Zakat: Some Questions Answered (Part I)

By Sir Dr. Muhammad Zafrullah Khan, KCSI (1893 – 1985)

…Hazrat Abu Bakr was perfectly right in declaring that he would fight those who refused to pay the zakat even if their refusal did not go beyond holding back from him one nose string of a camel which they used to render to the Holy Prophet, or holding back a single lamb that they used to surrender as zakat to the Holy Prophet. He was not only the spiritual Successor of the Holy Prophet, peace be on him, but also his political Successor. The Islamic state had been established allover Arabia during the life-time of the Holy Prophet and it was the primary duty of his Successors to maintain the Islamic state, and to safeguard it and to arrange to recover the financial dues that were owed to the state treasury. The Holy Prophet, peace be on him, had organised the revenue system of the Islamic state which was based on the zakat, and the zakat was recognised as an obligatory tax due to the state. The Islamic state made provision for its diverse activities from the proceeds of the zakat. The military requirements of the state were met out of the zakat and all aspects of social welfare were provided out of the proceeds of the zakat. For instance, it is the duty of an Islamic state to provide for the maintenance of the unemployed and of the disabled; to provide capital for those who have been trained for a profession or an occupation or other beneficent activity, but lack the means of carrying it on; to promote industry and commerce; to provide facilities for transportation and for the comfort of travelers etc. It may sometimes be necessary for the state to help those who are indebted and cannot find the means to discharge their debts, or those against wom an award has been made which they have not the capacity to fulfill. All this has to be provided for out of the proceeds of the zakat. As the Islamic state is not a purely secular state, it is under obligation to provide for the propagation of Islam and to help those who accept Islam and are in need of assistance. This is also one of the purposes which have to be met out of the proceeds of the zakat, as is said in the Holy Quran: The proceeds of the zakat are for the poor and the needy, and for those employed in connection with their collection and distribution, for those whose hearts are to be comforted, and for the freeing of slaves, and for those burdened with debt, and for those striving in the cause of Allah, and for the comfort of the wayfarers. This is an ordinance from Allah. Allah is All Knowing, Wise. (9:60).

The difference between the obligation of paying the zakat and the obligation of observing salat is that the latter pertains wholly to the individual and the former pertains not only to the individual but also to the state, and it is the duty of the state to arrange for its recovery .The verse just cited requires the state to establish a department for the recovery and dispensation of the zakat. The Holy Prophet, peace be on him, said about the zakat: It is a levy that is imposed upon the well-to-do and is restored to those who are in need. The expressions levied and restored indicate that it is the duty of the state to recover the zakat and to employ its proceeds for the purposes which are set out in the verse just cited. The direction in the Holy Quran” Take a portion of their wealth as zakat (9: 103); requires the Holy Prophet, peace be on him, and his Successors and all Islamic states to recover the zakat. In accordance with it, the Holy Prophet made arrangements for its recovery and appointed functionaries to assess and collect it. In his time, the zakat was collected in the same way as government revenues are collected in our time.

As Hazrat Abu Bakr was the Successor of the Holy Prophet, peace be on him, it was his obligation to collect the zakat in the way as the Holy Prophet himself collected it, That is why he affirmed that if any Muslim who paid zakat to the Holy Prophet, would withhold from him as little as the nose-string of a camel that he used to render to the Holy Prophet, he would require it from him by the sword. Thus the recovery of the zakat would be enforced in the same manner in which governments recover their dues from their subjects. If anyone should refuse to pay such dues, the state is entitled to recover them by force. Those who refused to pay the zakat in the time of Hazrat Abu Bakr were in the same situation as those who might refuse to pay government taxes today. It was the duty of Hazrat Abu Bakr to recover the zakat by force from those who refused to render it. Those people were rebels against the state like those who might refuse to pay government taxes today. Thus, if Hazrat Abu Bakr fought those Muslims who were not guilty of any offence other than refusal to pay the zakat, those who differ with us on the question of the punishment of apostacy can derive no support or comfort from his action, as he had fought those who had rebelled against the authority of the state.

The Holy Prophet, peace be on him, had to deal with enemies who would not leave the Muslims at peace. They persecuted them and sought to wipe out Islam with the sword. He stood up against them and having established peace and security in the land, laid the foundations of an Islamic state and put the Islamic law in force. Among other laws he imposed the zakat on those upon whom it had been made obligatory and arranged for its recovery . During his time, no section of the Muslims refused to pay the zakat. He was, therefore, under no necessity to fight anyone on that score. This necessity arose in the case of Hazrat Abu Bakr who was refused the dues that the Holy Prophet had imposed, the recovery of which he arranged for and out of the proceeds of which he fulfilled the requirements of the state. Therefore, it became the duty of Hazrat Abu Bakr to recover those dues by force from the subjects of the Islamic state who refused to render them voluntarily.

History does not mention any case of a people whose default in the time of Hazrat Abu Bakr was confined merely to the non-payment of zakat and whom he fought. So far as we have been able to discover, those whom he fought had rebelled openly against the Islamic state. They had expelled from the territories under their control the functionaries who had been appointed by the Holy Prophet, peace be on him; those among them who adhered to Islam were massacred and they had raised forces for the purpose of fighting the Islamic state. Some of them advanced against Medina. Hazrat Abu Bakr had been left no choice but to fight them. Even if there had been any tribes whose default was limited to refusal to pay the zakat, and who called themselves Muslims, it had become necessary to fight them also as they withheld government revenues and refused to pay them.

Source: Punishment for Apostacy


  • The Philosophy of Zakat: A Speach Devlivered by Sheikh Mubarak Ahmad, Former Chief Missionary of East Africa, at the 1975 Annual Gathering (English)
  • Zakat in Hadith: Sermon Delivered by Hadrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad (rahmat Allah ‘Alayhi) on December 26th, 1997 (Urdu, Arabic, Bosnian, and French)
  • Zakat of the Body: Sermon Delivered by Hadrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad (rahmat Allah ‘Alayhi) on January 26th, 1996 (Urdu, Arabic, Bosnian, and French)


Faith Matter: Financial Sacrifice (English)

Q6 @ 39:30 Islamic finance system revolves around Zakat and Ahmadiyya have their own system of finance and money making machine for their leadership?


Payment of Zakat on Jewellery Part 1 (Urdu) 

Payment of Zakat on Jewellery Part 2 (Urdu)


Fiqahi Masail: Questions about Zakat and Haq Mahr [No. 18] (Urdu)


5 thoughts on “Zakat: Some Questions Answered (Part I)

  1. Also, I tried clicking on the last two resources links… There’s something wrong with them – they seem to be non-functional – and their hyperlinks are actually the same, both lead to “Zakat of the body” – but that’s a dead end anyway, no material is actually there, or at least that’s how it seems to me, please remember that I’m only computer-semi-literate 😦

  2. I really loved this post. Very informative and well presented. Ma Sha Allah! May Allah bless you and your near and dear ones for all your beautiful contributions to the furtherance of Islam, the Religion of Truth. Ameen Allahumma Ameen!

  3. I say JazakAllah on behalf of all readers of your blog. However, I feel we all feel our efforts are insignificant and not worthy of mention compared to the great personages as Hadhrat Talha and Hadhrat Abu Dujana (radi Allahu ‘anhuma). But we do pray that our negligible efforts are also seen favourable by the Almighty.

    Would it be possible to have short accounts of the sacrifices of Hadhrat Talha and Hadhrat Abu Dujana (radi Allahu ‘anhuma) on your blog. I would like to know more. (You may have mentioned it on the blog before but I am unable to find it)

  4. Jazak Allah Khayr al-Jazaa’

    Your message embarrassed me. I changed the Admin name to ”The Hand of Talha” because I feel that it better represents the vision for these types of platforms as set out by our beloved Hudur (ayyadahu Allah ta’ala bi-nasrihi al-‘aziz). I do not consider myself worthy of being included in such a title. The position of admin here is very much a generic one and so I feel that the name is more representative of all the kind and dedicated Ahmadi Muslim women and men, such as yourself, who have worked hard to remove the misconceptions surrounding Islam and our beloved Prophet (sall Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam).

    May Almighty Allah bless you all with the Hands and Bodies of Hadrat Talha and Hadrat Ibn Dujana (radi Allahu ‘anhuma)

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