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Voluntary Donations as the Financial Sources within the Yathreb City-State Led by Muhammad

Voluntary Donations as the Financial Sources within the Yathreb City-State Led by Muhammad


Published in February 28, 2018

Translated by: Ahmed Fathy





1- Within the topic which we tackle in this article, we know that no authoritative history books, periodicals, and sources (e.g., Al-Tabakat Al-Kobra by Ibn Saad and the fake biography of Muhammad by Ibn Ishaq) may provide anything about it. The reason: such books, periodicals, and sources focus only on the political side; in addition, the historians were influenced by the financial and monetary systems of the Treasury of the caliphate controlled by caliphs; this began by the caliph Omar Ibn Al-Khattab who was the first caliph to have diwans (or official departments) in the Treasury to distribute money gifts and 'salaries' to Arabs from the ill-gotten money stolen and looted within the Arab conquests and from the heavy taxes imposed on conquered nations. By the way, the Arab conquerors and soldiers never paid taxes at all to the caliphate at the time; on the contrary, Omar Ibn Al-Khattab made his scribes in the diwans register all names of born Arab children so that pensions/salaries are given to their families.

2- This is in contrast to the conditions within the Yathreb city-state led by Muhammad; the financial sources of the Treasury were mainly voluntary donations within paid zakat/alms for God's sake to serve His cause; other secondary sources were spoils of war when the aggressive enemies are defeated in battles by the Yathreb troops of self-defense; see 8:1, 8:41, and 8:69, and from fines imposed on the defeated aggressive enemies ;see 9:29,  so as to compensate for the damages and losses they have caused by their aggression (and no Muslims troops ever invaded the lands of the aggressors); this is not to mention also the money coming into the Treasury of the Yathreb city-state without wars or fighting but within agreements and trade.  

3- The Quran tells us about the categories of people inside the Yathreb city-state who deserved to receive money of zakat, alms, charity donations, and spoils shares; besides, one-fifth of the money was donated and spent in the Path of God; i.e., for jihad for God's sake and serving His cause; i.e., to spend on self-defense military endeavors that aimed to stop and deter aggressors and to stop religious persecution: "Charities are for the poor, and the destitute, and those who administer them, and for reconciling hearts, and for freeing slaves, and for those in debt, and in the Path of God, and for the traveler in need - an obligation from God. God is All-Knowing, Most Wise." (9:60); "They ask you what they should give. Say, "Whatever charity you give is for the parents, and the relatives, and the orphans, and the poor, and the wayfarer. Whatever good you do, God is aware of it." (2:215); "And know that whatever spoils you gain, to God belongs its fifth, and to the Messenger, and the relatives, and the orphans, and the poor, and to the wayfarer, provided you believe in God and in what We revealed to Our servant on the Day of Distinction, the day when the two armies met. God is Capable of everything. " (8:41); "Whatever God restored to His messenger from the inhabitants of the villages belongs to God, and to the messenger, and to the relatives, and to the orphans, and to the poor, and to the wayfarer; so that it may not circulate solely between the wealthy among you. Whatever the messenger gives you, accept it; and whatever he forbids you, abstain from it. And fear God. God is severe in punishment." (59:7).   

4- What is new and unprecedented here, as no political regimes have applied it, past and present, is that voluntary donations (and NOT imposed or forced money-collecting or taxes) were the basis and means to the financial sources of the Treasury of the Yathreb city-state led by Muhammad. We attempt in this article to research this topic within a Quranist point of view.


Firstly: challenges faced by the Yathreb city-state led by Muhammad:

1- The Quran-based Yathreb city-state led by Muhammad was an oasis of Islam (i.e., peace and faith) within the political and religious freedom enjoyed by its dwellers; Yathreb was surrounded by enemies from all directions who were very eager to destroy it and kill off its dwellers. Within the borders of Yathreb, there were aggressive, conspiring groups among the People of the Book and hypocritical desert-Arabs; inside Yathreb itself, there were the conspiring, scheming hypocrites among its dwellers. Within modern states of today exceptional measures might be taken if the State is in real danger; in contrast, the Quranic legislations of this Quran-based city-state of Yathreb deals with such danger by providing the absolute religious freedom and the absolute freedom of political opposition within adherence to peaceful behavior, while permitting self-defense and deterrence when faced by attackers and aggressors as this is a basic right ;see 2:190-194, especially when aggressors breach peace treaties/pledges; see 9:1-16, 4:88-91, and 8:56-58. Hence, the Quran allows and urges believers to engage into self-defense fighting and to prepare military endeavors to ward off the aggressors, while adhering to peace when aggression stops and peace is restored; i.e., the aggressors would be brethren in the religion of peace and adhere to non-violence, hoping that God will forgive them, as per His promise in the Quran, since they stopped their aggression; see 8:60-65, 4:84, 9:11, and 8:38.        

2- To face and ward off the military aggression committed by the Meccan polytheists of the Qorayish tribe, God has given permission to the Yathreb dwellers to engage into self-defense military endeavors and to muster all strength, power, and preparation tin his respect to deter attackers and aggressors so that bloodshed is avoided; this entails financing the self-defense military endeavors for God's sake and serving His cause, unlike the Arab polytheistic aggressors and their leaders who spent money to repel others away from God's Path; see 8:36. Hence, God has urged real believers to spend money voluntarily on the self-defense military endeavors. Facing the conspiring, scheming hypocrites inside the Yathreb city-state was done by absolute religious freedom and freedom of peaceful political opposition; this is why they were never forced to donate for the self-defense military endeavors or to join the troops to defend Yathreb and face the aggressors and attackers. Of course, the aim has been to deter aggressors so that their aggression would stop and peace is restored; peaceful behavior is Islam in terms of demeanor, and this included at the time making peace treaties/pledges to ensure non-violence and to call believers to immigrate to Yathreb while never allying themselves to aggressors who attack the Yathreb city-state.        


Secondly: the belief in Almighty God and in the Last Day is the basis of voluntarily donating money:

 This is manifested in making donating money for God's sake (i.e., within the self-defense military endeavors) done voluntarily and never to impose it or force anyone to do it; hence, real believers in God and in the Last Day readily sacrificed their souls and their money for God's sake and to serve God's cause; in contrast, those who never believe in God and in the Last Day were reluctant to participate with their money and efforts in the self-defense military jihad endeavors to protect Yathreb and its dwellers; see 9:44-45.


Thirdly: the two Quranic methods within the divine call to engage into jihad with one's soul, efforts, and money, and to provide for the needy:

 This divine call comes within Quranic direct address from God to people within two methods explained in the points below.

1- The method of urging, enticing, and promising of rewards is exemplified in many verses as per the points below.

1/1: God describes the pious ones who deserve entering into Paradise as those who donate money for charity for the needy; see 51:19 and 70:24-25.

1/2: God describes the pious, truthful believers as those who strive for God's sake with their efforts, souls, and money; see 49:15.

1/3: God urges the repentant ones to donate money within alms, charity, and zakat to atone for their sins; see 9:102-104.

1/4: God addresses real believers in a way that appeal to their emotions and feelings of true faith, as peaceful believers must not be too reluctant to join the self-defense troops led by Muhammad; see 9:120.

1/5: God promises His doubled rewards, in this world and the next, for those who offer even little money and little effort for His sake; see 9:121, 2:261, and 34:39.

1/6: God entices the real believers to donate money for the military self-defense jihad endeavors by describing it as loaning money to Him, and He promises doubled rewards in this world and the next; 2:244-245m 57:11, 57:18, 64:16-17, and 73:20.

1/7: God in the Quran uses the simile of likening donating money for God's sake to engaging into successful trade with the Almighty Lord God who buys the souls of believers in return for Paradise; see 35:29-30, 9:111, and 61:10-13.

2- The method of warning, threatening, preaching, and describing the traits of the disbelievers is exemplified in many verses as per the points below.

2/1: The warning of death-time and the remorse felt during the dying moment of those stingy ones who never spent money for God's sake is found in the verses 63:10-11.

2/2: The warning against the dire consequences of never spending money for God's sake (after verses about the legislations of self-defense fighting) is found in the verses 2:190-195.

2/3: The threat to replace the sinful stingy ones with real believers if they remain reluctant to donate  money for God's sake is found in the verse 47:38.

2/4: God declares those stingy ones who urge other people never to donate money for God's sake as disbelievers in the verses 4:37-39.


Fourthly: the response of the Yathreb dwellers:

 The response of the Yathreb dwellers, and of desert-Arabs around Yathreb, to this divine call varied very much as we explain in the points below.

1- God brings glad tidings of Paradise in the verses 9:88-89 as the reward or Muhammad and truthful believers with him as they strove with their money, efforts, and souls for God's sake to serve His cause. Of course, the Quran mentions the descriptions of the traits of these truthful believers but not their names.

2- Of course, there are varying degrees of those who strove with their money, efforts, and souls for God's sake; they did not exert their efforts in the same level; see 4:95-96 and 57:10, and this is why the Paradise dwellers are of two categories as per the Quranic chapter 56; namely, (1) the Forerunners and (2) those on the Right, and the latter category is the lesser degree/level in Paradise than the former one. 

3- There were those poor ones who had very little to donate and they give it away for God's sake; hypocrites mocked and ridiculed those who donated all the little money they had; see 9:79. There were those poor ones who were impecunious and wished they could have any money to donate it for God's sake and they advised the troops of self-defense; God describes them as charitable persons in the verses 9:91-92.

4- Of course, the hypocrites inside Yathreb never donated anything for God's sake within the self-defense military endeavors; see 9:67. Among such hypocrites those who urged others not to donate anything; see 63:8. Those hypocrites hated very much to participated in the self-defense military endeavors with money or by joining the troops; God has warned them against being tormented in the verses 9:81-82 and has told them that their money and progeny will be avail them anything in the Hereafter when they enter into Hell in case they die without repentance; see 58:17. They are warned against being tormented in this world first before the next one; see 9:55 and 9:85. God has prohibited Muhammad from praying for them when they die; see 9:84, as God will never forgive them since those stingy disbelieving unrepentant ones have ridiculed the poor believers who donated the little they had; see 9:79-80.   

5- Hence, those affluent, well-off hypocrites of Yathreb who refused to voluntarily donate money for God's sake were punished by God as He has told Muhammad never to accept their future offer to join the self-defense troops and any alms/zakat money from them that would be distributed to the poor; He told Muhammad to avoid them and never to trust them nor to accept their apologies; see 9:53-54, 9:83, and 9:94.

6- Outside the Yathreb city-state, there were the believers among the desert-Arabs who donated money for God's sake and there were the hypocritical, scheming desert-Arabs who never liked their donating money and considered this as a waste, as they hated Islam; see 9:97-99.



1- Of course, such policies of religious freedom, political freedom, and voluntary donations within the Yathreb city-state were not imaginary or utopic; rather, they were applied in reality and were a huge success. Proof: this state was so successful that most people in Arabia entered into God's region of peace in multitudes, and this adherence to peace and non-violence by most Arabs en masse was a great victory; see 110:1-3.

2- Those Qorayish Meccan immigrants in Yathreb who were adamant in hypocrisy and concealed their disbelief and schemes assumed power and authority once Muhammad died; e.g., the caliph Abou Bakr commanded all tribes of Arabia to pay zakat/alms/charity for him as an obligatory thing imposed on them so that he would collect all the money and impose his authority; these Arab tribes were surprised as this is against what Muhammad used to do; he let them voluntarily pay whatever they like to their poor ones amongst them and voluntarily donate for the sake of God within military self-defense endeavors; he never imposed anything on anyone. Hence, it was expected that they would rebel against Abou Bakr; this is how the so-called renegades' war occurred and Abou Bakr, the unjust ruler, fought against these rebels or renegades (who were accused of rejecting faith) and defeated them.     

3- The Quran never prohibits imposing taxes within formal, official zakat/alms/charity organized by a given State or for the sake of the military self-defense endeavors; laws and regulations about taxes in any Quran-based state must be made within Islamic Shura consultation of direct democracy; the Shura council or the parliament of representatives of a given nation have the right to issue laws to promote the application of justice without contradicting the higher legislative purposes and values of the Quranic sharia; e.g., freedom, justice, fairness, equity, equality, and preventing all forms of injustice.   


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