Islam views wealth realistically–as an essential aspect of life and the main means of subsistence of individuals and groups. Allah, the Exalted One, instructs: “Give not to those who are weak of understanding [what is in] your wealth which Allah has made a means of support for you” [an-Nisa’ 5]. This amounts to saying that wealth is to be distributed to meet the basic needs of food, clothing, lodging, and other indispensables, and that no one is to be lost, forgotten, or left without support. The best way to distribute wealth so that everyone’s basic needs are met is through zakah. It does not place any burden on the wealthy yet at the same time it meets the basic needs of the poor and relieves them of the hardships of life and the pain of deprivation. Zakah is not a favour (minnah) that the wealthy bestow upon the poor; rather, it is a due (haqq) that Allah entrusted in the hands of the rich to deliver to the poor and distribute among the deserving. Thus, the eminent truth about wealth and property is established–that is, wealth is not exclusively for the rich but for both the rich and the poor. This becomes obvious because of Allah’s judgment concerning the distribution of booty (fay’). Allah warns: “…that it does not become a commodity taken by turns among the rich of you” [al-Hashr 7]. This means it is an apportionment of wealth between the rich and the poor, not something restricted to the wealthy. Zakah is an obligation due on the property of those able to pay and is to be used to meet the basic needs of the poor and the needy so that they could be kept away from hunger and they could be given a sense of security and general well-being. If the amount of zakah is not enough to alleviate the conditions of the poor and the needy, then the rich can be subjected to further taxation. How much should be taken is not specified. Its quantity will be determined by the needs of the poor.
In his interpretation ofÂ alBaqarah 177, al-Qurtubi says: “The saying of Allah, the Exalted One: ‘And to spend of your wealth out of love for Him’ gives credence to those who maintain that there is a due on wealth other than zakah known as mal addir.” Others hold that the preceding ‘ayah alludes to the obligatory zakah. According to ad-Daraqutni’s report from Fatimah bint Qais, the first view is more convincing. She relates: “Indeed, there is a due on one’s holdings other than the prescribed zakah.” Then he recited the following Qur’anic verse: “It is not righteousness that you turn your faces to the East or to the West, but it is to believe in Allah, the Last Day, the Angels, the Book, the Messengers, and to spend of your wealth out of love for Him on your kin, orphans, the needy, the wayfarer, or those who ask, and on the ransom of slaves…” [al-Baqarah 177]. Ibn Majah mentioned it in his Sunan and at-Tirmizhi in his Jami’. The latter says that Ibn Majah’s has a different chain of narrators than his. Besides, Abu Hamzah and Maymun al-‘A’war consider Ibn Majah’s chain of narrator not credible. This hadith is related by Bayan and Isma’il ibn Salim from ash-Shu’bi, who said that it is sound.
The latter says: “If there is a question about its authenticity, it is rendered clear by the context of the ‘ayah [al-Baqarah 177]. In this statement: ‘… to be steadfast in prayer, and to give zakah,’ Allah mentions zakah with salah, which substantiates the fact that ‘to spend of your property out of love for Him’ does not refer to obligatory zakah, for that would be redundant in the ‘ayah–and Allah knows best.”
The scholars agree that should a need arise, even when zakah has been paid, the Muslim community is bound to contribute toward the alleviation of the problem.
Malik says: “It is obligatory for the people to ransom those taken as prisoners of war, even if doing so consumes all their property. The consensus on this subject strengthens our view, and we seek success only through Allah.” According to al-Manar, the ‘ayah “… and to spend your property out of love for Him…” [alBaqarah 177] means that one should give the property for the sake of Allah or for the love of giving it.
Imam Muhammad ‘Abduh’s comments are: “The giving of property in excess of the due zakah is considered one of the basic elements of piety (birr) and is enjoined like the prescribed zakah.”
Whenever the exigency calls for it, sadaqah other than zakah is given. That could be before the completion of the year (hawl) or after the payment of zakah. The contribution is not based on a specific amount of nisab but on the ability to give. Thus, if someone possesses only a loaf of bread and sees a person who is more hard-pressed than himself, he should give it to that person. The hard-pressed person is not the only one who has a right to be satisfied, but Allah has also ordered the believers to give non-prescribed sadaqat to the following: kin, orphans, needy, wayfarers, beggars, and slaves.