Zakat, one of the five pillars of Islam, is the practice of distribution of wealth amongst the poor and needy within a society. It is also a way to purify one’s wealth and sanctify from it. Islam and Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) strongly emphasized on the equality of wealth in a society. And if we deeply analyze the benefits and positive effects that Zakat has on a society, we will find that there are endless positive aspects of this practice of Islamic almsgiving.
Allah says it in Qur’an:
“Take Sadaqah, or alms, from their wealth in order to purify them and sanctify them with it”.
Islam strongly emphasizes on the welfare of a society, and practically, financial status of individuals plays a vital role in it. As far as the proportion of Zakat is concerned, it is fixed as a certain amount of wealth and/or any sort of property that a Muslim possesses. And this percentage of 2.5 becomes fixed when a Muslim has kept this wealth for one year. If the wealth is in the form of gold, even then the percentage remains the same. If the gold has reached the weight of 85 grams, then Zakat becomes a compulsion on the individual by whom it is owned. Other personal possessions like animals, land, fruits and vegetables, etc. also have Zakat, but their percentages vary.
Zakat, as stated in Qur’an a number of times, is a way to reduce the wealth gap between individuals in a society, city or country. This is the gap that realistically and practically gives birth to a number of crimes in a society. When the poor segment of a population is deprived of their basic necessities, they might be forced to commit various crimes. And this is exactly when instability and downfall of a society begins. Zakat basically helps to decrease the societal gap between the rich and poor segments of the society. When the flow of money is circulated fairly, the harmony and peace prevails. And currently, this is exactly what many countries, cities, communities, and even families are going through. This unfair distribution of income eventually results in hatred among these certain groups and individuals.
This charity in Islam is compulsory on every Muslim. According to the Qur’an:
“And those who hoard up gold and silver (all that money, the Zakat of which has not been paid) and spend them not in the Way of Allah, announce unto them a painful of torment. On the Day when that, gold and silver, will be heated in the Fire of Hell and with it will be branded their foreheads, their flanks, and their backs and it will be said to them: This is the treasure which you hoarded for yourselves. Now taste of what you used to hoard.”
Zakat is just one way of circulating the money amongst the ones who most need it. There should be more ways and tools practiced by the respective governments of the countries worldwide to reduce the income disparities. Because as a matter of fact, when these factors of hatred are eliminated within the citizens, eventually the country benefits as a whole.