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Importance of Zakat in Islam

Zakat is one of the major religious duties in Islam. Zakat means to “purify”. It refers to the purification of a believers’ wealth and soul. Wealth purification denotes the mobilization of assets for financial growth and justified distribution. Zakat can be paid to deserving individuals or groups who fall into one or more of eight zakatable categories designated by God in the Quran. Allah says:

إِنَّمَا الصَّدَقَاتُ لِلْفُقَرَاءِ وَالْمَسَاكِينِ وَالْعَامِلِينَ عَلَيْهَا وَالْمُؤَلَّفَةِ قُلُوبُهُمْ وَفِي الرِّقَابِ وَالْغَارِمِينَ وَفِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَابْنِ السَّبِيلِ فَرِيضَةً مِّنَ اللَّهِ وَاللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ

“Only the charities (are) for the poor, and the needy and those who collect them, and the ones inclined their hearts, and in the (freeing of) the necks, and for those in debt and in (the) way (of) Allah, and the wayfarer – an obligation from Allah. And Allah (is) All-Knowing, All-Wise.” (Surah At-Taubah 9:60)

Zakat is something that has been divinely ordained and is regarded as the right of both Allah and the poor. It is noteworthy that God Himself identified for zakat payers. Zakat is a fixed proportion collected from the surplus wealth and earnings of a believer. The paying of zakat also helps purify one’s soul and encourages a person to have gratitude towards God’s bounties. Allah says:

وَجَعَلْنَاهُمْ أَئِمَّةً يَهْدُونَ بِأَمْرِنَا وَأَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْهِمْ فِعْلَ الْخَيْرَاتِ وَإِقَامَ الصَّلَاةِ وَإِيتَاءَ الزَّكَاةِ وَكَانُوا لَنَا عَابِدِينَ

“And We made them leaders, they guide by Our Command. And We inspired to them (the) doing (of) good deeds, and establishment (of) the prayer and giving (of) zakah; and they were of Us worshippers.” (Surah Al-Anbiya` 21:73)

Zakat also carries a lot of importance as it is also an act to help us free from excessive desires and greed, learn self-discipline and honesty. Zakat means purification and growth which means to purify one’s wealth and possessions by distributing a fixed amount among the poor and needy. Zakat can also be distributed to those in financial difficulties e.g. bankruptcy due to the loss of employment and heavy debt. Allah says:

وَجَعَلْنَاهُمْ أَئِمَّةً يَهْدُونَ بِأَمْرِنَا وَأَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْهِمْ فِعْلَ الْخَيْرَاتِ وَإِقَامَ الصَّلَاةِ وَإِيتَاءَ الزَّكَاةِ وَكَانُوا لَنَا عَابِدِينَ

“We made them leaders who guide by Our command and We inspired them to work good deeds, to observe the Salat and to give the Zakat, they were worshippers of us.” (Surah Al-Anbya  21:73)

Zakat can be used to pay off the debts of a person who has borrowed to pay for necessities. Zakat functions as social security for all. Those who have enough money today pay for what they have. If they need money tomorrow they will get what is necessary to help them live decently.

Here are some basic facts about Zakat which every Muslim should know before they give Zakat:

  1. Zakat is one of the five fundamental concepts in Islam
  2. Zakat is a distinctive feature of the faithful community
  3. Zakat means to will to sacrifice for the order of Allah 
  4. Zakat means that he or she loves the order of Allah
  5. Zakat is a form of charity and any charitable deed
  6. Zakat can be purifying the wrongly earned wealth
  7. Zakat is a distinctive quality of the true believers
  8. Zakat is a precondition to obtaining Allah’s help
  9. Zakat create a chance to enjoy a better lifestyle
  10. Zakat helps the society who are less fortunate
  11. Zakat is a distinctive quality of the believers
  12. Zakat is an obligation and reward from Allah
  13. Zakat is a sign of brotherhood in religion
  14. Zakat brings to the circulation of money
  15. Zakat purifies one’s wealth and soul
  16. Zakat develops a sense of sacrificing
  17. Zakat is compulsory for every Muslim
  18. Zakat teaches the message of sacrifice
  19. Zakat is only liable on the Halal earnings
  20. Zakat is paid to the most deserving people
  21. Zakat should be paid to all eligible relatives
  22. Zakat means by which to attain Allah’s mercy
  23. Zakat cleans one’s character from being a miser
  24. Zakat show it in deeds of charity to our fellowmen
  25. Zakat makes one know the limits and rulings of Allah
  26. Zakat makes one reach the rank of the perfect believer
  27. Zakat is one of the causes of the downfall of goodness
  28. Zakat make a circle and circulates in the whole economy

Zakat is paid on the net balance after a Muslim has spent on necessities, family expenses, due credits, donations, and taxes. Every Muslim male or female who at the end of the Hijri year has the equivalent of 85 grams of gold or more in cash or articles of trade, must pay his or her zakat at the minimum rate of 2.5 per cent. Allah says:

وَمَا أُمِرُوا إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ مُخْلِصِينَ لَهُ الدِّينَ حُنَفَاءَ وَيُقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَيُؤْتُوا الزَّكَاةَ وَذَٰلِكَ دِينُ الْقَيِّمَةِ

“They were enjoined only to worship God, sincere in their faith in Him alone – and of upright religion – and to establish the Salat and the Zakat. Such is the upright religion.” (Surah Al-Bayyinah 98:5)

Faith is not merely a matter of words. We must realize the presence and goodness of God. When we do so, the scales fall from our eyes: all the falsities and fleeting nature of the Present cease to enslave us, for we see the Last Day as if it were today. We also see God’s working in this world and us; His Powers (angels), His Messengers are no longer remote from us but come within our experience. Allah says:

فَأَقِیمُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَآتُوا الزَّكَاةَ وَاعْتَصِمُوا بِاللَّـھِ

“So establish Salat and give Zakat, and hold fast to Allah.” (Surah Al-Haj 22:78)

While zakat is not the only form of charity in Islam, it is so important that it was made the Third Pillar. Through zakat, the prosperous can uplift the poor, help those who are troubled and comfort those who are in hardship.  Zakat has the power to change the world. But it starts with you paying it.

Following are the verses on Zakat from the Holy Quran:

  • “Who is active in paying Zakat.” (Surah Al-Mu’minun 23:4)
  • “But (even so), if they repent, establish regular prayers, and give their Zakat, they are your brethren in Faith.” (Surah Al-Taubah 9:11)
  • “Who is it that would loan Allah a goodly loan so He will multiply it for him and he will have a noble reward?” (Quran 57:11)
  • “Take Sadaqah (alms) from their wealth to purify them and sanctify them with it…” (Quran 7:103)
  • “unless you give (freely) of that which you love, and Allah knows well whatever you give.” (Aal-i-Imran: 92)
  • “My Mercy extends to all things. That (Mercy) I shall ordain for those who have God-consciousness and give their Zakat and those who believe in Our Signs.” (Surah Al-A`raf 7:156)

Zakat is payable only on those assets that are acquired to create or generate wealth. Some examples of this type of assets are livestock or crops that are traded or sold, inventory of goods used for trading, and investments such as gold or securities that have the potential for appreciation in value. However, zakat is not payable in the case of fixed assets such as buildings, if they are not subjected to “capital circulation”. Allah says:

خُذْ مِنْ أَمْوَالِهِمْ صَدَقَةً تُطَهِّرُهُمْ وَتُزَكِّيهِم بِهَا وَصَلِّ عَلَيْهِمْ إِنَّ صَلَاتَكَ سَكَنٌ لَّهُمْ وَاللَّهُ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ

“Take from their wealth a charity, purifying them and cause them to increase by it, and bless [upon] them. Indeed, your blessings (are a) reassurance for them. And Allah (is) All-Hearer, All-Knower.” (Surah At-Taubah 9:103)

Zakat can be used to finance any form of struggle or work for the love of God. Zakat is a mandatory tenant of Islam and the objective of it is to help the society share the bounties of Allah and give a chance to the unfortunate ones at a better life. Therefore, every Muslim must gain knowledge about Zakat and ensure that it be paid to the deserving people. Allah says:

وَأَقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَآتُوا الزَّكَاةَ وَارْكَعُوا مَعَ الرَّاكِعِينَ

“And as important as Salah “And establish the prayer and pay the Zakat and bow (in prayer) with those who bow.” (Al-Baqarah: 2:43)

Zakat is purely for the poor and the needy of our society, to help them and to save the poor and needy from the humility of begging. In Islam, charity holds such a great place that it is an obligation on Muslims in the form of Zakat. In Islam, Zakat is one of the major pillars of Islam, and those who are wealthy enough, for them it is mandatory to give Zakat. The lines below discuss the importance of Zakat in Islam and the general misconceptions people have regarding it.

Zakat in Ramadan Only:

The first misconception that people have about Zakat is that it is to be paid in the month of Ramadan only. Although Ramadan is a month of being charitable, however, it in no way means that a Muslim must pay Zakat in this month only. Rather, the time when a Muslim becomes liable for paying Zakat, a year from that time is the time frame within which Zakat is to be paid. Therefore, the duration of the year is what needs to be kept in mind and not the month of Ramadan for giving Zakat. Allah says:

وَجَعَلَنِي مُبَارَكًا أَيْنَ مَا كُنتُ وَأَوْصَانِي بِالصَّلَاةِ وَالزَّكَاةِ مَا دُمْتُ حَيًّا

“And He has made me blessed wherever I am and has enjoined upon me Prayer and Zakah as long as I remain alive.” (Surah Maryam, 19:31)

Islam is a religion that gives the message of love and peace. It wants its followers to live in peace and harmony in the world along with people of other religions and assist each other in making the world a better place. It is this motto of making the world a better place and helping others that Islam emphasizes on charity. Allah says:

وَمَا أُمِرُوا إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ مُخْلِصِينَ لَهُ الدِّينَ حُنَفَاءَ وَيُقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَيُؤْتُوا الزَّكَاةَ وَذَٰلِكَ دِينُ الْقَيِّمَةِ

“And not they were commanded except to worship Allah (being) sincere to Him (in) the religion, upright, and to establish the prayer, and to give the zakah And that (is the) religion the correct.” (Surah Al-Baiyinah 98:5)

Zakat refers to purification in general and purification of wealth in particular, therefore, those Muslims who have wealth over a certain ratio, they are liable to pay Zakat on it and give it to those who are less fortunate and don’t have sufficient means to live their life in a standard way. Allah says:

وَجَعَلَنِي مُبَارَكًا أَيْنَ مَا كُنتُ وَأَوْصَانِي بِالصَّلَاةِ وَالزَّكَاةِ مَا دُمْتُ حَيًّا

“And He (has) made me blessed wherever I am and has enjoined (on) me [of] the prayer and zakah, as long as I am alive.” (Surah Maryam 19:31)

However, when it comes to paying Zakat, different misconceptions are prevalent among Muslims.It also purifies the poor from the hatred and jealousy which they may have against the rich. They see them giving their wealth as Allah has ordered, and continuously caring for them, by giving them money and treating them well.