Unlike many socialistic or capitalistic economies, the Islamic economy is the one in which all kinds of people have their own right to financially benefit from their society. Therefore, a typical feature of this kind of economy is essentially social justice in which poor people are not neglected or excluded from the beneficiary circle of society. Accordingly, Islam, the religion that even cares about animals and plants let alone human beings [i], has established some rules with regard to people who are suffering from deprivation; one of the most important of which is called “Zakat” (Alms Tax).
Alms-tax (Zakat) is an obligatory rule, which is considered one of the foundations of Islam [ii]. In a literal sense, Zakat means growth and purification while technically it is defined as “paying an exact amount of money that has become obligatory through the rules of Sharia in order to be used in favor of the people in need or for certain beneficial deeds in society”  in order to purify and cleanse one’s money or his incomes. Its significance becomes evident through many verses in the Holy Quran, which sometimes consider it along with prayer (Salat) as a sign of true believers .
Despite the fact that the concept of Zakat had never existed in the full form that Islam offers, it is not the first religion that introduces Zakat as a kind of task that should be done for the benefit of the individual as well as the society. According to the text of the Holy Quran, Jesus Christ and Moses, as well as Ishmael, are among the prophets who recommended their followers to carry out this advantageous task .
In the Bible, Christians are advised to help the poor financially: “Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you” (Matthew 5:42) and “But rather give alms of such things as ye have; and, behold, all things are clean unto you” (Luk 11:41). Moreover, the act of “Tzedakah” in Judaism, is a religious obligation that includes almsgiving as one of its manifestations . However, in Islam Zakat is a compulsory rule while in others it is just a recommendation .
The performance of this vital task is accompanied by many definite and specific criteria:
A person will be obliged to pay Zakat if he is grown-up, of sound mind, and in possession of something.
A person is considered a good recipient of Zakat if he is living in poverty, in debt, and cannot pay for it. Also, it can be used for public jobs such as building schools, hospitals, etc.
The amount of money that should be paid depends on the kind of the material through which Zakat has become obligatory; these are two kinds of metal- gold, and silver-, four grains- barley, wheat, date, and raisin- as well as three kinds of animal - cow, sheep, and camel. Each of the aforementioned products has its particular amount and time of payment which have been specified in detail in the sharia of Islam . Nevertheless, under certain circumstances and based on the needs of people at every time, other things – whether an object or a concept (e.g., Knowledge) – may be included to which Zakat is ascribed.
There are certain manners that should be carefully observed when giving someone Zakat; for instance, it should be given with complete contentedness, respecting the person who is receiving it, and also should be from the best materials at hand .
Aside from its financial benefits - purifying one’s money, preventing the economy to be manipulated by a certain group of society, and enabling neglected people who are taken care of to act as advantageous agents of society and have a job-, it will also purify and elevate one’s soul.
This happens through collaborating and helping other members of the society which spread the spirit of kindness and affection, causes people to feel more attached to one another, form an unbreakable bond together, and finally direct one’s attention to others’ needs rather than his own. Also, it would relieve him from greediness and eventually make him a better person.
It is noteworthy that Zakat has been ascribed to those products that are provided for human beings through nature; most of the work has been done by nature for free and with the least effort of human beings. Of course, his mental and practical effort is involved, but the main part is accomplished by nature. So in order to make up for this generosity, we would give away a very small amount of money to the ones in need.
[i]. It is known through a hadith said by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) that watering a thirsty tree is like quenching thirsty Muslims with water .
[ii]. There are many hadiths that consider the skeleton of Islam to be founded on five practices: prayer (Salat), holy pilgrimage (Hajj), fasting (Sawm), alms-tax (Zakat), and guardianship (Velayat) .
- Sheikh Al-Hur Al-Aamili. Wasail Al-Shia. Vol. 7.
- Muhammad ibn Yaqub Al-Kulayni. Al-Kafi (The Sufficient Book). Vol. II. Tehran: Masjed Publication.
- Mohsen Qaraati. Khums and Zakat. Ahl al-beit's Maaref research and publication institute.
- Holy Quran 2:177,277- 4:162- 9:71
- Morteza Avini website
- Holy Quran 19:31, 55 – 2:43
Hajj is the most glorious manifestation of Muslims' unity, where millions of Muslims say "Yes" to the divine invitation and come together around the Kaaba in Mecca. You might have already read about the philosophy of Hajj and the details around it. Here, we answer some questions that you might want to know more about Hajj.
According to most of the references, Kaaba was first built by Adam (PBUH). Later on, in the era of Noah (PBUH), when a flood occurred throughout the whole Earth, Kaaba was not completely ruined but damaged. Some years later, the location of the Kaaba was shown to Prophet Abraham (PBUH) . He had the mission to reconstruct Kaaba with the help of his son Ishmael (PBUH) : "As Ibrahim raised the foundations of the House with Ishmael, [they prayed]: 'Our Allah, accept it from us!'" (2:127). According to the verses of the Quran, the reason to build Kaaba was to found a place of reward for humankind and a sanctuary  where people come to worship Allah: "And proclaim the Hajj to people" (22:27).
As one of the practical principles of Islam, Hajj is obligatory only once in one's lifetime, if he/she fills some conditions that consist of:
To be of sane mind;
To have reached puberty;
To be free;
To have financial means (called Istita'ah), i. e., to have enough money to support oneself and his/her family on this journey;
To be in good physical condition, i. e., Hajj is not obligatory for the sick, the extremely old who cannot even move or those who are either unable or would face severe hardship;
To possess means for a safe trip.
If one fulfills all these conditions, then it is mandatory for him/her to perform Hajj.
Labbayk means "I am abiding upon your compliance" and is used to answer in the affirmative, to agree with, and accept an invitation . The phrase Labbayk is one of the obligations during Hajj by saying which one can enter the state of Ihram .
According to Imam Kazim (AS), Allah Almighty will forbid the Hellfire to those who entered the state of Ihram during Hajj. Saying "Labbayk Allahumma Labbayk" is actually an answer to Almighty Allah in return to what He has said." . In another narration, it is stated that this phrase is an answer to the call of Almighty Allah (22:27) to perform Hajj .
Hajj is the most significant congregation of Muslim society from all over the world that manifests how religion and society are linked. The rituals that must be performed during Hajj and the words that should be repeated remind us of:
Monotheism: the fundamental axiom of Islam that implies the existence of one creator, a divine source, and a higher power, and His absolute uniqueness and singularity;
Denial of all other powers: by testifying to monotheism, every other power, whether eastern or western, will be rejected. That means those who believe in monotheism won't be indifferent about the injustice, cruelty, and oppression that world powers inflict on their people or other countries;
The importance of unity: millions of pilgrims who have left behind the religious conflicts, and follow the same intention, perform the same actions, and wear the same outfit, represent the glorious Islamic unity;
International peace and amity: bringing together the people of various nationalities, skin colors, languages, and sects and considering all of them equal except for their degree of piety, encourage brotherhood and peace in the whole world.
Here we discussed some of the common questions about Hajj, but there is much more to know. If you have any questions in this regard, do not hesitate to write to us.
- The Quran (22:26)
- N. Makarem Shirzi, “Tafsir Nemooneh”, vol. 14, p. 67.
- The Quran (2:125)
- M. Bahjat, "Manasik Hajj va Umrah", p. 90.
- Shaykh H. Amili, “Wasa'il al-Shia”, vol. 12, p. 375.
- Shaykh H. Amili, “Wasa'il al-Shia”, vol. 12, p. 377.
Prayer in Islam (Salat) is the most important practical principle such that no one can be exempted from [i]. Soldiers involved in a war, patients in hospitals, passengers on airplanes or ships, all should perform the prayers (Salat) even with some modifications based on their circumstances. Of course, Islam has placed a lot of emphasis on prayer for some reasons. These reasons are reviewed in this article as the Philosophy of Prayer in Islam.
According to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP): “The prayer is the pillar of religion, and its parable is that of the prop of a tent – when the prop remains upright, the pegs and ropes remain straight and upstanding, but when the prop bends or breaks neither the pegs nor the ropes remain upright” . This statement highlights the importance of the prayer in Islam.
The inclination toward goodness and avoiding evils are of the outcomes of practicing the prayers. "Indeed, prayer prohibits immorality and wrongdoing ... And Allah knows that which you do" (29:45). In other words, the prayer in Islam is the base, and every other act of a Muslim is influenced by that.
There are two main roles for the prayer in Islam: the spiritual promoter and the permanent reminder. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) said: “The prayer of a person is (in reality) a light in his heart, so whoever desires, can illuminate his/her heart (through the prayers)” .
Doing the prayers every day, one repeatedly remembers God in intervals, renews his\her promise of servitude to God, purifies him\herself and tries to keep away all the evil thoughts and actions . According to Imam Ali (AS), Evil will be jealous of the person who stands up for the prayer because he sees the Mercy of God encompassing that person . Hence, the prayer as a repeated reminder stops from sins and develops Infallibility.
Some discuss that why one should perform the prayers five times a day? Is it to show up every day and remind God that we are there and we are His servants? Of course not! As stated earlier, it is to remind us of God unceasingly and to remember that we are His servants. If one forgets for an instant that He is present everywhere and observes us (“Neither drowsiness befalls Him nor sleep” (2:255)), he\she might be easily at the risk of committing evil deeds. These evil deeds might be harmful to either oneself or even others. So, the prayer has both the individual and social consequences.
A real prayer has some prerequisites; cleansing through ablution (Wudu), standing in the presence of God with the whole heart and body, not wearing usurped clothes or not performing the prayer in a usurped place, etc. According to Imam Ali (AS), the prayer will not be accepted if the clothes of a person and where he\she does the prayer are not lawful (Halal) . Moreover, Imam Ali (AS) said that whoever performs the prayer and perceives what he\she is doing and saying, his\her sins will be forgiven once the prayer ends .
All these demonstrate that the attempt for performing a true prayer results in several accomplishments such as respecting the rights of others, purity of the appearance and the inner self, etc. Having fulfilled all these conditions, one could meet the divine requirements and reach the happiness promised through performing a “complete prayer”.
Some people suppose that they do not need to perform the prayers. They say that serving the human beings who are the creatures of God equals worshipping God. They claim that there is no need to do the prayers as an act of worship. Instead, they try to do good to other humans. To answer, the prayer is a support for the morals and social principles. As stated above, it reminds us of the ethical behavior, the social responsibilities that one has towards others, and prevents from doing wrong to others . Hence, the prayer can never be replaced with any other good deed.
[i] The only exception is about women during menstruation.
- Shaikh al-Hur al-Aamili, "Wasail al-Shia", p. 214.
- A. al-Hindi, “Kanz al-Ummal”, vol. 7, T. 18973.
- Allama Majlisi, “Bihar al-Anwar”, vol. 82, p. 207.
- H. Harrani, "Tuhaf al-Uqul", p174.
- " Makarim al-Akhlaq", p. 300.