Each element of Islam has a positive impact on either the person himself, or collectively on the society – he’s a member of. Offering congregational prayers bind Muslims together on a social level; fasting improves one’s physical and spiritual health; pilgrimage promotes unity of Muslims; and zakaat offers a beautiful socio-economic balance of the Muslim society.
Anyone, who works hard to earn their living, realizes how hard it is to give off a share of your wealth to someone else. Zakaat is the ultimate test of Muslims to ascertain their level of faith in Allah and His teachings. It helps determine whether a Muslim keeps Allah or his wealth nearer to his heart.
Apart from that, zakaat is the definitive means to create financial balance in the society. With the help of zakaat, circulation of wealth is assured. Islam despises accumulation of wealth in few countable hands, and promotes a system which helps circulate wealth in the entire society and community. When a Muslim gives off a certain share of his wealth to his Muslim brother, he (i) obeys Allah; (ii) purifies his assets and wealth; (iii) helps lessen the financial crisis of his Muslim brothers; (iv) creates harmony among the members of Muslim society; and (v) snubs accumulation of wealth.
Recipients of Zakaat:
Following 8 groups have been identified as the recipients of Zakaat according to Quranic Verse:
Masaakeen (The Destitute):
These are such people who practically have nothing in their hands and own no assets. Their predicament is so intense that they have to beg for food. Allah requires from His believers to be helpful to such people with zakaat.
Their situation is not as bad as Masaakeen; yet they are in need of financial help in order to run their lives smoothly. Today, we can see numberless elderly people wandering on the streets and roads, begging for food. They need our attention; we must keep them in our minds while paying off zakaat.
These people work for collecting and distributing the zakaat.
We can pay zakaat in the path of Allah that may include mosque, Islamic school, jihad, medical care, and other charitable purposes.
It refers to such people who are under heavy loans, and need financial help to pay those debts off. Zakaat can be handed over to gharimoon so that they may pay off their loans and begin a normal life.
These are the travelers who have taken refuge in a Muslim land or were displaced. We can pay our zakaat to such wayfarers so that they may get out of trouble.
It refers to slavery; yes the issue still ails the modern world. If such people are helped with the amount of zakaat, it might enable them to get rid of their slavery.
It includes such people who are newly converted Muslims as well as such individuals who are vulnerable to get into illegal activities if not financially helped.
Socio-Economic Balance Created by Zakaat:
The financial institution of zakaat targets accumulation of wealth by distributing the same from upwards to downwards in the society. The wealthier a person is, the more zakaat he has to pay. It is unlike today’s modern taxation system where the poor are victimized and the rich are offered relaxation.The downward flow of money through zakaat aims on eradicating poverty, and every person slowly and gradually reaches the point where they can buy commodities with ease. This creates an increase in the demand, and to cater to it; ample supply is made. This results in economic growth of the community. In this way, zakaat creates socio-economic balance in the Muslim society in a smooth and unhindered way.
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