What is Zakat? Concept, Purpose and Importance of Zakat in Islam

Zakat is the third pillar of Islam which is compulsory on every financially stable Muslim who is wealthy enough to afford to it. Zakat is an Arabic word which means purification. Allah Almighty mentioned in the Holy Quran: “Take from their wealth so that you might purify and sanctify them” (Quran 9:103). Zakat is basically the compulsory giving of a pre-set proportion of one’s wealth to the needy people of society as charity. All eligible individuals are required to pay an annual percentage of 2.5% of the wealth and property they own as Zakat.

Zakat is not a voluntary charity not a tax but an obligation. The significance of Zakat could be realized from the fact that Allah (SWT) made it a pillar and by making it a pillar, Allah makes almost everyone experience it either as a giver or as a receiver. By giving Zakat, a Muslim is acknowledging that everything we have in this world is given by Allah and we do not really own it. Therefore, we should use it to remember Allah Almighty and help those who are in need. Zakat is an act which help us to free from excessive desire and greed, learn self-discipline and honesty.

In the Holy Quran, Allah (SWT) combined it with salah on many occasions. Almighty Allah says in the Holy Quran: “And be steadfast in prayer and regular in charity: And whatever good ye send forth for your souls before you, ye shall find it with Allah”. (Quran, 2:110)

The main objective of paying Zakat is to create balance in the society and never let a poor and needy people to suffer or die. Zakat is compulsory on Muslims when they have a specific amount of Gold, Silver or other properties that can be weighed and calculated. Zakat is payable every year after one year’s retention. Zakat helps to shape the human character of the rich people as it saves them from greediness and selfishness and establishes the concept of brotherhood and unity in the society.

Zakat can help to remove the hatred of the poor and raised a feeling of a fellowship from the recipients. Zakat cannot be given to anyone in need, there are eight kinds of people to whom zakat can be given. These 8 kinds of people are mentioned in the Holy Quran: “Indeed, [prescribed] charitable offerings are only [to be given] to the poor and the indigent, and to those who work on [administering] it, and to those whose hearts are to be reconciled, and to [free] those in bondage, and to the debt-ridden, and for the cause of God, and to the wayfarer. [This is] an obligation from God. And God is all-knowing, all-wise.” (Quran, 9:60)

In the Holy Quran Allah (SWT) emphasizes on feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, helping those who are in need. The more one helps, the more Allah Almighty helps the person, and the more one gives, the more Allah (SWT) gives the person in return. May Almighty Allah give us the strength to help the poor and needy people. Ameen!

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