Zakaat: Purification of Wealth

Islam is a complete way of life, it not only gives guidance how to worship to stay strong Spiritually but also dictate how to spend the money. As we know, the economy is the back bone of any country or nation but it start from family and society how they spend and where. The rule of thumb is that wealth should always be in rotation which ultimately benefits humanity. In addition to this moderation allows people to share with others and to show concern for others. If one is so obsessed with achieving the maximum pleasure (hedonistic attitude) one would have nothing left to help the poor and needy. A society can flourish only when its members do not spend all their wealth on the satisfaction of their own desires but reserve a portion for other people.

People often say that if one is on religious/spiritual path, one should not be pursuing wealth. As money and Spirituality don’t go hand in hand. But, Islam has a distinctive concept of wealth, its ownership and distribution. Wealth in Islam is not an end in itself, but a means to higher values. It should be earned, invested and spend in the correct avenues, and it is the means to earn rewards and pleasure of Allah if one spend as prescribedby Him.

“Never will you attain the good [reward] until you spend [in the way of Allah] from that which you love. And whatever you spend – indeed, Allah is Knowing of it”. (Qur’an 3 :92)

According to the Islamic point of view, Wealth is considered as an endowment or a gift from Allah and human beings are considered as trustees on God’s resources on earth. These resources are to be wisely treated, used and distributed. However, Islam doesn’t oppose any material pursuit neither it is against the accumulation of wealth. The only concern is that man should not get so engrossed in accumulating wealth to the extent by sidelining spirituality.

That’s the reason, Zakah is the third Pillars of Islam. This is confirmed further in the Quran where we find that Zakah is mentioned side by side with prayer in more than eighty verses. We can understand the importance of Zakah. An example of this in the Qur’an. “So establish regular Prayer and give regular Charity; and obey the Messenger. that you may receive mercy”. (24:56)

The literal meaning of Zakah in Arabic is purity. For example we find in the Quran; “Take, [O, Muhammad], from their wealth a charity by which you purify them and cause them increase, and invoke [ Allah ‘s blessings] upon them..” (Qur’an 9:103)

Other related Arabic meanings for Zakah are blessings, growth and development. In the legislative sense the Zakah simply means the payment of a certain percentage of ones assets to rightful beneficiaries. This is also an act of the love of God and obedience to him.

It means that when one pays Zakat, it purifies in a number of ways. First, it purifies one’s property; because if it is one’s duty to pay dues on one’s asset is not pure till they are paid. Zakah purifies property and makes it blessed and legitimate from the spiritual sense.

Second of all, it purifies the heart of the one who gives Zakah from selfishness, greed, materialism and lack of concern of concern for fellow human beings. It also purifies the heart of the recipient of Zakah from jealousy and hatred against those who posses more.The law of zakat is to take from those who have wealth and give it away to those who do not. This rotation of wealth is a way to balance social inequality.

From a social level Zakah is purification of society at large. It protects against class conflict and injustices that the system of economics or political systems that allow the rich to become richer and the poor to become poorer.

The Quran also indicates that failure to pay this duty of charity, towards needy fellow human beings, earns the person the wrath and punishment of God in this life and hereafter. In this life it could be the loss of blessings and suffering as well as punishment in the hereafter.

The Qur’an states that; “And there are those who bury gold and silver and spend it not in the way of Allah announce unto them a most grievous penalty. Then it goes on that this metal that they used to cherish will be heated and they will be marked or branded on their faces, backs and flanks. (Qur’an 9 : 34)

This verse gives a very terrible description of the consequences of miserliness and lack of gratefulness.

Zakah is due on every Muslim who owns things beyond their basic needs for a year amounting to what is called nasab or more. Nasab is simply a minimum of extras beyond which one must pay Zakah. This nasab varies from time to time ss per the situation of person. Those who can pay Zakaat called Sahib-Nasab.

Entitle to receive the Zakah :

There are eight categories that are specified in the Quran as follows;

“Zakah expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy and for those employed to collect [zakah] and for bringing hearts together [for Islam] and for freeing captives [or slaves] and for those in debt and for the cause of Allah and for the [stranded] traveler – an obligation [imposed] by Allah . And Allah is Knowing and Wise.(9:60)

▪︎This includes first the poor,

▪︎second the needy (who do not ask for help),

▪︎third the employees appointed by the government to collect Zakah,

▪︎fourth people who recently embraced Islam and have difficulty settling or to prevent harm from being done to Muslims,

▪︎fifth to free slaves or prisoners of war by way of ransom,

▪︎sixth those who are in debt by way of disaster but not because they squandered money,

▪︎seventh in the way of God which is open category for defense or propagation of the faith

▪︎And the eighth, is the way fairer who is stranded in foreign lands and don’t have sufficient means.

It is recommended to first give those who are in most need within one’s own town while gradually moving outward..Of course for people who are living in places where there is a large degree of affluence jurists say that people can send or transport the charity to places where it is most needed and places that have famine.

Voluntary alms-giving/Sadqa can also compensate for any shortcoming in the past payment of zakat. For those who may not be able to make financial contribution, can give
Sadaqa to wards off affliction in this world, questioning in the grave and punishment on Judgement Day. It is therefore recommended to give sadaqa by night and by day, in secret and in public to seek God’s pleasure (Quran, 2:274)

Let’s pay our Zakaat and Sadqa in Ramdaa to gain higher virtues then prescribed and earn abundant rewards

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