Human Rights in Islam : Rights of The Poor and Needy

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God praises those who spend for His cause in order to help the poor and the needy in the Islamic society. This is based on the instructions of the Qur’an:

(And in their wealth is a recognized right. For the (needy) who asks and the one who is deprived.) [70:24-25]

The manners of honoring the guests include a warm welcome with a happy face.

As a matter of fact, Islam regards the charity given to the poor and the needy as one of the most virtuous deeds. Moreover, Islam warns those who conceal and save up their wealth and do not spend for the cause of God. God says in the Qur’an:

(It is not righteousness that you turn your faces towards East or West. But righteousness is to believe in God and the Last Day, and the Angels, and the Book, and the Prophets, and to give of your wealth out of love for Him, to your kin and orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and those who ask, and for the ransom of slaves…) [2:177]

The ones who accumulate the wealth without giving the due right of the poor and needy as commanded by God, are promised by God that they will receive a severe punishment on the Day of Judgment. God says in the Qur’an:

(…And those who hoard up gold and silver and do not spend in the Path of God then warn them of a painful torment.) [9:34]

For this reason, the charity of Zakah was prescribed as one of the basic tenets of Islam. Zakah is a set percentage (2.5%) of the accumulated wealth over a period of one year. Muslims willingly offer the due amount in obedience to God’s Commands. They pay it to the poor and the needy. Zakah is obligatory upon those who possess the appropriate amount on which Zakah is due. God states

in the Qur’an:

(And they were commanded not except to worship God, offering Him alone sincere devotion, being true (in faith); to establish regular Prayer; and to give calculated Charity; and that is the right Religion.) [98:5]

Zakah is prescribed with the following principles and conditions:

The person to pay Zakah must possess ‘Nisab’ (the minimum financial threshold beyond which one becomes liable for paying zakah).

A period of one-year must pass while the owner maintains this amount in his possession. If less than a year passes, Zakah will not be required.

Islam defines the types of people who are entitled to receive Zakah. This is based on the statement in the Qur’an:

(Zakah expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy and for those employed to collect [zakah] and for bringing hearts together [for Islam] and for freeing captives [or slaves] and for those in debt and for the cause of Allah and for the [stranded] traveler – an obligation [imposed] by Allah . And Allah is Knowing and Wise.) [9:60]

Islam imposes Zakah in order to uproot poverty from the Islamic society, treat the resulting problems stemming from poverty such as: theft, murder, attacking people and taking their property unjustly. In addition, it revives the mutual social welfare and support among members of the Islamic society.

Islam requires an employer to declare the wages to the worker before the worker embarks on the required work.

Furthermore, Zakah is used to fulfill the needs of the needy, the destitute, and to pay the debts of those who have debts and are not able to pay their debts due to a sound and legitimate reason. Moreover, the payment of Zakah purifies one’s heart, soul and wealth as well. An owner of a wealth will become less selfish and greedy when they pay this charity with a pure heart.

The Almighty states in the Qur’an:

(And those saved from the covetousness of their own souls; they are the ones that achieve prosperity.) [64:16]

Zakah purifies the hearts of those who are less affluent since they will have less hatred, jealousy and bitterness against the rich and wealthy class of people of the society because they see that they are paying their just dues and the rights to their poorer brethren.

Allah’s Messenger has instructed the employer to pay the wages of his worker before his sweat dries out.

Almighty God warns those who refuse to pay their due Zakah against a severe punishment. He states in the Qur’an:

(And let not those who [greedily] withhold what Allah has given them of His bounty ever think that it is better for them. Rather, it is worse for them. Their necks will be encircled by what they withheld on the Day of Resurrection. And to Allah belongs the heritage of the heavens and the earth. And Allah , with what you do, is [fully] Acquainted.) [3:180]

Reference : Dr. Abdul-Rahman Al-Sheha, Human Rights in Islam, Usool International Centre, Riyadh, ISBN: 978-603-90936-9-5

Main article : Human Rights in Islam  

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