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Why Is Zakat Important In Islam?

What is Allah’s (SWT) wisdom behind making Zakat an obligation for all eligible Muslims?

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What is Allah’s (SWT) wisdom behind making Zakat an obligation for all eligible Muslims?

Declaring faith. Prayer. Charity (zakat). Fasting. Pilgrimage. 

Each of Islam’s five pillars is also an act of worship, meant primarily to serve and please God. And each of them comes with the added benefit of improving a Muslim’s spiritual well-being. 

Zakat, the third pillar, is key to Muslims improving and maintaining generosity and selflessness as character traits. That altruism benefits Muslims inside and out — spiritually and in the physical world. 

For most, there’s a good feeling that comes with giving charity. It feels rewarding to be able to help someone in need. 

Beyond that feeling, though, Muslims give charity — both zakat and sadaqah — primarily because it is an act that God guides us to do. Zakat has a specific role in Islam and, by extension, Muslim societies: It facilitates a wealth transfer from the financially fortunate to the financially less fortunate.

Zakat Is Reasonable

That wealth transfer is different from giving out of goodwill in that zakat requires calculation. It requires a minimum amount of wealth one must acquire before being required to give (called nisab in Arabic). Similarly, it requires that the one giving distributes a minimum amount. 

Nisab isn’t just how much someone has at the moment. It’s how much someone has held for an entire lunar year. Furthermore, nisab varies depending on wealth type

Zakat also is only calculated after deducting necessary debts — in essence, it is only calculated on excess wealth — and it is typically calculated at a rate of 2.5% of one’s wealth. This model makes the zakat obligation reasonable and accessible. Use this free Zakat Calculator to see how much you should give.

Zakat Is Equitable

Islam does not advocate that every person provides only for himself or herself. Giving charity, zakat, connects the wealthy with the impoverished. It teaches us that we must both rely on others and be able to rely on others. 

Zakat is a direct ideological counter to hoarding, which harms both individuals and those around them. In fact, the Quran directly addresses those who hoard their wealth.

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For woe to those who associate gods with God, those who do not give the zakat charity, those who are disbelievers in the Hereafter.”

[41:7]

Through zakat, Islam teaches that it’s not enough to give occasionally. Giving charity must be a regular part of a well-rounded lifestyle. Beyond that, Muslims must give more than just the zakat they owe — they should also give sadaqah, which goes beyond just financial charity.

Zakat is Mentioned Directly in the Quran

The Quran mentions zakat 30 times — 27 of which are paired with the second pillar, prayer (salah).

Furthermore, the Quran defines explicitly who is eligible to receive zakat.

Indeed, [prescribed] charitable offerings are only [to be given] to the poor and the indigent, and to those who work on [administering] it, and to those whose hearts are to be reconciled, and to [free] those in bondage, and to the debt-ridden, and for the cause of God, and to the wayfarer. [This is] an obligation from God. And God is all-knowing, all-wise.”

[9:60]

Zakat Foundation of America, which operates in more than 40 countries, prioritizes both accountability and transparency in distributing zakat. Zakat Foundation of America has been a leading expert on zakat and a key resource for Muslims around the world since 2001. The nonprofit helps Muslims carry out their zakat duties easily, working with scholars to ensure it is all done correctly. 

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