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A journey from falsity to reality or vice versa? Part II

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By M J Aslam

Incorporating Article 370:

The Kashmir’s representatives led by Sheikh Abdullah had prepared draft Article 306-A [which later became Article 370 in the Constitution] limiting the power of Indian Parliament to legislate on three matters specified in the IOA with respect to the State of J&K . The draft was not, however, considered in its original shape by N. Gpalaswami Aiyangar without effecting changes in it,  so re-draft of Article 306-A was resent to Sheikh Abdullah , but simultaneously moved & passed in the Constituent Assembly on 17-10-1949 , and “the members from the State did not object”. (Op Cit Blazing Chinar, 357: refer also to chain of letters cited in Sardar Patel’s Correspondence 1945-1950, Volume one, pages 242-246)  N. Gpalaswami Aiyangar was the architect of Article 370incorporated in the Constitution of India.  

 

Incorporation served two purposes for India:

Ex-Supreme Court Judge, N Santosh Hedge, has said that “whatever was the purpose of those Articles [370 & 35-A] …according to me, it has served that purpose”. (Business Standard 16-04-2019) What was that purpose, he has not explained.These words reflect aphorism of army of antagonists of the Article[s]. However, it disguises full truth about the purpose[s] the Article[s] served the interests of India. I think “purpose” was not single. It was double. Actually, when Article 370 was incorporated in the Constitution of India, India was under great “pressure” by UNO for holding Plebiscite in J&K. Article 370 immediately served as a conduit pipe to set up “constitutional link” with the State of JK that in a way buttressed its stand on it. Till incorporation of Article 370, India had only Military control over the State. Article 370 laid the foundation for administrative & legislative control over the State. These three types of controls together strengthened its hold on the State. While institution of Army is for defending country against external attack, the other two are for running daily affairs of life in a democratic set up.  This was the immediate & short term dividend of incorporating Article 370 into the Constitution. Its long term benefit for India was that it started advancing the argument that the participation of Kashmiris in elections held later on under the Constitution of India read with Representatives of Peoples Act was proof that they have been voting for India, confiding trust and loyalty to it. They argue that the right of self-determination guaranteed under of the United Nations International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights in all democratic systems, to which India is a signatory, could be exercised “externally” as under UN auspices or “internally” by participating in elections for governance to pursue economic, social and cultural development of the people. (Article 1 of the United Nations international covenant on civil and political rights provides: “All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development”) But a counter argument is advanced that there are UN Resolutions of 1952 & 1957 that hold “internal exercise” of right of self-determination under the Constitution of India is no substitute to its “external exercise” under UN Resolutions, (Scroll.in dated 26-09-2016 “these elections were not considered a substitute for plebiscite”; Firstpost dated 20-06-2016 [J&K MLA says]; Sumantra Bose,  Transforming India , Challenges to the World’s largest democracy ( Picador India, 2013) page 257;  the ins. in (INS) dated 10-04-2019[Bar says])  but India has rejected these Resolutions.   (Ibid Scroll; Danger in Kashmir, Josef Korbel, Nehru declared Resolutions unreasonable & which India can neither execute nor accept])

Post-incorporation: Full work to extend tunnel deep inside “special status”:

The conduit pipe to complete “process of accession” came in the shape of Article 370. Although rightwing organisations of India are openly pressing for its abrogation right from day one, (The Economic Times of India dated 8-4-2019 [Election Manifesto 2019 of BJP: committed to annulling Article 370 of the Constitution]), as yet, “Retention of Article 370 has sometimes been justified by saying that it is not a wall but a tunnel. (Jagmohan, My Frozen Turbulence in Kashmir,(Allied Publishers, 2006, 7th edition), page 252) On December 4, 1964, Gulzari Lal Nanda, Union Home Minister, said, “through this tunnel a good deal of traffic has already passed; more will pass now. A few days later MC Chagla, Education Minister, observed, “Through Article 370, the whole of the Constitution could be applied to the J & K”. (Op cit, Jagmohan, 252) Earlier on 27the November, 1963, Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, told Lok Sabha as under:

Article “has been eroded, if I may use the word, and many things have been done in the last few years which have made the relationship of Kashmir with the Union of India very close. There is no doubt that Kashmir is fully integrated … We feel this process of gradual erosion of Article 370 is going on. Some fresh steps are being taken and in the next month or two they will be completed. We should allow it to go on” (Lok Sabha Debates; 27 November 1963; Volume XII, Columns 1231-2)

Article 370 gave J&K a special status in the Union of India which no other State enjoyed. The arrangement that was made between India & J&K State through this Article is called “asymmetric autonomy” in political science & Sheikh Abdulla adamantly believed that this arrangement was sine qua non for J&K relationship with India. (Sumantra Bose) But erosion of this Article for “integration” of the State with India was forced upon it by New Delhi through “client governments in Srinagar run by stooge valley politicians who had no legitimacy in the eyes of the people”. Bakshi GM from 1953-1963, GM Sadiq from 1964-1971 & Mir Qasim from 1971-1975 were engaged for the toxic process of erosion of State’s autonomy or special position guaranteed under this Article. (Ibid) In 1954, first Mega Presidential Order, The Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, 1954 was passed which was followed by 47 Presidential Orders (as amendments to that Mega Order & not replacement) between 11-2-1956 to 19-02-1994 extending 94 out of 97 items in Union List & 260 out of 395 Articles of the Indian Constitution to the State. (Op Cit, Noorani, pages 1, 13-14) In December 1964, when G M Sadiq was Delhi-appointed PM of the State since February, 1964, the Central Government extended Articles 356 & 357 of the Constitution where-under the Centre can dismiss any “elected” government in any State including the J & K State whereby it was, therefore, brought on par with other States of India.  To all intents and purposes this meant the cancellation of Article 370”. (Alastair Lamb, Kashmir: A disputed Legacy, page 208)Over the years, President’s Rule imposed under these Provisions became extremely controversial because it was thought often used to serve central government convenience or political party interests.” (Op Cit Granville Austin, Working Democratic Constitution; S R Bommai v. Union of India ( AIR 1994 SC 1918 =(1994) 3 SCC 1 (gives extreme power to the CG) Again under the “regime” of GM Sadiq,”State Assembly” decided to replace the post of Sadr e Riyasat, though nominal Head, yet appointed by the State Council of Ministers to that of a Governor appointed by the Delhi & post of PM of the State was replaced by CM like that of any other State of India. These “amendments” by Central Governments stooge politicians of Kashmir dealt mortal blow to the “special” position or autonomy that was guaranteed under Article 370. (Op cit, Sumantra Bose, page 261; Op Cit Blazing Chinar, 362, [Sadiq was an opportunist, with no principles, during his regime, State’s autonomy received heaviest hit])  

The process of erosion of autonomy continued. On 08-07-2017, the State Government, a coalition of PDP-BJP, bogged down under the pressure tactic from its coalition partner, BJP, [see below] and ultimately gave “concurrence” as was required under Article 370, to the central government for extension of the Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017 together with newly incorporated Articles 246-A & 279-A to the State. This was done by passing the Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Amendment Order, 2017 to the cited Mega Order of 1954. Earlier BJP, had given “ultimatum” to its coalition partner PDP to give “concurrence”,  “not later than July 6”  for extension of the Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017 to the State otherwise coalition was going to end, in the words of BJP which meant loss of “power” to PDP that had resisted so far against implementation of Central Goods and Services Tax regime in J&K for the protection of  State’s “financial autonomy.”  More recently, the central government, in absence of any “elected government” in the State, but on the recommendations of its own nominee, Governor of the State, has issued the Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Amendment Order, 2019 by amending the Presidential Order of 1954. 

So, through the tunnel of Article 370, provisions of the Constitution have been transported to the State through non-elected & elected governments from time to time which has reduced it to mere otiose.  

It is clear from above that Article 370 that was avowed to be a provision to guarantee and maintain the “special status of JK within Union of India” was surreptitiously used for different political objects of gradual “total merger” of the State with India. Sheikh Abdullah while addressing his Constituent Assembly of J&K on 11-08-1952 had this to say about Article 370:

“I would like to make it clear that any suggestions of altering arbitrarily this basis of our relationship with India [Article 370] would not only constitute a breach of the spirit and letter of the Constitution, but it may invite serious consequences for a harmonious association of our State with India……In arriving at this arrangement the main consideration before our Government was to secure a position …… of maximum autonomy ….. for the [State] while discharging [its] obligations as a unit of the federation [of India]….” (The J&K Constituent Assembly Debates)

Such erosion of the provision has been itself conflicting with the commitments of Indian leaders made to the world and Kashmiri leaders of the time who had preferred the Congress Leadership over Muslim League leadership while joining hands with Indian Dominion. In view of the clearly expressed reservation (Article 370), the State even after the Proclamation of the Rule [see next about this Proclamation] enjoyed sovereignty in all other matters which were possessed by it after the Instrument of Accession. Yuvraj Karan Singh, Regent of Jammu and Kashmir, acting on the advice of his Council of Ministers, after completion but before commencement of the Indian Constitution, issued a Proclamation on November 25, 1949 which contained that it (Constitution of India) “is applicable to the State of Jammu and Kashmir govern the Constitutional relationship between this State and the contemplates Union of India…” Thus, since the commencement of the Constitution, it is Article 370 which governs the relationship between Union of India and State of Jammu and Kashmir.

To be concluded..


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Opinion

WHAT RAMADAN TEACHES US EVERY YEAR!

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By Moin Qazi

O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may attain Taqwa [God-consciousness]


– (The Qur’an, Al-Baqarah: 183)

 

Religious fasting traditions- from Ramadan to Ekadasi to Yom Kippur and Lent -are meant to unburden believers from day-to-day compulsions, helping them replenish their spirituality, remember the poor, give up bad habits, make amends for moral deficiencies and get closer to their conscience. The most prominent among these spiritual fasting customs is Ramadan. Islam does not have a tradition of monasticism. Instead, observant Muslims become ascetics by seeking sacred abstemiousness during Ramadan every year.

Fasting(“Sumoo”, derived from the Arabic root of “Saama” and Syriac, “Sawma.”) means “to refrain” – and not only is it abstaining from eating, drinking , smoking and sex , but all forms of immoral actions including talking about others behind their backs, or indulging in impure or unkind thoughts. Fasting, like prayers, is an essentially solitary act; it represents a personal relationship each one of us has with God. When fasting, Muslims have one meal before sunrise, called sahur-the pre-dawn meal -together, and share another meal with friends and family after sunset, called iftar-the fast- breaking meal. The fast is actually much longer than what everyone normally perceives .It commences at the first ray of dawn, or, as it is said in the Qur’an, “when the white thread of day becomes distinct from the blackness of night.”

During Ramadan, the Muslim communities across the far corners of the world are unified by one food: the date, one of the earliest cultivated crops and an ancient icon of the Arabia, where the thick-trunked date palm is a symbol of hospitality, rest and peace.it is recorded that Prophet Muhammad always broke the fast with dates and water.

Fasting during Ramadan is obligatory for all able-bodied Muslims from when they reach the age of religious observance. Those who are exempt from fasting are those who are sick, the elderly, those suffering from a mental illness, and those who are travelling long distance .Menstruating and pregnant women are also exempt. So are breastfeeding mothers. However, the exemption has a caveat that those who skip the fast have to make up for the lost days after Ramadan. But if a person is not able to fast at all – particularly if that is for health reasons – he can compensate and partake of the holy month’s blessings by feeding a needy person for each day he does not fast (fidiya, or “expiation”).

Ramadan is a commemoration of the descent of the word of God, the Qur’an, from heaven to the earth. Just as the word of God has come down, the word of supplicants goes up to God more vigorously and efficaciously in Ramadan than at any other time.

The most significant hallmark of the month of Ramadan is the Night of Destiny, Night of Value or Night of Measure: Lailat al Qadr, in Arabic. According to the Qur’an, angels descend from heaven on this special night -most important, the archangel Gabriel — bringing peace and divine presence into the world. Prophet Muhammad did not mention exactly when the Night of Power would be, although most scholars believe it falls on one of the odd-numbered nights of the final ten days of Ramadan.
The Qur’an says:

“The Night of Power is better than a thousand months.

Therein come down the angels and the Spirit by Allah’s permission, on every errand:

Peace… This until the rise of morn! “(Q97)

Better than thousand months. A thousand months are equivalent to 83 years and 4 months. The importance of this night is also mentioned in hadith, which are the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad as remembered by his companions:

“Whoever establishes the prayers on the night of Qadr out of sincere faith and hoping to attain Allah’s rewards (not to show off) then all his past sins will be forgiven.” (Sahih Bukhari Vol 1, Book 2:34).

Ramadan is always a very amazing month .We undertake a month long spiritual odyssey that is meant to rejuvenate us, both physically and morally. It enables us to detach from worldly pleasures to invest our time in intense prayer, charity and spiritual discipline and focus on our deeds, thoughts and actions. Every Ramadan, we undergo illuminating and enriching experiences that provide valuable lessons in understanding life and ourselves better. The extremity of the test reminds us of the fragility of human life and is meant to foster a closer relationship with God.

Over the years, the experience has been life-changing for me. I learnt to be disciplined; started feeling empathetic towards the poor, as Ramadan taught me how it feels to be less fortunate. Every year, we gain something substantial, as the entire spiritual gymnastic nurtures our soul, leaving us like a computer reformatted or an engine overhauled.

I remember the early years of fasting when my mother would recount her childhood stories about Ramadan –how the table at sunset would be full of delicacies; how she and her siblings would hold handfuls of food in front of their mouths, waiting for the cue from my grandfather to eat. At the end of the month of fasting, he would sacrifice a lamb, in the name of God, and feed it to the poor.

The first time I fasted was when I was attending school away from home. Marching up to the man in charge of the cafeteria, I fully expected to be rebuffed when I asked for food to take back to my dorm for a predawn breakfast. But he just looked me in the eyes and asked what I would like to eat. Had I not been so stunned by his acceptance, I might have asked for a table full of treats. I fortified myself by hearty food and sealed the fast with a full glass of fruit juice. The fast seemed interminable and intolerable because, as every Muslim would confess, no matter how much food or water or juice you pour into yourself at dawn, it is never enough to drown the body’s yearnings until sunset.

Later that night, nibbling on the meat sandwich, I realized, ”I’m fasting for Ramadan!” For the first time, I was doing something that wasn’t primarily for myself or for parents or for good grades. By fasting, I was doing something for God- that which would bring me closer to the creator and sustainer of all existence .it is said that it’s the only Islamic practice that’s invisible to an observer.

Later in college, on Saturday nights, other Muslim students and I would take the college van to a pancake house at 4 a.m. I told my non-Muslim friends, who always accompanied me to dinner in the dining hall at sunset, how the entire holy month of Ramadan was about feeling spiritually charged and elevated despite the hunger and deprivation.
The fasting ritual is an eagerly awaited interlude for utilizing the abstinence from food, drink and other indulgences to concentrate on prayer, meditation and worship. This, in turn, encourages greater reflection on one’s life and appreciation for resources we sometimes take for granted. It teaches us about patience, self restraint, spirituality, humility and submissiveness to God.

The act of fasting for spiritual prowess makes us more conscious, not just of food habits but of how we think, behave and interact throughout the day. Fasting does not mean Muslims retreat from their daily chores; rather they are encouraged to continue their normal routine. This is the real challenge, and fasting helps us hone our patience and endurance because, by refraining from consumption throughout the day, we learn the benefit of refraining from gratifying each of our desires in the moment.

Each fasting day during Ramadan is a trial on the body and our spiritual resolve. Removing the regular comforts from daily routine is intended to focus the mind on spirituality, prayer and charity. By fasting, we cut ourselves off from the temptations and distractions of our busy, hectic, materialistic lives and try attaining “taqwa”, or “piety” or “God-consciousness”. With a decaffeinated, empty stomach, and a thirst that is difficult to tolerate, this act of fasting connects us to someone else.

Our fasting draws us to the story of a woman in Somalia who has been walking for miles in brutal temperature, with hot and dust-filled wind blowing in her face, to fetch firewood and water; successive droughts have scorched and ravaged her land, her body, and her children. She’ll thank God, if they all make it alive to the feeding centre. The baby she is carrying no longer gets milk from her breast; she feels him shrinking in her arms as she walks. Her other children, languorous and emaciated, are trailing her. The mother keeps repeatedly telling them that they must put their trust in God and keep moving. One can understand her thirst as she utters the words of prayer with every precious drop of water she goes without to give to her children for their survival.

Our act of fasting brings empathy for her that is greater than any ordinary day. We remember her when our head would go dizzy with thirst after running out on a simple errand in triple-digit heat. We can step back into our air-conditioned refuge; she can’t. We won’t complain of our exhaustion from too little sleep because we know she won’t find a sheltering place to rest in the harsh landscape. We’re hungry, but I can break my fast in a celebratory mood when the day is finished; we’ll take a cooling sip of clean, filtered water and literally feel it splash down in my empty gut at sundown. As we feel our body reviving, we are reminded that the Somali woman’s fast has been going on since well before Ramadan, and it will continue past. It is her way of life for years on end .For her “fasting” is not a choice, for her hunger is part of daily life.

As we slice up exotic fruits to refresh our families after fasting, we keep seeing this poor woman. How can we set a table with melons, dates, rice, other lavish goodies and dollops of dainty creams when she has none? How can we keep stocking up on provisions featuring a variety of so many alluring and exquisite foods, such as sweetmeats, spices, savouries and sugary drinks, with which to break our daily fasts, without thinking of the woman’s broken heart when she has to tell her children she has nothing for them; the crops failed, the livestock died, and food prices have shot so high that they are a luxury she can hardly afford. .She has no way to feed them. The suffering of these unlucky ones reminds us to be grateful for our fortunes.

At times we don’t realize how hard and coarse our hearts have become. The absence of regular and consistent times for contemplation and self-reflection has made us insensitive to the suffering around us. The pursuit of complacency has become our goal rather than the pursuit of contentment and we sacrifice things that would bring us everlasting comfort in pursuit of those things that simply give us the facade of comfort. The empathy for the suffering of those less fortunate people around us, created by the act of fasting, is only worth something to them — and to us — if we do something about it.

The emphasis on enduring the fast stimulates us to move beyond simply the physical aspects of it and reach out in the direction of a spiritual fast. It’s not just about mortification of the flesh. It’s about refraining from complaining, a fast from thinking ill of others, a fast from coarse language and harsh speech, a fast that’s focus is not on food or drink, but how the absence of those things leads towards the development of a strong heart and soul. That’s the fast that we should strive for – one that moves beyond not feeding our bodies but feeding our souls. The essence of Ramadan is to become humble, simple and free from ill-will, anger, meanness and hate. It is a one-month refresher course from which we can emerge as the greatest version of ourselves. It is a month of penance, peace, forgiveness, atonement and reconciliation.

I pray that Ramadan gets into our hearts and minds and makes us embrace all shades of mankind with dignity, respect and care acknowledging the diverse swath of traditions and cultures.

The greatest lesson every Ramadan teaches us is indeed the wisdom expressed in the Qur’an, Al-Hujurat:

“O mankind! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. The noblest of you, in sight of God, is the best in conduct. God Knows and is Aware of everything you do.”(Q49:13)

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Opinion

THE ROOT OF MANY EVILS

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By Zeeshan Rasool Khan

From time immemorial, Kashmir has been enjoying recognition all across the world as ‘Resh Waer’ – Abode of Sages because the sages, savants, and saints from different parts of the world have visited this place. Some of them stayed permanently here and some had a transient stay. Also, there is a significant number of native godly and spiritual personages who were born here and exercised their influence on the masses. Consequentially, the religious, moral, and ethical influence on every aspect of Kashmir has always been predominant and conspicuous. However, dismally, the unique status that Kashmir holds is eroding day by day. Unscrupulous incidents that do not suit particularly to this land are happening at regular intervals. The occurrence of such unethical, immoral, and shameful episodes has seen a huge jump. Recently, a three-year-old child fell victim to the debauchery of the beast in human form. And such incidents amply suggest that moral values are declining and moral degradation has permeated the major segment of the society. These awful happenings undoubtedly involve moral decadence. Thus, while we raise our voice against these crimes, which these offenses demand, we as a society also need to look for a permanent solution to this emerging problem. And, that is not possible without elimination of root cause of the problem i.e., moral decline.

To prevent moral degradation, it is important to reach at its roots to know where this moral decadence comes from. It is bitter truth that moral degradation starts from home and parents are mainly responsible for it. Parents have a key role in the life of a person. Home is the primary training institute for a child and parents are his/her first trainers. For the child’s physical, mental character, moral, and ethical development no outside influence is greater than that of parents.

 

However, the main problem that world including our Kashmir is facing is that; the parents are too busy to be parents. They are too much engaged that they do not have time for their wards. Entrusting wards to maids has become the new norm and in the absence of proper parental care, how one can expect ethically and morally sound child. As it is self-evident that the way a parent can foster his/her child is least anticipated from others.

In some cases, parental care has been reduced to the providence of luxury to the child. Furnishing the child, costly clothing, gadgets, gifts, toys, etc., and giving in to his/her demands is miscalculated as parental care. This misinterpretation of parental care has sharpened the moral decadence. In this way, immorality is purchased by parents into homes and into the hands of their children. Exposure to cultural and technological modernity in the absence of parental supervision is a contributive factor of moral corruptness. The child equipped with all modern facilities is bound to fall into the quagmire of vileness unless he/she would be under the observation of his elders. Similarly, some believe caring for the physical growth of a child is all that parental’ role is, but they are wrong. Parents have a great role in the moral and character development of the child. As a matter of fact, the way parents would guide their wards would be reflected in his/her ethics. In other words, the conduct that the child develops largely depends upon the mode of his/her upbringing by parents. Given the fact, the children imbibe everything rapidly, the approach of parents greatly influence them. Therefore, from the families with moral excellence, coming of morally declined children is near to impossible. Hence, if parents would discharge their responsibilities fairly, the problem of moral degradation is not invincible. It is also worth to mention that the impact parents have on their children is long-term and does not fade with time and circumstances. Whatever the child learns from parents’ remains with him forever and is least vulnerable to any sort of change.

There is no denying that there is huge contribution of teachers and friends in the moral development of a person. After parents, teachers have a significant role in the life of a child as the school-going child spends a big chunk of their day with teachers. It is the responsibility of the teachers at school to take care of a child’s overall development. Apart from imparting education, teachers must be keen about the character development of the child so that any lacuna, which may have remained during parenting, could be removed. Although teachers normally never evade their responsibilities in this regard, however; from several months videos are surfacing on social media, in which school students were seen immodestly, which indicates that the school administration is nonchalant about changing scenario.

Likewise, examples of moral degradation come into view in and around the tuition centers. Such flaws need to be removed so that the necessary ambiance is created that could boost the child positively.

Friends have a big influence over a person’s life and it can be positive as well as negative. Most often, a person coming from a noble family suffers due to his company he/she keeps and sometimes-good parenting fails to bring fruitful results because of the impact of bad friends over a person. Nevertheless, parents have a part to play here as well. They are authorized to know about the friends of their ward. They need to keep track of a child’s friend circle and their activities. This will help them to prevent their child from the effects of bad company.

To put it in a nutshell, by adhering to responsibilities and discharging duties justly; the chances of moral degradation will reduce per se. Resultantly, the valley that is going through a difficult phase on account of growing moral turpitude will be back on track and would be an actual representation of ‘Resh waer’ again.

(The author hailing from seer Hamdan, writes on diverse issues. He tweets @zeeshan_rk and can be mailed at: mohdzeeshan605@gmail.com)

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Understanding Zakat

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By Mohammad Aafaq

Zakat is one of the major religious duties in Islam. Literally, zakat means to “purify”. It refers to the purification of a believers’ wealth and soul. Wealth purification denotes the mobilization of assets for the purpose of financial growth and justified distribution. Purification of the soul implies freedom from hatred, jealousy, selfishness, uneasiness and greed. Other Quranic connotations also include the purification of sin.

Zakat is a fixed proportion collected from the surplus wealth and earnings of a believer. It is then distributed to prescribed beneficiaries and for the welfare as well as the infrastructure of a society in general. This contribution is made payable by a Muslim once every year.

 

Zakat is paid on the net balance after a Muslim has spent on basic necessities, family expenses, due credits, donations and taxes. Every Muslim male or female who at the end of the Hijri year is in possession of the equivalent of 85 grams of gold or more in cash or articles of trade, must pay his or her zakat at the minimum rate of 2.5 percent.

Zakat has a deep humanitarian and social-political value. This religious act prevents the hoarding of wealth and advocates solidarity with humanity because excessive wealth is distributed among the poor. The paying of zakat also helps purify one’s soul and encourages a person to have gratitude towards God’s bounties.

Zakat is mentioned along with Salat (prayer) in 30 verses of the Quran. It was first revealed in Surah 73:20;

“…. and establish regular prayers and give regular charity; and loan to Goda beautiful loan. And whatever good ye send forth for your souls, ye shall find it in God’s presence, Yea, better and greater in reward and seek ye the grace of God: for Godis oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.”

In another verse, God declares that those who pay zakat, are included within the Muslim society

“But (even so), if they repent, establish regular prayers, and practice regular charity, they are your brethren in Faith: (thus) do We explain the Signs in detail, for those who understand.” (9:11)

God says in the Quran:

“They were enjoined only to worship God, sincere in their faith in Him alone – and of upright religion – and to establish the Salat and the Zakat. Such is the upright religion, (98:5)

“Those who lay up treasures of gold and silver and spend them not in the way of God; give them the news of a painful punishment, on the Day when that (wealth) will be heated in hellfire, and their foreheads and their sides and their backs branded therewith: “This is the treasure which you laid up for yourselves! Taste, then, your hoarded treasure!” (9:34-35).

“Let not those who are miserly with what God has given them of His bounty think that this is good for them. Rather, it is bad for them. That which they withhold shall be hung around their necks on the Day of Arising. (3:180)

Bukhari and Muslim relate on the authority of Ibn Abbas that the Messenger of God sent Mu’adh to the Yemen he told him, “You are going to a people who have a Scripture, so call them to testify that there is no deity but God, and that I am the Messenger of God. If they respond to this, then teach them that God has imposed five Salats upon them in every day. If they respond to this, then teach them that God has imposed upon them a charity to be taken from the wealthy amongst them and given to their poor. If they respond to this, then beware of taking any more of their wealth! Beware also of the prayer of the oppressed, for there is no veil between such a prayer and God.”

Then he recited the verse: “Let not those who are miserly with what God has given them of His bounty think that this is good for them. Rather, it is bad for them. That which they withhold shall be hung around their necks on the Day of Arising.” (3:180)

Several conditions must be fulfilled before zakat can be paid. These conditions are necessary as zakat can only be applied on those who are of legal age and who own enough assets. These conditions are categorized into two broad categories, namely performer and asset.

Every Muslim who is of a certain age and owns enough assets is required to pay zakat.

Zakat is payable only on those assets that are acquired for the purpose of creating or generating wealth. Some examples of this type of assets are livestock or crops that are traded or sold, inventory of goods used for trading, and investments such as gold or securities that have potential for appreciation in value. However, zakat is not payable in the case of fixed assets such as buildings, if they are not subjected to “capital circulation”.

Zakat need only be paid on those assets that exceed a minimum value. This minimum value is calculated based on the market price of 85 grams of gold or 595 grams of pure silver. This minimum value is termed Nisab. The Islamic Fiqh and Research Councils, as well as Jumhur (majority) of Ulama’ recommend that gold be used as the basis for the calculation of nisab.

Haul is defined as the completion period for a zakat asset. The length of time for haul is one Islamic or Hijri year (1 year Hijri = 354.5 days, 1 year Solar = 365.25 days). Zakat is only payable on assets that have been held for at least this period.

Zakat can only be distributed to any of the eight eligible beneficiaries (asnaf) that are mentioned in the Quran in Surah Taubah: 60. However, priority should be given to the poor and needy. Where there is no central authority to administer zakat, it can be paid directly to the needy.

Those without sufficient means of livelihood to meet their basic necessities. For instance, those who, although may have a job, a house and a car, but whose income is below the minimum requirement.

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