Zakah - Charity or Tribute

What do you think Zakah is?

  • Zakah is charity.

    Votes: 1 50.0%
  • Zakah is tribute but Allah calls for charity elsewhere.

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Zakah is tribute and there is no call for charity.

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Zakah is charity and tribute.

    Votes: 1 50.0%
  • None of the above.

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters


Well-Known Member
Reaction score
I was in the book shop the other day, and I found a book entitled 'Zakah, The Fallen Pillar of Islam'.

Here are some extracts from the Koran on Zakah:

"And Allah had already taken a covenant from the Children of Israel, and We delegated from amoung them 12 leaders. And Allah said, "I am with you. If you establish prayer and give zakah and believe in My messengers and support them and loan Allah a goodly loan, I will surely remove from you your misdeeds and admit you to gardens beneath which rivers flow. But whoever of you disbelieves after that has certainly strayed from the soundness of the way."
- 5:12

"Zakah expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy and for those employed to collect and for bringing hearts together [for Islam] and for freeing captives and for those in debt and for the cause of Allah and for the traveler - an obligation by Allah. And Allah is knowing and wise."
- 9:60

"And establish prayer and give zakah and obey the Messenger - that you might receive mercy."

Now I remember reading in the Koran that beneficiaries of Zakah must be muslim, (sorry I can't find the right Surah.) This was explicitly stated in this book that I was reading.
It said that each of the categories of people found in Surah 9:60 needed to be muslim and that the only time Zakah was to be given to non-believers was A. If they were converting to Islam, and B. If there was clear profit (either services in war or business interest etc.)

So if Zakah is only to be used to appease Allah and for strengthening the muslim community, then where are the words of God calling for charity. Zakah is not charity from what I've seen. Expecting something in return or doing something so that it will benefit you in the future is not charity. It's all about investing, no real generosity. True generosity would have no limits as to who it is given etc without thought of reward, agree?
Also, Zakah seems to be obligatory to those who can afford it whereas no-one is obliged to be charitable, it is at one's discretion.

I'm not saying charity is necessary (see the Taoist - Chuang Tzu's opinion), but I'd just like to clear up the definition of Zakah in terms of it's underlying meaning and motivation.

So here's the poll. Does Allah call for unselfish charity or simply for social structures which will keep the religion up and running (tribute)?
1. Zakah is charity.
2. Zakah is tribute but Allah calls for charity elsewhere.
3. Zakah is tribute and there is no call for charity.
4. Zakah is charity and tribute.
5. None of the above.

- Please note: Sensitive portion of post follows -

No-one does anything that won't, in some way benefit themselves. I believe this. It's a mistaken believe that being selfish is best for the individual. We are social animals and as such, prosper best when we work together. Win-win situations are what we're after (hopefully). I just think that muslims (though not exclusively) isolate themselves by the way they treat people from other religions and cultures; like outsiders. (Huge generalisation follows,) as flawed as Americans may be, they are no-less human than the rest of us, but show me a muslim who's intention it is to strengthen understanding and relationships between themselves and Americans or any other culture for that matter. They just want retribution and punishment. In Western countries, demonstrators picket pro-Americano-no-Americano, but only one coin is ever shown in the Middle East. I always hear muslims saying, 'We just want to be left alone.' This may have been possible in the past, but with exponential human growth, the Internet, ease of travel and communication, not to mention the importance of trade between distant nations, this is no longer possible. In the Koran, attention is always drawn to the differences between believers and non-believers. This is no way to help people get along. It creates a divide that is justified by peoples natural tendency to discriminate. Then the fundamentalists come in and do something stupid like 9/11 and the polarity increases dramatically.

How we've moved off the subject. Anyway, in closing I don't think muslims can continue to isolate themselves in this growing global community; and absolve responsibility of extremists who have taken dogma too far. At least Americans claim responsibility for Bush! :p
In the words of Martin Luther King Jr., "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

Whereas European countries have gone out of their way to harbour refugees from countries around the globe, I see little sign of cross-cultural benevolence in muslim states for whatever reason (lack of an inherent philosophy of selfless-charity is my bet.)
I'd just like to bump this thread up the board, to be a little more visible. :)
Salaam all,

hmmm... my own, admittedly, limited studies of Islam would lead me to the conclusion that it is both an injunction to be Charitable to the poor Muslims and a tribute from non-Muslims. though, my understanding is that this "tribute" is what would allow them (non-Muslims) to practice their religion in an Islamic state.