Zakat is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, and it is the obligatory charity or almsgiving that Muslims are required to give to those in need. The concept of zakat is deeply rooted in the teachings of Islam and is considered a fundamental act of worship and social responsibility.
Zakat is typically calculated as 2.5% of a Muslim’s accumulated wealth and assets that exceed a certain minimum threshold, known as nisab. This includes savings, investments, gold, silver, and business merchandise, among other assets. The nisab threshold is based on the value of gold and silver and is determined by Islamic scholars according to contemporary economic conditions.
The purpose of zakat is multifaceted:
Wealth Purification: Zakat purifies one’s wealth and possessions by removing the greed and attachment associated with material possessions. It serves as a means of spiritual purification for the giver.
Redistribution of Wealth: Zakat helps redistribute wealth from those who have more than they need to those who are less fortunate. It aims to address social inequality and alleviate poverty within the Muslim community.
Social Welfare: Zakat funds are used to support various social welfare programs, such as providing food, shelter, healthcare, education, and financial assistance to the poor, needy, orphans, widows, and other vulnerable members of society.
Community Solidarity: Zakat fosters a sense of solidarity and compassion within the Muslim community, emphasizing the importance of caring for one another and supporting those in need.
Zakat is obligatory for eligible Muslims who meet the criteria for wealth and assets above the nisab threshold. It is typically distributed directly to the needy or through charitable organizations and institutions that administer zakat funds according to Islamic principles and guidelines. Giving zakat is not only a religious duty but also a means of seeking blessings and rewards from Allah (God) and contributing to the well-being of society as a whole.
The following are articles of interest from WhyIslam.org