Zakaat is one of the pillars of Islam. The word zakaat occurs many times in the Quran with the exception of the few verses, it is always mentioned with Salat it is said that;
Translation: “And establish regular prayer and give regular charity”
Zakaat is an act of worship performed by giving away a portion of one’s wealth for the benefits of poor. Holy Prophet (PBUH) described Zakaat as wealth taken from rich and given to poor and needy.
The other pillars of Islam are act of worship which benefits only the person who performs them, but zakaat that is the act of the worship, performed through giving away the portion of one’s wealth as command by ALLAH and its benefits mankind.
By offering prayers, a Muslim performs his duty towards ALLAH and by paying zakaat, he helps the poor Muslims. Prayer is a physical form of worship and zakaat is a material form. The literal meaning of the Zakaat is purity. By giving Zakaat Muslim purifies his soul accordance to the commands that are given by ALLAH and it also overcomes his greed for the wealth. Zakaat reminds a person that whatever wealth he earns doesn’t belong to him but it is a trust that bestowed on him by ALLAH. This explains its importance as an obligatory payment to be made by rich Muslims to the poor and needy so that the wealth as well as the heart and soul of giver purified.
When a person spends his wealth in the way of ALLAH, he promised that such generosity shall be repaid liberally. Allah has formulated the best economic system for the mankind in the form of zakaat. Its purpose to give economic security to the poor and also to prevent the accumulation of wealth in a few hands. There are several warnings of Prophet (PBUH) to those who do not pay zakaat and the penalty of the hereafter and the destruction of the property on which zakaat has not been paid.
The Quran has specified the following categories of people to whom zakaat is to be distributed.
- People who are poor and needy.
- Official appointed to collect zakaat, it is not necessary for him to be a needy person.
- Newly converted Muslims who are in need of basic necessities of life.
- Slaves who have an agreement with their masters to purchase their freedom.
- People who have to repay their debts or who have to fulfil an obligation.
- Zakaat can be given to travellers so that they can fulfil their travel needs.
- For building mosques, Muslims school zakaat can be given.
Zakaat can not be given to parents. It also can not be given to non-Muslims; neither can it be given to a person as remuneration of services. Just as regular praying, zakaat is a sign of faith. According to the Holy Quran one of the sign of unbelievers is that they deny the hereafter and do not pay zakaat.
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