Stockpiling, through stowing accumulated wealth, is virtually an economic menace to the greater part of society; thus, Islam’s negative view of it is no surprise. The unethical process of stocking away certain goods by certain people causes an abnormal plummeting in prices; hence, the avarice of the minority deprives the majority. This is blatantly unjust and its insidious effects on society are amply evident, and ominous. Islam, through zakat and other cures, relentlessly seeks to purge from society even the minor existence of such a notion. “…those who hoard up gold and silver and do not spend it in the way of God, give them the glad tidings of a painful punishment” (Tawba 9:34). Stockpiling, namely the process in which certain cunning steps are taken in an insatiable quest to hoard greater wealth, indoctrinates its culprit with spurious illusions of profit and thus he excitedly anticipates the realization of it. The Qur’anic reproach, from this perspective, is quite ironic, heralding stashers a rather different result than what they expect: “…give the glad tidings unto them of a painful punishment.” The delicate use of words in the Qur’an, as perhaps epitomized in this instance, accentuates its matchless rhetorical prowess.
The Messenger of God has, in fact, described how gold and silver on which zakat was not paid will be instruments of torment for its hoarder in the afterlife, used to brand the owners after it is heated in fire. Again, livestock such as camel, cattle, sheep, horse and etc. that have been deliberately excluded in the calculation of zakat, in the hereafter, will become enlarged, agonizing their owners through fierce sessions of biting, chewing and gnawing.18 This could only be regarded as a just outcome, as the perpetrators will reap what they have sowed, thereby paying the ultimate price for their socially inconsiderate postures.
In another hadith, the Prophet illustrates the following image: “If a person financially eligible for zakat refuses, then his wealth, in the hereafter, will embody the appearance of snake, bold from excessive poison. The man will flee, only to find that each time the snake is relentlessly breathing down his neck; and it will be exclaimed to him, ‘This is your wealth which you were so stingy over!’ Finally, realizing there is no chance of escaping, the man will helplessly insert his hand into the snake’s mouth, hereby the snake will commence torturing him by gnawing his hand like a camel chewing crop.”19
The same hadith, as cited in al-Bukhari,20 includes the following addition:
The snake will bite on the person’s Adam’s apple and repetitiously state, “I am your wealth, I am your treasure,” and then recite the subsequent verse:
And let not those who hoard up that which God has bestowed upon them of His bounty think that it is better for them. It is
worse for them. That which they hoard will be their collar on the Day of Resurrection. The inheritance of the heavens and the earth is God’s, and He is aware of what you do. (Al Imran 3:180)
All this must not be conceived as discouragement or dissuasion from attaining wealth; on the contrary, it is just a reminder to a Muslim of the pivotal responsibilities ascribed to moneymaking—responsibilities that must strike firm root in a Muslim’s heart. Besides, zakat purifies the wealth of property, however great it may be, as underlined by the Noble Prophet:
Even if it is buried, wealth on which zakat is offered is not a treasure; wealth on which zakat is not paid for is treasure, even if it is exposed.21 After reaching the minimum amount, wealth out of which zakat is offered is no treasure.22 The payer of zakat has paid his debt. To give more is of more virtue.23
Together with saving wealth from becoming stowed treasure which is condemned by God,
zakat also dispels possible ill feelings of the public towards the wealthy.
Senturk, Omer Faruk. “Charity in Islam” Tughra Books Press. January 2007.
- December 14, 2013
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