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What is Zakat?

Introducing Zakat & its benefits - Imam Abid Khan

Defining Zakat

Zakat is a compulsory act of worship and one of the five pillars of Islam. It is an obligatory charity that Allah, the most beneficent and most merciful, has imposed on our wealth to ensure that those who are most needy do not go without.

The word Zakat originates from the verb zaka, meaning to grow, to increase and to purify. When said about a person, it means to improve or to become better. Consequently, Zakat means, blessing, growth, cleanliness and betterment. By paying the Zakat we owe, we are fulfilling our obligations as Muslims and Allah will allow us to reap the rewards for this both in this life and the hereafter insha’Allah.

In the Sharia, the word Zakat refers to the determined share of wealth prescribed by Allah to be distributed among the deserving categories of those entitled to receive it. Muslims who own wealth over a certain amount (called Nisab) are required to donate a portion of this wealth (a minimum of 2.5%) to those in need.

Important points about the Islamic Zakat system

  • Zakat is so important to Islam that it is not just seen as a good deed – it is MANDATORY. So important in fact that it is a pillar of Islam.
  • Zakat is not something that the poor are gifted – Zakat is their right and it has been ordained as such by the Most High – Allah.
  • Zakat amounts have been specified; it is not up to the individual to deduce how much he or she can spare to give.
  • Zakat has been left up to the individual; it is the individual’s responsibility to be punctual in paying Zakat rather than being prompted by the government or by law.
  • The recipients of Zakat have not been left to the limited wisdom of mankind, rather to the limitless wisdom of Allah where He specified the recipients of Zakat.
  • Zakat is intended to eradicate poverty itself so that the poor can become self-sufficient. This is the wider aim and concept. It is not meant to be a temporary solution.
  • With reference to the recipient of Zakat, the Sharia has tried to address a number of spiritual, societal, political and individual goals and ideals that have not been addressed by the religions of the past.

Zakah or Zakat?

The meanings are the same. In Arabic, the word Zakat has a round taa (ة), (taa marboota) which is pronounced as a haa (ه) if you stop on that word.

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