Allaah Ta’aala says, to Khatm ul-Mursaleen Mohammad Rasoolullaah (saws), “Take from the properties of your followers a ‘sadaqah’ i.e. a portion in charity which will purify them and keep their hearts clean.” It is also called ‘Zakaat’ because in the words of the Qur’an-e-Kareem it is meant for the ‘tazkiyah’ i.e. the purification of the hearts of the Mumineen.
Allaah Ta’aala has made it obligatory on all muslemeen to take out the ‘Zakaat’ from their properties and hand it over to the Rasoolullaah (saws) or his descendants. In the lifetime of the Rasoolullaah (saws) the Muslims used to pay ‘Zakaat’ to the officers who were appointed by him for this purpose. They were the persons in charge of the collections who have been mentioned by Allaah Ta’aala in his book.
After the departure of the Rasoolullaah (saws) from this world none of the Muslims came forward to say that the ‘Zakaat’ ceased to be a duty on him. The Muslims used to pay it to the officers who were appointed for this purpose by the successor of the Rasoolullaah (saws) one after another. The ‘Umayyads’ mishandled and misused these collections. When the people saw this, they asked some of the surviving companions of the Rasoolullaah (saws) as to what they should do. The ‘ashaab’ advised them to pay the ‘sadaqah’ to the officers. Some of these ‘ashaab’ went to the length of saying “Pay these ‘sadaqah’ even if the Umayyads spend them on the purchasing of the snakes.” Others remarked “Pay them, even if they spend them on drinking wine.” Some of them again remarked “Pay them, you do your duty. Your responsibility is over. The responsibility lies on their shoulders. If you catch some thieves and you cut off the hands of some of them and let go the rest, do you think you have acted rightly? They said ‘No’. On the same analogy the ‘ashaab’ remarked “You pay the ‘sadaqah’ to them and get rid of your responsibilities.”
There are many example of this type. If we were to quote them all, the matter will prolong. However we like to give one more example to clear the point. If ‘A’ is indebted to ‘B’ and ‘B’ is indebted to ‘C’. If ‘A’ instead of paying his debt to ‘B’ pays it to ‘C’ directly on behalf of ‘B’ without any authority from him, He is not free from his responsibility to ‘B’. He will still continue to be indebted to ‘B’. Similar is the case with ‘Zakaat’. A believer has to pay it to the one to whom he has been ordered to pay.
O Mumineen, may Allaah Ta’aala bestow His mercy on you. Realize the significance of the proper use of what Allaah Ta’aala has entrusted with you. Communicate this to one another. Argue out this case with those who hold different views on this. None of them will have any doubt left in his mind. Those who are not convinced are the oppressors and deifiers of Allaah Ta’aala. He who denies the truth and argues out in favor of untruth is the oppressor. In addition to the ‘Zakaat’, the mumineen are required to pay the ‘khums’ the one-fifth of their earnings. The Qur’an-e-Kareem says, “Bear in mind that of whatever you earn the fifth part belongs to Allaah Ta’aala, the Rasoolullaah (saws) and their relatives, the orphans, the poor and the way-farers.” Imaam Ja’far us-Saadiq (as) says, “The khums belongs to us, the Imaam. The people have no share with us in it.” The sentence ‘the one-fifth belongs to Allaah Ta’aala’ means it is to be given away for the sake of Allaah Ta’aala and for a reward from him. It is meant for the Rasoolullaah (saws) in his lifetime and after him it is meant for the Imaams from his ‘Ahl ul-Bayt (as)’.
It is the duty of every ‘mumin’ to pay one-fifth of his earnings to the Imaam of the time. It must be born in mind that the word ‘ghaneemat’ used in the above verses does not necessarily mean the spoils of ‘jihaad’. It applies to everything that a man earns. Imaam Ja’far us-Saadiq (as) says, “Allaah Ta’aala has made it obligatory for the ‘mumin’ to pay us one fifth of their earnings. It belongs to us as a matter of Right. He who denies us this right and does not give us our share, will have no claim on Allaah Ta’aala and will get no reward from Him.”
O Mumineen understand the words of our ‘Maula’. Bear in mind that out of everything that you earn one fifth must be paid to the Imaam of the time. Whenever any one of you earns anything to receive anything as a profit let him take out the fifth of it immediately and pay it to the Imaam. Let him keep the rest with himself.
This ‘khums’ or the ‘Zakaat’ which Allaah Ta’aala has enjoined on you to pay does not belong to you. It is not a part of your property. It is the ‘amaanat’ of Allaah Ta’aala and the Rasoolullaah (saws) in your hands. Allaah Ta’aala has warned you in His book against the misappropriation of ‘amaanat’. He says, “O Mumineen, do not deceive Allaah Ta’aala or the Rasoolullaah (saws) and do not misappropriate the ‘amaanat’ in general. In this connection the Rasoolullaah (saws) says, “The property does not decrease by the payment of ‘Zakaat’ or ‘khums’. This is not to be taken in the literal sense. For, the property does decrease when the ‘Zakaat’ or ‘khums’ is taken away from it. What the Rasoolullaah (saws) intends to say is this. The ‘khums’ or ‘Zakaat’ which you are enjoined upon to pay is not a part of your property which is in your hands. Since it is to be taken away it does not belongs to you. What is left behind belongs to you. The ‘Zakaat’ or ‘khums’ is the ‘amaanat’ of Allaah Ta’aala with you. He has ordered you to guard it.
The Imaam have every right to test their followers by asking them to part with their properties or to probe their loyalty by different means. Allaah Ta’aala tested his Prophets by putting them to all sorts of trials and tribulations. O Mumineen, if any one of you is put to test by the Imaam, then let him bear the trial with patience. The easiest of such trial is the test in money. You must bear in mind that no time is fixed for the Imaam for such trials. They can test their followers at any time and in any way they like when they want to raise them to a high position. They are empowered to do what they like. There is no time limit to their power. Your duty is to submit to them voluntarily. Allaah Ta’aala says, “He who volunteers to do good thing, does the best things for himself.”
With the regard to the use of their ‘khums’ or ‘Zakaat’ by the Imaam, they are the masters of their affairs. They can do what they like to do with the money they get from you. Whether they give it to their relatives, to their brothers and to the poor and the destitute or not, this is the matter which rests entirely with them.
In short, O Mumineen, it is your duty to pay to the Imaam the ‘khums’ i.e. the fifth part of your earnings. You are nothing more than the depositories of something that belongs to Allaah Ta’aala. It is an ‘amaanat’ in your hands. Allaah Ta’aala wants to test you. He wants to see which of you is more virtuous. Allaah Ta’aala has repeatedly reminded you of this duty in His book. O Mumineen, fear Allaah Ta’aala. Be honest in the return of the ‘amaanat’ to Him who has deposited it with you. This is one of the greatest trials to which He has put you.
Imaam Ja’far us-Saadiq (as) says, “None of the duties of Allaah Ta’aala on man is more server than the return of the ‘amaanat’ to Him from your property. Many people are ruined by the neglect of this duty. See that you put back this ‘amaanat’ in the hands of the Imaam of your time. It is not a part of your property.” With all this, if one does not pay the ‘amaanat’ and leaves it behind for his heirs, then he is the greatest loser. He loses everything. Not only does he lose his prestige but he also loses his Faith. Allaah Ta’aala says, “When death approached to one of them, he said, ‘O Allaah Ta’aala, give me back the life in order that I may do well what I have neglected to do.’ It is nothing but a meaningless expression.” Imaam Ja’far us-Saadiq (as) says, “The words, ‘What I have neglected to do’ in the above verse of the Qur’an refer to the non-payment of the dues of the Imaam of the time which Allaah Ta’aala has enjoined on man to pay. If one does not pay the ‘Zakaat’ his prayers will not be recognized. No one deceives Allaah Ta’aala in the payment of ‘Zakaat’ on his property excepting the infields.” Allaah Ta’aala says, “Woe to the infields who do not pay the Zakaat.”
We must bear in mind that one is not free from his obligation if he pays the ‘Zakaat’ to those who are not entitled to receive it. O Mumineen, pay what you have been enjoined upon to pay to none but the Imaam. Let us bring it to your notice that in this matter none of your opponents is a greater enemy of yours than you yourselves. If you conquer your-selves you will have no difficulty in the discharge of your duty. Allaah Ta’aala says, “Your own self is the evil-dictator.” Rasoolullaah (saws) says, “Passion is a kind of a deity which is worshipped by people.” Allaah Ta’aala says in this connection, “Don’t you see those people who take their passions to be their Allaah Ta’aala.” Again Rasoolullaah (saws)says, “The ‘Zakaat’ does not come out of the hands of the ‘Mumin’ unless he relieves himself from the clutches of seventeen devils, every one of whom holds him back and orders him not to pay.” Allaah Ta’aala says, “ Behold, you are those who are invited to expend part of your subsistence for the support of Allaah Ta’aala’s religion; but there are some of you who are niggardly and who ever is niggardly, is niggardly to wards his own soul. Allaah Ta’aala is self-sufficient and you are needy. If you turn back, He will substitute another people in your stead who shall not be like you.”
In conclusion, O Mumineen, subdue yourselves. Do not allow your selves to come in the way of the discharge of your duties. You must realize that you have to pay only a small portion of what Allaah Ta’aala has given you and that too is Allaah Ta’aala’s property which he has entrusted with you. There is no way out of it. He says, “You must remember that of whatever you earn one-fifth belongs to Allaah Ta’aala and the Rasoolullaah (saws).” This is applicable to everything that you acquire by way of spoils in the war or what you earn by business or by manual labor or what you get from the Imaam in the form of remuneration for your work. You have to take out the ‘khums’ of everything that you have acquired by these means. It matters little whether what you have got is much or small. It is your duty to pay the ‘khums’ to the Imaam or those who are appointed by them to receive it on their behalf. May Allaah Ta’aala help you and us in the discharge of this duty. May He forbid us from being treacherous to the Rasoolullaah (saws) or the Imaam in this matter.