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The Mysteries of Almsgiving

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Preface   Though one of the most important works coming down to us from medieval Islam, no single part of the Ihya’ Ulum al-Din appeared in English, or any European language at that, until Duncan B. Macdonald published in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (1901, pp. 195-252, 705-748, and 1902, pp. 1-28) an English version of Book VIII of the second quarter of the Ihya’ , i.e. the Kitab Adab al-Sama’ w- al-Wajd (On Audition a...



Though one of the most important works coming down to us from medieval Islam, no single part of the Ihya’ Ulum al-Din appeared in English, or any European language at that, until Duncan B. Macdonald published in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (1901, pp. 195-252, 705-748, and 1902, pp. 1-28) an English version of Book VIII of the second quarter of the Ihya’ , i.e. the Kitab Adab al-Sama’ w- al-Wajd (On Audition and Grief). The second complete part of the Ihya’ was Edwin E. Calverley’s translation of Book IV of the first quarter, i.e. the Kitab al-Salah (Madras, 1925). Except for a few extracts and selections, no complete translation of any part of the Ihya’ appeared in English until 1962 when two books from it were finally published: Book I of the first quarter, namely the Kitab al-Ilm (The Book of Knowledge) translated by the present writer and published by M. Ashraf, Lahore; and Book III of the fourth quarter, namely the Kitab al-Khawf w-al-Raja’ (On Fear and Hope), translated by William McKane and published by Brill of Leiden. The following year, 1963, saw also the publication, in English, of two other books of the Ihya’: Book X of the second quarter, on the Conduct of Life as Exemplified by the Prophet (Adab al-Ma’ishah wa-Akhlaq al-Nubuwah), translated by L. Zolondek and published also by Brill; and Book II of the first quarter, i.e. the Kitab Qawa’id al-’Aqa’id (The Foundations of the Articles of Faith), translated by the present writer and published also by Ashraf.


The following pages present in English garb Book V of the first quarter, namely the Kitab Asrar al-Zakah (On the Mysteries -of Almsgiving). The translation is based on three printed texts and one in manuscript form. The printed text are: first, that printed at Kafr al-Zaghari in A.H. 1352 from the older Cairo edition of A.H. 1289; second, that contained in the text of the Ithaf al-Sadah al-Muttaqin bi-Sharh Ihya’ ‘Ulum al-Din of al-Sayyid al-Murtada al-Zabidi (d. 1791); third, that reproduced in the margin of the same Ithaf al-Sadah; and fourth, the text preserved in a four-volume manuscript in the Garrett Collection of Arabic Manuscripts in the Princeton University (No. 1481). In the translation of Qur’anic verses, I have depended mainly on J .M. Rodwell’s version.


It is my hope that by makind still another Book of the Ihya’ available in English, non-Arable-speaking scholars will draw a benefit, even from my mistakes.




In the name of Allah the Merciful, the Compassionate. [190] Praise be to Allah who hath blessed some with happiness, and reduced others to destitution; who hath brought some to death, and others to life; who hath caused some to laugh, and others to weep; who hath brought some things into existence, and other things He brought to nought; who hath reduced some to poverty, and hath made others rich; who hath visited some with harm, and others He hath blessed with good things; ~ho hath created life from emitted clot, 1 and then set Himself apart from His creation through His attribute of independence (ghina) and endued some of His servants with excellence, enriching with His blessings those who toil and labour, and withholding His rewards from those who are ‘indolent and languid, for the sake of testing them and trying them; who hath made almsgiving (zakah) one of the foundations of religion; and hath revealed that, by His grace, through the giving of alms are His servants justified and through the same is their wealth increased. May the peace of Allah be upon Muhammad the elect, the Lord of creation and the sun of guidance, and upon his family and his Companions who are favored with learning and piety.


To proceed we say: Allah has made almsgiving one of the pillars of Islam placing it next to prayer which is the supreme [duty in Islam]. Thus He said, “Observe prayer and pay alms.”2 The Apostle said, “Islam was built on five [pillars]: to witness that there is no god but Allah and chat Muhammad is His servant and Apostle, observing prayer, giving alms, [performing the pilgrimage, and fasting Ramadan].” Furthermore, Allah has strongly warned those who are remiss in the fulfilment of these duties. Thus he said, “To those who treasure up gold and silver and expend it not in the way of Allah, announce tidings of a grievous torment.” “To expend in the way of Allah” means to set aside the right proportion [of one’s wealth] for alms. AI- Ahnaf ibn-Qays said, “I was once in the company of a group of Qurashites when Abu-Dharr passed by a said, ‘To those who treasure wealth announce that they will be branded in their back with a red-hot iron rod which will penetrate through their chests, and in the back of their heads with a rod which will pierce through to their foreheads.’ “ According to another version, the red-hot iron rod will be placed on the nipples of their breasts and forced through to emerge from the centre of their shoulder-blades, and on the centre of their shoulder-blades to emerge from the nipples of their breasts.


Abu-Dharr said, “I came upon the Apostle of Allah sitting in the shadow of the Ka’bah, and when he saw me he said, ‘Verily they [191] are the lost ones; by the Lord of the Ka’bah, they are the lost ones.’ I asked, ‘Who are the lost ones? He replied, ‘Those who have the most of wealth except him who gives of it to his fellowmen; such men are not few, Verily if a person owns camels, or cattle or flocks and does not set aside the zakah on them, these camels, cattle, and flocks will return on the day of resurrection bigger and fatter than they ever were and will butt him with their horns and trample him with their hoofs over and over again until all the people are judged.’ “5 Since this stricture is related in the two Sahihs, it becomes an important part of religion to unfold the mysteries of almsgiving (zakah), its obvious and hidden rules, and its outward and inward significance. We shall limit our discussion to those things which the prayer of zakah and its recipient should know. These are unfolded under four sections: First, the different kinds of zakah and the reasons for its obligatory nature. Second, its inward and outward rules and regulations. Third, the recipient, the conditions which establish his claim, and the etiquette of payment. Fourth, the voluntary almsgiving (sadaqah) and its excellence.














On the Different Kinds of Zakah



The Zakah on Livestock



The Zakah on Land Products



The Zakah on Gold and Silver



The Zakah on Merchandise



The Zakah on Buried Treasures and Mines



The Zakah on Breaking the Fast of Ramadan



On the Payment of the Zakah and the Inward and Outward Rules which Govern that Payment



On the Recipient, the Grounds for His Claim, and the Duties of Receiving



On the Duties of the Recipient



On the Voluntary Almsgiving, Its Excellence the Rules of Receiving It and Giving It



On the Excellence of the Sadaqah



On Secrecy and Publicity in the Giving of Alms



On which is Better, to Accept Aid from Sadaqah or from the Zakah



List of references



Index of Arabic terms



Index of proper names



Sample Page

Item Code: NAJ320 Author: Nabih Amin Faris Cover: Paperback Edition: 2008 Publisher: Kitab Bhavan ISBN: 9788171511617 Language: English Size: 8.5 inch X 5.5 inch Pages: 85 Other Details: Weight of the Book: 120 gms
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