Islam is the religion of peace and love. It emphasizes that Muslims should live in peace, love, and harmony with each other and also with the people of other religions. Islam teaches us to help poor and needy people and fulfil their needs in the form of charity. Zakat, with its innumerable facets, is a bond between members of society, one wherein collective harmony is dependent on individual harmony. Zakat explicitly creates a virtuous setting that eliminates various social problems by establishing a harmonious atmosphere for both the rich and the poor. 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)
In a nutshell, zakat forestalls, reduces, or eliminates social conflicts, strengthens the growth of the middle class, and obviates all of the greatest social diseases about financial issues, especially interest and money-hoarding. Zakat is an obligation and fulfilment as Zakat leads a Muslim to get a reward from Allah the Almighty and declining Zakat leads a Muslim to receive punishment from Him in both this life and in the life of Akhirah (life after death).
Who can receive the Zakat?
Zakat should spend on the following people:
- The Furama (Poor)
- Al-Maskin (Needy)
- Aamileen (Zakat collector)
- Muallafatul (Poor and needy recently converted to Islam)
- Ar-Riqaab (slaves)
- Ibnus Sabeel (a traveller in need of financial assistance)
- Al Ghaarimeen (A debtor)
- Fi Sabeelillah (who are away from home in the path of Allah)
The charity holds a great place in Islam, therefore, it is made an obligation on Muslims in the form of Zakat. Zakat is one of the major five pillars of Islam that helps to frame a Muslim life. It is mandatory to give Zakat to those who are wealthy enough ..Zakat is basically practised to help those in the society who are in the most need. Allah says:
قُلْ إِنَّ رَبِّي يَبْسُطُ الرِّزْقَ لِمَن يَشَاءُ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ وَيَقْدِرُ لَهُ وَمَا أَنفَقْتُم مِّن شَيْءٍ فَهُوَ يُخْلِفُهُ وَهُوَ خَيْرُ الرَّازِقِينَ
“Zakat means to bless, increase, or purify. Allaah Says (what means): But whatever thing you spend [in His cause] – He will compensate it, and He is the best of providers.” (Surah Saba 34:39)
If one class of society keeps on gathering all the money and does not provide anything to anyone else, then the rest would stay in the same plight and this is how society today is divided into so many sections. There is no doubt that Zakat (obligatory charity) has a great impact on both the person who pays it and on society as a whole. Among its impacts are the following: 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-Tawbah 9:103)
Zakat refers to the purification of wealth in particular. Muslims who have wealth over a certain ratio is bound to pay Zakat on it and give it to those who are less fortunate and don’t have sufficient means to live their lives in a standard way parallel to human dignity. We are obliged to pay Zakat, from our earned money and wealth. Zakat is a form of charity and any charitable deed means that the money gets out of the hands of the rich and circulates in the whole economy.
Benefits of Zakat: Zakat has many benefits some of them are listed below:
- It brings a servant close to his Lord and increases his faith. This is the case with all of the acts of worship.
Paying Zakat results in great reward from Allah Almighty. The Prophet (SAW) said:
“Whoever gives away charity the size of a date, which is earned lawfully, since Allah only accepts the good lawful things, Allah will indeed take it with His right hand and cause it to grow for its owner, just as one of you raises his colt, to the point that the charity will become like the size of a mountain.” (Al-Bukhari)
- Allah removes the (minor) sins by giving Zakat, as the Prophet (SAW) said: “Giving charity wipes away sins just as water extinguishes the fire.”
- It helps Muslims to follow the honourable path.
- It helps in the purification of the heart.
- It helps in reducing poverty in society.
- The most important benefit of Zakat is the purification of halal money.
- It cleans one’s character from being a miser.
- It is proof of the truthfulness of the faith of he who gives Zakat.
- It makes one reach the rank of the perfect believer. The Prophet (SAW) said: “None of you truly believes until he loves his brother what he loves himself.” [Muslim]
- It makes an Islamic society a single-family in which the rich helps the poor.
- Redemption from the intense heat on the Day of Resurrection. The Prophet (SAW) said: “Every man will be in the shade of his charity on the Day of Resurrection.” [Ahmad]
- Calculating Zakat helps to demolish poverty.
- While paying Zakat reduces the chances of deflation in the country or society.
- Zakat removes the grudges and deceased feelings found in the hearts of the poor and needy people.
ZAKAT CURES SOCIAL DISEASES
The prime hindrance to the formation of a harmonious atmosphere within societies is the existence of social classes based on wealth. It is self-evident that it is an impossibility for the poor to nurture a love for the rich in a society where they are turned a blind eye on. As prevalent experience has shown, such a society is destined to become a hotbed for social conflict. Allah says:
وَأَقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَآتُوا الزَّكَاةَ وَارْكَعُوا مَعَ الرَّاكِعِينَ
“And establish prayer and give zakah and bow with those who bow [in worship and obedience].” (Surah Al-Baqarah, 2: 43)
Wealth is perhaps one of the major elements that people love the most. Therefore, when a person gives from his or her wealth, it actually means that he or she loves the order of Allah more than their personal likings and they are willing to sacrifice anything for the order of Allah. The following verse corroborates this proposition: Allah says:
وَأَنفِقُوا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَلَا تُلْقُوا بِأَيْدِيكُمْ إِلَى التَّهْلُكَةِ وَأَحْسِنُوا إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُحْسِنِينَ
And spend in (the) way (of) Allah and (do) not throw (ourselves) [with your hands] into [the] destruction. And do good; indeed, Allah loves the good-doers.” (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:195)
Zakat is a mandatory practice of Islam and the purpose of it is to help society, share the endless boons of Allah and give the unfortunate ones a better life. Therefore, every person must ensure that Zakat is paid to the most deserving people. To lead a purposeful and worthy life we must remain honest with ourselves and society. Allah says:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَأْكُلُوا الرِّبَا أَضْعَافًا مُّضَاعَفَةً وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ
“O you who believe! (Do) not eat the usury doubled multiplied. And consciously revere Allah so that you may (be) successful.” (Surah Al Imran 3:130)
Human life is not meant to be wasted in selfishness. It is meant to be dedicated to the good of others. A person of high character is the one who serves the family, society and its people and gives charity or Zakat to empower others to have a better life. Zakat is a highly practical and beneficial Islamic action that needs to be taken very seriously as it only creates balance in society but also results in an overall improvement in the life of the one executing it.