The Killing of People Who Do Not Give Alms
Taking alms from people by force and declaring war on and killing them if they resist: Narrated Abu Huraira: Abu Bakr said, "By God! If they (pay me the Zakat and) with-hold even a she-kid which they used to pay during the life-time of God's Apostle, I will fight with them for it." ... (Sahih Bukhari, 536)
Giving alms is an obligation pronounced in the Qur’an. Like every religious obligation, it is made compulsory for Muslims and is performed sincerely because of love of God. Accordingly, a Muslim will also give away some of what he owns, as an act of good conscience, not allowing someone else to remain in need and thereby experience difficulty. This is something done honestly and sincerely and it is a requirement of being a Muslim.
What makes a religious observance an observance is that it is done willingly, with love and with passion. God has the power to make everyone wealthy and to provide for them, but He tests the behavior of rich and poor people by making some of them poor. The poor have a responsibility to exhibit fortitude and to turn to God in gratitude no matter what, while the rich have a responsibility to give thanks and to take care of the poor.
God states in the Qur’an that people who believe in Him and the Day of Reckoning will give alms. Therefore, like all religious observances, giving alms is something that must be done with a sincere faith in God, not through threats of death:
...those who perform the prayer and give alms, and have faith in God and the Last Day – We will pay such people an immense wage. (Qur'an, 4:162)
Feeding the poor is one of the greatest responsibilities of Muslims in the Qur’an.
However, the commandment concerning failure to discharge that responsibility is not as described in the fabricated hadiths:
According to the hadith in question, someone who is unwilling to give alms for any reason must be compelled to do so by use of force and half of his possessions be confiscated. First of all, someone whose possessions are confiscated has not performed a religious observance because something that a person does not do of his own free will is not a religious observance. Secondly, using force to make him perform an observance is something totally incompatible with the Qur’an. It may also be instrumental in causing that person to feel anger against the faith and believers, and may thus harm the community of the faithful.
The truly barbaric thing, of course, is the pronouncement that someone who refuses to give alms should be killed. That pronouncement appears nowhere in the Qur’an, and it is simply murder. The Qur’an forbids the use of force in religion. In addition, the Qur’an forbids the taking of human life, except under justified circumstances such as self-defense. As revealed in the Qur’an;
... if someone kills another person – unless it is in retaliation for someone else or for causing corruption in the earth – it is as if he had murdered all mankind.... (Qur'an, 5:32)
As we have seen, murder is a grave crime in the view of Islam. So those who heedlessly turn such a weighty matter as murder into a commandment of the faith are both slandering Islam and our Prophet (pbuh) and also committing a terrible sin. This false hadith is important in showing how such superstition conflicts with the true commandments of Islam.