Zakat
Overview
 
Zakāt one of the Five Pillars of Islam
Five Pillars of Islam
The Pillars of Islam are basic concepts and duties for accepting the religion for the Muslims.The Shi'i and Sunni both agree on the essential details for the performance of these acts, but the Shi'a do not refer to them by the same name .-Pillars of Shia:According to Shia Islam, the...

, is the giving of a fixed portion of one's wealth to charity
Charity (practice)
The practice of charity means the voluntary giving of help to those in need who are not related to the giver.- Etymology :The word "charity" entered the English language through the Old French word "charité" which was derived from the Latin "caritas".Originally in Latin the word caritas meant...

, generally to the poor and needy.
Zakat, a practice initiated by Muhammed himself, has played an important role throughout Islamic history. Initially, Muhammed instituted zakat as a voluntary, individual offering, but during his lifetime certain forms of zakat have been declared obligatory. The caliph
Caliph
The Caliph is the head of state in a Caliphate, and the title for the ruler of the Islamic Ummah, an Islamic community ruled by the Shari'ah. It is a transcribed version of the Arabic word   which means "successor" or "representative"...

 Abū Bakr
Abu Bakr
Abu Bakr was a senior companion and the father-in-law of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. He ruled over the Rashidun Caliphate from 632-634 CE when he became the first Muslim Caliph following Muhammad's death...

, believed by Sunni Muslims to be Muhammed's successor, was the first to institute a statutory zakat system.
Encyclopedia
Zakāt one of the Five Pillars of Islam
Five Pillars of Islam
The Pillars of Islam are basic concepts and duties for accepting the religion for the Muslims.The Shi'i and Sunni both agree on the essential details for the performance of these acts, but the Shi'a do not refer to them by the same name .-Pillars of Shia:According to Shia Islam, the...

, is the giving of a fixed portion of one's wealth to charity
Charity (practice)
The practice of charity means the voluntary giving of help to those in need who are not related to the giver.- Etymology :The word "charity" entered the English language through the Old French word "charité" which was derived from the Latin "caritas".Originally in Latin the word caritas meant...

, generally to the poor and needy.

History

Zakat, a practice initiated by Muhammed himself, has played an important role throughout Islamic history. Initially, Muhammed instituted zakat as a voluntary, individual offering, but during his lifetime certain forms of zakat have been declared obligatory. The caliph
Caliph
The Caliph is the head of state in a Caliphate, and the title for the ruler of the Islamic Ummah, an Islamic community ruled by the Shari'ah. It is a transcribed version of the Arabic word   which means "successor" or "representative"...

 Abū Bakr
Abu Bakr
Abu Bakr was a senior companion and the father-in-law of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. He ruled over the Rashidun Caliphate from 632-634 CE when he became the first Muslim Caliph following Muhammad's death...

, believed by Sunni Muslims to be Muhammed's successor, was the first to institute a statutory zakat system. The third caliph, Uthman ibn Affan (who reigned from 644-656) significantly altered the zakat collection protocol, by decreeing that only "apparent" wealth was taxable, which had the effect of limiting zakat to mostly being paid on agricultural land and produce. Ultimately, the practice of state-administered zakat was very short-lived, ending with the reign of Umar bin Abdul Aziz from 717-720 A.D.

Collection of funds

Zakat is considered to be a religious duty, and is expected to be paid by all practicing Muslims who have the financial means (nisab
Nisab
In Sharia niṣāb is the amount, which savings or capital or product must exceed in order for the Muslim owner to be obliged to give zakat. Several hadith have formulas for calculating niṣāb. One of the most well known states that No Zakāt is due on wealth until one year passes...

). In addition to their zakat obligations, Muslims are encouraged to make voluntary contributions (sadaqat). The zakat is not collected from non-Muslims, although they are sometimes required to pay the jizyah tax.

The Qur'an
Qur'an
The Quran , also transliterated Qur'an, Koran, Alcoran, Qur’ān, Coran, Kuran, and al-Qur’ān, is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God . It is regarded widely as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language...

 does not provide specific guidelines on which types of wealth are taxable under the zakat, nor does it specify percentages to be given. Traditionally, the goods taxed are those that were the basis of most wealth in seventh-century Arabic kingdoms: agricultural goods, precious metals, minerals, and livestock
Livestock
Livestock refers to one or more domesticated animals raised in an agricultural setting to produce commodities such as food, fiber and labor. The term "livestock" as used in this article does not include poultry or farmed fish; however the inclusion of these, especially poultry, within the meaning...

. The amount collected varies between 2.5 and 20 percent, depending on the type of goods being taxed. Many Shi'ites are additionally expected to pay one fifth of their income in the form of a khums
Khums
Khums is the Arabic word for One Fifth . According to Shia Islamic legal terminology, it means "one-fifth of certain items which a person acquires as wealth, and which must be paid as an Islamic tax"....

 tax, which they consider to be a separate ritual practice.

The Qur'an
Qur'an
The Quran , also transliterated Qur'an, Koran, Alcoran, Qur’ān, Coran, Kuran, and al-Qur’ān, is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God . It is regarded widely as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language...

 is also unclear on who is to collect the tax. Today, in most Muslim countries, zakat is collected through a decentralized and voluntary system, where eligible Muslims are expected to pay the zakat based on fear and love of Allah
Allah
Allah is a word for God used in the context of Islam. In Arabic, the word means simply "God". It is used primarily by Muslims and Bahá'ís, and often, albeit not exclusively, used by Arabic-speaking Eastern Catholic Christians, Maltese Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Mizrahi Jews and...

, personal conscience
Conscience
Conscience is an aptitude, faculty, intuition or judgment of the intellect that distinguishes right from wrong. Moral judgement may derive from values or norms...

, and peer pressure
Peer pressure
Peer pressure refers to the influence exerted by a peer group in encouraging a person to change his or her attitudes, values, or behavior in order to conform to group norms. Social groups affected include membership groups, when the individual is "formally" a member , or a social clique...

. Under this voluntary system, zakat committees are established, which are tasked with the collection and distribution of zakat funds. In a handful of Muslim countries - including Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan - the zakat is obligatory, and is collected in a centralized manner by the state
Sovereign state
A sovereign state, or simply, state, is a state with a defined territory on which it exercises internal and external sovereignty, a permanent population, a government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. It is also normally understood to be a state which is neither...

. In countries where zakat is collected by the state, the economic effects are often negligible, doing little to alleviate economic inequality
Economic inequality
Economic inequality comprises all disparities in the distribution of economic assets and income. The term typically refers to inequality among individuals and groups within a society, but can also refer to inequality among countries. The issue of economic inequality is related to the ideas of...

. In Jordan
Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

, Bahrain
Bahrain
' , officially the Kingdom of Bahrain , is a small island state near the western shores of the Persian Gulf. It is ruled by the Al Khalifa royal family. The population in 2010 stood at 1,214,705, including 235,108 non-nationals. Formerly an emirate, Bahrain was declared a kingdom in 2002.Bahrain is...

, Kuwait
Kuwait
The State of Kuwait is a sovereign Arab state situated in the north-east of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south at Khafji, and Iraq to the north at Basra. It lies on the north-western shore of the Persian Gulf. The name Kuwait is derived from the...

, Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

, and Bangladesh
Bangladesh
Bangladesh , officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh is a sovereign state located in South Asia. It is bordered by India on all sides except for a small border with Burma to the far southeast and by the Bay of Bengal to the south...

, the zakat is regulated by the state, but contributions are voluntary.

Disbursement of funds

There are eight categories of people (asnaf) who qualify to receive zakat funds, according to the Qu'ran:
  1. Those living in absolute poverty (Al-Fuqarā)
  2. Those who cannot meet their basic needs (Al-Masākīn)
  3. The zakat collectors themselves (Al-Āmilīna 'Alaihā)
  4. People who are non-Muslims, to show them the real spirit of Islam (Al-Mu'allafatu Qulūbuhum)
  5. People whom one is attempting to free from slavery
    Slavery
    Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

     or bondage. Also includes paying ransom or blood money (Diyah). (Fir-Riqāb)
  6. Those who have incurred overwhelming debts while attempting to satisfy their basic needs (Al-Ghārimīn)
  7. Those working for an Islamic cause (Fī Sabīlillāh)
  8. Travelers in need (Ibnus-Sabīl)


Zakat may not be given to descendents of the prophet Muhammed, nor may it be given to parents, grandparents, children, grandchildren, or spouses. It is also forbidden to disburse zakat funds to organizations that pay salaries to their employees, or use the money for investments.

Muslim scholars disagree whether the poor that qualify should include non-Muslims. Some state that Zakat may be paid to non-Muslims, but only after the needs of Muslims have been met.

Fi Sabillillah is the most prominent asnaf in Southeast Asian Muslim societies, where it broadly construed to include funding missionary work, Quranic schools and anything else that serves the community (ummah) in-general

Role in Islamic societies

The zakat is considered by Muslims to be an act of piety through which one expresses concern for the well-being of fellow Muslims, as well as preserving social harmony between the wealthy and the poor. Zakat promotes a more equitable redistribution of wealth, and fosters a sense of solidarity amongst members of the Ummah.

See also

  • Sadaqah
    Sadaqah
    or Saddka is an Islamic term that means "voluntary charity".This concept encompasses any act of giving out of compassion, love, friendship or generosity.-Hadith on Sadaqah/Saddka:...

  • Zakat al-fitr
    Zakat al-fitr
    Zakat al-Fitr is charity given to the poor at the end of the fasting in the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. The word Fitr means the same as Iftar, breaking a fast and it comes from the same root word as Futoor which means breakfast.-Classification:...

    , a different form of zakat which follows the pillar of Sawm
    Sawm
    Sawm is an Arabic word for fasting regulated by Islamic jurisprudence. In the terminology of Islamic law, Sawm means to abstain from eating, drinking , having sex and anything against Islamic law...

     (fasting in Ramadan
    Ramadan
    Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, which lasts 29 or 30 days. It is the Islamic month of fasting, in which participating Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, smoking and sex during daylight hours and is intended to teach Muslims about patience, spirituality, humility and...

    ).
  • Khums
    Khums
    Khums is the Arabic word for One Fifth . According to Shia Islamic legal terminology, it means "one-fifth of certain items which a person acquires as wealth, and which must be paid as an Islamic tax"....

  • Tzedakah
    Tzedakah
    Tzedakah or Ṣ'daqah in Classical Hebrew is a Hebrew word commonly translated as charity, though it is based on the Hebrew word meaning righteousness, fairness or justice...

     (Judaism
    Judaism
    Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

    )
  • Maaser Ani
    Maaser Ani
    The poor tithe reflects an obligation to set aside one tenth of produce grown in the third and sixth years of the seven-year sabbatical year agricultural cycle for the poor, in the days of the Temple in Jerusalem....

     (tithing in Judaism)

Further reading

  • Fiqh al Zakah (Vol. I), Dr. Yusuf al Qardawi
    Yusuf al-Qaradawi
    Yusuf al-Qaradawi is a controversial Egyptian Islamic theologian. He is best known for his programme, ash-Shariah wal-Hayat , broadcast on Al Jazeera, which has an estimated audience of 60 million worldwide...


External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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