Any time a purported Nisab of Zakah is announced or publicized in Nigeria, some concerned Muslims, including yours sincerely, feel embarrassingly scandalized. This is because the Nisab figure of N1.74 million presented to the public recently, as Nisab, does not capture the realistic true ramifications of Zakah. And, that figure may soon rise further to render Zakah an impractable pillar of Islam that may become irredeemably forgotten. Besides, by announcing Nisab in terms of monetary figures alone, the proponents of the primordial concept of Zakah are merely glamourizing money as the only means by which Nisab can be determined.
And, consequently, the impression that such invariable announcement gives to the public is that Zakah is all about money alone and its Nisab should be in money alone.
Announcements of Nisab
From their invariable announcement of monetary Nisab alone, those proponents seem to have reduced Zakah to a one-legged pillar of Islam with which most potential payers of Zakah can be unintentionally scared away.
Monopoly of Knowledge
It is quite ironic that even in today’s research arena that is open to all and sundry, some people can still be claiming undeserved monopoly of knowledge based on hearsay from primordial view of life. In reality,
Zakah is not a one legged pillar of Islam that can be treated with such a ridiculous levity. This unique pillar of Islam is an institution that needs to be seriously studied and thoroughly understood before any ‘fatwa’ can be pronounced on it with such authoritative alacrity.
It will be recalled that the categories of Zakah were highlighted in episode 6 of ‘Zakah Revolution’ published in this column last Monday. Those categories are six in number. And, each of them has its own Nisab. The Nisab of money alone often invariably announced with authority gives a wrong impression that Zakah is only about money and nothing else. It is like announcing to the public that the number of rakats of Salat is four. Whereas only three of the five daily Salats (Dhuhr, ‘Asr and ‘Ishai) have four rakats each, the remaining two Salats (Subh and Maghrib) have two and three rakats respectively. If anybody goes ahead to announce to the public, therefore, that the rakats of Salat are four, what impression will that create in the audience of a mostly ignorant public?
Zakah is not all about money alone and its Nisab cannot be of money alone as often announced. Every category of this pillar of Islam has its own Nisab which equally deserves to be announced from time to time. After all, the Nisab of one category of Zakah does not represent that of another category except where indivisibility warrants congestion of commodities to money. This is one of the reasons why yours sincerely refused to rush into analysing the details of Nisab in this all-important treatise asexpected by some skeptics.
Zakah as an Institution
Just as Islam is an institution with several faculties so is Zakah as a pillar of Islam. No one can justifiably unify those faculties under one name or one conept without exhibiting some elements of ignorance. And, quoting the opinions of certain primordial scholars as authritative references in this case does not affirm true and realistic scholarship. No scholar’s opinion is equal to the contents of the Qur’an or that of genuine Hadith. Where the Qur’an or Hadith is clear enough on an issue, any scholar’s opinion on the same issue can only come in form of further explanation or exposition based on the opinion formed by that scholar from his own understanding of any related issue. And, such an opinion cannot be imposed on the public as the only authority on the issue in question.
Meanwhile, it is necessary to state here that even the general definition given to Zakah which seems to have become a permanent concept is questionable if not misleading.
How can Zakah be defined as the statutory alms given by the rich to the poor? What is the definition of richness in relation to the fulfillment of Zakah as an obligatory pillar of Islam? Who, exactly, is a rich person and who is a poor person? Does relative comfortability in a community mean richness?
Ordinarily, richness is a relative term in different environments and at different times. But, by whatever yardstick is used to to measure that concept in Nigeria, its unsuitability for Nigerian Muslims, as far as Zakah is concerned, will be discovered as we surge ahead.
What are the rules and regulations by which Nisab of each category of Zakah can be established? Please, follow the trend next Monday as we proceed with this historic revolution in sha’Allah.
God bless you all.