Sheikh, recently my high school teacher asked why there is a specific amount made for zakat (2.5%), and I found out, and told him. The answer I got was, because in the Prophet’s (SAW) time, Muslims had to pay 1/2 a gold coin for 20 gold coins, and 1 silver coin for every 40 silver coins, and when you do the math, it amounts to 2.5%. When I told my teacher, he wasn’t satisfied and wanted to know why there was a specific amount (1/2 for 20, 1 for 40) in the first place; why can’t we just give however much we want. I explained to him it was because there had to be an equal amount for everyone to pay, but he still wasn’t satisfied. He wants to know specifically why we have to pay a specific amount, and why can’t we pay whatever we want. He wants to know where the calculation of (2.5%, or 1/2 for 20, 1 for 40) came from.
Walaikumussalam w w
Does your Teacher really want to understand or is he pestering you for no reason? You have given enough explanation for someone to understand. Just tell him that not every thing can be grasped by our intellect; there are some things which we have to do because Allah told us. They do not contradict the human logic but they maybe beyond human intellect.
Today this question, tomorrow he could ask why are there 5 daily salah and not 2? Why only fast in one month? This ‘why’ has no limits.
For your confidence, the Hadith below should be kept in mind.
1574- حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ مُحَمَّدٍ النُّفَيْلِىُّ حَدَّثَنَا زُهَيْرٌ حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو إِسْحَاقَ عَنْ عَاصِمِ بْنِ ضَمْرَةَ وَعَنِ الْحَارِثِ الأَعْوَرِ عَنْ عَلِىٍّ – رضى الله عنه – قَالَ زُهَيْرٌ أَحْسَبُهُ عَنِ النَّبِىِّ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- أَنَّهُ قَالَ « هَاتُوا رُبْعَ الْعُشُورِ مِنْ كُلِّ أَرْبَعِينَ دِرْهَمًا دِرْهَمٌ وَلَيْسَ عَلَيْكُمْ شَىْءٌ حَتَّى تَتِمَّ مِائَتَىْ دِرْهَمٍ فَإِذَا كَانَتْ مِائَتَىْ دِرْهَمٍ فَفِيهَا خَمْسَةُ دَرَاهِمَ فَمَا زَادَ فَعَلَى حِسَابِ ذَلِكَ
Sunan Abu Dawud
Our Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi WaSallam has instructed in the hadith above to give a ¼ of 10; for every 40 dirhams, one dirham has to be given, and there is no Zakat upon a person until they have 200 hundred dirhams, when they get 200 dirhams then 5 dirhams have to be given from it, and if someone has more than that (200 dirhams) then the calculation will be according to that.
So we see that one-quarter of 10 is 2.5%,
Similarly we see that 1 dirham out of 40 dirhams is 2.5%
Therefore through the instruction of our dear Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi waSallam, we are given a fixed percentage (not a fixed amount) that every person upon whom zakat is obligatory can follow. So the very wealthy would be giving 2.5% of their wealth and similarly the average man/woman would be giving 2.5% of his/her wealth each; giving according to how wealthy they are.
If it were up to every individual on how much they should give then you would see some giving more some giving very less. Especially, when we see that, generally, the wealthy people are the most greediest and the least in giving charity. Most of the time, the average people give more than the wealthy ones.
May Allah give us understanding of our beautiful Deen and give us the tawfeeq to practise upon what we learn.
This answer was collected from Tafseer-Raheemi.com the official website of Sheikh Abdul Raheem Limbada (Hafizahullah) of UK.