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23 May 2017 CE | 27 Shaban 1438 AH
Explanation below

Hadith Explanation

Rejecting an Excuse

The Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “When someone offers an excuse to his fellow Muslim and the latter does not accept it, his sin is like the crime of imposing taxes.” [Ibn Majah]

To reject someone’s excuse is basically to accuse him/her of lieing. Before you assume that someone is lieing, think about how sinful you will be if they are not lieing while you accuse them of it. If they are lieing, while you give them the benefit of the doubt, you get your reward for following the Sunnah, while they will have to face their accountability before Allah (subhana wa ta’ala).

This hadith also informs us of how sinful it is for governments to be taxing their citizens. In the hadith of the adulteress who purified herself by voluntarily being stoned to death, there is the Prophet’s remark (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam): “She has made a repentance so sincere that if even a tax taker repented with the like of it, he would be forgiven.” [Muslim]

Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) has required Muslims to pay Zakat out of their wealth and He (subhana wa ta’ala) has required non-Muslims to pay Jizya. Both are nominal but are sufficient when Islamic Shariah is followed in its totality. Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) puts Barakah in the State, because Haraam interest (Riba) payments are not being made, and because the ruling elite live as the servants of the people not as their kings, and because the Muslims put their reliance on Him by following His commands meticulously.

In current times, each new day witnesses the imposition of a new tax on already hard pressed citizens. Novel ways are invented of fleecing the lower and middle classes. People work to uphold and uplift the lifestyles of their governmental staff rather than it being the other way around.

Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri writes in Umdat us-Salik: “He who imposes taxes resembles a highwayman, and is worse than a thief…Those who gather taxes, who do the clerical work, or who accept the proceeds, such as a soldier, sheikh, or head of a Sufi center (Zawiya) – all bear the sin, and are eating of ill-gotten wealth.”

Imam Dhahabi, in his book Kitab al-Kaba’ir (Book of Enormities), has classified imposing taxes as one of the enormities. An enormity is a huge sin, entailing either a threat of punishment in the Hereafter explicitly mentioned by the Quran or Hadith, a prescribed legal penalty (Hadd), or being accursed by Allah or His Messenger (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam).

Imam Dhahabi was a Hafiz, historian of Islam, and Imam in canonical Quranic readings (Qira’at). The title of Hafiz was only given to someone who had memorized at least 100,000 Ahadith. A Hadith consists of a text as well as a chain of narrators through which the text is traced back to the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam). It is this method of safeguarding the words of the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) that allowed Islam to be preserved in pristine, original form. The chain of narrators is critical in determining the authenticity of a Hadith. For a Hafiz to have memorized the Quran was not an accomplishment worth mentioning, but understood.

Imam Dhahabi was born in 673/1274 in Damascus, and died in 748/1348. He authored nearly a hundred works, some of them of considerable size, like his twenty-three volume Siyar A’lam al-Nubala (The Lives of Noble Figures), or his thirty-six volume Tarikh al-Islam al-Kabir (Major History of Islam).

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