Zakat is an Arabic word which means “purification”. Allah Almighty declared in the Quran: “Take from their wealth so that you might purify and sanctify them” (Quran 9:103). Zakat is the third pillar of Islam and obligatory on every money-wise stable Muslim that is rich enough to pay for it. Zakat is basically the obligatory giving of a pre-set percentage of one’s wealth to aid. All qualified persons are mandatory to pay a yearly ratio of 2.5% of the wealth and property they own as Zakat. Its significance could be understood from the fact that Allah made it a pillar and by making it a pillar, Allah makes almost everyone experiences it either as a donor or as a receiver.
Zakat has so much significance that Allah (SWT) shared it with salah on many times in the Holy Quran. Zakat is considered as obligatory charity and an responsibility for those who have received their wealth from Almighty Allah to donate to those who are less prosperous in society. The basic resolution of making Zakat a obligatory charity is to purify a Muslim’s heart from all forms of selfishness and greed. The obligatory charity Zakat must be given on different types of assets in which we have silver, money, agricultural productions, gold, other business commodities and livestock. Zakat is due each year after one year’s holding.
Our beloved Prophet (SAW) said: “The believer’s shade on the Day of Resurrection will be his charity” (Tirmidhi). From this hadith, we can conclude that Allah Almighty will shade and shelter those who donate in charity and care for the needy people. The Muslim’s sacrifice in this life will be their protection on the Day of Decision which will advantage them forever. Just like prayer (salah), which is both an individual and communal responsibility, zakat also expresses a Muslim’s devotion thanksgiving to Almighty Allah by supporting those who are in need.
Zakat reminds us that everything we have belongs to Allah (SWT). People are donating their wealth as a faith from Allah Almighty, and zakat is proposed to free Muslims from the love of money. Islam clarifies that people should gain wealth with the goal of spending it on their own desires and the wishes of others. Allah Almighty mentioned in Quran: “Zakat expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy and for those employed to collect (zakat) and for bringing hearts together [for Islam] and for freeing captives [or slaves] and for those in debt and for the cause of Allah and for the (stranded) traveler – an obligation (imposed) by Allah. And Allah is Knowing and Wise.” (Quran, 9:60)
Other than zakat which obviously is the obligatory charity, the Quran and Hadith also pressure on giving Sadaqah, or voluntary charity, which is proposed for the needy persons of the society. In the Quran Allah almighty stresses on helping those who are in need, clothing the naked and feeding the hungry. The more one helps, the more Allah Almighty helps him, and the more one gives, the more Allah (SWT) gives the him in return. One feels he is taking care of others and Allah is taking care of the person.
In short, zakat develops the logic of purification from greed, grows a flow of money for the economy. It also inspires people to grow a better society that lives in harmony and peace. May Almighty Allah give us the strength to fulfill this duty and following the right track so that we will be considered in exact followers of Islam! Ameen