Zakat is one of the five pillars of religion Islam. On the face of it, this is just another obligatory duty that every Muslim has to perform. However, the impact of zakat is far more diverse than what it appears to be. Micro and Macro financing experts from all around the world have lauded the revolutionary financial system in which zakat is. The glorious system of zakat has prevailed over the centuries simply because the donor doesn’t feel burdened while the sum received by the recipient is still a decent one. In today’s discussion, we are going to talk about the distribution of zakat. While most of the Muslims are familiar with eligibility criterion and zakat threshold limits, how zakat is distributed is still a relatively less discussed topic. We are hopeful that you will learn a thing or two once you make it to the end of this discussion!
Zakat: A revolutionary concept
We keep hearing that zakat is a revolutionary concept. Have you ever wondered why this Islamic financial obligation is dubbed as revolutionary? The simplest way of understanding why zakat is dubbed as revolutionary is to have a look at the impact of zakat on key elements of this cycle. There are donors, the recipients, and the society itself. While the donors spiritually purify their wealth by paying zakat, the recipients who benefit from the financial aspect and the society. Yes, society benefits as well since the wealth is in circulation, which is always a great economic indicator.
How zakat is distributed?
Without beating about the bush, let us discuss the distribution of zakat. According to the Holy Quran (9:60), there are eight kinds of people eligible for zakat. These include the poor, the needy, the administrators, those in debt and bondage, those dubbed as wayfarers, and of course, for the reconciliation of hearts. The question to be answered here is how zakat is distributed among these eligible ones. Well, zakat can be given by hand to those who deserve it. But in countries like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, there are zakat collecting bodies that do the job on a government level. These agencies are concerned specifically with zakat collection and disbursement.
Principles of zakat distribution
Some guiding principles must be followed when it boils down to the distribution of zakat. These are as follows:
1- Whatever zakat amount has been collected by the zakat agencies operating on the government level, it should be distributed within 12 months of collection.
2- There must not be any terms and conditions imposed while giving the zakat money to the eligible recipient. It is against the very core principles of this Islamic obligation to make things conditional.
3- Zakat money shouldn’t be adjusted or accommodated in any other service. This is a right of the eligible ones and hence, cannot be confused, intentionally or unintentionally, with any other service.
4- Zakat cannot be any less than 2.5 percent of the donor’s wealth or total; assets.
These considerations have been extracted from the mere process of observation and they are worth a closer look. Firstly, the agency operating at the state level must not turn zakat disbursement into a long process involving a series of difficult steps. It needs to be reiterated here that many Muslim families rely on zakat money to sort out their affairs and delays are hardly welcome. Also, some underprivileged members of the community might be too reluctant to apply for zakat money. In such a case, it is the responsibility of the state agency to identify such individuals and help them. It makes sense to make sure that zakat is accessible to everyone who needs it!
Well, that will be all from this discussion. The topic of zakat is an extensive one and we couldn’t possibly hope to summarize even a quarter of its details. However, we are hopeful that via this discussion, you were able to tackle a lot of queries about the distribution of zakat. This is a subtopic of zakat that needs as much attention as some of the other issues related to this financial Islamic obligation. For more such informative discussions about zakat and queries related to it, do keep visiting this place. Till another discussion, we bid you farewell!