Did you pay your Zakat during Ramadan? Zakat: The third pillar of Islam

Charity is not just recommended by Islam, it is required of every financially stable Muslim. Giving charity to those who deserve it is part of Muslim character and one of the five pillars of Islamic practice. Zakat is viewed as “compulsory charity”; it is an obligation for those who have received their wealth from God to respond to those members of the community in need. Devoid of sentiments of universal love, some people know only to hoard wealth and to add to it by lending it out on interest.

Islam’s teachings are the very antithesis of this attitude. Islam encourages the sharing of wealth with others and helps people to stand on their own and become productive members of the society.

In Arabic it is known as zakat, which literally means “purification,” because zakat is considered to purify one’s heart of greed. Love of wealth is natural and it takes firm belief in God for a person to part with some of his wealth. Zakat must be paid on different categories of property — gold, silver, money; livestock; agricultural produce; and business commodities — and is payable each year after one year’s possession. It requires an annual contribution of 2.5 percent of an individual’s wealth and assets.

Like prayer, which is both an individual and communal responsibility, zakat expresses a Muslim’s worship of and thanksgiving to God by supporting those in need. In Islam, the true owner of things is not man, but God. Acquisition of wealth for its own sake, or so that it may increase a man’s worth, is condemned. Mere acquisition of wealth counts for nothing in the sight of God. It does not give man any merit in this life or in the hereafter. Islam teaches that people should acquire wealth with the intention of spending it on their own needs and the needs of others.

“‘Man’, said the Prophet, ‘says: My wealth! My wealth!’ Have you not any wealth except that which you give as alms and thus preserve, wear and tatter, eat and use up?”

The whole concept of wealth is considered in Islam as a gift from God. God, who provided it to the person, made a portion of it for the poor, so the poor have a right over one’s wealth. Zakat reminds Muslims that everything they have belongs to God. People are given their wealth as a trust from God, and zakat is intended to free Muslims from the love of money.

The money paid in zakat is not something God needs or receives. He is above any type of dependency. God, in His boundless mercy, promises rewards for helping those in need with one basic condition that zakat be paid in the name of God; one should not expect or demand any worldly gains from the beneficiaries nor aim at making one’s names as a philanthropist.

The feelings of a beneficiary should not be hurt by making him feel inferior or reminding him of the assistance.
Money given as zakat can only be used for certain specific things. Islamic law stipulates that alms are to be used to support the poor and the needy, to free slaves and debtors, as specifically mentioned in the Qur’an (9:60). Zakat, which developed fourteen hundred years ago, functions as a form of social security in a Muslim society.

Neither Jewish nor Christian scriptures praise slave manumission by raising it to worship. Indeed, Islam is unique in world religions in requiring the faithful to financially help slaves win their freedom and has raised the manumission of a slave to an act of worship — if it is done to please God.

Under the caliphates, the collection and expenditure of zakat was a function of the state. In the contemporary Muslim world, it has been left up to the individual, except in some countries in which the state fulfills that role to some degree. Most Muslims in the West disperse zakat through Islamic charities, mosques, or directly giving to the poor. Money is not collected during religious services or via collection plates, but some mosques keep a drop box for those who wish it to distribute zakat on their behalf. Unlike the zakat, giving other forms of charity in private, even in secret, is considered better, in order to keep one’s intention purely for the God.

Apart from zakat, the Qur’an and Hadith (sayings and actions of the Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him) also stress sadaqah, or voluntary alms-giving, which is intended for the needy. The Qur’an emphasizes feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, helping those who are in need, and the more one helps, the more God helps the person, and the more one gives, the more God gives the person. One feels he is taking care of others and God is taking care of him.

– (Courtesy of http://www.islamreligion.com)

Categories: Asia, Islam, Saudi Arabia

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3 replies

  1. Out of the 5 pillars of Islam, “Kalima Shahadat”, “prayers”, and “fasting” fall in the category of the individual’s obligation towards God – Haqooq Allah. Whereas “zakat” falls under the individual’s obligation towards mankind – Haqooq-ul-Ibad.

    Any commandment which is for the collective good of the society falls under the function of the state. And it is the state which becomes responsible to collect “zakat” and use that money for the welfare of the less fortunate section of society.

    As the author has rightly mentioned that “zakat” was the function of the state during the era of the first four Khalifas but later that practice discontinued.

    It is important to study why that was discontinued.
    Secondly, when the collection and distribution of “zakat” had no uniform system, what was the impact of that on the less fortunate section of society.

    First, when the state collected and distributed the “zakat” to the needy, the self esteem of the receiver was not disturbed. However, when the same function was taken over by so many indiduals, the human nature reacted differently.

    Second, when the control of “zakat” was taken away from the state, and given to the individual, there was no control and no unformity in the distribution. Thus the very essence of “zakat”
    was lost and remained so during the next many centuries of the Muslim Rule.

    Until, Bismark of Germany introduced the “Welfare State” and which was later copied by Sweden in the first decade of the 20th century, in 1907-1908 when they planned to make Sweden a “Social Welfare State”.

    Incidently the word for the “Tax” in Swedish is “SKATT” which has been taken from the Arabic word “zakat”. And perhaps the Swedes also implemented the essence of “zakat” in their taxation system.

    The interesting thing in the Swedish Taxation system is the fact that the “citizen’s needs” form the core of the taxation system. The needs of the citizen is well defined. In a nutshell the state is responsible towards the citizen for all what is required to bring out the best in the individual, materially as well as intellectually. That is irrespective of the citizen’s financial standing. A millionair’s child is entitled to the same allowance as that of a factory worker, same health facities, same education facilities.

    However, when it came to taxation, there is the minimum of 33 percent on every earning hand and it increases as the income increases.

    Such distribution of “zakat” by the state does not hurt the self esteem of the receiving individual.

    As such Muslims living in Sweden pay their “zakat” to the Swedish State and that “zakat” is not only used for the welfare of the less fortunate of Sweden, but part of that “zakat” is also given to the less fortunate of many other countries through their “Swedish International Development Agency” and that money is without any “links” attached.

    In such a scenario, the collection of “zakat” by the Muslims Associations makes no sense. Because the state has taken care of all the less fortunate – the widows and orphans and the old and the handicapped – in this society.

    Of course the other forms of charity, like the “sadaqah” which has no set percentage, can be collected and used by the Muslims living here. But not “zakat”.

    Munir Varraich

  2. Dear Brothers/Sisters,

    Assalamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuhu

    I am Md. Atiqur Rashid vary poor Muslim. i got a big loss in business. i has a debt of money .the people who were defaulters disturbed us much. we I know that your organization is vary large please help me. I have need financial help.

    With due respect I would like to let you know that I am a highly distressed person in the human society. I have been leading a heavy distressful life for last few years. There are four members in my family. To mitigate the regular and most basic expenses of myself & my family I had to borrow money from my relatives and known peoples in my society. Gradually the amount of borrowed money is becoming greater. My social security has already been destroyed. My lenders have already started to create pressure to me. In such situation my own & my family member’s lives are always in risk. I have two kids and they are school going. Both the kids are brilliant but I can’t provide them required support in all respect. As a result prospective future of these kids is also going to be uncertain. This is really an unbearable situation and shock for a father.

    I have a good intension to repay all of my loans. Besides I need to do/establish something for mitigating my family expenses on regular basis. But without money nothing is possible. The reason why I need financial help of peoples who are rich and who are in a position to provide financial help to me. I will Return in monthly installment basis.

    Understanding my crucial situation would you please extend your hand of co-operation to help me to survive with my family? i will back in monthly installment basis.

    I will give you my bank account particulars if you please agree to provide financial help to me. Await to receive your cordial response by return mail (E-mail: mostaqueminar@gmail.com or )

    Again request all brothers & Sisters please help me urgently

    Atiqur Rashid
    Bank A/C No- s/a 20502240200128108
    Swift code No-IBBLBDDH177
    Islami Bank Bangladesh Ltd, idb bhaban Branch
    Dhaka .Bangladesh

    Best Regards

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