The Power of Giving: Zakat
Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) was ranked number one in Michael H. Hart’s “The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History” 1992 edition. Rightly so, because among the many wonderful things he has done for humanity, one of them was to deliver a key message from the great revelation of the Qur'an in economic and political human history; the importance of Zakat.
What Is Zakat?
Zakat in simple terms is a form of alms. Alms is a mandatory form of charity that comes under the religious duty of a Muslim who has saved above a certain amount. This certain amount is termed as ‘Nisab’ in Islam. ‘Nisab’ is the bare minimum of wealth that a Muslim must have after deducting necessary expenses in order to be eligible to contribute Zakat. It amounts to the current value of 3 ounces of gold (around 85 grams) and in terms of silver, it’s around 612 grams.
Concept And Purpose
There are five pillars in Islam, and Zakat is amongst the most important of them. The others are the declaration of faith, praying, fasting in the month of Ramadan and the Hajj Pilgrimage.
The Qur’an, in Surah Al-A`raf 7:156, describes Zakat as one of the means of obtaining Allah's mercy. Giving Zakat purifies the giver's heart of selfishness and greed for wealth and fosters sympathy for the needy. For those who receive Zakat, it clears the heart of envy and hatred for the wealthy and prosperous as well as fosters a sense of community. This demonstrates that it has both spiritual and financial significance.
How Does It Work?
Zakat amounts to 2.5% of a person's total wealth accumulated every year. When we say wealth, we mean a surplus of one's earnings and other types of assets. For example: If Abrar earns $20,000 per year and has $200 in savings, he must calculate his Zakat based on the $200 in savings as opposed to his yearly income. One must also account for 2.5% of other assets he owns as well. Speaking of conditions in Zakat, there are a few other detailed preconditions, one of which is that he be debt-free. This form of charity is based on a lunar calendar year and is given annually at a set date, often Muslims choose to pay it during the holy month of Ramadan. In terms of who should receive your Zakat, there is a list of people who fall into this category mentioned in the Qur’an 9:60.
- The poor (low-income or indigent)
- The needy (someone who is in difficulty)
- Zakat administrators
- Those whose hearts are to be reconciled (new Muslims and friends of the Muslim community)
- Those in bondage (slaves and captives)
- The debt-ridden
- In the cause of God
- The wayfarer (those who are stranded or travelling with few resources)
When you think about it, giving Zakat may create a reasonable wealth circulation system. The act of Zakat teaches us that those who are less wealthy and in need have rights in the presence of those with abundance in wealth. And the evidence of endless starving, poor, hungry, and homeless people around the world highlights the importance of putting this essential teaching into practice.
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