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Islamic Q and A (31 Aug 2019 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Ridda Wars: Why Did Hazrat Abu Bakr Fight Against Apostates and Rejecters of Zakat?

By Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi, New Age Islam

31 August 2019

Zakat is one of the pillars of Islam, imposed by God Almighty upon every Muslim, male or female, under special conditions of Islamic Sharia; namely freedom, full possession of such estate or effect as are termed in the jurisprudential terminology a Nisab, and possession of the same Nisab for the space of one complete Hijri year. Zakat is a right of the poor and needy; which is imposed on all the Muslims who meet the afore-mentioned conditions. God Almighty says, “And from their properties is [given] the right [share] of the beggar and the deprived”. (51:19)

Of the Sharia Ahkam (Sharia rules) there are some which are not related to interests of God’s slaves and are between the servant and his God, such as fasting, prayer etc. There are others which are related to human interests such as Zakat.

The importance of Zakat lies in the economic aspect of Muslim community because it helps the poor, sick people, orphans and so forth. So if people stop from paying Zakat and the Muslim government commits negligence in its collection, it will lead to disruption of an Islamic law and also to a great economic corruption in the community. The reason for this is that if these needy people do not find those helping them, they will either die of hunger or go astray. And this is a corruption that Islam forbids us from indulging in. Therefore the law maker of Sharia made it compulsory upon the Muslim government to collect Zakat so that this corruption does not occur. First the Muslim government is bound to ask the rejecters of Zakat to seek repentance; so if they repent and pay Zakat, then there is no issue for them, but if they insist on rejecting Zakat, the government has right to take necessary legal steps against them.

As for divine punishment in the Hereafter for those who do not pay Zakat, Allah Almighty has mentioned it in the Quran, “O you who have believed, indeed many of the scholars and the monks devour the wealth of people unjustly and avert [them] from the way of Allah. And those who hoard gold and silver and spend it not in the way of Allah - give them tidings of a painful punishment.” (9:34) “The Day when it will be heated in the fire of Hell and seared therewith will be their foreheads, their flanks, and their backs, [it will be said], "This is what you hoarded for yourselves, so taste what you used to hoard.” (9:35)

We find that what Hazrat Abu Bakr (May Allah be pleased with him) did in fighting against the rejecters of Zakat is not unusual because most governments fight or take their legal steps against those who violate or disrupt their laws related to their lives and those who try to sabotage them. That is why Hazrat Abu Bakr fought against the apostates who not only refused to pay Zakat but also rebelled against and intended to sabotage the Muslim State.

A well-known classical scholar, Allama Badr al-Din al-Aini (1360-1453) writes in his commentary on Sahih al-Bukhari, “Hazrat Abu Bakr al-Siddiq fought those who refused to pay Zakat because they had taken up the sword and started a war against the Muslim community…Hazrat Abu Hanifa took the ground that he who refuses to pay Zakat must neither be killed nor even fought. However, he must be forced to pay it without the use of the sword, and must only be killed if he rose up to attack. This is exactly what Hazrat Abu Bakr did with those who refused to pay Zakat during his caliphate. He did not fight them until they rose up to attack him” (Badr al-Din al-Aini, Umdatul Qari Sharh al-Bukhari, vol.11, 12, page 236 (The Development of Apostasy And Punishment Law in Islam- A research thesis submitted to the faculty of Divinity of Glasgow University in Complete Fulfilment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, 2002, by Samuel Hosain, Lamarti page 131-132)

Even today if someone fails to pay taxes to his government across the world, he is sentenced to prison. In America Patrick J. Belzner was sentenced to 15 years-imprisonment for tax evasion. China killed tax evaders in 2001, as reported by A New York Times articles 11 Mar. 2001. (See details here: https://bit.ly/2Le1YdA)

To sum up, Hazrat Abu Bakr and his army fought against the rejecters of Zakat who were also known as apostates, not because they simply refused to pay Zakat but also that they denied the rights of the poor and needy by their refusal, actively rebelled and took up arms against the Muslim State. Hence it can’t be justified merely on some reports that Hazrat Abu Bakr fought against apostates merely on the basis of their apostasy. The main reason for his waging fight against these apostates was to protect the rights of the poor and needy in society and lives of other civilians living under his State.     

A regular Columnist with NewAgeIslam.com, Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi Dehlvi is an Alim and Fazil (Classical Islamic scholar), with a Sufi-Sunni background and English-Arabic-Urdu Translator. He has also done B.A (Hons.) in Arabic, M.A. in Arabic and M.A in English from JMI, New Delhi. He is Interested in Islamic Sciences; Theology, Jurisprudence, Tafsir, Hadith and Islamic mysticism (Tasawwuf).

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-q-and-a/ghulam-ghaus-siddiqi,-new-age-islam/ridda-wars--why-did-hazrat-abu-bakr-fight-against-apostates-and-rejecters-of-zakat?/d/119619

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  • all is the matter of faith! if you have faith you are faithful and at the same time rational for you but if you do not have faith you will take the faithful to be irrational
    everyone thinks himself rational and progressive 
    even the uneducated class of people, mostly in Bihar, are found saying "hukmo sikhate ho, jumma jumma aath din hue paida hue aur humko sikhate ho " such phrases are very common 
    let the people speak of thier mind and undersanding - this is what is known as the world of differences 

    By Anjum - 9/2/2019 12:56:38 AM

  • @Ghulam Mohiyuddin sb, let the haters and enemies express their enmity and hatred. 
    Now we should not worry about the haters. They will continue to hate us and we will continue to tolerate them.
    The more hate they show the more solid our faith becomes for us! 
    He will not tolerate even this comment! you will see 

    By Talha - 9/2/2019 12:51:54 AM

  • Quran refers to those who have faith in Allah to be Islamic faith.  The following is the extract:
    The extract below is from Quran 3:67 (Mohsin Khan translation):
    مَا كَانَ إِبْرَاهِيمُ يَهُودِيًّا وَلَا نَصْرَانِيًّا وَلَٰكِنْ كَانَ حَنِيفًا مُسْلِمًا وَمَا كَانَ مِنَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ
    Abraham was not a Jew nor yet a Christian; but he was true in faith, and bowed his will to Allah's (Which is Islam), and he joined not gods with Allah. 
    The phrase, faith..to Allah (Which is Islam)..he joined not gods with Allah, as mentioned here implies those who have faith in Allah and do not worship idols have been treated in Quran to have Islamic faith.
    Hadith below supports those who worship only Allah without worshipping idols also are treated as having Islamic faith.  The following is the extract:

    Narrated Abu Huraira:

    Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) said, "Every child is born with a true faith of Islam (i.e. to worship none but Allah Alone) but his parents convert him to Judaism, Christianity or Magainism, as an animal delivers a perfect baby animal. Do you find it mutilated?" Then Abu Huraira recited the holy verses: "The pure Allah's Islamic nature (true faith of Islam) (i.e. worshipping none but Allah) with which He has created human beings. No change let there be in the religion of Allah (i.e. joining none in worship with Allah). That is the straight religion (Islam) but most of men know, not." (30.30)

    حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدَانُ، أَخْبَرَنَا عَبْدُ اللَّهِ، أَخْبَرَنَا يُونُسُ، عَنِ الزُّهْرِيِّ، أَخْبَرَنِي أَبُو سَلَمَةَ بْنُ عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ، أَنَّ أَبَا هُرَيْرَةَ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏"‏ مَا مِنْ مَوْلُودٍ إِلاَّ يُولَدُ عَلَى الْفِطْرَةِ، فَأَبَوَاهُ يُهَوِّدَانِهِ أَوْ يُنَصِّرَانِهِ أَوْ يُمَجِّسَانِهِ، كَمَا تُنْتَجُ الْبَهِيمَةُ بَهِيمَةً جَمْعَاءَ، هَلْ تُحِسُّونَ فِيهَا مِنْ جَدْعَاءَ ‏"‏‏.‏ ثُمَّ يَقُولُ أَبُو هُرَيْرَةَ ـ رضى الله عنه ‏{‏فِطْرَةَ اللَّهِ الَّتِي فَطَرَ النَّاسَ عَلَيْهَا لاَ تَبْدِيلَ لِخَلْقِ اللَّهِ ذَلِكَ الدِّينُ الْقَيِّمُ‏}
    The extract above is from Sahih al-Bukhari 1359, in-book reference: book 23, hadith 113; USC-MSA web (English) reference: vol. 2, book 23, hadith 441.
    The phrase, The pure Allah's Islamic nature (true faith of Islam) (i.e. worshipping none but Allah), as mentioned in this hadith implies all those people who have faith in Allah and do not worship idols have been treated by hadith to have Islamic faith.  However, this hadith does not mention one must be in Islam in order to have Islamic hadith.  Thus, it implies that as long as one has faith in Allah and does not worship idols, he is considered to have Islamic faith.
    Thus, those Christians and Jews in Quran 9:29 that Quran refer to should be those who reject their faith in Allah and join in battle against Muslims in the past.

    By zuma - 9/2/2019 12:07:53 AM

  • Verse 9:29 is relevant to the discussion on Ridda wars. The subject of the article is neither Zakat nor Jiziya, but the Ridda wars waged immediately after the death of the Prophet (pbuh) in which refusal to pay Zakat was the issue which is falsely projected as a war against apostasy. This discussion is necessary to refute the stand of those who cite these wars to say that the punishment for apostasy is death.

    On the subject of jiziya, read the following article:

    By Naseer Ahmed - 9/1/2019 11:36:02 PM

  • Using Quran 9:29 to support Jizyah is compulsory, it seems to be inappropriate and irrelevant. 

    Let's mediate Quran 9:29 as below:

    Quran 9:29 in Mohsin Khan translation:

    Fight against those who (1) believe not in Allah, (2) nor in the Last Day, (3) nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم) (4) and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (i.e. Islam) among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.

    The phrase, Fight against those who believe not in Allah, as mentioned above refers to the battle against those who do no believe in Allah.  The subsequent phrase, the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) is mentioned implies the so-called Jews and Christians might forsake their faith in Allah.

    Why does Quran 9:29 call Muslims to fight against them?

    The reason for Quran 9:29 for Muslims to fight against them is spelt out in the same chapter of Quran 9:13 as follows:

    Will you not fight a people who have violated their oaths (pagans of Makkah), and intended to expel the Messenger while they did attack you first? Do you fear them? Allah has more right that you should fear Him if you are believers.

    The phrase, Will you not fight a people..to expel the Messenger did attack you first, in Quran 9:13 implies non-Muslims were the first to battle against Muslims and that causes Quran 9:26 to impose jiyaz to them.

    Quran 9:11 mentions they have to give zakat if they repent.  As the word, repent, in Quran 9:11 is linked to the word, zakat, it implies zakat is meant to pay for some sin that someone has committed.  If the word, repent, in Quran 9:11 has to be read with Quran 9:13, it is obviously that they intend to expel the Messenger and to attack Muslims to first.  As they attacked the Messenger, Quran 9:11 demands them to repent from attacking them and give zakat.

    Now the problem is non-Muslims in contemporary world do not attack Muslims.  As they do not attack Muslims, why should there be any repentance for their fight with them.  As there is no need for their repentance for their battle with Muslims since they do not fight with Muslim, why should zakat be paid by them since Quran 9:11 mentions zakat has to be dealt with repentance?

    There is also no reason to use Quran 9:29 supports Quran promotes battle between non-Muslims and Muslims since Quran 9:6, "(in the same chapter mentions)..if any one of the Mushrikun (polytheists, idolaters, pagans, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah) seeks your protection, then grant him protection so that he may hear the Word of Allah (the Quran), and then escort him to where he can be secure, that is because they are men who know not."  Yet Quran 9:6 does not mention Muslims must impose zakat in order to grant non-Muslims protection.

    Hence, it is irrational to use Quran 9:29 to comment zakat is a must to be imposed since Quran 9:11 links repent to zakat.

    Do you have any other verse that is more suitable to support zakat is compulsion.

    By zuma - 9/1/2019 7:47:56 PM

  • Neither zakat nor jizya is a relevant topic for progressive Muslims living in a pluralistic society. All that such discussions do is give enemies of Islam such as Hats Off an opportunity to vent their distorted and malicious versions of history.

    A good subject to discuss however  would be whether the modern system of taxation and the current practices of charitable giving are compatible with the spirit of Islam.

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 9/1/2019 11:44:52 AM

  • ridda wars conclusively demonstrate that the people were coerced into islam and when the fearful leader died, felt free to opt out. all that myth about riasat e madeena has been cooked up by historians with too little to do and too much time on their hands.
    but islam is not that kind. it is like the hotel california. you can check out any time you like but you can never leave.
    ridda wars are always "explained" (just like sex slavery and left hand possessions and jizya are explained) always through a false analogy originally supplied by an extremist sunni website that is notorious for its very very "moderate" views. no government kills you if you do not pay taxes. this is deliberately false and mischievously tries to justify nasty things that have happened in the leaden age of islam. a similar outrageous "explanantion" has been given by moderate muslims on why jizya is ennobling to the kuffar and sex slavery is kind.
    and they expect the kuffar not to hate islam!
    religion destroys the last shred of decency of any human. this is what has happened to all those who defend jizya, sex slavery and death for apostasy and homosexuality.
    really a religion of "peace".

    By hats off! - 9/1/2019 5:12:15 AM

  • The Quran explicitly commands fighting those who refuse to pay Jiziya in willing submission to the State (9:29). Therefore, by implication, if a body of Muslims refuse to pay Zakat in willing submission to the State, it is equally the duty of the State to  compel them by fighting against the rebels if necessary.

    By Naseer Ahmed - 9/1/2019 3:53:16 AM

  • My previous comments on the subject:

    12/9/2016 4:47:20 AM

    Naseer Ahmed

    It is important that we understand the nature of the Ridda wars correctly. The main issue was rebellion against the political authority of Abu Bakr (RA) and refusal to pay zakat. The secondary issue was that these rebellious tribes were choosing their own leaders as successor to Muhammad (pbuh) and also calling them their prophet and not Caliph (out of their ignorance). There was no apostasy in the sense of denying either Allah or the prophethood of Muhammad (pbuh).

     The wars were mainly to establish the political authority of the Caliph without which there was danger that Arabia which had become a nation state from a tribal society would again disintegrate and slide back into a tribal society with independent tribal leaders.

     The support for the nation state with powers to collect taxes in the form of zakat or jiziya  comes from the Quran itself where the Prophet is commanded to collect Zakat from the Muslims and Jiziya from others and all are required to submit to this requirement in submission to the political authority or face war.

     The Ridda wars would have been against apostasy if the rebellious tribes had gone back to worship their previous gods and if they had been forced to re-accept Islam. This was not the case. If they had done that, then the Quranic requirement would have been to fight against them until they accepted the political authority of the Caliph and agreed to pay jiziya.

     There were no forced conversions and Abu Bakr (RA) is not guilty of any wrong doing.

    View Article


    9/26/2016 3:29:40 AM

    Naseer Ahmed

    Ridda wars were not for or against the freedom of conscience. The rebellion was against pledging their allegiance to the political successor Abu Bakr. It was a political rebellion by refusing to recognize the political authority of the successor and refusing to pay zakat. If it was a matter of freedom of conscience and not a political rebellion, they would have offered to pay jiziya in place of zakat.

     Ridda means rejection and in this case, it was rejection of the political authority of the successor. No account of these wars speak of "apostasy" by the rebels in the sense of going back on the kalimah or turning their back on the religion. 

     Arabia was a tribal society before Muhammad (pbuh) who in the course of the last 10 years of his life turned it into a nation and an ummah. If the political rebellion was not contained, the society would have gone back to the old days of tribalism.

    View Article


    12/10/2016 2:17:15 AM

    Naseer Ahmed

    Read any version of the history from any source. These wars were anything but wars for or against the freedom of conscience. It wasn't freedom of conscience that the rebels wanted but freedom from the authority of the Caliph and freedom from paying zakat.

     Even a modern day ruler of any country will act exactly as Abu Bakr (RA) did in identical circumstances. The rebellion were acts of sedition in the political sense rather than in the religious sense. 

     Abu Bakr Siddiqui (RA) was among the very first to accept Islam. He was well to do but donated everything he had to the cause of Islam. He was the lone companion of the Prophet when he migrated to Medina. He is among the Muslims about whom the Quran says are the best of creatures (khair-ul-bariyati) in verse 98:7. 

     He is also among the Muslims referred to in the Quran in the following verse:

     (9:100) The vanguard (of Islam)- the first of those who forsook (their homes) and of those who gave them aid, and (also) those who follow them in (all) good deeds,- well-pleased is Allah with them, as are they with Him: for them hath He prepared gardens under which rivers flow, to dwell therein for ever: that is the supreme felicity.

     The sacrifices that Abu Bakr (RA) made are beyond compare. He is above even a shadow of suspicion as far as motives are concerned and as far as his knowledge of the Quran is concerned, he was given the title of Siddiq by the Prophet himself for his depth of understanding which comes from true knowledge. Very clearly, the Quran grants freedom of conscience and very clearly the Quran also commanded in verse 9:29 to bring all people of the Hejaz under the political authority of the Prophet and fight against those who rebel or fail to submit to the political authority.

     Ridda literally means “rejection” or “to go back on” and in this case, it was rejection of the political authority of the Caliph or “to go back on” the pledge of political support or fealty. In another context, it could be rejection of faith or belief after having believed.

     Those who believe apostasy to be punishable by death will describe these wars as wars to put down apostasy as justification for their beliefs since they do not find anything else to support such beliefs. To endorse the view that the wars were wars on account of rejection (ridda) of faith rather than rejection (ridda) of political authority of the Caliph is to support the punishment of killing for apostasy because there is no way you can make out Abu Bakr (RA) to have been in error when the Quran itself speaks highly of the vanguard Muslims and he was certainly the foremost among them having been given the title of Siddiq by the Prophet himself. While certainly no one is infallible, but these vanguard Muslims were above any serious errors of judgment in the matter of religion. What is therefore important is to correctly portray these wars as not wars to put down apostasy but wars against political sedition.

     As far as Quranic scholarship is concerned, the scholars treat Mushrik, Kafir and idolator as synonyms almost without exception which includes those from Al-Azhar also so it does not surprise me when they fail to look at these wars as not wars to put down political sedition but as wars of apostasy since many of the same scholars also subscribe to the punishment of killing for apostasy.

    View Article


    By Naseer Ahmed - 9/1/2019 12:42:55 AM

  • Paying government taxes is obligatory. Failure to pay taxes may result in fines or even imprisonment. Governments use some of the tax money to help the poor and the needy.
    Charitable contributions however are always voluntary. That is the way it should be.
    Zakat laws are earlier attempts subsuming the concepts of both taxes and charity. They may be considered to be obsolete in pluralistic societies.

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 8/31/2019 10:30:11 AM

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