Zakat is the third the pillar of Islam. It literally means to increase. Technically Zakat is intended to purify one’s possession of wealth by distributing a prescribed amount which has to be given to the poor as a fundamental act of worship. Allah (SWT) said in the Holy Quran: “The parable of those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah is that of a grain of corn. It grows seven ears and each ear has a hundred grains. Allah increases manifold to whom He pleases.” (Surat Al-Baqarah 2:61)
By giving out Zakat the wealth increases and the increases are commensurate with the intention of the giver. Giving out Zakat is not a thing of choice, it is mandatory upon the Muslims whom Allah has blessed with wealth in this world.
Benefits of giving Zakat
Giving Zakat have numerous benefits, beneficial only to the giver. It is stated in Hadith that the following blesings are derived from giving Zakat sincerely:
#1. Gaining the pleasure of Allah
#2.Increases in wealth
#3.Protection from losses
#4. Obtaining Allah’s forgiveness and blessings
#5. Safety from calamities
#6. Protection from the wrath of Allah and from a bad death
#7.The Zakat will provide shelter on the Day of Judgement
#8. Security from seventy misfortunes
#9It will serve as a shield from the fires of Jahannam
#10.It contributes to longevity
#11.It saves from fear and grief
Punishment for Failing to Pay Zakat
Zakat is mandatory upon Muslims and as the third pillar of Islam and thus should not be taken lightly. Allah Azawajala said in the Holy Quran:
“And there are those who hoard gold and silver and do not spend it in the path of Allah, announce to them a most grievous penalty (when) on the Day of Qiyamah heat will be produced out of that wealth in the fire of Jahannum, then with it they will be branded on their foreheads and their flanks and backs. (It will be said to them) This is the treasure which you hoarded for yourselves, taste than the treasure that you had been hoarding.”(Surat At-tawbah 9:34)
Similarly, Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said: “The person on whom Allah has bestowed wealth, and he does not give Zakat, on the Day of Qiyaamah, his wealth will be turned into a venomous bald serpent which will wind around his neck and bite his jaws and say: “I am your wealth, I am your treasure.” (Bukhari)
Giving Zakat doesn’t benefit Allah but it benefits the giver alone. It is only out of Allah’s mercy and compassion for us all that He decided to make it mandatory. Failure to give Zakat is seen as an act of disobedience and the consequences are clearly spelt out above.
Zakat is an act of worship, not a tax
It is a common misunderstanding among Muslims and non-Muslims today. Zakat is considered a monetary devotion just as fasting during the month of Ramadan and praying five times are both considered physical acts of devotion. Zakat is an act purposely to cleanse once wealth while the tax is a compulsory contribution to a country instituted by the government of the country.
Below are kinds of wealth which someone has to own before he can pay Zakat on them, as an act of monetary devotion to cleanse his wealth:
• Gold & Silver (whether jewellery or any other form)
• Merchandise for business
• Income derived from properties
• Value of property bought for resale
• Cash currency (on hand or in the bank)
• Monies owing to you (details to be sought from an Aalim)
• Livestock (the Nisaab of livestock is different from above)
Wealth Zakat is not compulsory upon
• Home for the living
• Household requirement e.g. furniture, car etc
• Personal requirements (not of gold and silver)
• Other precious metals or stones, such as diamonds which are for personal use
• Fixtures and fittings and other equipment required to run the business e.g. delivery trucks etc.
• If liabilities exceed assets
Zakat is compulsory upon sane adult Muslims possessing the amount of wealth in gold and silver or in excess as mentioned above. This is for as long as the wealth have been in his possession for more than a year.