Islam is not only a religion but a way of life. Islam has ensured equal rights for all. Islam has deep concerns for the well being of men, women, children, orphans, the needy, the poor and every kind of people living in the society. Islam has established Zakat as a compulsory duty to be carried out by the rich to reduce the agony and pain of the poor and needy.
Zakat purifies the soul of the donor because it removes greed and selfishness from one’s heart. Giving from one’s acquired wealth requires strength, therefore, the practice of giving to the poor strengthens the donor’s integrity of the character and helps to develop sympathy for the poor and needy.
Islam preaches that what we own doesn’t belong to us because it is given to us by the Almighty and therefore the Almighty is the real owner of all our fortunes. So wealth shouldn’t be consumed by a few people while the many are suffering in our community, living in distress of hunger and thirst or sickness. Islam preaches generosity and forbids selfishness, greed, envy or arrogance.
However, Islam forbids the giver to seek fame or praise for carrying out a noble deed which it has considered as a duty. One is taught to give Zakat silently and avoid being boastful about it. Islam forbids to be rude, boastful, arrogant or proud about giving Zakat because these human vices are said to nullify all the good deeds.
Islam also preaches to be patient at the time of pain, distress or sufferings. So Islam asks the unprivileged ones to patiently deal with the harsh time of life and make attempts to improve one’s situation because the Almighty helps only those who put in an effort to help themselves. When Islam is commanding the rich to give Zakat and let the poor live a certain dignified life it also demands the poor to be hardworking and put effort to use the money in a productive way and improve their lives.
Zakat also has social and political value. The practice of giving Zakat encourages social responsibility among the rich and wealthy. If Zakat is collected and distributed sincerely there will be enough money and wealth circulating in the society to make sure that a certain dignified life is lived by all.
Economists, government policymakers and other authorities outside the Muslim world see Zakat only as a religious giving and overlooks its potential for making a financial contribution to the development of the economy. The international edition of The Guardian has pointed out the important role of Zakat in social welfare in one of its June editions in 2017. This leading newspaper has highlighted the ways Zakat can contribute to the long-term sustainable development in various communities, countries and around the world if Zakat agencies could function together and more efficiently. This actually proves that Zakat is still significant in the modern world and it cannot be treated only as a religious belief or practice.
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The Guardian has pointed out a deep link between SDG’s (sustainable development goals) and Zakat. The SDG’s is concerned with eradicating poverty and hunger, improving health, ensuring education for all, ensuring access to safe water, alleviating discrimination from the society and protecting the environment.
The concept of Islam expresses almost the same developmental views. Islam talks about the protection of faith, human lives, individual wealth etc. Islam also talks about ensuring equal rights for everyone within the family and society, removing poverty, helping others in hunger, distress, sickness etc. Among all the duties that are made compulsory for Muslims; giving Zakat is one of the most important one and the fourth pillar of Islam. Muslims are bound to give Zakat for the well being of the unfortunate population and to carry out social responsibility.
Peace in the society or peace in one’s personal life cannot be attained when there is a lot of chaos and restlessness all around us in the form of lamentations, cries, pain, and agony of the helpless people. We need to reduce human sufferings and reduce the pain of the grieving hearts at first in order to restore peace in the society. Islam deeply understands this and therefore it has always encouraged its followers to give to Zakat.
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