“True piety is this: to believe in God, and the Last Day, the Angels, the Book, and the Prophets, to give of one’s substance, however cherished, to kinsmen, and orphans, the needy, the traveler, beggars, and to ransom the slave, to perform the prayer, to pay the zakat.” (Qur’an 2:177)
The Meaning and Purpose of Zakat
The literal meaning of Zakat is ‘to cleanse’ or ‘purification’. In the Islamic faith, Zakat means purifying your wealth for the will of Allah SWT; to acknowledge that everything we own belongs to Allah SWT and to work towards the betterment of the Muslim Ummah. According to Islamic regulations, Zakat is 2.5% of one year’s total cumulative wealth. This amount is then distributed to the poor. Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) has said “Whoever pays the zakat on his wealth will have its evil removed from him” (Ibn Khuzaimah and at-Tabaraani).
Zakat as a Means of Spiritual Purification
Zakat is not only a means to purify one’s wealth but it is also a spiritual purification which serves as a means to draw an individual closer to the Creator, Allah SWT. Ibn Taimiah said that, “the soul of one who gives zakat is blessed and so is his wealth”. It is quite clear from the above narration that in addition to being a moral obligation, Zakat is also a spiritual one which is why millions of Muslims every year give Zakat to the poor.
‘In their wealth there is a known share for the beggars and the destitute’ (70:24-25)
We mentioned how Zakat is a means of connection between the person and Allah SWT. It also provides a connection between the giver and the recipient. The entire concept of donating a fraction of one’s wealth to the poor is a highly honourable act; one that comes with valuable lessons as well as blessings. First and foremost, it teaches Muslims self-discipline, allowing the giver to free themselves from the love of possessions and greed.
Who Should Pay Zakat?
Zakat is one of the five pillars of Islam. As such, it is compulsory on Muslims, provided they meet certain conditions and criteria. Any Muslim who possesses the required nisaab (the minimum amount of wealth that one must have before zakat is payable) for one whole year is bound to pay Zakat on that wealth. It is imperative that Muslims know exactly how much Zakat they owe and How to Calculate Zakat so that the right amount can be given to the intended recipient.
A lot of people choose Ramadan as the month in which they pay their zakat and for good reasons. Ramadan is the month of blessings and the rewards for all good deeds is far greater in this blessed Ramadan that in any other month.