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‘Can I pay Zakat on my pension’

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In the name of the Almighty, the Beneficent the Merciful

(Prophet) Ibrahim (a.s) was a nation, very dutiful to the Almighty and was never an iidolater …

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You shall give the due alms to the relatives, the needy, the poor, and the traveller, but do not be excessive, extravagant” (Quran 17: 26-29)

He is one of the avid readers of the Friday Sermon. He reads Friday Sermon as a filter for the inanities and contrarieties in our reality. Like other readers of this page, he had diligently followed the sermons of the last few weeks during which time I concentrated on the essence of life and the consequence of death. I remember my sister too, I meant one other reader of this column. The day I pondered the face of a brother who laid in silence, in death and shared my feelings with you all, she took the message away and farther than I imagined. Then I had asked: “Dear brother, how does it feel to die?” I offered a response then: how does it feel being in alive? Each time we take a breath in order to live, each of those breaths is actually taking us closer to the last breadth we shall have to take. Remember- it is not the number of breaths that we take that matter; rather it is the number of life we breadth into a life that will count.

Thus a couple of days ago, our brother decided to send me a reminder. He sought to return my cognition back to the here and now. He said: “The last few weeks’ sermons are so much death-related that it has reawakened our consciousness. Please do oblige on Zakat. Please is my pension fund, which I can even access by law Zakatable if it reaches the nisab? Is a civil servant of say level 12 be obliged to pay zakat in view of the fact that if it is a big one, he can be an employer of labour? Thanks”.

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Once again, I appreciate our brother’s intervention. In fact, it was like a wake-up call to us all to be alive to this important aspect of our faith, namely the payment of zakat. The Quran discusses almsgiving to the poor in many verses, some of which relate to zakat. These include Quran 7:156, 19:31, 19:55, 21:73, 23:4, 27:3, 30:39, 31:4 and 41:7. Zakat is found in the early Madinah suras and described as obligatory for Muslims. It is given for the sake of salvation. Muslims believe those who give zakat can expect reward from the Almighty in the afterlife while neglecting to give zakat can result in damnation.

According to Yusuf al-Qaradawi, Quran 9:5 of the Quran makes zakat one of the three prerequisites for a non-Muslim to become Muslims: “but if they repent, establish prayers, and practice zakat they are your brethren in faith”. Some classical jurists have held the view that any Muslim who consciously refuses to pay zakat is an apostate since the failure to believe that it is a religious duty (fard) is a form of unbelief (kufr). Once collected, it is mandatory that Zakat be given to a certain category of people mentioned in Quran 9:60: “Alms are for the poor and the needy, and those employed to administer the (funds); for those whose hearts have been (recently) reconciled (to Truth); for those in bondage and in debt; in the cause of the Almighty; and for the wayfarer: (thus is it) ordained by Almighty, and the Almighty is full of knowledge and wisdom.”. The Prophet is reported to have said, “The believer’s shade on the Day of Resurrection will be his charity.” (Al-Tirmidhi)

(08122465111 for text messages)
Oladosu A. Afis is a professor of Middle Eastern, North African and Cultural Studies
Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies,
The University of Ibadan, Nigeria.

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