Pending the outcome of the continuing review of our current operations, all Muslim Faculty of Advanced Studies programmes are suspended until further notice. In the interim, we have made the lectures freely available here on this site.

8. Welfare in the Early Days of Islam

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم وصلى الله على سيدنا محمد وعلى ءاله وصحبه أجمعين وسلّم

Title: Welfare in the Early Days of Islam

Author: Dr. Asadullah Yate

Publication date: 26/10/2013

Assalamu alaykum. Welcome to the Muslim History Programme of the MFAS. This is the eighth of 12 sessions which make up the Early Madina module. The lecture will last approximately 40 minutes during which time you should make a written note of any questions that may occur to you for clarification after the lecture. 

Welfare in the Early Days of Islam

This lecture is a call for a less bureaucratic interpretation of welfare in the early days of Islam - as a counterbalance to the rather misleading assessments of this matter often propagated today under such titles as ‘The Welfare State in Islam’ or ‘The Islamic Social System’. I shall argue that welfare cannot be treated as an individual matter but rather must be seen as an aspect of health of the body of the Muslims as a whole, and that the early forms of welfare have all but disappeared and have been substituted by alien structures. 

Allah ta’ala says in sura at-Tawba 129:  ‘A Messenger has come to you from among yourselves.  Your suffering is distressing to him; he is deeply concerned for you; he is gentle and merciful to the muminun.’ The Messenger then, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, is described with the attributes of Allah: ra’uf and rahim – gentle and merciful.1

In his Sahih, Muslim narrates that 'Umar ibn al-Khattab reported that ‘some prisoners were brought to Allah's Messenger, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, amongst whom was also a woman, who was searching (for someone) and when she found the child (she was searching for) amongst the prisoners, she took hold of it, pressed it against her in her lap and breastfed it. Then Allah's Messenger, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said to us: “Do you think this woman would ever throw her child into a fire? We said: ‘No by Allah, if she were able to prevent such a thing, she would never allow her child be thrown into a fire.’ Then Allah's Messenger, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him said: ‘Allah is more merciful to His slaves than this woman is to her child’”.2 

So one may state that the primary source of welfare is Allah taala Himself and His Messenger, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.

It is not surprising that in the light of this ayah and this hadith the subject of welfare is vast, indeed the whole of Islamic society is geared to the welfare of the Muslims. However, the word ‘welfare’ could be misleading to anyone raised in a democratic society and who understands it as mere systematic social state-care. The welfare we are dealing with here has a much broader and more profound meaning, a meaning determined by Allah and his Messenger which encompasses the well-being of the slave in this world and the next. Never has there been a society more attuned to the real welfare of men and women than ours.

No precise statistics are available to us from the early generations of Muslims. It was not a society that felt the need to prove anything or plan anything in the modern sense. However evidence for the wide-ranging nature of this welfare is well documented, albeit often anecdotal – in the seeras of the Messenger, sallalahu alayhi wa sallam, those of al-Khulafa ar-Rashidun, the works of Qadi Abu Yusuf3, ‘Abd al-Hayy al-Kattani4 and al-Qadi ‘Ali al-Mawardi5 for example. In general one may conclude from them that the closer in time to al-Madina al-Munawwara, the more spontaneous, the more fluid the nature of the welfare, and the further away in time – i.e. the later, in ‘Umayyad and ‘Abbasid terms, the more institutionalised it became.6

Welfare has various modes: it may take the form of help given from the funds of the zakat, from sadaqa7, silat ar-rahim, from the bayt al-mal - i.e. from the ghanima/fay booty, kharaaj, jiyza, 'ushur, and khums, or from the awqaf, ‘ataa’iyaat, sukuk, ‘umraa, and loans and deposits.

It may well be that sadaqa was the most important of these in the early days of Islam. The natural concern of the inhabitants of Madina for one another was nurtured by the countless injunctions of the Messenger, peace and blessings upon him, urging people to see to the needs of their fellow Muslims and by the numerous ayats praising sadaqa. Such welfare was essentially a personal in-the-moment matter, unlike most of the above mentioned types of welfare which were legislated in the sharia and became increasingly institutionalized after the first generations. The instances of sadaqa are countless and are testified to in the seeras by the renowned generosity of the Messenger and his Companions, and then the Khulafa, the governors, and the leading social and literary figures and merchants in every Islamic society after them, and indeed is a core characteristic of the Muslims up until today. There is an aspect of pragmatism to this too, the natural human desire for increase - for Allah says that He ‘obliterates riba but makes sadaqa grow in value!8’. Sadaqa has however largely become institutionalised with the proliferation of so-called Islamic charities – in partnership with so-called Islamic banks.

To further understand this matter of welfare one must realise that it was always the prime concern of the leader of the community – initially, of course, the Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him, and then his representatives after him within the dawla. This is expressed by Ibn Khaldun who makes clear that the happiness and welfare of the people is a matter ordained by Allah and dependent for its implementation on the legitimate person in authority. Speaking about the organisation of society in general he says: 

… it is necessary to have recourse to ordained political laws, which are accepted by all ….If these laws are imposed by the intelligent and leading personalities and the most perspicacious persons of the dawlat, the result will be a polity of an intellectual and rational (kind). If these (laws) are ordained by Allah by means of a lawgiver who establishes them as laws of the sharia, the result will be a polity based on the deen (of Islam) which will be useful for life in both this world and the next. 

Significantly Ibn Khaldun continues:

This is because the purpose of human beings is not only their worldly welfare – for the entire world is trifling and futile given that it ends in death and annihilation. Allah says: "Did you suppose that We created you for amusement?"9 

One cannot just consider the matter of welfare in terms of the dawlat but rather as an embodiment of the person in authority. The welfare of the people – the ra’iya - is inextricably bound to the ra’i, the person in authority. The son of ‘Umar relates that the Messenger, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said: ‘Surely all of you are shepherds and all of you are responsible for your flock (ra’iya). Thus the Amir over the people is responsible for his people, and a man is a guardian over the people of his household and is responsible for them, and a woman is a guardian over the household of her husband and her children and is responsible for them, and a slave is a guardian of the wealth of his master. Indeed all of you are guardians and all are responsible for whatever you are guarding10'. Ibn Khaldun cites the following letter of Tahir b. al-Husayn, al-Ma'mun's General, to his son 'Abdallah b. Tahir whom he had appointed Governor of ar-Raqqah11:

Know that property (i.e. gold, silver and wealth in general), once it is gathered and stored in treasuries, does not bear fruit, but if it is used for the​ welfare of the ra’iya, for giving them what is due to them and to prevent them from need, then it grows, thrives and is (thereby) purified. The common people thrive by it, those in authority are firmly established by it and it brings a time of prosperity. It ensures power and profit (for all). Therefore, let your (particular) treasure from amongst the treasures (at your disposal) be the distribution of wealth for the establishing of ‘imarats - (i.e. the furnishing of all the facilities associated with a flourishing social nexus like markets, mosques, hamams etc.) - in order to allow Islam and the Muslims to flourish. Make (funds) from it available for the governors of the Commander of the Faithful who preceded you, (i.e.) that which is due them, give them their share and see to that which might improve their affairs and livelihood. 

Then the General adds – and this is the fundamental difference between welfare in the modern sense and what we are talking about here: 

If you do that you will be assured of the blessing (of Allah) and you will make it incumbent upon Allah, ta’ala, to increase (His blessings for you and society).

However the Khalif no longer exists and instead of leaders we now have elected representatives whose allegiance is to the party, the media and the banks who got him elected.


But we are not as Muslims caught up in a social ideal, striving after a welfare which– in accordance with a socialist-capitalist vision of progress - must become more and more refined and better and better. No! welfare is subject to a divine model which has preceded us, i.e. the model of Madina – which was perfect with respect to the welfare of its inhabitants. It began to decline - even during the first century AH - when one began to lose sight of how Allah defines welfare, viz. the greater welfare indicated above by Ibn Khaldun - and is today still declining, indeed very rapidly. Just as freedom cannot really be legislated, neither can welfare – unless it is understood in this wider, divine sense. Existentially it is often only through wars, natural disasters and poverty that many people have access to the divine or feel the need to call on Him. Man’s state, sa condition humaine, is clear from the following ayat: ‘Mankind! you are the poor in need of Allah whereas Allah is the Rich Beyond Need, the Praiseworthy12’ – if poverty were to be eliminated, which is a modern fantasy, a whole aspect of the deen of Islam would disappear. We as Muslims know that both good and bad are from Allah and although we are commanded to strive for the welfare of ourselves and others, we do so in the knowledge that He alone is the Determiner and Disposer of affairs: we do not and cannot have recourse merely to the intellect to rationally resolve the matter of welfare in an absolute sense.

Ibn Khaldun discusses the nature of Allah's concern for human welfare and what is best for man but makes it clear that we do not follow the mu’tazilites who consider man the creator of his own actions13, and that his actions have nothing to do with divine power, especially not man's evil actions - the argument being that Allah in His wisdom would find it impossible to do them.14

Again this comprehensive aspect of welfare may only be fully understood if we take into account the effect of what Ibn Khaldun calls ‘asabiyya: whereas up to the time of the hijra the tribal bonds of blood had been the only effective means of welfare, the Messenger, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, was first able to reconcile the feuding clans of the Aus and Khazraj and then joined in brotherhood and sisterhood the Muhajirun with the Ansar. This then became the highest instance of welfare – that is, the care taken by the people of Madina of the muhajirun when they allotted half of their property, even their wives, to the newcomers who had made hijra from Makka15. This bonding of men and women which went beyond family and clan was not an abrogating of the command to ‘maintain the bonds of blood’ – i.e. silat ar-rahim16 – but rather an extension of the command to include one’s brothers and sisters in Islam. This ithaar, this preferring others over oneself – which is one of the primal aspects of non-organised welfare in Islam – then served as a model for the welfare of the umma up to the present day. It was this solicitude which formed the basis of the new society which had not been possible in Makka, which made possible the establishment of the deen, as a social reality, on the ground17.

As one would expect there was little systematisation – in the modern sense - of welfare in the early days of Islam. After the Messenger's personal establishment and overseeing of the primal diwan – as model - in Madina which served as an administrative centre for zakat, agricultural estimates, contracts of trade and sales and the recording of political treaties18, we hear that Abu Bakr, for example, 'would make sure that his soldiers had everything they needed… [and] would on a consistent basis, purchase camels, horses and weapons'19 – an indication that he himself assured this welfare and that it had not become purely bureaucratic, i.e. separated from the personal source from which it took its legitimacy. Again, on his own personal initiative he would purchase Muslim slaves who were being tortured by their owners and free them for the sake of Allah. It was Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, who threatened to make war on the Eastern Tribes who had refused payment of the zakat after the death of the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him – in the knowledge that it was a fard aspect of the deen and a basis of welfare.

Here then are some of the different modes of welfare – with little mention of their administration which varied from age to age, culminating in the administrative systems of the Mughal and Osmanli dawlats.


This, as the primal source of prescribed welfare, is well documented. The parameters are clear: it is collected according to the lunar year on the orders of the person in authority. The tax collectors who collect it hand to hand - making a du’a for the person being taxed – receive payment paid from it, as well as seven other categories20. It is distributed locally in order to strengthen the community. Distribution amongst the various categories is at the discretion of the Amir. The welfare resulting from the zakat must have been considerable: even in the early days in Madina there were many very rich traders – and of course Abu Bakr and ‘Umar – following his success in trade, were also amongst the richest of the inhabitants. Moreover, as Khulafa, they could dispose over the fifth of the booty for Allah and His Messenger21. ‘Umar developed the institution of zakat after Abu Bakr – a growth which was natural given the vast new conquered territories and the increasing number of new Muslims.22 

However, the majestic fard of Zakat has more or less disappeared or has been often reduced to a plastic box hung on the wall of the entrance to a mosque; or to a payment system overseen by the banks. Gone too is the personal du’a made by the tax collector after receipt of the zakat.

Bayt al-Mal

It is evident that allowances for soldiers, muhtasibs and qadis for example 23, as well as the poor, were made from the outset – other than the zakat allowances. In the nature of things these allowances must have varied greatly from day to day, year to year, in accordance with the income accruing to the bayt al mal. At certain times of the Messenger’s rule, sallallahu ‘alayhi was sallam, and in particular during that of the Khulafa ar-Rashidun and the expansion of the territories of Islam, the income accruing to the bayt al-mal was great. The majority of the income to the bayt al-mal is from the four fifths of the booty24 and the khums - i.e. the fifth accruing from mineral wealth​ or the earth’s mined resources. Again, like the zakat, it is obviously in the nature of the source of such income that it is not estimable in advance: it varies greatly in accordance with the campaigns made and the wealth of the territories conquered.

There is an interesting description of the differences in approach to the distribution of wealth at the time of the Khulafa ar-Rashidun. We cite it here to emphasize the early lack of systematisation and the fluidity of the application of the legal ruling: the Qadi, Ibn Rushd al-Jadd reports a narration from Malik from Ibn al-Khattab who says: ‘If I live until next year I shall join the lowest of people to the highest’. Commenting on this Qadi ibn Rushd says: ‘Abu Bakr as-Siddeeq would treat people equally when distributing the wealth of Allah to them, not preferring any (over another) on the basis of their higher rank or their long standing (acceptance of Islam) when according an allowance to them. ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab spoke to him about this saying; “They have achieved such marks of excellence for the sake of Allah and their reward for these is incumbent upon Allah. People see an example in (the varying allocation of) such livelihoods and this world is (the abode of) struggle”. ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab distributed (the wealth) distinguishing between people (in doing so) and allotted the diwan payments on the basis of their precedence (in embracing Islam) and their excellence over others saying: “A man is (to be considered) along with his performance as well as his seniority (in the deen)”. (The Qadi continues:) The most obvious meaning of Umar’s words ‘If I remain alive until the following year I shall join the lowest of people to the highest’ is that he will renounce his practice - of according preference regarding the payments on the basis of the excellence or seniority of people over those of no (particular) priority or known excellence – in favour of the practice of Abu Bakr in according equality between them25.

The bayt al-mal of course no longer exists. Any accumulation of Muslim wealth is usually in the form of numbers on the computer of a bank. 


The early charitable contracts, institutions and foundations established for any aspect of welfare of the Muslims became more and more important as the umma grew. The instances of waqf made by the Messenger, like his setting aside of various orchards for the benefit of the community, the himas27 and of course the establishment of the mosques in Madina served as precedents for the great and numerous institutions of waqf established after him. Al-Waqidi tells us: ‘The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, made a waqf of al-A‘raf, Barqa, Muthayyib, ad-Dalal, Hasna and as-Safiyya and the water-hole of Umm Ibrahim in 7 AH. ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab, ‘Uthman ibn ‘Awf, ‘Ali, Talha, az-Zubayr, Zayd ibn Thabit, ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar and ‘Amr ibn al-‘As also all made waqfs.’ Al-Kattani says: “The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and the Muslims after him continued to use the habous until it became one of the main sources of revenue in Islam to help its people, and the income from awqaf today in all Muslim lands exceeds that obtained by means of taxation.” This was written in the early part of the last century and it is clear from it that during the whole history of Islam, from the time of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, onwards almost into our own time, the social welfare needs of Muslims throughout the world were taken care of by the myriad instances of awqaf.


It was ‘Umar, radi allahu anhu, who developed the very important source of income of the kharaaj for the Muslims – i.e. the tribute tax from lands conquered by force and left mainly in the hands of the non-Muslim original owners to earn income for the Muslims.28 


The ‘ushar is the tenth tax collected on the agricultural produce of the lands of those who accepted Islam, and which remained in their possession; it is also used to refer to the tax on traders passing through the borders of Dar al Islam first imposed by Umar.


The allocation of stipends evolved during the Khalifate of ‘Umar, may be Allah be pleased with him, continued during that of ‘Uthman bin ‘Affan and then became an established part of the finances of the umma. It is difficult to determine the extent of these allocations from the bayt al-mal. As we have heard above, Ibn Rushd al-Jadd says of Abu Bakr for example that he treated all people alike in his giving whereas ‘Umar discriminated on the basis of their seniority and ‘rank’ in Islam30, but how many people were involved and whether the receipt of such allocations was also subject to need is not mentioned. It was ‘Umar who seems to have been the first to have imposed a really organised form to the diwan - as an office and register of financial dealings31. This, it may be argued, represented a kind of systematisation of the primal welfare form existing during the time of the Messenger and Abu Bakr. A clear indication of the extent and importance of these allowances is contained in the narration of Malik32 who says that ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab said to Ibn al-Arkam: ‘Record (the names of) people.’ So he recorded them and came (to ‘Umar) with them who then asked him ‘have you recorded them?’ he replied ‘yes, I have recorded (the names of) the Muhajirun, the Ansar - both the Arab muhajirun and those (of the non-Arabs who have been) freed’. Then ‘Umar said: ‘Perhaps there is a man whose people is not mentioned here and which you have not recorded – so go back’. Then Muhammad ibn Rushd al-Jadd comments: (Ibn al-Qasim) says in the al-Mudawwana with respect to this matter that this means ‘go back and record (further) for it may well be that you have left a man out whom you are not aware of.’ What he meant was that no one should be left out. So this demonstrates that ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab at this point in time would divide (the common wealth) amongst all of the Muslims. Moreover he also said, may Allah be pleased with him: ‘There is no one from amongst the Muslims but that he has a right to this wealth – whether in fact given to him or denied him – even if this person is a shepherd or shepherdess in Aden’. Ibn Qasim continued: ‘I noticed that Malik liked this hadith, and success is by Allah’. At the time of ‘Uthman, radi allahu ‘anhu zakat, in the form of stipends or salaries were paid to muezzins, governors, judges, troops, agents and workers of the dawlat, and funds were made available for the digging of wells, building of mosques for the poor, needy, orphans, travellers and the setting free of slaves, and it was ‘Uthman who permitted that the stipend of a Muslim soldier could be given to his Muslim heirs33. In the Muwatta,34 we have the following reference to ‘an allowance’ – but again the incident is informal and indicates just how unsystematised this practise was, even at the time of the third Khalif: Yahya related to me from Malik from his paternal uncle, Abu Suhayl ibn Malik, that his father said, "I was with ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan when the iqama was said for the salat and I was talking to him about being assigned a definite allowance by him. I continued talking to him while he was levelling some small stones with his sandals, and then some men that he had entrusted to straighten the rows came and told him that the rows were straight. He said to me, 'Line up in the row,' and then he said the takbir." Another example in the Muwatta demonstrates the unlikelihood of any systematic distribution - in its modern sense - of such allowances, indeed of any systematic collection of zakat: given that we hear that Abu Bakr personally would give the men their allowances and that he himself would also simultaneously take the zakat from them if due from them, then it does not appear that such financial matters were organised exclusively from any diwan or that every person was approached by the tax collector in a manner and time regulated officially so to speak. Indeed a far more informal form of distribution and collection suggests itself – in conjunction, one assumes, with the diwan: Yahya related to me from Malik that Muhammad ibn ‘Uqba, the Mawla of az-Zubayr, asked al-Qasim ibn Muhammad whether he had to pay any zakat on a large sum given to him by his slave to buy his freedom. Al-Qasim said, "Abu Bakr as-Siddeeq did not take zakat from anyone's property until it had been in his possession for a year." Al-Qasim ibn Muhammad continued, "When Abu Bakr gave men their allowances he would ask them, 'Do you have any property on which zakat is due?' If they said, 'Yes,' he would take the zakat on that property out of their allowances. If they said, 'No,' he would hand over their allowances to them without deducting anything from them."35 However we also hear from Malik36 that Ibn Shihab said, "The first person to deduct zakat from allowances was Muawiya ibn Abi Sufyan" (i.e. the deduction being made automatically). This too indicates a rather informal arrangement.

Such allowances and stipends no longer exist given the demise of the bayt al mal.


Another means of welfare were the sukuk – the vouchers issued by the person in authority to those in need to be used for the receipt of specific goods. Again the extent of this help, numbers of people involved and those entitled to receive must be subject to further research. From the entry in the Muwatta38 it is clear that it was organised on a relatively large scale and was of such importance that the Khalif on hearing of an irregularity took immediate measures to resolve the matter:  'Malik had heard that the sukuk-receipts were given to people in the time of Marwan ibn al-Hakam for the produce of the market at al-Jar. People bought and sold the receipts among themselves before they took delivery of the goods. Zayd ibn Thabit and one of the Companions of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, went to Marwan ibn al-Hakam and said, "Marwan! Do you make usury halal?" He said, "I seek refuge with Allah! What is it?" He said, "These receipts which people buy and sell before they take delivery of the goods." Marwan therefore sent a guard to follow them and to take them from people's hands and return them to their owners.'


Another type of gift is that given for life known as 'umraa39 - i.e.  the gifting of something, especially a house, land, or livestock for life. This is recorded in the Muwatta, with three entries, and we can assume it was a customary practice. We hear for example40 that Malik related to me from Ibn Shihab from Abu Salama ibn ‘Abd ar-Rahman ibn Awf from Jabir ibn ‘Abdullah al-Ansari that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "If someone is given a life pension, for him and his posterity, it belongs to the person to whom it has been given. It never reverts to the one who gave it because he gave a gift and the rules of inheritance apply to it."; and again in the Muwatta41: Malik related to me from Yahya ibn Sa’eed that Abd ar-Rahman ibn al-Qasim ibn Muhammad heard Makhul ad-Dimashqi ask al-Qasim ibn Muhammad about the life pension and what people said about it. Al-Qasim ibn Muhammad said, "I have only come upon people who keep to the conditions they make about their property and what they are given."


Gifts of a spontaneous nature, i.e. without any immediate ulterior motive, have always been a natural part of the welfare of the Muslims. In the Muwatta43 we hear that "The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, 'O trusting women! Let none of you despise giving to her neighbour even if it is only a roasted sheep's trotter.' However the accepting of money or gifts from people in authority has always been a subject of discussion – given that it might open the door to the buying of political influence – and might lead to a diminution of respect regarding the receiver44. The Messenger also pointed out on one occasion that it was better not to take such gifts because by abstaining one was effectively preferring others over himself45. Moreover the taking of anything was always conditional upon it being halal, i.e. having been acquired in a halal manner by the donor46.


Mention should also be made of the jizya which was a tax strengthening the bayt al mal of the Muslims but which benefitted the people of the book by effectively affording them protection as minorities and relieved them of military service.47

This even, as a term, no longer exists, having been proscribed as politically incorrect by the media.

Loans and deposits

Mention may be made too of the act of loaning someone something or receiving his deposit – wadi’a, both being acts of charity for which nothing is required in return. Moreover they are essentially of an informal nature, no written proof being required. There is perhaps no more fitting example for the tendency of these and many other – essentially personal and unofficial – acts within the sunna of the Muslims to become institutionalised and structuralised in the course of time. In this case the act of loaning or depositing has turned into the tyranny of the banking system which no amount of islamisization can ever make halal. A sunna has been turned into an global, computerised grid whose power is greater than governments and the act of loaning or depositing is designated a product – as if something useful has been produced. Now, someone in need of a loan is expected to submit to the humiliation of an interview with an anonymous bank clerk instead of turning to his fellow men and women within his community.


Inheritance is an important aspect of welfare in that it is Allah who has determined the apportioning of two thirds of the wealth of the deceased person – thus avoiding the disputes and family splits so common in non-Muslim communities where the allotment of portions is often determined by third party lawyers.


The welfare of man and women living and working within guilds is infinitely greater than that afforded by the current capitalist insurance system which is a division of the banking system which of its nature is geared to making a profit rather than caring for people.

The Market Place 

The service of providing people with a place to buy and sell – afforded by the person in authority of any given community, town or city – is a welfare sorely missed in today’s ‘advanced’ societies which are characterised by monopoly malls and exorbitant taxes for those who wish to sell outside of the malls.


A final aspect of welfare which in a way is a precondition of all the above is amn – security. There must be security for social life to flourish. Security was a characteristic of Madina and guaranteed the wellbeing of its inhabitants. Security is an aspect of welfare not only afforded by the person in authority but also by every man and woman of Muslim society – who of their nature command to the good and prohibit what is bad. Security remained a dominant feature of the social life of the Muslims for many centuries. Indeed even during the Osmanli dawlat the cutting of hands and other hudud were extremely rare – indicative of the degree of security which prevailed. This aspect of welfare – security, has largely disappeared from the so-called ‘Muslim lands’ of today: they too, like the rest of the world, have become riven with theft, rape, drug and alcohol related crime and have adopted the democratic institutions of policing which are industries in themselves, little to do with real justice or the establishment of security. Up to very recently traces of this security were to be seen amongst the Muslims - for example the practice of shop owners of merely covering over their goods with a cloth when they went for the salat while leaving the shop open. This practice too has almost disappeared.

In conclusion one may say that the society established by the Messenger, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, and the four Khulafa ar-Rashidun established a great many instances of welfare which served as precedents for the development of the umma after them. However these in the course of time have generally become institutionalised and or ceased to exist. 

We ask Allah taala that He enable us to reestablish the comprehensive welfare of Madina as well as the spontaneity of unsystematised giving which was part of the umma prior to the establishment of the charity-bank syndrome - and which is encompassed in the famous du’a of the Messenger a: ‘O Allah give us good in the dunya and in the akhira, and protect us from the Fire’.

That brings us to the end of today’s lecture. The subject of our next lecture is “Some Thoughts on the Transmission of Qur'an and Sunna” by Dr. Yasin Dutton FFAS. Thank you for your attention. Assalamu alaykum.

1 Ayat:129.

2 Hadith no. 2754, Sahih Muslim, Kitab at-Tawba, Ikmal al-mu‘lim bi-fawaa’id Muslim, vol. 8, being the commentary of Qadi ‘Iyaad. 

3 See Kitaab al-Kharaaj.

4 See at-Tarateeb al-Idaariyya – although it has been used to justify a structured, static, State-Islam as Shaykh Dr Abdal Qadir as-Sufi notes: with its ‘strong erudition it had gathered recensions from the Prophetic period and then claimed that therein lay the blueprint of Islamic politics’ … ‘in placing the model over Western State practice he seemed to offer as a true model the teetotal capitalism of Herbert Hoover.’ see ‘Islam the Recovery’, Website article of 7.9.2013.

5 See Al-Ahkam al-Sultaniyya, Dar al-Fikr, Beirut, pp.113 – 131, although the same critique might be applied to it as the previous footnote.

6 The transition from spontaneity to a ‘morbidly complex’ bureaucracy is described – albeit within another sphere of study - by Shaykh Dr Abdalqadir as-Sufi in his Root Islamic Education, p. 159. Welfare as understood by most of today‘s Muslims is the passive, anonymous, abstract, voluntary sending by bank transfer via a third party, i.e. charity organization, of one’s zakat to Africa from Europe. This, however, is not zakat and is legally unacceptable. Zakat is dynamic, person-to person and compulsory. Moreover such welfare on behalf of charity organizations has been shown to create an atmosphere of dependence which impoverishes still further the recipients. Modern assessments by Muslim scholars reflect this stagnation in their concept of the ‘Muslim Welfare State‘: see for example Chaudhry’s Fundamentals of the Islamic Economic System, chap. 17. That movement and dynamism is crucial to all economic matters is emphasized in the Qur’an when Allah says that wealth should ‘not become something which merely revolves between the rich among you’ The Gathering: 7. 

7 Zakat is the fard tax, taken (Quran, Repentance: 104), i.e. under coercion if necessary, by the tax collectors, sadaqa is voluntarily, see for example: ‘If you make your sadaqa public, that is good. But if you conceal it and give it to the poor, that is better for you,’ The Cow: 270 or 'men and women who give sadaqa…Allah has prepared forgiveness for them and an immense reward', Quran, the Confederates: 35 - where the choice in the matter is apparent.

8 Qur’an, The Cow: 275

9Muqaddima ibn Khaldun, pp.177, section 25, Maktabat al-Asriyya Beirut, 2005.

10Muslim, Ikmaal , no. 1829, Vol. 6. P.229.

11 In the section entitled ‘Human civilization requires political leadership for its organization’,  pp. 281ff, section 51. Although an Abbasid, the General’s views accord with Ibn Khaldun’s views on the nature of welfare in Islam – both in Madina and beyond.

12 Quran, The Bringer into Being: 15

13 Contrary to the ayat: 96: ‘when Allah created both you and what you do’, Those in Ranks: 96.

14Muqiddima ibn khaldun, al-Maktabat al-‘Asriyya, Beirut 2005, sect16, p. 442 ‘an elucidation of the mutashabih aspects of the Book and the sunna and the differences in) aqida arising as a consequence amongst the sunni groups and the innovators’.

15 This was not a systematised reception but a person to person one; see Ibn Hisham, as-Seera al-nabawiyya, vol. 2, pp. 97 ff., al-Maktabat al-‘Asriyya, Beirut, 1998.

16 See the numerous examples in the the Qur’an (e.g. the Night Journey: 26) or in the Muwatta, Dar Ihyaa al-‘Ulum, Beirut 1990 (eg. Bab al-qada fi’l-hiba, 573, the saying of ‘Umar regarding the strengthening of ties with a relative.)

17Badr al-kubra – al-Madina wa’l-Ghazwa, pp. 71ff., and 77, Dr. M. Abdou Yamaani, Muassaasa ‘ulum al-qur’an, Damascus/Beirut, 1998.

18 See Shaykh ‘Abdalhaqq‘s talk ‘The Prophet as Ruler’ ( and his reference to at-Taraateeb of Kattani.

19Al-Kharaaj by Abu Yusuf pp. 286 – 7, cited in The Biography of Abu Bakr as-Siddeeq, Dr. Ali as-Sallaabee, trans. from the Arabic of Seera Abi Bakr as-Siddeeq by F. Shafeeq, Riyadh, 2007.

20 Qur’an, Repentance: 60.

21 Qur’an, the Booty: 41.

22 ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab, his life and times, Dr ‘Ali Muhammad as-Sallabi, Vol. 1, p.440,  International Islamic Publishing House, Riyadh 2007. 

23 See Tabsira al-hukkaam by Ibn Farhun, Dar al-kutub al-‘ilmiyya, Beirut, vol.1, pp. 23-25 where it is mentioned that the gratuities for the qadis and other officials may be paid from the bayt al-mal

24 See Qur’an, The Gathering: 7: ‘Whatever booty Allah gives to His Messenger from city dwellers belongs to Allah and to the Messenger and to near relatives and orphans and the very poor and travellers, so that it does not become something which merely revolves between the rich among you.’ The booty is known both by the Quranic terms  ghanima and fay, the latter also often referring to the taxes of kharaj, jizya and ‘ushr.

25Bayan wa’t-tahseel, vol. 17. p.175.

26 Plural awqaf, also known as habous. 

27 I.e. the inviolate zones, or reserves – i.e. grazing land and woodland - used for the benefit of the community, in particular the pastureland for the camels and horses used in the ghazwas.

28 Ibid, p. 453, cited from al-Kharaaj of Ibn Yusuf, in particular the as-Sawaad in Iraq and Syria.

29 sing.: ataa, ataa', plural: a'teeyyaatun, 'ataayya, 'atiyyaat: a gift, present, but as a legal meaning refers to any allocation or allowance to soldiers, judges, muhtasibs or indeed any person, on the part of the person in authority from the bayt al-mal. See Arabic English Dict., Hava, p.482, and bab zakaat fil 'ain min adh-dhahab wa’l-waraq, Kitab al-muntaqa sharh Muwatta' by Qadi Abu Waleed al-Baji al-Andalusi. 

30al-Bayan wa’t-Tahseel, vol. 17, p, 175-6, see also ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan, ‘Ali Muhamad as-Sallabi, Dar as-salam, p. 202, Riyadh 2007.

31al-Bayan wa’t-Tahseel, vol. 17, p, 175-6.

32al-Bayan wa’t-Tahseel, vol 18, p. 174-5.

33‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan,  p. 204.

34 Book 9, Number 9.14.48.

35 Book 17, Number 17.2.4

36 Book 17, Number 17.2.7

37 Sing. sakk, see Bosworth, C.E. "Sakk" Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition. Brill online 2013

38 Book 31, Number 31.19.44. These chits of paper and their illegal use – through their being sold as things of intrinsic value rather than being exchanged for specific goods – are in effect a prototype of paper money issued by the banks.

39 see Muwatta, bab al-qadaa fi'l-umraa, p.574.

40 Book 36, Number 36.37.43.

41 Book 36, Number 36.37.44.

42 i.e. a gift for which nothing is expected in return.

43 Book 58, Number 58.1.4

44 See fi at-tawarru‘ min akhdh al-‘ataa‘ wa mudaaraat al-imam – section regarding ‘Scrupulousness regarding the taking of gifts and the courtesies of the Imam, al-Bayan wa’t-Tahseel, vol 17, pp. 342 and vol. 18, p 40, p.85 Muhammad ibn Rushd al-Jadd, Dar al-gharb al-islami, 1988.

45 Ibid, p.343.

46 Ibid p.384.

47 Qur’an, Repentance: 29