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Proposal on improving organization[edit]

This article doesn't seem to be clear in separating theory from practice and past from present. The separation mostly seems to exist on paragraph level, so I'm tempted to rearrange the material, but this a big change and I'd like to build consensus first. How about the following?

  • Etymology
  • Doctrine
  • - Quran
  • - Hadith
  • - Amount
  • - Failure to pay
  • - Recipients
  • - Distribution (first two paragraphs)
  • - Role in society
  • Historical practice
  • Contemporary practice
  • - Lead
  • - Collection
  • - Distribution (the rest)
  • - Role in society
  • - Comparative charity practice
  • Related terms

Thoughts? Eperoton (talk) 02:40, 27 November 2015 (UTC)

@Eperoton: This seems like a nice initiative, I'll get back later on the organization of the article, but for now we need to improve the lede in my opinion. 10:55, 19 May 2016 (UTC)CounterTime (talk)
@CounterTime: I followed my unopposed proposal a few days later. This is what the article looked like before the reorganization. Eperoton (talk) 22:49, 19 May 2016 (UTC)

So-called "Ridda wars"[edit]

It is stated in the lede that, "The payment and disputes on zakat have played a major role in the history of Islam, notably during the Ridda wars." I would like to quote this excellent entry by Wael Hallaq in Encyclopedia of the Qur'an, vol. 1, p. 121.:

A more convincing view, however, is that each of the revolts against the new order had its own causes. Of the six major centers of uprising, four had a religious color, each led by a so- called prophet, prophetess or soothsayer: al-Aswad al-Ansī in Yemen, Musaylima (q.v.) in Yamāma, ulay a b. Khuwaylid of the tribes of Banū Asad and Banū Ghaafān and Sajā of the tribe of Tamīm. The resistance in the two other centers — east and southeast of the Arabian peninsula — seems to have been caused by a refusal to submit to the political authority of Medina including the payment of taxes imposed upon them by the Prophet in 9 ⁄ 630. Following classical Islamic sources, much of modern scholarship tends to see all these wars and battles that took place within the boundaries of Arabia — before the conquests in Syria and īra began — as falling into the category of the wars of apostasy. In point of fact, of all the centers of revolt only Najd qualifies, strictly speaking, for classification as a center of apostate rebellion. The Banū Hanīfa, led by Musaylima in Yamāma, had never been subject to Medinan domination nor did they sign any treaty either with Muhammad or with his successor Abū Bakr (11 ⁄ 632-13 ⁄ 634). It was only when the military commander Khālid b. al-Walīd (d. 21 ⁄ 642) defeated them in 12 ⁄ 633 that they came, for the first time, under Medinan domination. In other words, they never converted to Islam in the first place so that they cannot correctly be labeled as apostates. A similar situation existed in Umān, al-Barayn, al-Yaman, and a ramawt. There, Muhammad concluded treaties with military leaders — some of whom were Persian agents — who were quickly ousted by the local tribes. Thus, the tribes’ resistance to Medina did not presuppose a particular relationship in which they paid allegiance to the Muslim state. Again, their uprising does not constitute apostasy, properly speaking. The tribes of Najd, on the other hand, were their own masters and signed treaties with Muhammad, the terms of which required them to adopt Islam and to pay homage as well as taxes to Medina. Their revolt, thus, constituted a clear case of apostasy.

So as it seems "disputes on zakat" didn't play a "major role" in the ridda wars, with only the tribes of Najd refusing to pay it. What do you thus suggest as an alternative? 22:17, 18 May 2016 (UTC)CounterTime (talk)

@CounterTime: I've been meaning to work on the history section, but I haven't gotten around to it yet. The connection between the Ridda wars and zakat is something I've come across in RSs before, and this take is also sourced in the article. Hallaq's own wording suggests that it's a common view, although drawing conclusions about zakat from this passage requires making inferences about relationship between "apostasy" and zakat which aren't explicitly stated there. Also, even if only tribes of the Najd rebelled for zakat-related reasons, why wouldn't it qualify as a "major role"? I recommend reworking the history section to reflect alternative viewpoints and then deciding how to summarize it in the lead. Eperoton (talk) 23:05, 19 May 2016 (UTC)
@Eperoton: The wording "played a major role in the disputes leading to the revolt of the Najd tribes" would be convenient, however labeling all "ridda" wars as being a direct result of zakat non-payment would be misleading at best. 12:35, 20 May 2016 (UTC)CounterTime (talk)
@CounterTime: Well, two different issues. The phrase "payment and disputes on zakat have played a major role in the history of Islam" is not based on a source (one source says "zakat is an integral part of Islamic history", which is not the same). However, the connection of zakat with the Ridda wars is expressed in general terms in multiple standard references:
 EI2 "Zakat": The system of zakat collection was gravely threatened during the caliphate of Abu Bakr, when some of the Arabian tribes refused to acknowledge that the Prophet's authority to collect zakat had passed to his successor. This movement in resistance to the collection of zakat is associated with the apostasy of the ridda wars [...]
 The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World, "Zakat": In fact, neglecting to pay zakāt became an offense punishable by law. This was a precedent set by the first caliph, Abū Bakr, who fought against those who refused to fulfill their obligation of zakāt. Zakāt in this case, however, was in essence a form of tribute paid by the tribes of the Arabian Peninsula to the Muslim treasury (bayt al-māl). Failure to make these payments after the death of the Prophet Muḥammad resulted in the Wars of Apostasy during Abū Bakr's caliphate (632–634).
 Nonetheless, Abu Bakr made a number of decisions that defined the political direction of the new regime. He decided that all tribes formerly allied to Muhammad would have to continue to pay taxes (zakat), and he waged war on those who refused, a period known as the apostasy (ridda) wars. Lapidus, Ira M.. A History of Islamic Societies (p. 65). Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition. 
Other authors, like Hallaq and Donner in Oxford History of Islam list the zakat dispute alongside other factors that led to the Ridda wars, and we should reflect them too, but not to the exclusion of the other sources. Eperoton (talk) 01:14, 21 May 2016 (UTC)
@Eperoton: I didn't state otherwise, surely, we use something like "Disputes about zakat .... contributed to the (ridda) wars. However, Wael Hallaq states that amongst all the rebellions, only the tribes of Najd qualify as being a direct result of zakat non-payment."
By the way, I invite you to check (since you have access to OUP) chapter 6 - The legal pillars of religion pp. 225-238 ( of Wael Hallaq's Shari'a. It presents a good summary which we draw upon to improve the lede.
11:10, 21 May 2016 (UTC)CounterTime (talk)
@CounterTime: Let's improve the body of the article and then make sure the lead adequately summarizes its contents. There's no need to go into the details of the scholarly controversy regarding the causes of Ridda wars in the lead. In the body, we need to give proper weight to the view Hallaq is arguing against, for which we can use his own words: "Following classical Islamic sources, much of modern scholarship tends to see all these wars and battles that took place within the boundaries of Arabia [...] as falling into the category of the wars of apostasy." We have several good sources to work with (EI2, "Almsgiving" in EofQ, Hallaq's book). I'm having a hectic couple of weeks again, but I'm managing to fit in some relevant readings on my travels. Eperoton (talk) 14:45, 22 May 2016 (UTC)


The definition of the term has been subject to back-and-forth, and I've struggled myself on the best wording. I would welcome discussion on this point. Here's the issue. There are RSs which refer to zakat as simply alms-giving, there are RSs which highlight it as a religious duty, and there RSs which call it a tax. What we want to make clear is the distinction between religious obligation and compulsion. The word "obligatory" in itself doesn't convey it clearly, and so it doesn't appropriately reflect the fact that most countries these days no longer treat it as a legal requirement. Eperoton (talk) 17:42, 11 August 2016 (UTC)

I'll accept your rewriting. There just has to be something indicating most (virtually all) Muslims consider it religiously obligatory. --BoogaLouie (talk) 00:48, 12 August 2016 (UTC)

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