Zakat, the giving of alms (charity) to the needy and poor, is one of the most important pillars (five pillars of Islam: declaration of faith, prayer, fasting, Hajj, and Zakat) of Islam. It is obligatory for every financially stable adult Muslim to pay zakat. The importance of zakat in Islam is huge and signified through various discussion in Quran.
Zakat is an act of worship, as said in the Quran:
“And be steadfast in prayer and regular in charity: And whatever good ye send forth for your souls before you, ye shall find it with Allah” (Qur’an 2:110)
What Does Zakat Mean in Islam? According to Islam, Zakat is paid to purify the wealth one holds. The adult Muslims who have a specific amount of wealth (savings; after certain living costs and expenses) have to give a small amount i.e. 2.5% of their wealth to the needy and poor. The wealth owned by an individual is referred to as ‘Nisaab’, a threshold at which zakat becomes payable.
Zakat, according to Islam, is not a voluntary act but an obligation. It is the duty of every wealthy person to serve the needy and deprived community in any possible way. Muslims pay zakat every year to purify the wealth and to seek blessing from Allah (SWT). And the benefits of zakat given are surely a reward from Allah (SWT).
“(Alms are) for the poor who are confined in the way of Allah– they cannot go about in the land; the ignorant man thinks them to be rich on account of (their) abstaining (from begging); you can recognize them by their mark; they do not beg from men importunately; and whatever good thing you spend, surely Allah knows it.” [Al-Quran 2:273]
Let’s understand the Importance of zakat in Islam in detail with a discussion of its benefits and various forms. Meanwhile, you can see what Salam Planet has to tell you about the Spiritual and Health Benefits of fasting in Ramadan, as life’s better when you’re healthy…
Importance of Zakat in Islam
Islam believes that being a providing source to the needy and charitable are important features of a Muslim character. And since zakat (Zakah) is not declared as a voluntary charity, rather an obligation, therefore by giving zakat a Muslim acknowledges that everything owned by us is Allah’s (SWT) belonging and should be used in remembering Allah (SWT). It’s also an act of providing that free us from greed and excessive desires.
Besides the fact that zakat is an obligation and an act of worship, the benefits of zakat include an immense blessing of Allah (SWT). Some points are listed below to further highlight the importance of zakat in Islam:
A Help for the Community at Larger Scale – The most significant benefit of Zakat that signifies its importance as well is that it helps in creating a society. If the wealth earned and saved by an individual was kept and spent on their self, then the less privileged would remain poor. Zakat teaches Muslims to share and support each other.
Circulation of Money – Zakat helps money circulate in the entire economy. With the help of zakat, money gets out from the affording and wealthy and reaches the underprivileged.
Act of Sacrifice – In the current time, wealth and luxuries have become an important aspect of everyone’s living. To remove this greed, zakat makes it a compulsion for the wealthy ones to share and sacrifice his possessions in the path of Allah (SWT).
Benefits of Zakat and Charity in Islam
Islam categorizes charity in two major types; zakat (obligatory charity) and sadqa (voluntary charity). The importance of zakat in Islam is more highlighted as it’s a form of worship, while Sadqa can be given to anyone and is of various types.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said,
“Your smile for your brother is a charity. Your removal of stones, thorns or bones from the paths of people is a charity. Your guidance of a person who is lost is a charity.” (Bukhari)
Another Hadith illustrates how every part of a Muslim’s body can be involved in giving charity:
“A charity is due for every joint in each person on every day the sun comes up: to act justly between two people is a charity; to help a man with his mount, lifting him onto it or hoisting up his belongings onto it, is a charity; a good word is a charity; and removing a harmful thing from the road is a charity.” (Al-Bukhari, Muslim)
The benefits of charity in Islam are as follows:
Shade on the Day of Judgment
On the day of judgement, when all the shades will subside, Allah (SWT) will provide shelter and shade to those who gave charity in the name of Allah (SWT) and cared for the poor and needy. The sacrifice of a Muslim in this life will be a protection of their on the Day of Judgement.
The Prophet said:
“The believer’s shade on the Day of Resurrection will be his charity.” (Al-Tirmidhi)
Protection from Mishaps
When you sacrifice a part of your wealth in the path of Allah (SWT), you get yourself a guaranteed protection from any misfortune and tragedy. The Prophet (PBUH) said:
“Give charity without delay, for it stands in the way of calamity.” (Al-Tirmidhi)
Upper Hand is Better Than the Lower Hand
One should be wary of repeatedly soliciting and taking from sadqa and zakat funds. Those who refrain from taking these funds (so that more will be left for the other needy) will be provided for by Allah and be made self-reliant by Him. Prophet (PBUH) said:
“The upper hand is better than the lower hand (he who gives is better than him who takes). One should start giving first to his dependents. And the best object of charity is that which is given by a wealthy person (from the money left after his expenses). And whoever abstains from asking others for some financial help, Allah will give him and save him from asking others, Allah will make him self-sufficient.” (Al-Bukhari)
Relieving an Individual in Dept
The Prophet said: “If anyone would like Allah to save him from the hardships of the Day of Resurrection, he should give more time to his debtor who is short of money, or remit his debt altogether.” (Muslim)
If someone owes you money, it is considered charity if you show mercy, give the debtor more time to pay back his loan, or even cancel out the person’s debt. If charity is a person’s shade on the Day of Judgment, canceling a person’s debt will also serve as a protection.
Help for Family in Need – It is acceptable to give one’s charity to those in need in one’s own family. The Prophet (PBUH) said: “To give something to a poor man brings one reward while giving the same to a needy relation brings two: one for charity and the other for respecting the family ties.” (Al-Tirmidhi)
The Pitfall of Greed
The longer one holds onto money and fails to share it as a charity, the harder it may be later on to part with that hoarded wealth. Hiding away one’s wealth and depriving the needy of even a small kindness will not only come back to haunt the greedy, but their misfortune will be multiplied and they will be led down a misguided path. Prophet (PBUH) said:
“Avoid doing injustice to others, for on the Day of Judgment, it will turn into manifold darkness, and safeguard yourself against miserliness, for it ruined those who were before you. It incited them to murder and treating the unlawful as lawful.” (Muslim)
Charity That Keeps Growing
If a person performs a deed that continues to benefit others in a good way, the performer of the deed will continue to collect the rewards for her single act for as long as it benefits others (even after the person passes away). This is referred to as sadqa jariyah, or perpetual charity.
Prophet (PBUH) said:
“When a person dies his works end, except for three: ongoing charity, knowledge that is benefited from, and a righteous child who prays for him.” (Muslim, Al-Tirmidhi, others)
Who is Eligible for Zakat?
Zakat is permissible only to specific beneficiaries and projects. The Qur’an (Surat At-Tawbah 9:60) mentions eight groups of people to whom zakat can be paid:
- The Fuqara’ (the poor)
- Al-Maskin (the needy)
- Aamileen (Zakat collector)
- Muallafatul Quloob (poor and needy who recently converted to Islam)
- Ar-Riqaab (slaves; Zakat can be used to purchase their freedom)
- Ibnus-Sabeel: A stranded traveller in need of financial assistance.
- Al Ghaarimeen: A debtor
- Fi Sabeelillah: Those who are away from home in the path of Allah
Zakat and charity serve as a way of bringing peace, justice, balance, and kindness to the society and community. Islam and the Quran are the perfect guidance for every Muslim to complete the life journey successfully. Salam Planet is an ultimate Muslim lifestyle app – created in hope to accumulate and lead the Muslim community to a platform that fulfills all lifestyle needs.
It is our hope through this post that the Muslim community fulfills their charitable duties correctly and does their part to eliminate poverty!