Is Khums the recompense of Prophethood?
Ayatullah Makarim Shirazi & Ayatullah Ja'far Subhani
Question: There is no doubt that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has not demanded anything in return of the efforts and hardships he had borne to guide the humanity. He has sought the recompense of this only from the Almighty Allah. But we see that in some Quranic verse, like the verse of Mawaddat the love of Ahle Bayt (‘a) is termed as the recompense of Prophethood due to the fact that this love is a favor upon the people themselves and a channel for their guidance because wilayat (Guardianship) of Ahle Bayt (‘a) becomes a cause to follow the words and actions of these noble personages. This itself is a kind of guidance and righteousness, which is bestowed on the people through a medium. But what is the reason for making Khums obligatory (half of which is the share of Sadaat)? Is it not a price for Prophethood?
Answer: As well all know Khums is not for every Sadaat. It is only for those who are needy. If the amount of Khums exceeds the needs of Sadaat it has to be deposited in the Islamic treasury (according to the commands that have reached us) so that it can be spent for common food of the people. In the same way if the needs of the poor Sadaat is more than the Khums paid by the people the deficit has to be made up by the Baitul Maal (Islamic treasury). On the other hand the Sadaat are prohibited to receive Zakat which is the right of other needy people (Even if the Zakat is taken from rich Sadaat).
Therefore actually Khums is in place of Zakat which is paid to other needy people and the requirement are same as for the recipients of Zakat. But in order to maintain the honor of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and as a mark of respect its payment has been given another form and another title (Khums instead of Zakat). It is a mark of respect for the esteemed position of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and it is not in anyway a sort of recompense or price. Obviously, there is a wide difference between maintaining respect of honor of exalted personalities and paying a price.
Is not Khums a cause for social difference?
Question: A communist leader has been reported to have said: I have studied all the religions so that I may be attracted towards one of them. Thus I found the religion of Islam to be superior to other faiths. But I regret to say that in this too I found a weak aspect. It is that Islamic law gives preference to the descendants of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) over other Muslims and has made Khums as their prerogative?
Answer: As mentioned in the reply to the previous question, basically there is no difference between Khums (which is the share of Sadaat) and Zakat. That is, both are related to the needy people of the society. Each is paid according to their needs and whatever is left is considered a part of Baitul Maal. The only thing is that since the descendants of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) have a sort of superiority that is why their needs are fulfilled not by the name of Zakat but by different name. It is also obvious that the Sadaat on the basis of their relationship cannot ignore even a little bit any of the Islamic laws and from the aspect of social laws there is no difference between them and other people.
The gist of this discussion is that contrary to what people think the law of Khums is not in any way a distinction for Sadaat and from the monetary point of view there is no difference between Khums and Zakat (which is for other poor people). That is the needy Sadaat are not given a higher monetary assistance than other people, and neither is Khums given for well-to-do Sadaat.