Concern and Almsgiving to the Needy (Zakat)

Zakat is the third pillar of Islam. Zakat translates to mean “the act of giving alms to the poor and needy.” Offering Zakat is a religious obligation for Muslims. In Islam, it is considered the duty of individuals of wealth to assist the poor and needy. The term Zakat in Arabic linguistically carries several meanings, including “to purify, to increase, cleanliness, blessings, and goodness.”

Zakat means to purify. According to the Islamic faith, your wealth and property are not pure unless you share a divinely appointed proportion of your earnings with people in need. The principle of Zakat also purifies your heart of greed and selfishness. Whereas the humanistic love of wealth is natural, Zakat is intended to free you from the excessive and all-consuming love of money and selfish desire, thereby teaching you self-discipline.

“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)

Zakat also translates to mean growth and blessings. If you give and help others in times of ease and difficulties, God will be pleased, increasing and blessing your wealth in response. Allah, the Glorious, has promised that if you spend your wealth in Zakat, your prosperity will increase manifold.

“The example of those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah is like a seed of grain which grows seven spikes; in each spike is a hundred grains. And Allah multiplies His reward for whom He wills. And Allah is all-Encompassing and Knowing.” (Quran 2:261)

Our Prophet has stated that the act of Charity does not decrease wealth; instead, this act blesses, purifies, and ultimately increases one’s fortune. Islam requires you to pay an annual contribution of 2.5 percent of the wealth and liquid assets you have accrued over one lunar year. Your personal Zakat is calculated on your earned net balance; that amount remaining after paying all other necessary expenses. Zakat is not an income tax; the amount due is based on what you have saved and held for an entire year. Zakat is not paid from the funds needed for debt repayment or necessary living expenses such as food, water, shelter, clothing, and transportation.

It’s important to note that Zakat money needs to be given from an untainted pool of 100% pure and halal funds — not taken from thefts or bribes, nor profits from interest-based loans or sales of alcohol, pork, drugs, or anything prohibited in Islam. God, the Almighty, is Good and Pure and accepts only that which is good and pure.

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