First such measure is Zakat which is compulsory levy or tax collected from rich by the Islamic state or the community and distributed to or spent on the poor. Before understanding its significant role in the distributive system of Islam, let us have a glance through the relevant verses of the Qur’an and the Ahadith of Muhammad (PBUH).
Verses of the Qur’an:
1. Establish worship, pay the poor-due, and bow your heads with those who bow (in worship).
2. Establish worship, and pay the poor-due and whatever of good ye send before (you) for your souls, ye will find it with Allah. Lo! Allah is Seer of what ye do.
He it is Who produceth gardens trellised and untrellised and the date-palm, and crops of divers flavour, and the olive and the pomegranate, like and unlike. Eat ye of the fruit thereof when it fruiteth, and pay the due thereof upon the harvest day, and be not prodigals. Lo! Allah loveth not the prodigals.
Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.
5. The alms are only for the poor and the needy, and those who collect them, and those whose hearts are to be reconciled, and to free the captive and the debtor, and for the cause of Allah, and (for) the wayfarers: a duty imposed by Allah. Allah is Knower, Wise.
6. Take alms of their wealth, wherewith thou mayst purify them and mayst make them grow, and pray for them. Lo! thy prayer is an assuagement for them. Allah is Hearer, Knower.
7. Those who, if We give them power in the land, establish worship and pay the poor-due and enjoin kindness and forbid iniquity. And Allah’s is the sequel of events.
8. And strive for Allah with the endeavour which is His right. He hath chosen you and hath not laid upon you in religion any hardship; the faith of your father Abraham (is yours). He hath named you Muslims of old time and in this (Scripture), that the messenger may be a witness against you, and that ye may be witnesses against mankind. So establish worship, pay the poor-due, and hold fast to Allah. He is your Protecting Friend A blessed Patron and a blessed Helper !
9. Establish worship and pay the poor-die and obey the messenger, that haply ye may find mercy.
10. That which ye give in usury in order that it may increase on (other) people’s property hath no increase with Allah; but that which ye give in charity, seeking Allah’s countenance, hath increase manifold.
Traditions of Muhammad (PBUH):
1. Ibn Omar reported that the Holy Prophet said: Islam is built on five things, to bear witness that there is no deity but Allah and that Muhammad (PBUH) is His servant, to keep up prayer, to pay Zakat, to make pilgrimage and to keep fast in Ramadan.
2. Ibn Abbas reported that the Holy Prophet sent Mu’az to Yemen saying: Certainly you will come across a people, the People of the Book. Call them to bear witness that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. If they submit to that, teach them that Allah has made obligatory upon them prayer for five times a day and a night. If they submit to that, teach them that Allah has made obligatory over them Zakat which will be taken from the rich and will be given to the poor among them. If they then obey that, avoid taking the best part of their property and fear the invocation of the oppressed, because between it and Allah, there is no veil.
-(Bukhari and Muslim)
3. Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah said: Whomsoever Allah gives wealth but who does not pay its Zakat, his wealth will be made to appear to him on the Resurrection day as a huge bald snake having two fangs for it. It will be put round his neck on the Resurrection day and then take hold of him with its two fangs meaning its two jaws. Afterwards it will say; I am your wealth, I am your hidden treasure. Then he recited: And let not those think who are niggardly, the verse.
4. Ibn Omar reported that the Messenger of Allah said: Whoever acquires wealth, there is no Zakat therein till a year passed over it.
5. Ali reported that Abbas asked the Prophet about advance payment of his Zakat before a year passed. He gave him permission for that.
-(Ibn Majah, Abu Daud, Tirmizi)
6. Abu Hurairah reported: When the Holy Prophet was dead and Abu Bakr succeeded him, and those who returned to disbelief from desert Arabs returned to disbelief, Omar-bin-al Khattab said to Abu Bakr: How can you fight with the people while the Messenger of Allah said: I have been ordered to fight with the people till they utter: there is no deity but Allah, his property and life are under my protection except for its tax, and its account is upon Allah. Abu Bakr said: By Allah I shall surely fight against him who differentiates between prayer and Zakat, because Zakat is a duty on property. By Allah, if they refuse me to deliver young goats which they used to deliver to the Prophet of Allah, I will fight against them inspite of their refusal. Omar said: By Allah, he was not except that I saw that Allah expanded the chest of Abu Bakr for fighting. Then I recognised that it was right.
-(Bukhari and Muslim)
7. Ali reported: Zohair said: I take it from the Prophet who said: Bring one-fourth of Ushr, meaning there is one dirham for every 40 dirhams and there is nothing on you till it completes 200 dirhams. So when it comes up to 200 dirhams, there are 5 dirhams due, and what is in excess is upon that (proportionate) account. And as for goats, there is one goat in every forty up to 120; if they increase by one, then up to 200 two she-goats (of one year); if they increase then up to 300-3 goats of one year; if you have no more than 39 goats, there is no Zakat due on you regarding them. And about cows, in every thirty there is one calf of one year, and in every forty, there is one calf of full two years, and there is no Zakat due for the cattle engaged in labour.
8. Amr-bin-Shuaib reported from his father from his grandfather who said that two women came to the Holy Prophet with two bangles of gold in their hands. He asked them: Have you paid its Zakat? “No” replied they. The Holy Prophet then asked them. Do you both like that Allah will dress you with bangles of Hell? “No” replied they. He said: Then pay its Zakat.
9. Samorah-bin-jundab reported: The Messenger of Allah used to direct us to collect Zakat from that which we counted as merchandise.
10. Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah said: The wounds caused by animals are exempted, well is exempted, and mines are exempted, and there is one-fifth due from the buried treasure.
-(Bukhari and Muslim)
11. Abu Sayeed al-Khodri reported that the Holy Prophet said: There is no Zakat for seeds or dates till they come up to 5 “Wasaqs”.
12. Ibn Omar reported that the Messenger of Allah said about (Zakat of ) honey: For every ten leather bottles, one bottle falls due.
13. Abdullah-bin-Omar reported from the Prophet who said: There is one tenth in what is watered by clouds or fountains or what grows in a fertile land. And there is half of one-tenth in what is watered by camels.
14. Musa-bin-Talha reported: We had with us a letter of Mu’az-b-Jabal from the Holy Prophet. He said: The Prophet ordered him to take Zakat from wheat, barley, and dates.
-(Sharhi Sunnat (Defective)
15. Ali reported that the Messenger of Allah said: There is no Zakat for vegetables, nor there is Zakat for cultivated plants, nor there is Zakat for less than five ‘Wasaqs’ nor there is Zakat for animals of labour, nor there is Zakat for Jabha. (Saqar said: Jabha is horse, mule and servants.)
16. Abdullah-bin-Amr reported that the Messenger of Allah said: Zakat is not lawful for the rich, nor for one possessing health and strength.
(Tirmizi Abu Daud).
Besides having religious importance, Zakat plays very important role in the socio-economic life of the Muslim Ummah. It is the corner-stone of the financial structure of the Islamic state. Zakat not only provides the required funds to Islamic state for its welfare activities in sectors like education, health and social services but also enables it to discharge its obligations regarding its poor and deprived of citizens. It also prevents the concentration of economic power in the hands of few and ensures fair and equitable distribution of wealth. It checks growing income disparities and bridges the gulf between the rich and the poor. Thus its distribution aspect brings about social justice in the society and protects the community from bloody revolutions and political upheavals which are generally the result of ever growing disparities between the haves and have-nots.