Friday, August 20, 2021

Zakat: Definition, History and Significance

  Tim       Friday, August 20, 2021

Zakat (Arabic: زكاة‎; [zaˈkaːt], which means "that which purifies", is a form of alms-giving practice and wealth tax on Muslims who have means and resources. Zakat is an obligatory form of practice next to Salah (Namaz). Zakat, being one of Islam's Five Pillars, is a religious obligation for all Muslims who meet the necessary criteria of wealth to assist the poor. 

It is a mandatory charitable contribution that is frequently viewed as a tax.  Zakat payment and disputes have played a significant role in Islam's history, most notably during the Ridda wars.

How It Is Calculated and Distributed 


Zakat on wealth is calculated according to the total value of one's possessions. Zakat is customarily 2.5 percent of a Muslim's total savings and wealth above a specified amount called nisab, but Islamic scholars disagree on the amount of nisab and other aspects of zakat. 

According to Islamic doctrine, the collected funds should be distributed to the poor and needy, Zakat collectors, recent converts to Islam, those seeking freedom from slavery, and those in debt, all in the name of Allah and to benefit the stranded traveller.

Today, zakat contributions are voluntary in the majority of Muslim-majority countries; however, in Libya, Malaysia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Yemen, zakat is mandated and collected by the state. 

Quranic View On Zakat 

In many verses of the Quran, charity is discussed, and some of these verses are specifically related to zakat. The word zakat, with the meaning that is currently in use in Islam, can be found in the following suras, for example: 7:156, 9:60, 19:31, 19:55, 21:73, 23:4, 27:3, 30:39, 31:4, and 41:7. 

According to the early Medinan suras, the payment of zakat is an obligatory obligation for Muslims. It is given solely for the purpose of bringing about salvation. Muslims believe that those who give zakat will receive a reward from God in the afterlife, whereas those who do not give zakat will be punished by God in the afterlife. A Muslim's obligation to pay zakat is considered to be part of the covenant between God and the Muslim.

Hadith View On Zakat

Each of the most respected hadith collections in Islam contains a book entirely devoted to the practice of zakat. Sahih Bukhari's Book 24, is a compilation of such writings. The books of Sahih Muslim's Book 5 and Sunan Abu-Book Dawud's 9 discuss various aspects of zakat, including who is required to pay it, how much it should be paid, when it should be paid, and what should be paid. It is also mentioned in the hadiths that a 2.5 percent rate is in effect. 

In the hadiths, those who do not pay the zakat are chastised for their actions. If someone refuses to pay zakat or mocks those who do so, this is regarded as hypocrisy, and Allah will not accept the prayers of such people, according to Islamic tradition. It also describes God's punishment for those who refuse or fail to pay zakat, which is described in the sunna. It is expected that those who did not pay the zakat will be held accountable and punished on the Day of Judgment. 

The hadith provide guidance on the collection of zakat by the government on behalf of the people. The collectors are not permitted to take more than what is due, and those who are responsible for paying the zakat are not permitted to avoid paying. The hadith also warns of severe repercussions for those who accept zakat despite the fact that they are ineligible to do so.

Shia Sunni Different Views on Zakat 

In contrast to Sunnis, Shias have traditionally viewed zakat as a private and voluntary act, and they donate to imam-sponsored collectors rather than state-sponsored collectors.

Historical Perspective On Zakat

Zakat, an Islamic practice that was established by the Islamic prophet Muhammad, was first collected on the first of Muharram, the Islamic month of Ramadan.  Throughout its history, it has played an important role in society.  Schact speculates that the concept of zakat may have originated in Judaism and had its roots in the Hebrew and Aramaic words zakut.  Some Islamic scholars, on the other hand, are of the opinion that the Qur'anic verses on zakat (or zakah) have their origins in Judaism. 

The caliph Abu Bakr, who is widely regarded as Muhammad's successor by Sunni Muslims, was the first to establish a statutory zakat system in Islamic law.

In order for the zakat to be paid to the legitimate representative of Muhammad's authority, Abu Bakr established the principle of payment to that representative (i.e. himself).

In response to Abu Bakr's refusal to pay zakat, other Muslims accused him of apostasy, which sparked the Ridda wars, which lasted until the end of the century.

The codification of the zakat was carried on by the second and third caliphs, Umar ibn al-Khattab and Usman ibn Affan, who carried on Abu Bakr's work.
 As part of his zakat collection reforms, Uthman decreed that only "apparent" wealth was taxable, which had the effect of restricting zakat payments to land and agricultural products, which was the majority of what was collected.  In the time of Ali ibn Abu Talib's reign, the issue of zakat was closely associated with the legitimacy of his government. Following Ali's death, his supporters refused to pay zakat to Muawiyah I because they did not recognise Muawiyah I as a legitimate ruler. 

In Medina, the practice of Islamic state-administered zakat was only around for a short period of time. No one in Medina was reported to require the zakat during the reign of Umar bin Abdul Aziz (717–720 A.D.), according to historical records. As a result of his efforts, zakat came to be regarded more as an individual responsibility.  Throughout Islamic history, this point of view has shifted. According to Sunni Muslim rulers, the collection and distribution of zakat was considered to be one of the functions of an Islamic state; this viewpoint has persisted in modern Islamic countries. 

Zakat is one of the five pillars of Islam, and in various Islamic polities throughout history, it was expected to be paid by all practising Muslims who possessed the financial means at the time (nisab).

The Muslims were encouraged to make voluntary contributions on top of their zakat obligations.  Non-Muslims were not required to pay the zakat, but they were required to pay the jizyah tax, which was not collected.

Depending on the region, the majority of zakat was distributed to either Amil (the zakat collectors) or Sablillah (the zakat collectors) (those fighting for religious cause, the caretaker of local mosque, or those working in the cause of God such as proselytising non-Muslims to convert to Islam). 

Socio-Economic Impact of Zakat

In 2012, annual zakat expenditures exceeded US$200 billion per year, according to Islamic financial analysts, which they estimated was 15 times greater than the amount of dai provided annually by the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. 

According to Islamic scholars and development workers, a large portion of the zakat practise is mismanaged, wasted, or otherwise rendered ineffective.  According to a 2012 report, approximately a quarter of the Muslim world continues to live on less than $1.25 per day or less.

An analysis of zakat proceeds in Sudan and Pakistan, where zakat collection is mandated by the government, found that they ranged between 0.3 and 0.5 percent of GDP, while a more recent report estimated that zakat proceeds in Malaysia were less than 0.1 percent of GDP.

These figures are significantly lower than what was anticipated when the governments of these countries attempted to Islamize their economies, and the amount collected is insufficient to have a significant impact on the macroeconomic situation. 

According to Nasim Shirazi in a 2014 study widespread poverty persists in the Islamic world despite the fact that zakat collections are collected on a yearly basis. More than 70% of the Muslim population in most Muslim countries is impoverished and survives on less than US$2 per day, according to the World Bank. 

According to Shirazi, more than half of the population in over ten Muslim-majority countries lived on less than $1.25 per day in income, according to the World Bank. Zakat has so far been ineffective in alleviating widespread absolute poverty among Muslims in the majority of Muslim countries.


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