Ramzan 2023: Importance of Zakat in Islam and during holy fasting month
In short, Zakat is a way of giving obligatory alms in the form of tax, which every wealthy Muslim is expected to indulge in, as per the tenets of Islam
HYDERABAD: Heard mostly during the holy fasting month of Ramadan or Ramzan, Zakat is as much sacrosanct for the devout Muslims as it is a matter of curiosity for the uninitiated. In short, Zakat is a way of giving obligatory alms in the form of tax, which every wealthy Muslim is expected to indulge in, as per the tenets of Islam.
Though it is one of the five fundamental pillars of Islam, the devouts mostly practise Zakat during Ramadan for a mix of reasons: Doing it in the holy fasting month makes it easier for the Muslims to remember its timing. Ramadan fosters empathy and compassion to others through abstinence from all worldly pleasures – of food, liquid and physical needs – to survive the primal instincts. What better time than this holy month to indulge in benevolence to help needy Muslims around the world..?
Zakat, also called Zakaat and Zakah in different parts of the world, is one of the five quintessential practices for the Muslims, mentioned in Holy Quran as the ‘fundamental pillars of Islam’. The other pillars are Shahadah which denotes declaration of oneness of God; Salah, meaning prayer; Sawm (fasting) and Hajj, the ultimate pilgrimage to the two holy mosques of Mecca and Madina.
Every well-to-do Muslim is expected to fulfill Zakat, the obligation of giving alms to the needy during their lifetime. Though religious in nature, the guiding principle of benevolence comes with a socialist-like tinge. As history is proof, the concept appears to have been designed to provide temporary succour and solace to millions of Muslims worldover.
Here are a few reasons telling you why Muslims regard Zakat as very important, especially during the holy fasting month of Ramadan.
If the fulfillment of the five fundamental pillars of Islam is central to the life of a Muslim, one of the pillars, Zakat, stands out as unique and special for a variety of reasons. Practising Zakat teaches the value and responsibility of sharing one’s own wealth for the larger good of humanity. Coming along with it, are the lessons to be learnt on how to view and treat wealth on a wider canvas and in comparison with human life.
Islam attaches far more significance to the worship of the Almighty through prayer. Every Muslim is preached on how the act of worship takes them closer to Allah. The holy fasting month of Ramadan (Ramzan) not only witnesses diligent abstinence by the Muslims but the fasting time also finds them engrossed in hours of worship through the recitation of Quran and other holy verses.
Paying Zakat is also considered as a cleansing agent for the wealth of a Muslim. The devout believe that by paying the Zakat tax or indulging in benevolence in its name helps purify all their remaining wealth. It is stated in the Quran that “Whoever pays the Zakat on his wealth will have its evil removed from him.”
Zakat enables redistribution of wealth thereby bridging the gap between the rich and the poor to some extent. According to Islam, Zakat is a great way of reminding Muslims of an endearing sense of brotherhood and bonhomie among them and the need to share their wealth with their brethren. The Quran says Muslims who are in need have a right over those who are rich and Zakat is designed for the fulfillment of that right.
Zakat is a donation but paid in the form of a tax by the wealthy Muslims. For centuries, the proceeds from this are benefitting impoverished Muslims in ridding themselves of the suffering, at least for some time. There are many men and women among Muslims who still struggle to make both ends meet. Besides helping such people through Zakat tax, Muslims also generously distribute food and essentials during the holy month of Ramadan to help others go through the rigours of fasting with little suffering and hassle.
2.5 percent of one’s wealth is Zakat
During the Ramadan month, people give obligatory alms to the poor and needy in the form of the Zakat tax which is mandatory for every wealthy Muslim to pay. According to some Muslim scholars, Zakat is a poor man’s right and one who is not paying it is curtailing that right of the needy. As part of the annual obligatory alms, a rich Muslim is expected to pay 2.5 percent of the savings after one year of their accumulation.