Third of all, the Prophet only passed on legislation from God Almighty. The “Sunnah,” when attributed to the Prophet, refers to what we know of him via his speech, actions or that which has been reported about him. The Sunnah is the second primary source of Islamic law, the Qur`an being the first and main primary source. Parts of the Sunnah, in relation to the Qur`an, fall into three categories:
1. That which coincides with what is already found in the Qur`an, so it emphasizes what is already found.
2. That which clarifies what is already found in the Qur`an, such that it adds details to broad topics or restricts general statements.
3. That which contains an entirely new ruling not in the Qur`an, thus the Sunnah in this case neither emphasizes nor details or restricts what is already found.
There are two things which should be noted here. The first is that all of the narrations from the Prophet (peace be upon him) regarding zakat fall under the second category mentioned above. The second is that the Prophet did not leave us any part of the Sunnah from the above except that it originated from divine revelation. As God said in the Qur`an:
“It is none other than a revelation revealed.”
Not only is this a proof that the Prophet did not simply make things up as he went along, but it also serves as proof that the Sunnah itself counts as a form of divine revelation.
Thus when the Prophet obligated zakat upon the people, he was merely clarifying what was already found in the Qur`an to begin with and adding details to the broader subject of charity. His statements on the matter, therefore, were themselves divinely inspired. This obviously clarifies the error of those who say that the zakat was something invented by Muhammad (peace be upon him) himself for the simple purpose of helping the poor people of Mecca.
The same goes for those who erroneously claim that the Prophet merely used the details of Judgment Day as a tactic to scare rich people into donating money to the poor. These details, like others which the Prophet passed on to mankind, were all divinely inspired and a part of the revelation mandated by the divine will and wisdom of Almighty God and believed in by those who possess uncorrupted souls. The only person who would deny this is someone who believes that God created mankind without prior knowledge and without the ability to directly control mankind’s actions, perish the thought.