Allah has taken oath of ten nights in Sūrah Al-Fajr. According to the majority of the commentators of Qur'ān, the nights are those of the (first) ten days of Dhul Hijjah.
Abū Hurayrah radiyallāhu ‘anhu related that Rasūlullāh sallallāhu alayhi wasallam said, "On no days is the worship of Allāh desired more than in the (first) ten days of Dhul Hijjah. The fast of each of these days is equal to the fast of a whole year, and the worship of each of these nights is equal to the worship of Laylatul Qadr." (At-Tirmidhī, Ibn Mājah)
The mother of the believers, Hafsah radiyallāhu ‘anhā reports that Rasūlullāh sallalahu alayhi wasallam used to fast the (first) nine days of Dhul Hijjah. (Nasā'ee, Ahmad, Aboo Dāwood)
Zakāh is one of the five fundamentals of Islām. The Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam said:
“Islam is founded on five pillars: bearing witness that there is no deity except Allāh, and that Muhammad is His Servant and Messenger; establishment of salāh; paying zakāh; performance of hajj; and fasting the month of Ramadān.” (Al-Bukhārī)
After Īmān, salāh is the most important act of worship which is to be performed physically, and zakāh is the main act of worship which is to be performed monetarily. Salāh and zakāh have been mentioned together on many instances in the Glorious Qur'ān, to cite just some examples, Allāh ta'ālā says:
“And establish regular salāh and pay regular zakāh, and bow down with those who bow down.” (2:43)
“In fact, the mosques of Allāh are built only by those who believe in Allāh and the Last Day, and those who establish salāh and pay zakāh and who fear none but Allāh. So, it is hoped that they are to be among those on the right path.” (9:18)
Such verses of the Qur'ān substantiate that zakāh is the most important fundamental after salāh. Those who fulfil this duty have been promised abundant reward in this world and the Hereafter; and those who evade zakāh have been sternly warned in the Qur'ān and ahādīth of the consequences.
Benefits of Giving Zakāh
The following are some of the many benefits mentioned in the Qur'ān and ahādīth for the one who gives zakāh:
Pleasure of Allāh ta'ālā.
Increase in wealth.
Protection from losses.
Forgiveness and blessing from Allāh ta'ālā.
Safety from calamities.
Protection from the Wrath of Allāh ta'ālā and from a bad death.
Shelter on the Day of Judgement.
Security from seventy misfortunes.
Safety from the fire of Jahannam.
Safety from grief.
Consequences of Not Paying Zakāh in this World
When Allāh ta'ālā sends a calamity to punish people for their sins, no power on earth can prevent the onslaught. Men may form thousands of plans, but something decreed by the Lord of the universe must come to pass. Nowadays, the calamities of famine, flood, etc. have become a great problem for the whole world. If we wish to seek relief from such sufferings and cure the malady, we shall have to follow the remedy revealed to us by Allāh ta'ālā. Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam has warned us over fourteen hundred years ago, against all those evil practices which bring calamities and afflictions in this world.
These warnings were given long ago and now the world has witnessed their truth through experience. Today, the predictions are coming true. If only people had acted according to the rulings prescribed by Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam, who was undoubtedly the wisest of all wise men. It is beyond the scope of this article to discuss how specific evils cause specific afflictions, but I will bring to the attention of the readers the ahādīth related to the subject matter - non payment of zakāh.
Non Payment of Zakāh – A Cause of Famine
Buraydah radhiyallāhu 'anhu relates that Rasūlullāh said,
“The nation that withholds zakāh (i.e. does not pay it), Allāh afflicts famine on them.” (At-Tabarānī)
Ibn 'Umar radhiyallāhu 'anhu relates that Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam once said,
“O Muhājirūn! There are five (dreadful) sins; if you fall into these – and I take refuge in Allāh from the evil of these sins lest you fall into them – (you will face horrible disasters)…”
The Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam thereafter enlisted a number of sins and their punishments, amongst which he said,
“Thirdly, if people stop paying zakāh, rain will be withheld from them, and were it not for the animals, no rain would fall on them.” (Ibn Mājah, Al-Bazzār, Al-Bayhaqī) A similar hadīth is also reported by Ibn 'Abbās radhiyallāhu 'anhu.
Non Payment of Zakāh – A Cause of Windstorms, Earthquakes, etc.
'Alī radhiyallāhu 'anhu and Abū Hurayrah radhiyallāhu 'anhu report that Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam prophesied fifteen actions which his Ummah will perpetrate, and from amongst these he mentioned,
“When zakāh is looked upon as a penalty (i.e. people will pay zakāh with a heavy heart, as though it is a penalty), then look for violent windstorms, earthquakes, men being swallowed by the earth, metamorphosis, stones raining down from the skies, and calamities following one another in rapid succession, like beads of rosary falling one after the other when its string is cut.” (At-Tirmidhī)
Destruction of Property
'Umar radhiyallāhu 'anhu narrates that Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam said,
“Wealth is generally lost on the land and the sea because zakāh is not paid on it.” (At-Targhīb)
'Ā'ishah radhiyallāhu 'anhā narrates that Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam said,
“Zakāh will destroy wealth in which it is.” (Al-Bazzār, Al-Bayhaqī)
The destruction of wealth upon which zakāh is obligatory will be by way of Allāh ta'ālā destroying the wealth in which the amount due for zakāh lies, or by removing the barakah from it.
Consequences in the Hereafter
“As for those who hoard gold and silver and do not spend it in the way of Allāh, give them news of a painful punishment. On the day it (i.e. the wealth) will be heated up in the fire of Jahannam, then their foreheads and their sides and their backs shall be branded with it and (it will be said to them), 'This is what you had accumulated for yourselves. So, taste what you have been accumulating.'” (9:34-35)
The majority of the Sahābah radhiyallāhu 'anhum and 'Ulamā are agreed that the severe punishment mentioned in the verse is for those who do not pay zakāh. May Allāh ta'ālā protect us from such severe punishments. Āmīn.
“And let not those who hoard wealth, which Allāh has bestowed them with from His grace, think that it is better for them. No, it is worse for them. That which they hoard will be made into a collar (in the form of a snake and put around their necks) on the Day of Qiyāmah. To Allāh belongs the inheritance of the heavens and the earth. Allah is All-Aware of what you do.” (3:180)
Imām Ar-Rāzī v writes in his tafsīr, “This verse does not apply to the cases of nafl (optional) spending. It applies to cases of failure in obligatory spending.” This is substantiated by a hadīth in Al-Bukhārī that Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam said, “The person on whom Allāh bestowed wealth, and he does not give zakāh on it, then on the Day of Judgement, his wealth will be transformed for him into a large bald snake with two black spots over its eyes; it will wind round his neck on the Day of Judgement, then grab (him) with both his jaws and say, 'I am your treasure.'” Then Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam recited the above verse.
Abū Hurayrah radhiyallāhu 'anhu reports that Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam said, “If anyone possessing gold and silver does not pay what is due, then on the Day of Judgement his gold and silver will be made into sheets and will be heated in the fire of Jahannam. His side, forehead and back will then be branded with (the heated sheets), again and again, on that day, the duration of which will be fifty thousand years.” (Muslim)
Once, Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam saw gold bangles on the hands of two women. He inquired if they had given zakāh for the bangles. They replied, “No.” Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam said, “Do you wish that on the Day of Judgement you be made to put on bangles of fire?” They replied, “No.” He said, “Give zakāh on them.” (Ahmad)
The following facts are clear from the aforementioned discussion:
Zakāh is fard.
The significance of zakāh is very great.
Failure to pay zakāh will bring calamity and misfortune in this world and the Hereafter.
Allāh, the All-Merciful has bestowed upon us many favours: He has given us health and wealth, luxury and comfort, friends and children, life and wife. Every penny that we earn is from the Grace of Allāh. He has given us everything and asks for only 2.5% to be spent in His way upon those who are not capable of providing for themselves. Remember, 2.5% at the end of the each Islamic year from the excess wealth (i.e. which remains after spending) is basically nothing. If we pay zakāh in full and abstain from greed, extravagance, etc. there will not remain a single destitute among the Muslims. Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam's hadīth is clear evidence for this claim. He said,
“In the wealth of rich Muslims, the amount which is sufficient for the poor among the Muslims has been made obligatory. The hardships of the poor among the Muslims regarding food and clothing are because of the deeds of the wealthy (i.e. their refusal to pay zakāh). Beware! Allāh will demand a stern reckoning from them and mete out a painful punishment.” (At-Tabarānī)
Bear in mind that anything we leave behind is not ours. If we want to protect our hard-earned money and save it for use at a time when we shall need it badly, let us spend it in the way of Allāh ta'ālā and deposit it in the bank of the Hereafter.
Istikhārah means to turn to Allāh ta'ālā and seek goodness from Him. This is because Allāh ta'ālā knows what we do not know. As Allāh ta'ālā is fully aware of the end result and consequence of every matter and we merely speculate, we should ask Allāh ta'ālā to guide us towards goodness in our endeavours or tasks that we are about to embark on. It should be understood that istikhārah is simply a du'ā like any other du'ā. However, it has more chance of acceptance in the Court of Allāh ta'ālā as it has been specifically taught by Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam to his Ummah. It is a prayer offered to Allāh ta'ālā before embarking on a particular course of action or choosing from a number of options, asking Him to guide us towards goodness and the correct and better choice, and to save us from that course of action or choice if goodness lies elsewhere.
A point of great importance in istikhārah is to free one's mind of all thoughts and inclinations before performing it. What would you expect from a person's istikhārah when he has already resolved to do something!
The method of istikhārah is to perform two raka'āt at any time of the day, other than the times when nafl salāh is forbidden. It is preferable to recite Sūrah Al-Kāfirūn in the first rak'ah and Sūrah Al-Ikhlās in the second. Thereafter one should praise Allāh ta'ālā, send salāh upon the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam and then recite the following du'ā:
O Allāh! I seek goodness from You, through Your Knowledge, and I seek strength through Your Power and ask for Your great Bounty, for You are able to do things while I am not, and You know while I do not; and You are the Knower of the Unseen. O Allāh, if You know that this matter [name your matter] is good for me, in respect to my Dīn, my worldly life and the consequence of my affairs, then decree it for me and make it easy for me, and then grant me barakah in it. And if You know that this matter [name your matter] is bad for me in respect to my Dīn, my worldly life and the consequence of my affairs, then turn it away from me and turn me away from it, and decree for me what is good, wherever it may be, and make me be pleased with it. (Al-Bukhārī)
If after the initial istikhārah you remain unsure about something, then perform istikhārah for 3, 5, or 7 days. Inshā'allāh within seven days the heart will feel at ease.
There is also another method of istikhārah in the form of a short du'ā. If a decision needs to be taken and there is no opportunity to perform two rak'āt and do istikhārah in the aforementioned way, the following du'ā should be recited:
O Allāh, grant me goodness, and choose for me. (At-Tirmidhī)
As mentioned earlier, istikhārah is a du'ā and Allāh ta'ālā will accept it and grant you goodness, as long as there are no factors that prevent its acceptance. Obstacles to Allāh ta'ālā accepting prayers include disobedience to Allāh ta'ālā, harām earnings, and praying without the conviction that Allāh ta'ālā will definitely accept the prayer. If there are such obstacles present in one's life, he should do tawbah in earnest, and then make istikhārah.
Results of Istikhārah
If, as a result of doing istikhārah, a person feels positive, he should proceed accordingly. If his du'ā has been accepted, he will acquire goodness and success. However, many people feel positive after istikhārah and proceed accordingly, but do not see success. This can be explained by the following:
In the du'ā of istikhārah, a person first asks Allāh ta'ālā for goodness in one's Dīn which is the main objective of a believer, and thereafter he asks for the goodness of the world. Therefore, if after istikhārah one finds apparent worldly loss, but his Dīn remains safe, one should believe that through the barakah of istikhārah Allāh ta'ālā has granted him a minute loss of this world and saved him from a greater loss of the Hereafter.
Many times, the du'ā as a result of istikhārah is accepted and Allāh ta'ālā grants him goodness, but that goodness takes two forms: one form is that the choice he has made is one hundred percent good, without an iota of harm in it; the other is that he is guided towards the better of two possible outcomes. To understand this, take the example of a person who purchased a house as a result of a positive feeling after istikhārah. After six months, a new neighbour moved in next door and started harassing him. This person needs to understand in this situation that it is through the barakah of istikhārah that he has been saved from a bigger calamity, i.e. if he had chosen another house, the neighbour there would have harassed him even more.
Sometimes, a person feels positive after istikhārah despite his du'ā not being accepted due to the aforementioned obstacles. In this case the positive feeling he was experiencing in his heart was not from Allāh ta'ālā. It was either a condition that existed before the istikhārah or it was a feeling from Shaytān. Sometimes a young man is deeply in love with a girl and after doing istikhārah he feels very comfortable. What can be expected from such an istikhārah? Are his positive feelings a result of the istikhārah or was that condition present before?
There are a number of common misconceptions about the sunnah practice of istikhārah:
One of the main points of confusion is the assumption that if, as a result of doing istikhārah, a positive feeling about a particular course of action results, then it is a guarantee from Allāh ta'ālā that it will be one hundred percent successful. People incorrectly believe that istikhārah is Divine Revelation. If after istikhārah a person of knowledge and experience was to advise an alternative, their opinion is discarded by saying, 'I have performed istikhārah and now there can be no change.' As a consequence, people proceed according to their feelings (e.g. they choose a marriage partner) and then, if some time later things do not work out, they begin to have doubts and negative thoughts about the sayings of Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam regarding istikhārah. May Allāh ta'ālā protect us all from such a condition.
Likewise, people only do istikhārah nowadays when they are unsure about something. They perceive it to be a remedy for confusion; a way to request Allāh ta'ālā to fix something for them. Istikhārah should not be limited to occasions when a person has doubts about doing something, or when a person is indecisive about something! Istikhārah is to be performed for all mubāh actions, even if you are 100 % sure about the course of action. For example, you may want to enrol your child in a particular school and have no doubts about it being the right one; even then you should perform two rak'āt and read the du'ā of istikhārah so that you are granted goodness and saved from a wrong decision.
Nowadays, istikhārah is more or less confined to finding a marriage partner.
Many believe it is necessary to perform istikhārah during the night before going to sleep, and compulsory not to talk to anyone after performing the two rak'āt of istikhārah.
Similarly, some believe it to be totally necessary to sleep on the right hand side facing the qiblah.
Many expect and desire to see a dream in which one is clearly told that this is the path for you. Seeing a dream guiding towards a particular choice is not necessary in istikhārah. One needs to pay attention to the inclination of the heart whether one sees a dream or not. In all circumstances, the decisive factor is the inclination of one's heart.
Another common misconception is to ask others to perform istikhārah on one's behalf. Many feel that we are sinful, so what good will our istikhārah do? Thus they search for a pious god-fearing person and ask him to perform istikhārah for them. Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam did not state any condition that a sinful person cannot perform istikhārah, and moreover, leaving sin and repenting is not an act of difficulty. One should leave sin, repent and perform istikhārah himself. This practice of asking others to perform istikhārah is not in accordance to the sunnah. Yes, when making istikhārah for a marriage partner, it is permissible for the parents of the boy/girl to perform istikhārah. This is because this is a need of the parents too, as it is their responsibility to marry their children into suitable families.
Finally, with istikhārah, istishārah (consultation) is very important too. One should, before, during, and after performing istikhārah, seek consultation from those well-wishers who are learned and experienced in the relevant matter. The Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam said,
The one who does istikhārah will not be unsuccessful, and the one who consults will not see regret. (At-Tabrānī)
Recently, I was approached by a concerned brother who had been facing some difficult times with regards his provision and sustenance. This is something that many of us face at some time in our lives. Naturally, when we are in this situation, we begin to panic and look for ways out. Some bear the situation remaining within the laws of Sharī'ah and with patience make it through, whilst others fail in this test from Allāh ta'ālā and take to prohibited means to try to solve their problems.
So, when the brother asked the question, I pondered for a while and the following advices, all based on the Qur'ān and hadīth, came to mind:
1. At such difficult times it is paramount to adopt taqwā, which is to stay away from each and every sin. Remember, what is thought of to be a tough financial situation will differ from person to person, but in these circumstances it is necessary that we stay compliant with the Commands of Allāh ta'ālā. Both the dos and don'ts commanded by Allāh ta'ālā have to be adopted. Salāh, Sawm, Zakāh, Hajj and all farā'id must be performed. Similarly, we must refrain from all sinful activities. In return for this adoption of taqwā, Allāh ta'ālā has promised that He will see to our needs:
"Whoever adopts taqwā, Allāh brings forth a way out for him and provides him (with what he needs) from where he does not even imagine. And whoever places his trust in Allāh, He is sufficient for him. Surely Allāh is to accomplish His purpose." (65:2)
"If the people of the towns believed and adopted taqwā, We would have opened for them blessings from the heavens and the earth, but they disbelieved. So, We seized them because of what they used to earn for themselves." (7:96)
2. A second point to keep in mind is to make istighfār (seek forgiveness) abundantly. A person should look towards his own misdeeds and take them to be the reason for finding himself in the predicament he is in. He should turn to Allāh ta'ālā and repent. Sometimes, such circumstances are caused by Allāh ta'ālā in order to make His servant turn towards Him. Such is the Mercy of Allāh ta'ālā!
"Pray to your Lord for your forgiveness. Indeed, He is Very-Forgiving; and He will cause the heavens to rain upon you in abundance, and will help you with riches and children, and will cause gardens to grow for you, and cause rivers to flow for you." (71:10-12)
"O my people, seek forgiveness from your Lord, then turn to Him in repentance, and He will release the heavens pouring upon you, and will add strength to your strength, and do not turn away like sinners." (11:52)
The Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam has said:
"He who holds firm to seeking forgiveness, Allāh will make an exit for him from every tight situation, will grant him relief from every trouble and will provide for him from where he does not even imagine." (Abū Dāwūd, Ibn Mājah, Ahmad)
3. Another point is to ensure that we keep our transactions free from sin. For this, we must consult the 'Ulamā, learn from them in regards to what is halāl and what is harām and act accordingly. Any transaction which is contrary to the teachings of Allāh ta'ālā and His Messenger sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam will be devoid of barakah (blessings); therefore, no matter how great the profit or benefit seems, it will soon disappear. The Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam said:
"The seller and the buyer have the right to keep or return the goods until they part. And if both parties spoke the truth and described the goods accurately, then they would be blessed in their transaction, and if they told lies or hid something, then the blessings of their transaction would be lost." (Al-Bukhārī)
Similarly, the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam also says:
"Taking (false) oaths improve the sales, but it eradicates the blessings." (Al-Bukhārī)
4. Nowadays, many people look for wazā'if (the recitation of certain verse(s), name(s) of Allāh ta'ālā etc. a certain number of times to fulfil a particular need) to solve their problems. Whereas, within the boundaries of Sharī'ah, this is permissible, there can be no better solutions than those shown by the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam regarding whom Allāh ta'ālā says:
"He does not speak out of (his own) desire. It is but revelation revealed (to him)." (53:3-4)
• In a hadīth the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam mentions that whoever recites the following 100 times between subh sādiq and Fajr salāh, wealth shall come to him unwillingly and humbled. (Ihyā)
"Pure is Allāh and for Him is praise. Pure is Allāh, the Great. I seek forgiveness from Allāh."
• In another hadīth, the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam passed by a person who was dishevelled and worried, at which the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam told him to recite the following words through which his worry and poverty would go away. The words were:
"I place my trust in the Ever Living who is not to die, Praise belongs to Allāh who has neither had a son, nor is there any partner to Him in His kingdom, nor is anyone (needed) to protect Him from (any) weakness. And proclaim His greatness, an open proclamation." (Abū Ya'lā, Ibn-as-Sunnī)
5. Read Sūrah Al-Wāqi'ah every night:
'Uthmān radhiyallāhu 'anhu visited 'Abdullāh ibn Mas'ūd radhiyallāhu 'anhu during the last stages of the latter's life. 'Uthmān radhiyallāhu 'anhu asked him, "What is your illness?" 'Abdullāh ibn Mas'ūd radhiyallāhu 'anhu replied, "My sins." He then asked him, "Is there anything you desire?" 'Abdullāh ibn Mas'ūd radhiyallāhu 'anhu replied, "The Mercy of my Rabb." 'Uthmān radhiyallāhu 'anhu then asked if he would like him to re-issue the allowance that was allocated for him during his life that he had refused. When he declined, 'Uthmān radhiyallāhu 'anhu said, "Let it be for your daughters for after your death." Upon this, 'Abdullāh ibn Mas'ūd radhiyallāhu 'anhu asked, "Do you fear poverty upon my daughters after my death? I have instructed them to recite sūrah Al-Wāqi'ah every night; for I have heard the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam say, 'Whoever recites sūrah Al-Wāqi'ah every night shall never be afflicted with poverty.' " (Al-Qurtubi)
6. Imām At-Tabarānī rahimahullāh has quoted a hadīth in which the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam has said:
"Washing hands, before and after food, safeguards against poverty."
7. We should constantly make du'ā to Allāh ta'ālā, for in du'ā lies the solution to all our problems. The Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam has said:
"Indeed, du'ā is of benefit for those things that have descended and (also) for those things that have not yet descended. O servants of Allāh, hold fast to du'ā." (At-Tirmidhī)
One important point to ponder upon here is that to be afflicted with financial difficulties is not an everlasting problem, for tomorrow we may be relieved; either our problem may ease or we may not live for long. Why then do we have so much concern for this temporary issue? If a solution is guaranteed, we will be prepared to do anything. On the other hand, the life hereafter is inevitable and definite, but we do not have the same concern. How surprising it is that for something inevitable we have no concern, yet that which is uncertain occupies our hearts and minds all the time. Surely, we have set our priorities incorrectly!