Zakah (Charity) is one of the five fundamental Pillars of Islam, which is compulsory to perform on every Adult Muslim with enough financial resources. It is the concept that involves the outcome of spreading and maintaining equality and fairness in the society. The poor, who cannot fulfill their daily life needs, are funded through it which ultimately results in their well being. Allah SWT has repeatedly mentioned Zakat along with Namaz in the Holy Quran at numerous occasions:
And establish prayer and give zakah and bow with those who bow [in worship and obedience]. [Quran, 2: 43]
The above mentioned Ayah shows that giving alms to deprived ones holds such a great place in the Religion of Peace that it is pointed out along with Salah which is the most important religious obligation itself. Majority of us are not aware of the true meaning of this course of action, and think of it as an annual compulsion that is to be carried out once in Ramadan. It is not true: Zakah is a continuous process that requires constant attention and accomplishment in order to increase parity in the social order.
Zakat is an Arabic word that literally means “to Purify and Grow”. In terms of Islamic Instructions as discussed in Quran Majeed and Ahadith, it is a compulsory spiritual deed that needs to be fulfilled by every well-off Muslim out of its proportionate wealth and up to a certain limit. Basically, it is a kind of income tax that is imposed by Governments on general public for smoothly running Federal and Provincial Operations. Likewise, the Almighty Lord has devised such a beautiful model that automatically hands in material goods to those who are disadvantaged. It is a basic act of purifying one`s possessions or belongings in front of Allah SWT who will reward His servants for this action both in this world and hereafter. Islam clearly mentions about who is liable to pay Zakat, who is entitled to receive and whom it cannot be given.
For further elaboration, there are certain matters one should keep in mind in order to maximize the overall impact of Zakah:
Zakat is for One`s own Betterment
The basic reason behind every obligatory action in Islam has always been the same, i.e. to benefit the one who is executing it. Just like Namaz is a religious obligation through which one gets closer to the Creator of the universe and seeks His Forgiveness, similarly, Zakat is also for one`s own benefit. Most of us regard it as merely a compulsion that helps out the poor, but in fact, it carries such blessings of the Gracious God that eventually leads to a person`s decontamination of not only wealth, but also heart and soul. Allah SWT says in Furqan e Hameed:
“Take, [O, Muhammad], from their wealth a charity by which you purify them and cause them increase, and invoke [Allah’s blessings] upon them. Indeed, your invocations are reassurance for them. And Allah is Hearing and Knowing.” [Quran, 9: 103]
It means that Charity leads to purification of oneself from all kinds of evils like greed for wealth which also causes one to commit further wrongdoings. Above all, one gets countless blessings of the Almighty Lord through this action.
Making up for Missed Zakat
It is commonly observed that most of us do not care about our past years in which one might have missed giving alms to the poor. Instead, we tend to concentrate more on present and start calculating the current year`s Zakat. The fact of the matter is that one has to be accountable for all missed Charity that one could have given under normal circumstances as Zakah becomes obligation upon a believer from the day it has become mature. Therefore, it is indispensible for one to make up for all the years spent without donations by taking help from some religious scholars in this matter and pay all the previous Zakat along with the prevailing one.
Making Correct Calculations
Since Zakat is third pillar of Islam, one must keep a proper check on its assets and possessions in order to make correct calculations for the upcoming Charity. For his matter, one should consult the professionals if it cannot perform it appropriately for making accurate sums. It is also worth noting that there should be no asset ignored whatsoever which might lead to reduction in payable amount of Zakah. Thus, a Muslim should never take this matter lightly as it is one`s responsibility in front of the Almighty Lord in which it has to succeed.
Helping Closed People First
It is common understanding in the Religion of Peace that the ones who are closer to an individual have more rights than those are far apart. Same applies in carrying out Zakat, in which one has to look around in its own locality first and see whether someone is being ignored. One should also give Charity to its relatives who deserve and not to shy in this matter as they are the ones who generally do not ask for it. The Holy Prophet ﷺ said:
“Charity given to the poor is charity, and that given to a relative is two things: charity and upholding the ties of kinship.” (Ibn Majah)
Therefore, one should always try to look for closer inhabitants who are disadvantaged and help them out through Charity as it has far-fetched outcomes which can be observed in the previous Hadith.
Performing Zakat al-Fitr
Unlike regular Charity, Zakat al-Fitr involves paying on behalf of each and every member of one`s family. It is highly important task to accomplish as it leads to being Grateful to Allah SWT for his blessings and giving needy ones something to cheer about.
Narrated by Ibn Abbas (R.A):
“The Messenger PBUH of Allah enjoined Zakat-ul-fitr on the one who fasts (i.e. fasted during the month of Ramadan) to purify him from any indecent act or speech and for the purpose of providing food for the needy. It is accepted as zakat for the person who pays it before the Eid prayer and it is Sadaqah (i.e. voluntary charity) for the person who pays it after the Eid prayer.” [Abu Dawud and Ibn Majah]
In light of this Prophetic Saying, it is clear that one should not ignore the charity that is to be performed before Salah of Eid ul-Fitr in order to benefit Muslim society and involve others in celebration.
In short, Zakat is a highly practical and beneficial Islamic action that needs to be taken very seriously as it only creates balance in society but also results in overall improvement in life of the one executing it.