Zakah – The Obligatory Charity

Zakah - The Obligatory Charity

In general, charity has two breeds i.e. Obligatory Charity and Non-Obligatory Charity. In the Islamic world, obligatory charity refers to Zakah (Zakat) while non-obligatory charity deals with Sadaqah. It also has the meaning of obligatory zakah, as found in the Qur’an and the Sunnah. Before we move on with this article, please allow me to elucidate the importance of Zakat in the light of the Quran. Have you ever noticed that the word “Zakat” has been repeated thirty (30) times in the Quran? Yes, thirty times! In addition, it is also one of the five pillars of Islam. There are many reading verses in the Quran related to Zakat, some of them are as under:

“I shall ordain (good) for those who are the Muttaqoon (pious) and give zakah.” (Al-A’raf, 7: 156)

“Those who give not the zakah and they are disbelievers in the Hereafter.” (Fussilat, 41: 7)

“And they were command not, but that they should worship Allah, and worship none but him Alone, and perform as-salat and give zakah: and that is the right religion. (Al-Baiyanah, 98:5)

“A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor.” (Proverbs, 22:9)

And in their properties there was the right of the beggar, and the Mahroom (the poor who does not ask the others). (Az-Zariyaat, 51:19)

The system of zakah came fourteen hundred years ago with complete prerequisites for the poor and needy, organized and implemented by the state and financed by a tax obligatory on the rich only. It is part of Islam and its third pillar, without which, the very faith of a Muslim is incomplete.

system of zakah

The lingual meaning of zakat is growth and increase. If applied to a person, it means to improve or to become better. Consequently, Zakah is a blessing, a purifier, and a betterment. According to Ibn Taymiyyah,

“The soul of the person who pays his zakat becomes purified, and the blessings in his money increase.”

The word Zakah refers to the determined share of wealth prescribed by Allah to be distributed among deserving categories. Imam Nawawi said that this share of wealth is called zakah because it increases the funds from which it is taken and protects them from being lost or destroyed.

Not only Islam but other religions also endorse Zakah. As the Bible says:

“If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered. A gift given in secret soothes anger.” (Proverbs, 21:13, 14)

“A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor.” (Proverbs, 22:9)

Zakah is not something that we just cut off from our wealth and pay to the poor without any reckoning. Zakah has very strict and complex verdicts. One has to be qualified for paying Zakkah and one has to meet the criteria to receive Zakkah. How much Zakkah needs to be paid is a concern while in which form is another one. The prophet of Islam (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) has defined very simple rules to fulfill this obligation in the light of the divine Quran.

Let’s have a look at some misconceptions about Zakah. It is the common practice of Muslims to pay Zakkah in the Holy month of Ramadan; however, there is no authentic ruling to pay Zakkah just in the month of Ramadan, except to multiply the reward seventy times than rest of the months. Zakah should be paid by a person once the Hanlon his wealth has been completed; and he should not wait for Ramadan unless Ramadan is near. Then the generic base (Nisab) of Zakat is also considered as only base; however, there are many limitations to it. I have found a book named, “Zakkah According to Quran & Sunnah” by a renowned scholar of Islam “Professor Muhammad Zulfiqar” as an authentic source on this topic. The best thing, I found in this book is that the ratio of text by the author is very lower than that of Ahadith and Quranic Verses.

Zakkah According to Quran & SunnahWhile Zakah is obligatory for Muslims fulfilling the nisab, it is deemed to be voluntary during contemporary times. This partly explains its lower contribution and collection in many Muslim communities. Data on Zakah collection from selected countries indicate that the total Zakah collection varies from a meager 0.01 percent to 0.30 of GDP only. It has been estimated, however, that the potential of the Zakah collected in Muslim countries, if utilized properly, could reach between an average range of 1.8 percent to 4.3 percent of GDP annually. Apart from its collection, distribution has also become a contentious issue in some countries. Thus, the potential of Zakah collection and its utilization for the effective alleviation of poverty still remains intact.

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Zakah - The Obligatory Charity: A Comprehensive Guide
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Zakah - The Obligatory Charity: A Comprehensive Guide
Zakah - The Obligatory Charity: Understand the significance, calculation, and distribution of Zakah in Islam. Learn how this pillar shapes a just society.
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