Zakat: Backbone of Islamic financial system
RAMZAN is not only the month of physical worship in terms of fasting but also of financial worship. In this holy month, the adherents of true faith are required to do philanthropic deeds and distribute the part of their fortunes among their indigent brothers in faith.
In Islam, there are two kinds of charities: voluntary and involuntary. Voluntary charity is called sadqa whereas involuntary which is, in fact, an obligation is called Zakat.
Zakat is one of the most important pillars of the Islam. Zakat carries huge weight among the injunctions of Islam. It has been pronounced as the forth pillars of Islam.
The importance of zakat can be realized from the fact that in roughly, 82 verses of Qur’an Zakat has been associated with prayer (Salah).
In Holy Qur’an, Allah, the sublime, says: “so establish regular prayer and give regular alms; and obey the messenger; that you may receive mercy of.”(Al Qur’an 24: 56).
At another occasion in Qur’an, the significance of zakat is underscored in the following words: “and they have been commanded no more than this: to worship Allah, offering him sincere devotion, being true (in faith); to establish regular prayer and to practice regular charity and that is the religion right and straight”. (Al Qur’an 98: 5).
Additionally, the vital importance of Zakat is further highlighted in holy book as the law of Allah:” My mercy encompasses all things, but I will specify it for the righteous who give Zakat (Al- Quran 7:156).
In a famous Hadees reported by Umar bin Khatab (RA), the Holy Prophet (SAWW) responded to Jibrael(AS) and said: “ Islam is to testify that there is no worthy of worship but Allah and Mohammad is the messenger of Allah, to perform prayer, to pay zakat, to observe fasting in Ramzan and to make pilgrimage to the house of Allah, if you are able to do so…”(Bukhari, Muslim).
The basic purpose of Zakat is to promote socio-economic justice in the society. It aims at maintaining economic balance between the rich and the privileged and impoverished and underprivileged segments of our society.
It discourages of concentration of wealth in the hands of few moneyed people and encourages circulation of wealth from the wealthy to the indigent.
The economic impact of Zakat is so extensive and highly productive that if it is implemented, in letter and spirit, for sure, it might help reduce poverty and foster works of social welfare.
So far individual impact of Zakat is concerned, it purifies the wealth of believer and removes the greed of accumulating wealth form his heart. It also kindles in heart of a believer an inextinguishable passion of altruism and generosity.
Who are the eligible for receiving Zakat? This question of paramount importance has also been addressed by Allah, the omniscient in his book of guidance; Allah says in Holy Qur’an” Alms are for the poor and the needy; and those employed to administer (the funds); for those whose hearts have been recently reconciled (to truth); for those who in bondage and in debt; in the cause of Allah; and for the wayfarer: (thus is it) ordained by Allah, and Allah is full of knowledge and wisdom (Al-Qur’an 9:60).
The law giver(Allah) has also prescribed the minimum amount that is obligatory for Zakat in different ranges of properties and that minimum amount is called” Nisab” and the one in possession of such Nisab is termed as “Sahib-e Nisab” one upon whom paying Zakat becomes mandatory. And one who pays Zakat whole-heartedly, in return, receives great reward from his Lord.
The Holy Prophet (SAW) is reported to have said:” whoever gives away charity the size of a date, which is earned lawfully, since Allah only accepts lawful things, Allah will indeed take it with his right hand and cause it to grow for its owner, just as one of you raises up his clot, to the point that the charity will become like the size of mountain.”(Al-Bukhari).
In another Hadith, The Holy Prophet (SAWW) said:” giving charity wipes away sins just as water extinguishes fire.”
The government of a Muslim country must exploit this tool of economic growth to boost its economy.
Zakat can be exceedingly helpful to jettison the society of abject penury and rampant socio-economic injustice. It might be auxiliary to augment productivity and enhance efficiency in the market.
When money is circulated in the market in shape of payment of Zakat to the eligible people, it results in the enhancement of their purchasing power.
When people’s demand for the goods increases, the businessmen gear up to meet the additional demand, raw materials are purchased and the induction of extra employees in the industry becomes inevitable.
Hence, the whole economy gets unprecedented boom.
Sadly, in our country, there is no proper mechanism of collecting Zakat.
Zakat collection is not taken as a serious affair by our rulers. Those who are at the helm for this work, resort to corruption and embezzlement.
Usually, banks are given task to deduct Zakat. People don’t trust banks for this noble work; therefore, they prefer personal disbursement of Zakat over any intermediation by any financial institution of the country.
Finally, Pakistan is world’s sixth most populous country in the world, hence, there is enormous potential in our country to use money collected from the people as Zakat to break the vicious cycle of poverty that has enveloped our indigent masses to the core.
For this, we have to win the confidence of our people so that they might give us their valuable donations to be used for the elimination of poverty from the country.
— The writer is contributing columnist, based in Quetta Balochistan.