Zakat isn’t just an Islamic ritual

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Generally speaking, Zakat is a form of almsgiving, but for Muslims, it carries a different meaning and essence.

Literally meaning “purify” – Zakat – refers to purification of wealth and soul, alike. Though the alms can be paid in any part of the year, importance of Zakat rises significantly in the fasting month of Ramzan, when Muslims believe that rewards for good deeds are multiplied 70 times by Allah, unlike 10 times during the rest of the year.

In the five basic tenets of Islam, Zakat is obligatory, next to Salat (prayers). In Quran, Zakat alongside Salat finds mention in 30 verses, while it was first revealed in Surah Al-Muzzammil (Chapter 73: Verse 20).

Zakat has to be paid annually on the net balance of assets after spending on necessities and even taxes. Tax cannot be equated with Zakat in which rewards are supposed to be divine. In the five basic tenets of Islam, Zakat is obligatory, next to Salat (prayers).

Every Muslim, who at the end of Islamic calendar year – the Hijri – possesses the equivalent of 85 grams of gold or more in cash or articles of trade, is bound to pay Zakat at the prescribed minimum of 2.5 per cent.

Quran classifies the eligible recipients of the alms under eight categories.

Allah says in Surah Tauba(9:60):

“Zakat is for the poor, and the needy and those who are employed to administer and collect it, and the new converts, and for those who are in bondage, and in debt and service of the cause of God, and for the wayfarers, a duty ordained by God, and God is the All-Knowing, the Wise.”

While on one hand, this almsgiving aspires for spiritual purification, on the other, it practically aims at eradication of poverty, a global challenge.

Though Muslims generally tend to pay Zakat during Ramzan, most of us end up paying less, something which contradicts the essence of purity. Once something becomes impure, the percentage rarely matters. A drop of urine is enough to leave a water tank unfit for consumption.

So those who believe in Islam must believe in Zakat, much the way they believe in the life hereafter.

In a Tirmidhi Hadith, Prophet Muhammad said: “The believer’s shade on the Day of Resurrection will be his charity.”

Otherwise, Quran has announced painful punishment for the offenders.

In Surah Tauba(9, 34-35), Allah says:

“Those who lay up treasures of gold and silver and spend them not in the way of God; give them the news of a painful punishment, on the Day when that (wealth) will be heated in hellfire, and their foreheads and their sides and their backs branded therewith: This is the treasure which you laid up for yourselves! Taste, then, your hoarded treasure!”

So there’s a choice for those who believe in it.

 

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