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ZAKAT: A Pillar of Islam

In his Friday sermon of August 26, 2011 Khalifatullah Hadhrat Munir Ahmad Azim Sahib of Mauritius reflected on the spiritual significance of Zakat.

Read from the Extracts:

Zakat is an obligatory act of charity enjoined on every eligible Muslim individual. It is an act of worship and an effective form of achieving social justice. It is one of the five pillars of Islam and is prescribed in the Quran and Hadith.

The root of the word Zakat in Arabic means blessing, growth, cleanliness or betterment. In Shariah, the word Zakat refers to the determined share of wealth prescribed by Allah to be distributed among the categories of those entitled to receive it. It is also used to mean the action of paying this share. Growth and cleanliness are not restricted to the assets from which Zakat has been taken, but affect the person who pays Zakat, in accordance with verse 104 of Surah 9 (At-Tauba).

“Take Sadaqa (Zakat) from their wealth to purify and cleanse them.”

Zakat, as known in the Shariah, is sometimes called Sadaqa. In fact, Sadaqa covers both Zakat and voluntary charity for any righteous purpose. In the later history of Islam, Sadaqa was used to mean voluntary charitable donations given to the destitute.

Zakat is an act of worship that purifies a Muslim’s wealth and soul. Wealth purification denotes the Mobilisation of assets for the purpose of financial growth and justified distribution. Purification of the soul implies the freedom from hatred, jealousy, selfishness and greed.

Technically, Zakat is a yearly fixed proportion taken from the surplus wealth and earnings of a Muslim. It is then distributed to prescribed beneficiaries for the welfare of the Muslim society. It is paid on the net balance after a Muslim has deducted his expenses on personal, family and other necessities. At the end of the year, if he or she is in possession of the equivalent of 85 grams of gold or more in cash or articles of trade, he or she must pay Zakat at the rate of 2.5%. It also applies to agricultural products and to livestock.

In the Holy Quran, the term Zakat is mentioned in several verses. It occurs thirty times in the Quran; in twenty-seven of them it is associated with Salat, prayer, in the same sequence, namely, those who are steadfast in their prayer … and those who actively pay Zakat.

Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud (May Allah be pleased with him), one of the early great companions of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him), has made the following observation in this context: “The prayer of him who does not practice Zakat is meaningless.” The Sunna abounds in instructions regarding Zakat. Mentioning the basics taught by the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) to early Muslims, Jafar Ibn Abi Talib (May Allah be pleased with him) explained to the king of Abyssinia, “He ordains us to pray, pay Zakat and fast.”

Anas (May Allah be pleased with him) quotes the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) saying, “He who dies having sincere faith in Allah, worshipping Him without partners, establishing prayer and paying Zakat, ends up with the pleasure of Allah.” Emphasizing the sinfulness of non-payment of Zakat, Hazrat Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “If someone is given wealth by Allah but does not pay its Zakat, that wealth will appear to him on the day of judgement in the form of a huge serpent encircling and squeezing him saying, “I am your wealth, your treasure which you hoarded.”

Zakat is not a mere charity; left to the conscience of individuals as part of their good deeds. It is an essential pillar of the religion, one of its major rituals, and the second of its four main forms of worship. Not paying it is synonymous to going astray.

Zakat is the right of the poor in the wealth of the rich, a right decided by the true Owner of wealth, Allah, and imposed on those who have been given control of that wealth by Him. It thus does not humble or humiliate the receiver. May Allah (Glory be to Him) guide all of us in the right path. Ameen”.

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