Ummah Global Relief: The term ‘sabil Allah’ appears in the Qur’an more than sixty times,36 in either of two ways: more frequently preceded by the preposition “in” [fi] as in the verse on zakah
Zakah Distribution – Ummah Global Relief
distribution, and twenty-three times preceded by the preposition “from” [‘an]. In those twenty-three places the term is preceded by one of two verbs that mean to prevent or mislead, such as “Those who reject faith and keep off (people) from the way of God have verily strayed far, far away from the path,” “The unbelievers spend their wealth to hinder (people) from the path of God . . .” and “But there are among people those who purchase idle tales, without knowledge (or meaning) to mislead (people) from the Path of God.” When the term sabil Allah is preceded by. “in”, as in the verses “Spend in the way of God,” and those who migrate in the way of God,” “fighting in the way of God,” “those who fight in the way of God,” they kill and they are killed,” and “and do not say about those killed in the way of God ‘they are dead,'” how should the term be interpreted?
The word sabil is “way” and “sabil Allah” is the path that seeks the nearness and pleasure of God. God sent prophets to guide His creatures to Him, and ordained the last of His messengers to “call for the way of thy Lord with wisdom and kind preaching,” and ordered His Messenger to “Say: This is my Way; I do invite unto God on evidence clear as sight itself–I and whoever follows me .” Opposition to the way of God is the way of the taghut or evil transgression, which is called for by Satan and his followers, and which ends at the Fire and earns the wrath of God. Comparing these two ways, God says, “Those who believe fight in the cause of God, and those who reject faith fight in the cause of evil.” Those who call to the way of God are few, those who prevent people from it many: “They spend their wealth in order to prevent (people) from the way of God,” “and there are people who buy vain talk in order to divert from the way of God,” “and if you obey most of those who are on earth, they would divert you from the way of God. The responsibilities and demands of the way of’ God are sizable, and worldly desires of people usually stand against it. The Qur’an warns against pursuing these desires: “and do not follow your whims, because that indeed shall take you astray from the way of God.” If enemies of God expend money and effort to prevent people from the way of God, it is the duty of the supporters of God’s cause to sacrifice effort and wealth in the way of God. This is why Islam devotes part of obligatory zakah to this cause, in addition to the general encouragement of believers to spend for the sake of God.