My helping hand from you." Exactly this very thing Allah has told to Muslims also. He has clearly pointed out to them : " If after gaining power in the land you establish Salah, give Zakat, propagate virtues and eliminate evil, then only will I be your supporter, and who can subdue him when I support him. But if you turned your face against Zakat and after acquiring superiority over land propagated evils instead of virtues, and eliminated virtues instead of evils, and raised aloft your word instead of My Word, and if from taxes collected built paradises on the earth considering it as the objective of inheriting the land, then listen : My support will not be with you, in such a case Satan alone will be your supporter."
Allah-o-Akbar ! What a situation to take lesson from ! The warning given to Bani Israel was taken by them as an empty verbal threat, and they saw the consequence of not paying heed to it. They are wandering today on the surface of the earth. They are being shuttled hither and thither and do not get any resting place. They have coffers brimming with crores of rupees. They are the wealthiest people in the world. But this money is of no use to them. By adopting the cursed system of usury instead of Zakat, and by taking to lewdness instead of Salah they have invoked Allah's curse : and loaded with this curse they are running about contaminating the whole world like plague-rats. Then this very threat was given to Muslims but disregarding it they neglected Salah and Zakat and stopped using the God-given strength for propagating virtues and destroying vices. See its result that they were dislodged from the seat of government and thrown away. They became victim of oppressors throughout the world. They are weak and subjugated in all parts of the earth. You have seen the disastrous result of abandoning Salah and Zakat. Now a party has risen among them which wants to drag them into indecency, obscenity and lewdness and is telling them that to end their poverty they should start insurance companies and begin taking usury. By God if they did this they will be overtaken by the same disgrace and ignominy which Jews suffered and they will be subjected to the same curse of God which has afflicted Bani Israel.
I shall tell you in my future lectures what Zakat is and what tremendous power Allah has infused in it. I shall also show that this Divine mercy, which is considered an ordinary thing today by Muslims, indeed contains a great blessing for them. My intention in today's lecture was only to explain to you the position which Salah and Zakat occupy in Islam. Many Muslims think, and their Maulvis too assure them day and night, that they remain Muslim even though they may not observe Salah and pay Zakat. But the Qur'an clearly refutes their assumption. From the Qur'anic viewpoint the affirmation of Kalima Tayyiba is itself meaningless if to substantiate it a man does not bind himself to the observing of Salah and giving of Zakat. For this very reason, as I have just now described to you, Hadrat Abu Bakr waged a war against the rejectors of Zakat branding them as disbelievers. The Prophet's companions doubted in the beginning whether or not such a Muslim who professes belief in God and His messenger and observes Salah also can be included in that category against which war is ordered to be waged. But when Hadrat Abu Bakr, who was granted by Allah a very eminent position in al-Islam became adamant in his opinion and insistently said :
" By God, if these people withheld from the Zakat they used to give during the time of the Holy Prophet (peace be on him) even a piece of rope to which a camel is tied, I shall raise my sword against them".
Then eventually Allah opened the hearts of all companions for the perception of Truth and they all accepted the verdict that Jihad must be waged against the rejectors of Zakat is the work of idolaters who deny the Hereafter.
"And woe unto the idolaters who give not Zakat ! and who are disbelievers in the Hereafter."