The Dynamic Concept of Zakah

The Qur’an says:

  • Practise regular charity. (2: 43)
  • They ask you how much they are to spend; Say: "What is beyond your needs."(2: 219)
  • What God has bestowed on His Messenger (and taken away) from the people of the townships, belongs to God, to His Messenger and to the kindred and orphans, the needy and the wayfarer; In order that it may not (merely) make a circuit between the wealthy among you. So take what the Messenger assigns to you, and deny yourselves that which he withholds from you. And fear Allah. For Allah is strict in Punishment. (59: 7)

Charity is an act of utmost importance in all religions of the world. Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Judaism and Zoroastrianism promote charity in a big way. In Islam, it however assumes a much more methodical and organised shape.

1. Charity is one of the pillars of Islam and is a fundamental duty on every Muslim who has wealth beyond a specified value. Zakah literally means purifier. Muslims have been told that it purifies not only their wealth, but their soul as well.

2. Unlike other religions, Islam is also a socio-political system, which provides clear guidelines for the state. The regime of charity in Islam, if formally applied to the tax structure of a country, will result in a much better mode of generation of revenue and promotion of economic parity. It will suffice here to say that Islam envisages a tax structure based primarily on Assets and Production taxes in contra-distinction with the currently popular one dominated by income and consumption Taxes.

3. Charity is not just Zakah. Ushr (one tenth on the produce) and khhums (one fifth on the spoils and other naturally received booties) are two other forms of obligatory charity that are hardly emphasised these days by the ulama.

The writer is Executive Chairman, International Centre for Applied Islamics, and may be reached at

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 July 2016 on page no. 2

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