بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَـنِ الرَّحِيمِ
Digging it out of the earth, diving in the sea for it, buying it, vying for it, envying others over it, talking about it, wearing it, displaying it, crafting it, selling it, hoarding it, weighing it, measuring it, pricing it, valuing it…..we just can’t get enough of this precious metal – gold – that Allah makes the earth cough up here and there as a test for its inhabitants.
Just how much we love gold became increasingly apparent to me as a I traipsed through life, starting from my childhood.
Anything made of gold was pointed out, desired and admired; and, if acquired, it was kept safely away under tight wraps, guarded, hidden from prying eyes, and brought out only on special occasions.
Being a girl, academic achievements or special occasions immediately brought on a mention of something made of gold as a gift or reward.
No longer a girl (thankfully), by now I have learned that gold is a metal that (most) women love to own, wear and show off, and (some) men love to hoard and fret over the value of (mostly traders and businessmen). Global currencies, their values and exchange rates depend upon gold – if I am even slightly right. Paper money gets devalued or valued according to it – again, if I am not mistaken (I am no economist).
Regardless, I would like to point out a few life lessons I have learned about this precious metal, in the light of Quran and sunnah of course. Since we are passing through the blessed month of Ramadan, gold has been on my mind more as I calculate and discharge my zakah.
Gold Spends Most of its Life Behind Locks, Not Adorning You
The primary reason gold is bought and then tenaciously kept locked firmly behind bars, is because women love to own it and wear it. It is also bought as an investment for the future (with the hope that its value will increase, which it almost always does), for passing on to one’s children, usually when they grow up and get married (again, as a form of financial security for them), amid congratulatory praise, awe and other embodiments of social honor bestowed by onlookers at the said wedding ceremonies.
Most of the precious gold jewelry is rarely brought out of these locks, especially by people dwelling in Karachi, who are always at a very high risk of being mugged at gunpoint at any time, be it day or night.
So, most of the gold that you own and inadvertently love owning, you don’t get to see or wear too often, unless the wedding of a close family member is about to occur. It is mostly kept inside a locker or safety deposit box, where even your own hands and eyes cannot access it except with much effort.
So please remember that, especially if you are still unmarried: almost all the bigger pieces of gold that you spend so much time having crafted and made, will be kept somewhere away from your eyes for most of your life. It is the little trinkets and smaller pieces that you don’t really cherish or value as much, and which you can afford to lose in a mugging, which you’ll end up wearing more (ironic, isn’t it?)
Weddings Can Be Convened Without Chunky Gold Jewelry
Us desi people, i.e. those hailing from India and Pakistan, seem to be unable to break free from our self-imposed shackles regarding the obligation of gold at a wedding, to actually try convening our son’s or daughters’ weddings without making them hefty gold jewelry that can be shown off to the female audience amongst the guests, who will be customarily keeping a keen and expectant lookout for it, like hawks, on the big night.
[In Urdu, “How much (gold) did you give (your ward)?”]
[“What (how much gold) did you receive (from the in-laws’ side)?”]
Both these above questions hold crucial importance at any wedding, as they are direct determiners of the groom’s or bride’s parents’ social prestige and honor (i.e. whether or not their ‘naak‘ will be kept or ‘kut’ before everyone i.e. whether their ‘baistee‘ ho gee ke nahein [will they be humiliated or not]), because they are supposed to be answered with an acceptable number denoting the exact measure of weight in tola’s (a unit of weight used by Indian and Pakistani desi’s to measure gold) that will garner the requisite and much desired “Aaah” of satisfaction, accompanied by the approving nods, eyebrows raised in admiration, and delighted smiles on the faces of the said vigilant hawks a.k.a “gold police”.
Woe betide the mother of the groom or bride who fails to answer these questions satisfactorily.
ہیں! بس، صرف اتنا؟
[“What? That’s it?”]
And that, readers, is the simple and absolutely nonsensical (in my opinion) reason why people spend lifetimes hoarding gold in order to ‘pass it on’ to their adult children at the incidence of the wedding of the latter.
The truth is, a wedding can be very easily and simply convened without all the unnecessary tola’s of heavy, pure, 22K or 24 K gold. All it takes is a little bit of guts and pluck to give people’s opinions and comments what they deserve: royal indifference.
But few possess that pluck. Most people, instead, use their offsprings’ future weddings as an excuse to hoard gold over time, enjoying the multiple trips to the jewelry shops to purchase it and get it crafted into ornaments of their liking. Their men stand by and watch mutely, thereby encouraging the ladies’ love of gold.
Just because something is halal doesn’t mean it is supposed to be encouraged to the extent that it becomes our weakness, especially if we hand over the responsibility of calculating, providing the money for, and discharging its zakah totally to our husbands or other mahrums, when in fact all the gold that we love buying, hoarding and crafting into jewelry is our ‘headache’ in the first place i.e. we, the female owners of that gold, are completely and totally obligated by Allah to calculate and discharge the zakah on it, including coming up with the money to do so (even if we do not earn any! Yeah!).
Sure, girls love to wear, and hence like to receive, jewelry on their marriage. And who is against their wearing jewelry? Even Allah has endorsed this penchant for ornaments and trinkets that almost all females naturally possess:
أَوَمَن يُنَشَّأُ فِي الْحِلْيَةِ وَهُوَ فِي الْخِصَامِ غَيْرُ مُبِينٍ
“Is then one brought up among trinkets, and unable to give a clear account in a dispute?” [43:18]
The Arabic word الْحِلْيَةِ means: “An ornament of a woman, of molded metal, or of stones, or of gold, or of silver, and some say, or of jewels or gems.” (Lane).
The jewelry that we give our daughters or daughters-in-law can be made using platinum, silver, white gold, or any other metal besides pure 22k gold along with a variety of gemstones of their choice that Allah makes the earth cough up for us, just to discourage them from becoming gold-lovers when they blossom into women.
So, for example, let’s say your daughter or son is getting married. Instead of buying her or your daughter-in-law-to-be a few of the likes of these:
And 6, 12, 18 or 24 of these:
Please, instead, buy her a few of these:
Gemstone jewelry has many added advantages: more of it can be made in the same price as pure 22k gold jewelry.
The greater variety of color it lends, allows the lady wearing it to match it to more semi-formal, everyday-wear outfits.
She can also wear gemstone jewelry more often, as she will have less fear of losing it if, Allah forbid, she is mugged.
Best of all, she won’t spend a lifetime of worrying how to generate enough liquid income to pay the exorbitant amount of zakah on it, as there is no zakah on gemstones that are bought with the intention of adornment (not resale), and most gemstone jewelry doesn’t have that much gold in it (which is used to form its base, linking it together) to warrant too much worry and hassle in discharging the zakah on it.
Not to mention, gemstone jewelry incites less envy from gold-loving beholders than do the pure, chunky 22k gold sets. 😉 Trust me on this.
Because if you have raised a daughter or son who is indifferent to gold and its value; who doesn’t have a keen interest in making more and more of it, or in buying guineas (coins) of it to stash away in lockers: who doesn’t find it even a little difficult to donate parts of it to the needy as zakah or nafl charity as purification of their nafs (self), you have indeed done your job well as a parent!
..in my opinion. 😛
The Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم Warned Women Against Not Giving Zakah on Gold
Last I had the honor of visiting the Prophet’s masjid in Madinah, I was rather shocked at how, upon emerging from it from the women’s section/gate, I immediately entered a marketplace lined with scores of jewelry shops selling humungous gold ornaments, such as these:
Since I am Pakistani, I was a bit taken aback by the huge (and rather gaudy) gold girdles/belts, gold bodices/”vests”, meters of chains made of gold coins, and other almost bizarre ornaments meant to adorn a variety of a woman’s body parts that I had no idea even existed!
I mean, who can walk around wearing these gold belts?
Even before our Hajj commenced (we had gone to Madinah first), women in my group often discussed what gold they had bought, or intended to buy, from these shops, comparing notes and gazing with excited glee over the newest gold acquisition bought by one of them – as I lounged about indifferently nearby, stifling my yawns. 😉
Of course, all of this is fine, right? Because wearing and buying gold is halal.
Only, the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم himself, whose masjid in Madinah today is surrounded by these gold souks (to be fair, I don’t really know if it still is, but it was back in 2006 when I went there last), used to warn and remind women about not giving zakah on the gold that he saw them wearing:
It was narrated from ‘Amr bin Shu ‘aib, from his father, from his grandfather, that: a woman from among the people of Yemen came to the Messenger of Allah with a daughter of hers, and on the daughter’s hand were two thick bangles of gold.
He said: “Do you pay zakah on these?
She said: “No.”
He said: “Would it please you if Allah were to put two bangles of fire on you on the Day of Resurrection? ”
So she took them of and gave them to the Messenger of Allah and said: “They are for Allah and His Messenger.” [Sunan Nisai]
The Prophet did not specifically discourage women from wearing gold, however, as long as they gave the zakah on it. The narration below proves that he allowed women to wear gold rings adorned with gemstones:
It was narrated in Sunan Abi Dawud with a sahih chain from A’ishah (رَضِىَ اللهُ عَنهَا) that she said: “Some jewellery came to the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) as a gift from the Negus (the ruler of Abyssinia). It included a gold ring in which was set an Abyssinian stone. The Messenger of Allah picked it up hesitantly with a stick or with his fingers, then he called Umamah the daughter of Abu’l-‘Aas and his daughter Zainab.
He said, “Adorn yourself with this, O my daughter.”
Further, the Prophet’s wives (who are supposed to be our role-models) used to practice extreme caution regarding the gold that they wore, worrying whether they were hoarding it or not:
Abu Dawud and Al-Daraqutni narrated, and al-Hakim classed as sahih, a report from Umm Salamah (رَضِىَ اللهُ عَنهَا) that she used to wear anklets of gold.
She said, “O Messenger of Allah, is this kanz (stored wealth)?”
He said, “If you pay the zakah on it, it is not kanz.”
The Verses of the Quran that Warn Those Who Hoard Wealth (يَكْنِزُونَ)
Usually, I cover the verses of the Quran and the ahadith about the topic I want to blog about before I express my own opinion about it.
However, this time I have intentionally done the opposite, because I want to emphasize the severe warning that Allah has conveyed in the Quran to those who purchase and hoard gold and silver (and, on the same token, also paper money) without giving zakah on it.
At this point, I’d also like to remind my readers that I have taught classes on the Fiqh of Zakah as a short course at Al-Huda more than 5 times, back when I was freer from my maternal responsibilities (and when I was not writing at all, and hence, teaching was my main mode of Da’wah).
Why do I mention this here? Because during the course of these classes, one of the most oft-received questions from my married students (adult Muslim women) was this: “Do I have to pay the zakah on the gold that I own, if I am not earning any money? Or is it my husband’s responsibility?”
And when they got the answer in the affirmative, that indeed, since they were the owners of their gold, the responsibility for coming up with the money to pay off its zakah lay on their shoulders (even though it is alright to request a husband to pay the zakah on it, but he has the right to refuse to), my heart sank to see the shock on their faces. The shock was indeed a dead giveaway of the fact that they had presumed that since they were not earning any money, they were absolved of the responsibility of paying zakah, and of even worrying about it!
This is the case with the majority of urban-class, educated Muslim women in Pakistan: they go on making more and more gold jewelry from their husband’s money after marriage, but remain blissfully ignorant of how much zakah is being incurred upon it, by placing the entire responsibility of calculating and discharging this zakah squarely on their husbands’ shoulders — who is not even the owner of the gold!
Such a contrast to the attitude that the Prophet and his wives had towards gold jewelry!
To add further insult to injury, when I suggested to these students (i.e. those who were not earning any money, and always ended up – again, no surprise – spending all of the money that they possessed, without saving anything) that they pay the zakah on the gold by selling off some of this gold itself (i.e. to convert some of it to cash), they were even more scandalized, flabbergasted and reluctant!
Misogynist me, I sometimes loathe the love women have for money and gold! Fire me all you want for saying it.
SubhanAllah! Scores of magnanimous malls, souks and markets are thriving on women’s greed and avarice for these worldly adornments! And for those who say that men have the same love of gold and money, well then, I beg to disagree. Shopping is a classic, quintessentially female passion and pastime. Most men consider shopping a
Anyway, rant over. (*Wipes brow*)
Now I’d like to quote the verses of the Quran regarding hoarding wealth without giving zakah on it, which I was talking about. The second one of these verses hardly ever fails to send chills up my spine, making me seek refuge with Allah for ever becoming one of those who hoard wealth:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ إِنَّ كَثِيرًا مِّنَ الأَحْبَارِ وَالرُّهْبَانِ لَيَأْكُلُونَ أَمْوَالَ النَّاسِ بِالْبَاطِلِ وَيَصُدُّونَ عَن سَبِيلِ اللّهِ وَالَّذِينَ يَكْنِزُونَ الذَّهَبَ وَالْفِضَّةَ وَلاَ يُنفِقُونَهَا فِي سَبِيلِ اللّهِ فَبَشِّرْهُم بِعَذَابٍ أَلِيمٍ
“O ye, who believe! Lo! many of the (Jewish) rabbis and the (Christian) monks devour the wealth of mankind wantonly and debar (men) from the way of Allah.
They who hoard up gold and silver and spend it not in the way of Allah, unto them give tidings of a painful doom!” [9:34]
يَوْمَ يُحْمَى عَلَيْهَا فِي نَارِ جَهَنَّمَ فَتُكْوَى بِهَا جِبَاهُهُمْ وَجُنوبُهُمْ وَظُهُورُهُمْ هَـذَا مَا كَنَزْتُمْ لأَنفُسِكُمْ فَذُوقُواْ مَا كُنتُمْ تَكْنِزُونَ
“…on the Day when that [hoarded wealth] shall be heated in the fire of hell and their foreheads and their sides and their backs branded therewith, “These are the treasures which you have laid up for yourselves! Taste, then, [the evil of] your hoarded treasures!” – [9:35]
Would you like to be branded on your body parts with the same molten metal that you loved to acquire in this life? Would you? 0_O
Not giving zakah on gold, or being heedless and careless about it, is a serious, very serious matter, readers. So please do no take it lightly, and if you truly desire the well-being and success of your children, please do not encourage them to love and desire gold either.
A mother plays a crucial role in inculcating priorities, perceptions, beliefs, attitudes and desires in her offspring.
What do you want your children to grow up believing and wanting? That gold is something that should be bought and saved as much as possible (i.e. the more they possess, the better), or that, like the Prophet and his wives, it is something that should cause increasing worry and chagrin if it starts adding up in weight under one’s ownership?
Take my advice: discourage them from desiring and wanting to own gold. And encourage them from giving bits of it in charity.
As for trinkets that little girls love, there are innumerable ways of dolling up our daughters with sparkly trinkets without buying them a single gram of gold. That is what businesses like Claire’s are there for, are they not? Little girls are so innocent – if you as their parent won’t ingrain the love of gold in them, they won’t even know the difference between gold jewelry and that made of silver or brass!
As for the answers to the questions that aunties will ask me on my children’s weddings (with me also a portly ‘aunty’ by then? Mmph, I hope not!), insha’Allah, this is probably the answer they will get:
[“What did you give?”]
“Lots of dua‘s!”