Zakat, which means “to grow”, is the obligatory charitable giving in Islam. It was made mandatory when the Islamic State expanded, and Muslims became more affluent. Paying Zakat demonstrates a Muslim’s commitment to Allah (God) and their faith in community responsibility for others less fortunate than themselves. Paying Zakat reminds Muslims that everything they possess belongs to God and that sharing one’s wealth with others is a requirement of being a good Muslim. Paying Zakat is an essential part of Islam that every Muslim needs to give.
Muslims believe that God has given them the responsibility and honor of being caretakers on earth and so, as such, must demonstrate generosity and concern for those who are less fortunate than themselves. Paying Zakat provides a chance to be generous with one’s wealth and share it with others. Paying Zakat demonstrates that Muslims care about their community and alludes to Abu Bakr’s words after he became the first caliph: “I am only holding on to the rope of Allah; I will not let go until He lets go”.
Paying Zakat reminds Muslims that everything they own belongs to God; people should share what they have with others. Paying Zakat reminds Muslims that this life is not forever and the afterlife will be even more critical; Paying Zakat helps put things in perspective. Paying Zakat also discourages hoarding money, which leads to greed and corruption. Paying Zakats keeps people from taking advantage of others by using or abusing them for personal gain, without giving anything in return.
The following Verse of the Qur’an deals with Zakat:
“Take alms of our possessions, and give them to the kinsman, the needy, and the destitute…” [Al-Qur’an 9:59]
Allah has promised those who Pay Zakat their reward in this life and the Hereafter. Paying Zakat is a way of purifying the rest of one’s wealth so that when spent, it will bring more rewards from God. Paying Zakat is an individual duty for Muslims, based on the Verse of almsgiving in the Qur’an [9:60]
“Take alms from their property so you may purify them”.
Allah has made it obligatory to take care of those who are unable to earn a living or bear their expenses by themselves, including children, older adults without any income source, patients who are unable to find treatment due to lack of money, debtors who cannot repay their debts because they have no money, and people who are in jail. Paying Zakat is a way of taking care of the less fortunate in the Muslim community by giving them part of their wealth for a specific period.
Paying Zakat also means to be thankful for the blessing from God, thus thanking Him through one’s charity. Paying Zakat also helps remove economic divisions, thus helping to unite the Muslims. Paying Zakat was ordained so that Muslims might bring themselves closer to God by freeing them from selfishness and putting their wealth into circulation for the good of all while at the same time establishing a certain amount of personal independence. Paying Zakat protects oneself from miserliness, which leads to insensitivity to fellow human beings who need help due to difficult circumstances beyond their control.
Islamic teachings on Paying Zakat are based on three main principles:
- People are the “real” owners of whatever they possess;
- Paying Zakat purifies one’s property and averts greed;
- Paying Zakat saves money from the unworthy (thieves, beggars, etc.).
The money obtained as a result of Paying Zakat is spent on eight things:
- Those who leave their homes for the sake of Allah.
- In the path of Allah – those who were harmed fighting for Allah or those whose properties were damaged by a natural disaster.
- Debtors who cannot repay their loans by themselves. Paying Zakat protects them from being imprisoned or selling their property to repay debts.
- Paying Zakat calms disputes between people, extinguishing hatred, thus making peace and friendship prevail.
- Paying Zakat eases the poverty of the elderly and the disabled. It also helps young couples get married and pay their dowry to start a family.
- Paying Zakat provides food for those fasting in Ramadan (the month when Muslims do not eat or drink during daylight hours).
- Paying Zakat pays for medical treatment for those who cannot afford it. It also gives them gifts such as food, clothing, and shelter, making their lives more comfortable while they wait to recover from their illness.
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