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The Social Benefits of Zakat in an Islamic Society

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Zakat is an important aspect of Islamic structure, forming an integral part of social security system for humankind. It is the third pillar of Islam. The meaning of the word zakat means purity. Zakat elevates a person’s stature in eyes of Allah as well as blesses his wealth with prosperity. It has its benefits in various aspects such as spiritual, social, economic and personal life of an individual. In the following essay, the author will shed light on the system of zakat, values of a Muslim and its impact on the society.

Zakat is an annual obligatory payment calculated by fixed percentage on a person’s excessive wealth. Zakat was made obligatory in the second year of Emigration (Hijra). The evidence of this obligation can be found in the Quran (Book of Allah) and in the Prophets Sunnah (Prophetic method). The fixed payment is called nisab (minimum amount) which is paid for the possessions subjected to zakat.

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Some of the possessions are gold, silver, livestock, merchandise of trade, Crops and treasure troves. Zakat can be paid in the form of money, gold, animals and merchandise items. The recipients of zakat are poor, slaves, debtors, soldiers and travellers. The following Quranic verse reveals who amongst us has the right to attain zakat: “That which God gives as spoil to his messenger from the people of the townships, it is for god and his messenger (for the state) ad for the near kin, orphans, the needy and the wayfarer so it will not become the property of the rich among you”.

Zakat revives the bonds of brotherhood and sets standards for humanity. It brings the rich and the poor closer by sharing a relationship of consideration and appreciation. As for the rich, it raises their consciousness and responsibilities toward the society. In addition to this, it also detaches them from the love for worldly treasures.

It also causes a person to adapt himself to be generous and feel empathic towards the needy. When the recipients are supported by the donors they reciprocate goodness for each other. It assures stability and spreads equanimity in the society. Zakat supports the weak with a guarantee of provision, shelter and basic needs. By catering to their financial needs, it prevents them from acquiring wrong means of sustenance such as robbery. On the other hand, the poor is helping the rich to perform their obligatory acts of worship. All these factors bring about social justice in the community. As a result, love and kindness is generated among people.

Zakat encourages employment opportunities and discourages hoarding of the capital.it acknowledges the rights of every Muslim to earn a living and provide for their own. It accommodates them to be more productive such as providing them with education and training to become independent. According to scholars, Zakat can also be used for public ventures such as hospitals and educational centers. Zakat liberates the poor and boosts them towards establishing themselves. It encourages them to plan for sustainability. By and large, zakat is considered to be a best check against hoarding of wealth, as this increases production and stimulates redistribution of one’s wealth. This circulation of wealth, produces more employment opportunities and facilities ongoing charity. The Fair distribution of the wealth plays a key role in reducing economic downturn in the market

Zakat protects the believer from usury and liberates the society from debts. According to the Quran all forms of interest is forbidden for Muslims as it results in exploitation and destruction of an individual, as this wealth is considered to be filthy. In comparison to this, embracing zakat generates prosperity and is considered to be pure. The following verse was revealed in Quran regarding usury: “That which you give in usury in order that it may increase in people’s property has no increase with god; but that which you give in charity, seeking god’s countenance has a manifold increase”.

Form another perspective, adapting the means of usury eliminates the Islamic spirit of lending money for the pleasure of Allah. On the whole, it increases their inclination for wealth through easy means of income and is considered harmful to the foundation of social justice. Zakat also rescues the debtors and people suffering financially. Scholars have understood that this is applicable only to ease hardship. Therefore, this is valid only on debts for necessity.

Zakat establishes a welfare system and promotes self-respect. It protects a believer from humiliation and discourages a person form begging. If every Rich believer fulfills his duty effectively the poor would not have to route towards begging. From another perspective, when the rich attains luxurious life style ignoring the state of poor who are struggling for sustenance, it ends up in enmity and possible conflict among different classes of people. This has a harmful effect on the social welfare of the people. Zakat leads to fair distribution of wealth towards poverty reduction and human development firms. This also includes mosques and Islamic schools which contributes to the education of Muslim youth. It establishes growth and reduces class struggles by making the recipients of zakat independent and when these recipients become donors it increases economy. As a result of this gap between rich and poor will be reduced.

As we have seen, zakat strengthens the relationship between the rich and the poor, establishing peace among people. It brings about better living standard in the society which benefits the economy. It reduces poverty and supports the poor with the right means for sustenance. Zakat promotes the spirit of brotherhood and acknowledges them to feel empathic towards the needy. Zakat establishes peace and harmony in the society by bringing stability and setting standards for care. It also incorporates people to take new steps and lays a foundation for new beginning. It provides opportunities for the needy to become stable, providing for their own.

In conclusion, Zakat is a manual to deal with Global poverty reduction where its very nature of approach and design makes poverty elimination an achievable goal, establishing an ideal community.

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