In response to a query made by the Da‘wah Academy, a
subsidiary of the Islamic University, the Council of Islamic Ideology has
declared tamlīk a necessary condition for the payment of Zakāh. It held that
spending Zakāh in the publication of literature for the propagation of the
religion is not allowed. What follows is the text of the news report about the
CII has said in its verdict that the use of Zakāh in
publishing the translation of the Holy Qur’ān and literature for the propagation
of Islam under the head of ‘fī sabīlillah’ (in the cause of Allah) is not
allowed in the Islamic Sharī‘ah. However, it can be used to meet the expenses of
an armed struggle and preaching missions but only after the condition of tamlīk
is met. For example only those of the warriors can take Zakāh who are not liable
to pay Zakāh. Giving Zakāh to a governmental or non-governmental institution for
the publication of religious literature would kill its real purpose which is the
help of the poor and the needy. Use of Zakāh for the above-mentioned purpose,
would open doors to its wrong use. Many of our national political parties are
religious. These parties contest election in order to serve religion. They will
spend Zakāh on election for, to them, election is also a source of hoisting the
word of God. Therefore, under this head, use of Zakāh for these purposes should
be prohibited. To provide Zakāh fund for such causes is a deviation from the
real objectives of Islam.
The report basically communicates two points:
a) Direct transfer of Zakāh fund to a deserving person (tamlīk)
b) Zakāh cannot be used in preaching activities and in
propagating religion by publishing literature.
In the opinion of this writer, both these points are in
contradiction with concept of Zakāh presented in the Holy Qur’ān and Sunnah.
Before the correct viewpoint is explained in this regard, a word about the
meaning and implication of tamlīk.
Literally, tamlīk means ‘to put somebody in possession of
something’. Here, with reference to Zakāh, it means ‘the transfer of ownership
of Zakāh money to the real beneficiary’. Our scholars regard it necessary to
transfer the ownership of Zakāh fund to a needy person. Therefore, the money of
Zakāh cannot be spent for general welfare of the poor. For example, we cannot
build hospitals for the free treatment of the poor, cannot establish schools for
their children, and cannot provide their dwellings with fresh water. Likewise,
we cannot arrange for the burial of a poor person or pay loans outstanding
against him, for he cannot be made the owner of the money in person.
Those who consider tamlīk compulsory for the payment of
Zakāh forward the following arguments:
1. In the Qur’ānic verse ’….‘إِنَّمَا
الصَّدَقَاتُ لِلْفُقَرَاءِ (Indeed, the alms are for the poor… (9:60),
the preposition lam (لام) is for tamlīk.
2. The word Itā (giving) in
‘آتُوالزَّكَوةَ’ (pay Zakāh) connotes the meaning of tamlīk.
3. The Qur’ān uses the word Sadaqah for Zakāh and tasadduq
(give in charity) originally implies tamlīk.
Amīn Ahsan Islāhī, a distinguished religious scholar has
effectively refuted these arguments in his book ‘Masa’alah-i-Tamlīk’. He holds
that the concept of exclusive personal possession is grossly against the Holy
Qur’ān and Sunnah. The rest of the article is actually a summary of his critique
of the above-mentioned viewpoint.
The gist of his response to the first argument of the said
school is as follows:
1. There is no clear instruction in the Qur’ān and Sunnah
which says that tamlīk is an indivisible condition of Zakāh.
2. The preposition lām (ل) in the
word ‘للْفُقَرَاءِ’, is not merely used for tamlīk in
the Holy Qur’ān rather it connotes a host of meanings. Ibn Hishām, a renowned
grammarian of the Arabic language, has enumerated nearly twenty-two usages of
this preposition in his celebrated treatise ‘Mughnī al-Labīb’. Some of them are:
a) Istihqāq (استحقاق): ‘to
merit, to deserve’, as in ‘أَلْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ’ (All
gratitude is due only to Allah.)
b) Ikhtisās (اختصاص): ‘to be
exclusively for’, as in ‘أَلْجَنَّةُ لِلْمُؤْمِنِيْنَ’
(Paradise is exclusively for the believers.)
c) Milkiyyah (ملكيه): ‘to own
something’, as in ‘لَهُ مَا فِي السَّمَوَاتِ وَمَا فِي
الْأرْض’ (His is what is found in the heaven and what is in the earth.)
d) Tamlīk (تمليك): ‘to make
someone owner of something’, as in ‘وَهَبْتُ لِذَيْدٍ
دِيُنَارًا’ (I made Zayd owner of a dinār.)
e) ‘Āqibah (عاقبه): ‘to be
ultimately for’, as in ‘فَالْتَقَتْهُ آلُ فِرْعَوْنَ
لِيَكُوْنَ لَهُمْ عَدُوًّاوَّ حُزْنًا’ (Then Pharaoh’s household picked
him up so that he may become their enemy and cause of grief for them.)
It is worth mentioning that Ibn Hishām has cited examples
mostly from the Holy Qur’ān. For tamlīk he has cited a common expression of the
Arabic language. Had the meaning of tamlīk been so pronounced in the lām used in
لِلْفُقَرَاءِ, he would have quoted it as an example.
3. Muslim jurists and scholars do not agree upon one
meaning of this lam. The Hanafites take it for ‘āqibah (consequence) whereas the
Malikites take it for tamlīk.
4. The context of the verse does not allow this sense of
the preposition. Following is the context in which the verse occurs:
وَمِنْهُمْ مَنْ يَلْمِزُكَ فِي
الصَّدَقَاتِ فَإِنْ أُعْطُوا مِنْهَا رَضُوا وَإِنْ لَمْ يُعْطَوْا مِنْهَا إِذَا
هُمْ يَسْخَطُونَ وَلَوْ أَنَّهُمْ رَضُوا مَا آتَاهُمْ اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ
وَقَالُوا حَسْبُنَا اللَّهُ سَيُؤْتِينَا اللَّهُ مِنْ فَضْلِهِ وَرَسُولُهُ
إِنَّا إِلَى اللَّهِ رَاغِبُونَ إِنَّمَا الصَّدَقَاتُ لِلْفُقَرَاءِ
وَالْمَسَاكِينِ وَالْعَامِلِينَ عَلَيْهَا وَالْمُؤَلَّفَةِ قُلُوبُهُمْ وَفِي
الرِّقَابِ وَالْغَارِمِينَ وَفِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَاِبْنِ السَّبِيلِ فَرِيضَةً
مِنْ اللَّهِ وَاللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ(٩:
Among these hypocrites are people who level allegations
against you concerning the distribution of alms. If they are given according to
their wishes, they are pleased. If they are given nothing, they grow resentful.
It would have been better if they were satisfied with what God and His Prophet
have given them, and said: ‘God is sufficient for us. He will provide for us
from His own abundance and so will his Messenger. To God we will submit.’ Alms
shall be only for the poor and the destitute; for those that are engaged in the
management of alms and those whose hearts are to be won in favour of Faith; for
the freeing of slaves and debtors: for the advancement of God’s cause; and for
the traveler. That is a duty enjoined by God. God is all-knowing and wise.
To quote Amīn Ahsan Islāhī’s original words:
These verses portray the picture of the hypocrites whose
response to the Prophet was conditional upon their self-interest. If they were
given what they wished, they would remain pleased otherwise they would get
annoyed and accuse the Prophet of partiality and favoritism. And they would
spread such depraved thoughts among Muslims. Now consider what needs to be made
clear. Does the situation need a statement making transfer of Zakāh fund
directly to the recipients compulsory or the explanation that alms are only
meant for such and such people? Obviously, the situation calls for the second.
Therefore, interpreters of Qur’ān who keep the context in mind while
interpreting the Qur’ān have reached the same conclusion.
5. The construction of the verse does not accept the
meaning of tamlīk. In Islāhī’s own words:
In the verse, it is obvious, there are eight things
mentioned as the lawful use of the Zakāh fund. Of these, four come under
influence of the preposition lām and the remaining four come under the
preposition fī. We must construe something corresponding with both the
prepositions lām and fī. If we take lām in the meaning of tamlīk, the first part
of the sentence is separated from the rest, as fī does not imply the meaning of
tamlīk at all. It only connotes the meaning of ‘usefulness’ or ‘service’ as it
does in the following narrative of the Holy Prophet:
‘مَاكَانَ الْعَبْدُ فِيْ عَوْنِ اَخِيْه’ (until one remains in the
service of his brothers). Therefore, a compact and well-knit structure of the
verse, like this, demands that the both lām and fī imply the meaning of
‘deserving’ or ‘benefiting from’ so that the verse may be interpreted giving a
intelligible set of meanings. To take the lām in the sense of tamlīk would not
be possible without sacrificing the eloquent expression of the Qur’ān.
As regards the second and third argument, it is correct
that sometimes Itā (ايتا) and tasadduq (تصدق)
connote the sense of tamlīk but the ultimate interpretation rests on the context
of the usage. It does not serve as a stance to prove that the meaning of tamlīk
is inseparable in this lām. Had it be the case we would have taken this meaning
in the sentences ‘وَآتَيْنَاهُمْ اْلكِتَاب’ (and we
gave him the book) and ‘وَآتَيْنَا دَاوُدَ زَبُوْرًا’
(and we bestowed upon David Zabūr), which of course would be wrong. Likewise,
the verse ‘فَاَصِّدَّقَ وَاَكُنْ مِّنَ الصَّالِحِيْنَ’
(so I would give in charity and be among the pious ones) means ‘I would spend in
the way of Allah and would spend my money for the benefit of the poor’. It does
not mean at all that I would transfer money in the possession of the poor.
Islāhī elucidates this aspect in the following words:
The meaning of tamlīk is not manifest in the words itā
and tasadduq. Therefore, it cannot be presented as the final proof in favour of
the concept of tamlīk. The only thing these words represent is giving or
spending. It can be done by transferring the ownership of the money to a poor or
spending it for the betterment of the poor community. Such insistence in the
provision of tamlīk makes the payment of Zakāh impossible, where one cannot
spend it on burial rites of a dead and pay back a loan on his behalf. I believe
that this is a baseless and self-devised idea which has no roots in the Qur’ān
The above analysis makes it clear that tamlīk is not a
condition for the payment of Zakāh. It can be spent for the benefit of the
needy. Therefore, we can build hospitals, establish schools and make roads and
inns using the alms. Similarly, it can also be spent on the publication of
propagating material and in preaching.