Zakaat is one of the five fundamentals of Islaam. The Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam said:
Islaam is founded on Five Pillars: bearing witness that there is no God but Allah, and Muhammad Sallallahu alayhi wasallam is His servant and apostle; establishment of Salaat; paying of Zakaat; performance of Hajj; and fasting in Ramadhaan.
After Imaan, Salaat
is the most important act of worship which has to be performed bodily and Zakaat is the main act of worship which is to
be performed monetarily. Salaat and Zakaat has been mentioned together many times in the Qur'aan:
" . . and establish regular Salaat and give regular Zakaat".
This substantiates the fact that Zakaat is the most important fundamental after Salaat. Those who fulfil this duty have been promised abundant reward in this World and in the Hereafter; and those who evade Zakaat have been sternly warned in the Qur'aan and Hadeeth of the consequences.
The word Zakaat means purification. As a term it is used to express poor tax of property bestowed in alms, as a sanctification of the remainder to the proprietor.
"Take from their wealth alms, that you may cleanse them and purify them thereby." (9:103)
Zakaat is binding on all the believers who have enough wealth. One of the benefits of Zakaat is that it purifies the wealth. But what is most interesting is that it will cause enhancement of wealth. The Glorious Qur'aan says,
"And what you give in usury, so that it may increase through (other) people's wealth it does not increase with Allah, but what you give in Zakaat, seeking Allah's Pleasure, then it is those who shall gain reward manifold..." (30:39)
It may be added here that a great warning has been given to those who do not pay Zakaat.
"And (there are) those who hoard gold and silver and do not spend it in the Cause of Allah so give them the tidings of a painful punishment." (9:34)
It is an institution of Islaam and founded upon an express command in the Qur'aan:
"And keep up Salaat and pay Zakaat and contribute for Allah's Sake a contribution." (73:20 )
"Only he shall attend the Mosques of Allah who believes in Allah and the Last Day, establishes Salaat and pays Zakaat." (9:18)
It is significant to note that the two injunctions, to establish Salaat and to pay Zakaat are mentioned together, in a number of verses in the Qur'aan as basic ordinances of Islaamic Faith. We may quote the following verses in addition to those quoted above.
"But if they repent, establish Salaat and pay Zakaat, they are your brethren in Faith." (9:11)
"And they were not ordered except that they should serve Allah being sincere to Him in the Deen as men pure in Faith, and establishing Salaat and paying Zakaat." (98:5 )
"These are verses of the Wise Book (the Qur'aan), a guidance and a mercy to the doers of good, who keep up the Salaat and pay the Zakaat." (31:24)
One who has the means and saves wealth following the instructions of religion and it remains spare and more than one's needs during the year, then an amount is to be paid according to the ratio of this spare wealth.
One who possesses such money and does not give Zakaat out of it according to Shariat,
is a sinner and will be punishable very severely on the Day' of Judgement.
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