The Arabic word zakah has various meanings including ‘purity’, ‘honour’, ‘growth’ and ‘blessings’. In Islamic terminology, it is the amount required from Muslims to pay to those who deserve it, when their wealth reaches a certain amount called the nisaab, and which satisfies the required conditions.
The zakah is meant to purify a person’s wealth and his income from that taint of selfishness, hence the expression ‘purifying dues’.
When David died, his son Solomon inherited his position as prophet and king of the Children of Israel. God be stowed many favours upon Solomon, just like He had done with his father before him. And, as can be seen from this story, Solomon had already shown signs of these great gifts when still a child. Solomon was once in the company of his father, when two men came to ask David to judge between them.
The first of the two said that he owned a vineyard of which he took great care the whole year through. But one day when he was absent, the other man’s sheep had strayed into the vineyard and devoured its grapes. He asked to be compensated for this damage. Upon hearing the man’s complaint, Solomon suggested that the owner of the sheep take the other man’s vineyard to repair and cultivate until the vines returned to their former state, whereupon he should return it to its owner.
The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) would often sit alone in the cave of Hira, near Makkah. He would pray and meditate there, surrounded by nature, and would ask the Creator of the heavens and earth for answers to questions such as: “What is man’s true role in life? What does the Lord require of us? From where does man come, and where will he go after death?”
After the death of Moses, the Children of Israel put all the things they considered sacred into a special chest called the Ark of the Covenant. Among the things included in the Ark of the Covenant were the clay tablets on which their sacred book, the Torah, was written as well as the staff of Moses which God had transformed twice into a snake. Whenever the Children of Israel went into battle, they would send the Ark with the vanguard. This reassured them greatly and gave them certainty of victory.
It was about A.D. 250, during the rule of the Roman King Decius (Daqyanus) that seven young men of a noble family accepted the teachings of the Prophet Isa (Jesus). But King Decius took up arms against them. When they realized that the king’s soldiers were about to capture them, these young believers ran away from the town to take refuge in a dark cave. There they prayed to Allah: “Qur Lord! Bestow Your Mercy on us and save our lives.” Allah heard their prayers and, when they lay down to rest, He made them fall into a deep sleep lasting 300 years.
The day agreed upon was called the Day of the Feast, and the Pharaoh had gathered all the best magicians of the land to compete with Moses e. During the course of the morning, people began assembling in a large square outside the town. By the time the Pharaoh arrived accompanied by the highest magicians, a huge crowd had already gathered. Everyone was curious to see how Moses with his brother by his side, would confront the Pharaoh.
It was decided that the magicians should start the contest.
The magicians began by throwing ropes on the ground and, us ing their magic, they made the ropes appear to move like snakes. On seeing this, Moses was frightened. But God inspired him to cast down his staff which became a large snake at swallowed up all of the magicians’ ropes.
Moses left Eypt secretly on foot. He walked day and night through the desert, eating berries and grass until he reached the edge of the desert. There he came upon a group of shepherds with their flocks at a well. The shepherds were arguing over who should water his sheep first. Moses was able to quench his thirst at the well, then he sat down to rest in the shade of a tree. As he sat, he saw two girls with their sheep some distance away from the crowds.
He went over to them and asked them why they had not joined the other shepherds. They replied that they were forced to wait until the other shepherds had finished, for their father was very old and they had to take care of all the sheep. Upon hearing this, Moses immediately took their flock and drove it through the crowd to the water. When the sheep had been watered. the girls thanked him and Moses returned to rest under the tree.
Jacob and his sons settled in Egypt at the invitation of Joseph whose power in the land was second only to that of the King. When Jacob sensed that his death was near, he summoned his sons and questioned them about their faith:
“What will you worship after me?” They said “We shall worship your God, the God of your fathers, Abraham, lshmael and Isaac, One God, and to Him we have surrendered.”