Zakat: a Holistic View
July 29, 2010
To some Zakat is a religiously ordained obligation to give charity, to others Zakat is a lifeline of provisions that sustain livelihood. Perhaps it can be useful to examine Zakat from a more refreshing perspective, a perspective that presents a holistic view of this powerful principle.
History has provided too many lessons demonstrating how catastrophic things become when the “rich get richer and the poor get poorer”. Zakat, when utilized effectively, provides a counter balance to this equation though fair distribution of our societies excess wealth.
On the surface, Zakat seems like a simple enough concept. You give a percentage of your unused wealth to those in need. However, if we examine Zakat in greater depth, the wisdom behind this obligation reveals itself through a series of interconnected truths whose benefits are much more far reaching then the individual who shares in Zakat; benefits that can transform us, our community, and our society.
Zakat provides those whom Allah has blessed with provisions a sense of responsibility to assist those who are less fortunate. It creates accountability within a community, leading to an individual’s strengthened attachment to that community. Just like when an investor invests his money into something, he starts to care about his investment, its growth, and its progress. A person who freely shares Zakat invests in their community; that individual develops a deepened sense of pride, feelings of belonging, and eagerness to help their community grow and prosper. Thereby this selfless act of sharing Zakat strengthens their community and those who are a part of that community. In turn, networks of strong communities add to the stability and balance of society. In this example, Zakat serves as a catalyst that can transform a society. Imagine this impact on a global scale.
Zakat links us together. It puts us on one universal team. In a time when everything and everyone is telling us to “get your own piece of the pie,” Zakat reminds us to share our pie.
The wisdom of Zakat is certainly deeper and beyond the scope of this humble article, but it is certainly a wonderful reminder to think how one pillar of Islam allows an individual to participate in charity, improve his or her community, impact someone’s life in a positive way, and receive reward in the hereafter. With this in mind one cannot help but get excited when they start thinking about the beautiful pillar of Zakat.
To learn more about Zakat visit our Fiqh of Zakat page. Much research and consultation went into compiling these web-pages of information about Zakat to ensure that all questions and answers accurately represents sound religious rulings and the Sharî‘ah. Based on the great works of Zakât by our most prominent scholars, it is well grounded and reliable. Be assured that we have presented here the positions of scholars recognized as mujtahidîn (or, qualified, independent legal practitioners) on current Zakât topics, largely unexplored before our times.