Happy orphans with their gifts
Third Pillar Zakat Service
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After taking the  shahadah and praying salah, the third pillar of Islam is zakat. 

Though we are familiar with the term, few of us really contemplate the benefits and wisdom behind this beautiful act of Islamic worship. Zakat is about much more than just giving money.

Zakat literally means 'to increase' or 'to cleanse'. In shariah, zakat means that fixed portion of wealth that an owner of nisab has to give annually to poor and needy Muslims - as prescribed in the Qur'an and Hadith.

How much wealth?

For a person to qualify as a giver of zakat, he has to be:

  • A sane, mature, Muslim
  • A free Muslim and not a slave
  • The owner of wealth which is equal to or more than the nisab. It should be in his possession for one year.

Zakat is a form of alms paid on one's wealth to the poor and needy. It is paid at a rate of 2.5% on most types of wealth, provided the wealth exceeds a minimum level known as the nisab.

The nisab is defined as the value in money of 87.5g of pure gold or 625g of pure silver, whichever is lower. The lower value is preferred by Hanafi scholars as this increases the number of zakat payers and hence more needy people benefit. 

The benefits

  • Zakat not only purifies our wealth, but also purifies our heart from its own greed and selfishness
  • Whatever material comfort we have been given is a test for us to see how we use it for the betterment of others. Paying zakat shows us that our wealth is not our own, but that others also have a right over our money - it is a blessing to be shared
  • Zakat ensures that the very poorest and needy of society are protected from poverty, hunger and provided with other necessities
  • Zakat benefits the giver. We should be grateful for the opportunity to pay zakat for the sake of our own selves, increasing our righteous deeds and drawing closer to Allah through this act of worship

The virtues

  • Zakat embodies the spirit of social responsibility on the part of the contributor, and the feeling of security and belonging on the part of the recipient as we all have our part to play when living together in society
  • Zakat is the most effective means to improve the economic condition of the poor and needy
  • The unfailing power of this effective measure of public interest stems from the fact that it is a divine injunction, an ordinance from God Himself. It is not a personal matter or a voluntary contribution; rather, it is an obligation, for the fulfilment of which one will be responsible to Allah directly
  • The giver of zakat is not doing a favour to the receiver. He should rather be thankful to the recipient, since he has been enabled by the recipient to fulfil his obligation