The Five Pillars of Islam (contd.)
4. Alms giving
Zakat, the Islamic equivalent of tithes is one of the pillars of Islam.
“One of the most important principles of Islam is that all things belong to God, and that wealth is therefore held by human beings in trust.The word Zakat means both ‘purification’ and ‘growth’. Our possessions are purified by setting aside a proportion for those in need, and, like the pruning of plants, this cutting back balances and encourages new growth.Zakat is the amount of money that every adult, mentally stable, free, and financially able Muslim, male and female, has to pay to support specific categories people.This category of people is defined in surah at-Taubah (9) verse 60: “The alms are only for the poor and the needy, and those who collect them, and those whose hearts are to be reconciled, and to free the captives and the debtors, and for the cause of Allah, and (for) the wayfarers; a duty imposed by Allah. Allah is knower, Wise.” (The Holy Qur’an 9:60). Allah states in Surah at-Taubah verses 34-35: “O ye who believe! there are indeed many among the priests and anchorites, who in Falsehood devour the substance of men and hinder (them) from the way of Allah. And there are those who bury gold and silver and spend it not in the way of Allah. announce unto them a most grievous penalty – On the Day when heat will be produced out of that (wealth) in the fire of Hell, and with it will be branded their foreheads, their flanks, and their backs, their flanks, and their backs.- “This is the (treasure) which ye buried for yourselves: taste ye, then, the (treasures) ye buried!” (The Holy Qur’an 9:34-35).
Zakat is obligatory when a certain amount of money, called the nisab is reached or exceeded. Zakat is not obligatory if the amount owned is less than this nisab. The nisab (or minimum amount) of gold and golden currency is 20 mithqal, this is approximately 85 grams of pure gold. One mithqal is approximately 4.25 grams. The nisab of silver and silver currency is 200 dirhams, which is approximately 595 grams of pure silver. The nisab of other kinds of money and currency is to be scaled to that of gold, 85 grams of pure gold. This means that the nisab of money is the price of 85 grams of 999-type (pure) gold, on the day in which Zakat is paid.”
———- Islamiccity.com, http://www.islamicity.com/mosque/zakat/?AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1
“Hajj” is the pilgrimage Muslims are obligated to undertake at least once in their life. Once my mother asked my erstwhile landlord Mr.C.A.Cader, as to why he did not go on the pilgrimage. Mr. C.A. Cader replied that the reason for not taking the pilgrimage was that once he returns he cannot lie anymore. And since he knew he could not stop lying, he did not take the pilgrimage.
“Hajj or pilgrimage to Mecca is one of the five pillars of Islam. Hajj was made obligatory in the 9th year of Hijra. The Holy Prophet sent off 300 Muslims under the leadership of Hazrat Abubakr Siddique (may Allah be pleased with him) to Mecca so that they could perform Hajj. That was the year when it was banned for the Mushrikeen (those who associate partners with Allah) to enter Ka’ba. It was also made unlawful to perform Tawaaf (circling of Ka’ba) with naked body.The following year, 10th Hijra, the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) announced ahead of time that he himself would perform Hajj that year. He led tens of thousands of Muslims to Hajj that year and demonstrated to Muslims how to perform all the rites and rituals of the Hajj. . At the end of this farewell pilgrimage, the divine revelation that had started some 22 years ago came to an end with the following verse of Surah Al-Maidah:“This day have I completed My commandments for you, and have brought to its fullness the favor that I have bestowed upon you, and have chosen Islam as your religion”. Hajj is an act of worship just like Salat (five daily prayers) and Sawm (fasting in the month of Ramadan). Muslims from all over the world gather in Mecca in the last month of Muslim calendar and worship Allah. Hajj is a special worship that lasts for several days. This is an occasion that brings Muslims of all countries, colors, and races to one place – the Ka’ba. This is a unique opportunity of worshiping Allah collectively in a large gathering at one place”. http://legacy.islam.com/hajj/hajj.htm
In the year 1998 – 1999 I attended a small seminar on Islam, conducted by an ex-Muslim who is now an evangelist with the Church of South India . He mentioned something which I will never forget. He said that in the Hajj after circling the Ka’bba, the Muslims worship a black meteorite, which is at the center and then throw seven pebbles at Satan as a sign of renouncing him. This throwing stones takes place at Mina.
“Researchers have noted that the Kaaba is accurately aligned on two heavenly phenomena: the cycles of the moon and the rising of Canopus, the brightest star after Sirius. There are various other opinions as to what the Black Stone actually symbolizes. Many Muslims regard the Stone as ‘just a stone’. When Umar ibn al-Khattab (second Caliph) came to kiss the stone, he said, in front of all assembled:”No doubt, I know that you are a stone and can neither harm anyone nor benefit anyone. Had I not seen Allah’s Messenger kissing you, I would not have kissed you”.Muslims, therefore, pay their respect to the Black Stone in a spirit of trust in Muhammad, not with any belief in the Black Stone itself.” — http://www.islam-watch.org/Lennard/Islam-Sacred-Stone-of-Mecca.htm
“Another writer is probably close to the mark when he says that the Black Stone was “the great fetish, the principal though not the only divinity of the Quraish clan” (Lammens, Islam: Beliefs and Institutions, p. 17). In any event, there appears to be no point in kissing the stone and Muslims will be hard-pressed to find a really sound reason for the perpetuation of a practice more suited to primitive pagan idolatry than the true spirit of monotheistic worship. Perhaps the greatest irony of this whole ceremony is that its origin should be attributed to Abraham, a man who, according to the Qur’an, detested idols made of stone and destroyed them (Surah 37. 91-93). For the whole emphasis of the pilgrimage falls on stones. The Muslims circumambulate the Ka’aba, an empty shrine made of stones, kiss the Black Stone built into it, and pray at the maqam-i-Ibrahim in front of which stands a small shrine containing another stone (the qadam-i-Ibrahim) on which Abraham allegedly stood while building the Ka’aba (it is supposed to bear his footprint). Arafat is a plain on which the Mount of Mercy stands – covered with stones and a stone monolith commemorating Muhammad’s farewell sermon. At Mina the pilgrims throw small stones at larger stone pillars. Surely it is almost ridiculous to believe that the great patriarch – the exemplar of true faith in those very early days – was the author of ceremonies whose rites were vested in stones, the very things from which the pagan idols were made. It is, therefore, in these absurd rites of the Hajj that Islam finds its severest condemnation, and the falsity of Muhammad’s pretended revelations is amply demonstrated. The Hajj was Muhammad’s compromise with Arabian Paganism. (Blair, The Sources of Islam, p. 162).” – answeringIslam.org
This is the obvious conclusion, considering the Quraish persecution of Mohammed stopped once he completed this pilgrimage, which is modeled after the pagan Arab practice of the Quraish tribe.
The Bible and the Gospel does not require anyone to go to such a dry patch on the planet and kiss stones and throw stones in order to get closer to God. We can go to Christ just as we are with a repentant, penitent and believing heart and he will accept , forgive and regenerate us into children of God.