Islamic Social Welfare and the Role of Zakah in the Family System

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Islamic Social Welfare and the Role of Zakah in the Family System

Ahmad Bello Dogarawa
Department of Accounting Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria-Nigeria

Being Paper Presented at International Conference on Islamic Law and Muslim Minorities in Ghana

Organised by

Al-Furqan Foundation, Ghana.

October 25th – 26th, 2008

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ABSTRACT

Preferment in society was exposed to the two extreme of negligence and excessiveness. Relations in Capitalism are based on monopoly, resulting in an unequal wealth distribution. In Socialism and Communism, relations are based on materialistic equality to diminish the conflicts arising from unequal wealth distribution. Islam stands in the middle course. Islam stands in the middle course. For over fourteen hundred years, the economic system of Islam, in accordance with its policies, stood firm and was instrumental in evolving a society which was neither capitalistic nor socialistic but which combined all the good features of the two. It advocates the system of wealth distribution with a view to realising a society in which there will be no accumulation of wealth in a few hands, no hoarding and no profiteering; a society in which there will be neither slums nor multi-millionaires, neither the exploited proletariat nor the exploiting bourgeoisie. This paper exposes Islamic social welfare and the socio-economic role of Zakah in the family system and its effectiveness in combating poverty and social menace in the society. The paper is analytical with presentation based on survey of relevant literature. The paper confirms that the Zakah system provides a permanent mechanism from within the economy, to continuously transfer income from the rich to the poor and that once correctly assessed, promptly collected and properly disbursed, it plays the role of solving dangerous problems such as poverty, unemployment, catastrophes, indebtedness, and inequitable income distribution in a Muslim society. The paper recommends that Muslims rich should be encouraged to discharge their obligations either through organised systems (where available) or individually. When paying their dues personally, they should be encouraged to start with the Zakah deserving members of their immediate families.

INTRODUCTION Zakah, the third pillar of Islam, is probably the first pillar of its economic system. It represents the first and most important tool for implementing the economic justice of Islam and provides sustenance to the economically unfortunate, two issues for which Islam is especially sensitive. Zakah is the basis for equitable redistribution of wealth in Islam and the most viable tool for combating poverty and other social and economic ills in an Islamic society. It is an obligation mentioned in the Qur‟an about thirty times, in twenty-eight of which, Zakah is associated with prayers. This obligation is also emphasised in a number of sayings of the Prophet (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him).

Zakah provides the basis of Islamic social welfare and plays the role of solving dangerous problems such as poverty, unemployment, catastrophes,

indebtedness and inequitable income distribution in a Muslim society, both at family, community and state levels. Although it is argued that Zakah alone cannot provide cure to all the socio-economic problems of the society, and

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therefore, has to be complemented with other wealth redistribute agents, nonetheless, it is unanimously agreed that Zakah is prime and that it plays the most vital role in equitable distribution of wealth in any Muslim society.

The role of government with regard to the collection and distribution of Zakah is essential. The Qur‟anic verse 9:103 is addressed to the Prophet (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) as a head of the state and ordained him “take sadaqah (Zakah) out of their property”. The verse 9:60, which stipulates the distribution, mentions the workers on its collection and disbursement...
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