Opinion, September 2003, www.aljazeerah.info
Saving Zakah for a Future Purpose
Arab News, 9/26/03
Q. I am allocating a fixed amount of money to a bank account on a monthly basis hoping to utilize it for some good project for the needy. I do not use this money except for a purpose commensurate with how zakah should be used. My question is whether I need to actually spend the zakah amount of 2.5% of my income per annum. I mean I am separating it so as to raise a sufficient amount for something that provides continuous benefit, such as education for orphans. What it means in practice is that I am holding part of my zakah for use in the long term. Please comment.
A. You should not hold zakah from one year to the next, even if you intend to use it for a good purpose which serves the very objectives of zakah. This is because when zakah is due, its amount is no longer your property. It belongs to those who may benefit by zakah.
I understand the nobility of your purpose, but you have to devise your project in line with what Islam requires. By making zakah payable every year, Islam provides a substantial fund for the alleviation of poverty and other similarly urgent purposes. If people start to withhold some of their zakah for a future purpose, there will be a shortfall which entails suffering by the poor in the short term. This is not acceptable when the money to relieve such suffering is available.
You can still achieve your purpose by different methods. You can, for example, agree with a few friends to draw plans for some project and club together to start it soon. Each one pays his zakah or other donation so as to raise the money straightaway. If need be, you can pay next year’s zakah now in order to finance the project. You should remember that when you use zakah for a project, it has to be one for which zakah money can be used.
One more point, zakah is not paid on all income, but on what is left after attending to one’s responsibilities. It is not an income tax; it is rather a wealth tax, but used for certain purposes and paid to specified groups.
Wearing a Wig
Q. I have lost my hair and I am now totally bald. Is it permissible for a Muslim man to wear a wig to cover his baldness?
A. A woman told the Prophet that her daughter lost her hair and wished to use some other hair to cover her baldness. The Prophet told her not to do so, because it would mean a false appearance. In the case of a woman there is also the added element of looking more beautiful. Needless to say, a bald woman looks very odd. Nevertheless, the Prophet made it clear that this was not acceptable from the Islamic point of view. It can only be similarly forbidden for a man to wear a wig in order to give himself a false appearance.
How to Dress
Q. My intention is that after I perform the pilgrimage this year I should wear the full abaya and scarf even when I return to my home country. My husband is against this. Please advise.
(Name and address withheld)
A. The best type of dress for a woman is the one which is very common in her place of residence, provided that it conforms to Islamic rules. If it does not, then it should be modified by Muslim women so as to meet Islamic requirements. This means that if the abaya and scarf will attract attention to you, then they will be doing the opposite of what is required in Islamic dress. If your husband’s objection is on this account, then he is absolutely right. If he has some other reason, it will be an added one to change your mind. Moreover, there is nothing special about the abaya. It is a style suited to hot climate and meets Islamic requirements.
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