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The Importance of 'Zakaat' in Islam

Zakaat in Islam

Zakaat is a pillar of Islam and an obligatory act of charity ordained to every eligible Muslim. It is an act of devotion and an effective form to achieve social justice. It is also one of the five pillars of Islam and prescribed in the Holy Quran and in the Hadiths. The root of the word Zakaat in Arabic means blessing, growth, purity or improvement. The word Zakaat refers to the part of the wealth prescribed by Allah to be distributed among the categories of people described by Allah in Surah At-Taubah (Chapter 9, verse 60) and the Hadiths. Zakaat is an act of worship that purifies the wealth and soul of Muslims.

The purification of wealth means the mobilization of goods for financial growth and justified distribution (equal repartition of wealth). Purification of the soul means liberation of the Muslim’s heart from hatred, jealousy, selfishness, and greed.

Technically speaking, Zakaat is a fixed proportion that is withdrawn on an annual basis from the wealth and distributable profits and given to beneficiaries of this fund (as indicated by the Quran and Sunnah) for the well-being of Muslim society. Zakaat is calculated on the net balance after the Muslim has deducted his expenses for personal, family and other purposes (necessities). At the end of the year if the Muslim is in possession of 35 grams of gold or 595 grams of silver or the cash equivalence or article of commerce he must pay Zakaat on it at 2.5% tax, also applicable to agricultural products and livestock.

Zakaat is mentioned about thirty times in the Holy Quran and it is mentioned most in association with Salat (prayer) as this verse indicates: “Those who establish Salah (prayer) and give Zakah (Obligatory Charity/ Tax).” (Al-Baqara 2: 278).

Narrated from Anas (ra) that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: “Whoever departs this world with sincerity towards Allah, worshipping Him alone with no partner, establishing regular prayer and paying Zakaat, he dies while Allah is pleased with him.” (Ibn Majah).

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: “Whoever Allah makes wealthy and he does not pay the Zakah due on his wealth, then on the Day of Resurrection his wealth will be made in the likeness of a bald-headed poisonous male snake with two black spots over the eyes. The snake will encircle his neck and bite his cheeks and proclaim, ʻI am your wealth, I am your treasure.’” (Bukhari).

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) also said, “There is no people, who do not pay Zakah, left without being made to suffer by God through disasters, or famine or drought.” (Tabarani, Hakeem, Baihaqi).

Zakaat is so important in the Islamic system that Hazrat Abu Bakr (ra) said: “I will fight whoever separates Salah and Zakah, for Zakah is the compulsory right to be taken from wealth. By Allah, if they withhold from me a young goat that they used to give to the Messenger of Allah (pbuh), I will fight them for withholding it.” (Nasaï).

Therefore, those who refuse to pay Zakaat are like the unfaithful and the deniers of the Islamic faith. A Muslim must pay Zakaat if he possesses property and has the ability to dispose of property. Thus a lost or stolen good does not require the deduction of Zakaat because this property is no longer legally in the possession of the Muslim.

Growth has a direct relationship with the expansion of wealth. Zakaat is obligatory on goods that have growth potential. This includes: money in the bank, livestock, plantations, goods, etc. However, there is no Zakaat to pay for property reserved for personal use such as inhabited residences, furniture, vehicles etc.

It is very important that we be very careful when we pay Zakaat so that we do not forget any items. It is better to have a surplus of Zakaat than to pay less than the sum/ quantity required! Insha-Allah, the payment of Zakaat that you will fulfill will become a source of new income for you in your homes and it will help you to purify you and your families and all the goods you have, Ameen, Summa Ameen... 

---Extracts from the Friday Sermon of 08 June 2018 (23 Ramadan 1439 AH) delivered by Muhyi-ud-Din Al Khalifatullah Hadhrat Munir Ahmad Azim Saheb (atba) of Mauritius.