A major misnomer from some people who claim to follow Quran alone is that they believe everything has to be specified verbatim in detail in the Quran otherwise it is not to be followed. This is faulty logic and a perfect lesson for this incorrect line of reasoning is in the example God provided us in the second Sura of the Quran, The Heifer (Al-Baqarah), when God told Moses to tell the Children of Israel to sacrifice a heifer.
[2:67] Moses said to his people, “GOD commands you to sacrifice a heifer.” They said, “Are you mocking us?” He said, “GOD forbid, that I should behave like the ignorant ones.” [2:68] They said, “Call upon your Lord to show us which one.” He said, “He says that she is a heifer that is neither too old, nor too young; of an intermediate age. Now, carry out what you are commanded to do.” [2:69] They said, “Call upon your Lord to show us her color.” He said, “He says that she is a yellow heifer, bright colored, pleases the beholders.” [2:70] They said, “Call upon your Lord to show us which one. The heifers look alike to us and, GOD willing, we will be guided.” [2:71] He said, “He says that she is a heifer that was never humiliated in plowing the land or watering the crops; free from any blemish.” They said, “Now you have brought the truth.” They finally sacrificed her, after this lengthy reluctance.
This is not only the second Sura, but also the longest Sura of the Quran, and God being Most Wise selected this title for the Sura. I believe this is to emphasize the importance of this lesson: that when God provides us a straightforward commandment it is our duty to uphold that commandment without hesitation.
When the Children of Israel questioned Moses’s motives and scrutinized this simple direct commandment from God it showed their lack of confidence in God, His message, and His messenger.
Is God not All Knowing? Did God fail to foresee the future? Did God forget to provide His servants some crucial information to carry out what He commands them to do? God be glorified far above such claims!!
So when God tells the believers repeatedly in the Quran to observe the Salat and give the Zakat then our response should be “we hear and we obey.” I think to ask, but what is the Salat and Zakat, how much is the Zakat for, etc. is only showing our reluctance to follow God’s commandments and our doubt in God’s system.
God tells us in the Quran that (1) the Quran addresses the matters that have been historically disputed 16:64, and that (2) the Quran is complete and covers all our questions required for our salvation.
[16:64] We have revealed this scripture to you, to point out for them what they dispute, and to provide guidance and mercy for people who believe.
[18:109] Say, “If the ocean were ink for the words of my Lord, the ocean would run out, before the words of my Lord run out, even if we double the ink supply.”
[6:114] Shall I seek other than GOD as a source of law, when He has revealed to you this book fully detailed? Those who received the scripture recognize that it has been revealed from your Lord, truthfully. You shall not harbor any doubt. [6:115] The word of your Lord is complete, in truth and justice. Nothing shall abrogate His words. He is the Hearer, the Omniscient.
Both the Salat and Zakat were first given to Abraham (14:40, 21:73). All the prophets and messengers after Abraham performed these practices (7:156, 19:54-55, 10:87, 2:83, 5:12, 19:31). Additionally, God commanded Muhammad to follow the religion of Abraham (milat Ibrahim 16:123).
[16:123] Then we inspired you (Muhammad) to follow the religion of Abraham, the monotheist; he never was an idol worshiper.
The Salat was even in existence and performed by the idol worshipers at the time of Muhammad (8:33-35, 9:54). Therefore, all we need to do is start with the existing practice and then remove the impurities using the Quran.
Before we dive into the Zakat, let’s look at another perfect example of a practice that the idol worshipers have polluted since the time of Abraham: the ablution (wudu). God in the Quran informs us exactly how to perform our ablution before our Salat (5:6).
[5:6] O you who believe, when you observe the Contact Prayers (Salat), you shall: (1) wash your faces, (2) wash your arms to the elbows, (3) wipe your heads, and (4) wash your feet to the ankles.
The ablution according to the Quran is just four steps, but if you look at how most Muslims today perform ablution they will do many more steps and requirements than what God specified. Notice according to the Quran not only is the ablution only four steps, but there are no requirement to wash the right arm or foot first then the left, or a set number of times to wash each body part, let alone any other of the numerous additions that Muslims have added on top of the practice instituted by God.
Some claim that Muhammad added to God’s laws, but this is in direct contradiction to the Quran, where God informs us that had he done that God would have stopped the revelations to him and he would have suffered a terrible retribution.
[69:44] Had he uttered any other teachings. [69:45] We would have punished him. [69:46] We would have stopped the revelations to him. [69:47] None of you could have helped him
[17:73] They almost diverted you from the revelations we have given you. They wanted you to fabricate something else, in order to consider you a friend. [17:74] If it were not that we strengthened you, you almost leaned towards them just a little bit. [17:75] Had you done that, we would have doubled the retribution for you in this life, and after death, and you would have found no one to help you against us.
Therefore, we can take this same methodology of purification and apply to the Zakat: (1) start with the existing practice, then (2) remove the impurities.
This is the exact process God tells us to utilize to find the truth. In the verse 13:17, God tells us that when we refine metals we remove the impurities which produces foam (e.g. the falsehood) and what is left is the real value (e.g. the truth).
[13:17] He sends down water from the sky, causing the valleys to overflow, then the rapids produce abundant foam. Similarly, when they use fire to refine metals for their jewelry or equipment, foam is produced. GOD thus cites analogies for the truth and falsehood. As for the foam, it goes to waste, while that which benefits the people stays close to the ground. GOD thus cites the analogies.
Historically there has been no dispute that Zakat has been 2.5% since the time of Abraham. The corruption that has since been inserted into the Zakat is that Muslims pay it once a year and they pay it on all their wealth. The Quran lets us know that we must pay it on the day of harvest (6:141) and that it is on any money we earn (2:267).
[6:141] He is the One who established gardens, trellised and untrellised, and palm trees, and crops with different tastes, and olives, and pomegranate —fruits that are similar, yet dissimilar. Eat from their fruits, and give the due alms on the day of harvest, and do not waste anything. He does not love the wasters.
[2:267] O you who believe, you shall give to charity from the good things you earn, and from what we have produced for you from the earth. Do not pick out the bad therein to give away, when you yourselves do not accept it unless your eyes are closed. You should know that GOD is Rich, Praiseworthy.
For a more depth look at Salat and how we are to perform the Salat and what aspects of the Salat have been corrupted you may want to look at this episode on the topic. Many of the same arguments apply to Zakat as well.