History of Zakat in Early Islam

Zakat is an act of worship that has a long history. Although the verses of the Qur'an that contain the word zakat were revealed since Prophet Muhammad was still in Makkah, zakat as an obligation was revealed after the Prophet moved to Madinah.

zakat recipient
Illustration. Zakat paid by the benefactors through Global Zakat – ACT is used to support the economy of underprivileged preachers in remote parts of the country. (ACTNews)

ACTNews, SOUTH JAKARTA – Zakat as an act of worship that becomes one of the Pillars of Islam has a long history. The Quranic verses that contain the word zakat were revealed since the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) was in Makkah. Among these verses were Quran Chapter 30 verse 39, Chapter 27 verse 3, Chapter 31 verse 4, Chapter 23 verse 4, Chapter 7 verse 156, and Chapter 41 verse 7.

However, zakat as an act of worship was prescribed after the Prophet migrated to Madinah. However, during the Meccan period, the Prophet and his Companions understood that, in their wealth, there is the right of the needy.

"And from their properties was [given] the right of the [needy] petitioner and the deprived," Allah reveals in the 59th Chapter of the Qur’an.

Indonesian Ministry of Religious Affairs’ Practical Zakat Guidebook mentions that the verses of zakat revealed during the Meccan period are different than those revealed in the Medinan period. Unlike the Meccan ones, the Medinan verses of zakat clearly stipulate the nisab and the amount of zakat that must be given, the regulations regarding zakat administrators and distributors, and the state’s responsibility to collect it.

"The verses that were revealed in Medina firmly express the obligation of zakat and clearly instruct its implementation. One of the last chapters that were revealed was Surah At-Taubah which is also one of the surahs in the Qur'an that pays great attention to zakat,” says the book.

Zakat Al-Fitr was prescribed in 2 AH (623 CE) along with the Divine command over prayer. Later, the verses about Zakat Al-Mal were also revealed.

In the year 9 Hijri, verse 60 of Surah At-Taubah was revealed, explaining who is entitled to receive zakat. However, at that time, the Prophet did not necessarily distribute zakat to all of these eight groups, but only some people within these eight groups who were needy.

Ibn Hajar and Imam al-Rafi explained that at the time of Umar bin Abdul Aziz (one of the Umayyad caliphs) the distribution of zakat also reached those who were senile and paralyzed, the poor who were sickly and unable to work, and the poor who asked for help to meet their basic needs.

Imam al-Zuhri, one of the Muslim scholars at that time, ordered Umar bin Abdul Aziz to distribute zakat to the poor who had debts, as well as to travelers who had no family and had run out of provisions until he got a decent place to stay. []