One Who Does Not Pay Zakat is a Kafir
By: Shaheed Ayatullah Abdul Husain Dastghaib Shirazi
A person who accepts that Zakat is obligatory but does not pay due to niggardliness, is a transgressor and will face the consequences accordingly. But if he does not believe that Zakat is obligatory, he is a kafir and Najis (ritually impure). Zakat, like prayers is an article of faith. Whoever denies a single article of faith goes beyond the pale of Islam and is an infidel. Quoted below are some of the relevant traditions.
Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says, “Doubtlessly, the Almighty Allah has necessitated a portion for the destitute in the wealth of the rich people. It is such an obligation that is praised if fulfilled by the affluent people. It is Zakat and one who pays it, his blood is Harām. (It is Harām to kill him). And those who pay it are called Muslims.” (Wasa’il ul-Shia Vol. 6 page 18)
It implies that those who do not pay Zakat and do not even regard it obligatory, are not Muslims; they could even be executed in an Islamic government.
Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says, “One who avoids paying Zakat equal to one carat (four grains of barley) is neither a believer nor a Muslim. He is the same whose condition at the time of death is mentioned by Allah that he shall say, “Send me back my Lord, send me back, haply I may do good in that which I left.” (Wasa’il ul-Shia Vol. 6 pg18)
“One who does not pay Zakat even if it is equal to one carat, he is expelled from belief and dies as a Jew or a Christian.” (Wasa’il ul-Shia Vol. 6 page 18)
Imam (a.s.) elaborates further, Death penalty is permissible in Islam for two kinds of sinners. And no one will issue a decree regarding the two until the advent of the Qaem of the progeny of Mohammed (a.t.f.s.), Then Imam Mahdi (a.s.) will issue decree on the basis of divine laws. One of the two is the adulterer who fornicated despite having a wife. He shall be stoned to death. The second is the one who does not pay Zakat. He shall be beheaded.” (Wasa’il ul-Shia vol.6 page 19, al-Kāfi)
Imam (a.s.) also remarked, “Monetary loss in desert or seas is only due to the non payment of Zakat. And when the Qaem of the progeny of Mohammed (a.t.f.s) reappears he shall arrest and execute those who do not pay Zakat,” (Wasa’il ul-Shia Vol.6, page.20)
The Almighty Allah says, “And woe to the polytheist, (To) those who do not give poor rate and they are unbelievers in the hereafter.” (Surah Fussilat 41: 6-7)
The Messenger of Allah (S) says, “By Allah in whose hands is the life of Mohammed (S), No one does Khayanat with Allah except the polytheist who does not pay any Zakat from his wealth.” (Mustadrak ul-Wasa’il)
The Messenger of Allah (S) says, “O ‘Ali! There are ten deniers of Almighty Allah in this Ummah; Tale-tellers, the magicians, the gigolos, those who have anal intercourse with non-mahram women, those who have intercourse with animals, those who commit incest, those who try to spread mischief, those who supply weapons to disbelievers (which shall be used against Muslims), those who do not pay Zakat and those who in spite of being capable do not perform Hajj and meet their death.” (Khisāl of Sadūq, Chapter Ten)
It is clear from the above traditions that those who deny the obligations of Prayer, Hajj and Zakat are infidel. They will be deprived of the benefits of faith which saves one from Hell in Qiyāma and they will be denied the rights of Muslims in this world. They are Najis (ritually impure), they cannot inherit Muslims and Muslims cannot marry them. However, if they do not belie the obligatory nature of these laws and they fail to perform these duties due to sloth or niggardliness, they are apparently Muslims. But actually from the internal aspects they are a kind of deniers and polytheists. Even if they depart from this world with belief they shall have to undergo the promised punishment.