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Technically speaking, Zakaat is a fixed proportion that is withdrawn on an annual basis from the wealth and distributable profits and given to beneficiaries of this fund (as indicated by the Quran and Sunnah) for the well-being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).