Paying Zakat is obligatory upon the free adult Muslims who have a certain amount of wealth in their possessions. It is as much necessary as Salat and Fasting and Allah threatened to ask about its nonpayment on the Day of Judgment. It is one of the pillars of Islam.
The trend of paying Zakat is on a decline in these days and people mostly look for escape routes to avoid Zakat. Muslim society is changing and more and more people are becoming modernized and leaving the religion behind. People and governments are promoting tax culture more and more, and attention is given to Religious obligations and Zakat is not an exception.
In many Muslim countries, it is obligatory to pay Zakat for their Muslim Citizens. They have their collection and distribution systems. However, there is the problem of bad governance in some countries resulting mistrust among the Zakat payers. Most of people are concerned about the transparency of utilization. In Pakistan, once it was officially declared by the State Bank that the decline in Zakat payment happened because people didn’t trust the government. Not paying wajib Zakat is a sin, as Allah said in Surah al-Tawba (9: 34-35) in Quran.
One of the reasons is that people are unaware of the importance of Zakat and its effect on the society. They think that paying wealth tax, income tax, sales tax and other taxes is enough; and that they don’t need to pay more. This is just because of lack of awareness among general masses. They don’t know what to pay, whom to pay, the rate and how often to pay.
People who are living in non-Muslim countries also face problems in this regard due to nonexistence of a system for payment of Zakat. They either pay their Zakat to please individuals or religious institutions and maybe they end up not paying.
The complex calculation of Zakat and nonavailability of experts in this field is also one of the hurdles. People don’t know how much they are liable to pay in what form. Though the rate is very low, however, people are reluctant as the don’t know how much to pay and whom to pay. Since this is a religious obligation and governance systems are mostly social or liberal so they don’t want to pay it to those governments. That is why the registered and known payment of Zakat is far less and payed to unknown religious institutions in countries like Pakistan.
There is not a fixed calendar for payment of zakat. We should, individually or as a community, fix a specific time for zakat. The holy months of Ramadan and Muharam are the best for this purpose.
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