Zakat is the fourth pillar of Islam which involves giving out a minute percentage of one’s wealth to the poor or needy as charity. It is obligated on Muslims who are able to offer it once a year, usually after the holy month Ramadan and preferably before Eid-prayers on first day of Shawwal. Fully understanding and practicing this beautiful pillar of Islam can lead to a more productive and successful existence at both an individual and community level. Paying zakat duly triggers some marvelous productivity that you probably have never thought of! Here are some important benefits of zakat we barely knew about.
#1.Better the Lives of the Poor and Needy
Zakat provides for the needs of the poor who are the majority of people in most countries. One doubtless benefit of zakat is to help the poor and needy become more productive. By freeing them of the immediate stress of meeting their very basic needs, distributing zakat effectively allows those in need to pursue opportunities to help them turn their lives around. Furthermore, it removes the grudges and ill feelings found in the hearts of the poor and destitute. So when the wealthy give zakat at the beginning of every year (i.e. after holding the wealth for a year’s time), these things terminate and there comes about love and harmony.
#2.Seeking Allah’s mercy
Giving the Zakat requires a person to characterize himself with the attributes of mercy and sympathy towards his destitute brothers, and Allah shows mercy to those who have mercy on others.
In a powerful verse in the Qur’an, Allah says:
“…I afflict with my punishment whomsoever I choose, but My mercy encompasses everything. So I will prescribe it (i.e. My mercy) for those who are God conscious, pay Zakat and believe in Our signs.” (surah 7:156)
Notice how Allah mentions the fulfillment of zakat in such an amazing position: between the qualities of taqwa (God consciousness) and belief in His signs. At the same time, He makes paying zakat a direct cause for incurring His mercy, without which being productive would be utterly impossible.
#3.Purifies our soul
Nothing prevents us more from reaching the heights of productivity than our sins. Day and night, we disobey Allah in all sorts of ways, consciously or unconsciously. One critical way of clearing out the junk from our hearts is to pay zakat.
Allah mentioned in the Quran: “Take from their wealth a charity to cleanse and purify them through it and pray for them. Indeed, your prayer gives them tranquility. And indeed Allah is All Hearing, All Knowing.” (surah 9:103).
#4.Bless one’s wealth
Apart from purification, zakat also carries meanings of growth and enhancement. Paying your zakat means that what is left of your money will be more blessed and more productive for you. Zakat does not only purify the property of the one who gives it, it also purifies his heart from selfishness and greed. In return, it purifies the heart of the recipient from envy and jealousy, and it fosters in his heart good will and warm wishes toward the contributor. As a result, the rich and poor of society are bound together as a unit, working together and helping one another.
It is said that zakat represents the ‘filth’ within our wealth, i.e. an amount that we may have incurred through some form of sin or dishonesty, however small or great. For our money to remain blessed, it is vital to get rid of the ‘filth’ as soon as possible.
In the holy Qur’an, Allah mentions a special group of people:
“Men who are not diverted by business or trade from the remembrance of Allah, establishing the prayer and paying zakat, fearing the day (of judgment) in which hearts and sights are turned upside down.” (surah 24:37)
Here Allah extols the virtues of those who are busy, productive and successful in a worldly sense and simultaneously do not allow themselves to forget the most important aspects of their faith: remembering their Lord, establishing the prayer and paying zakat.
The Prophet (SAW) said: “Whoever gives away charity the size of a date, which is earned lawfully, since Allah only accepts the good lawful things, Allah will indeed take it with His right Hand and cause it to grow for its owner, just as one of you raises up his colt, to the point that the charity will become like the size of a mountain.” [Reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
Charity serves as a way to bring justice, balance and kindness to every society and community. It is our hope that the Muslim community fulfills their charitable duty correctly and does their part to eliminating poverty in communities everywhere.