Skip to content


The Meaning of Zakat:

Linguistically, the root of the word zakat implies purification, blessing and growth. Allah has stated in the Quran,

“He has certainly succeeded who purifies himself ( tazakkaa)".

Another word used in the Quran and hadith for the zakat is sadaqa. This word is derived from sidq (the truth).

The Importance of Zakat:

There is no question that among the pillars of Islam, zakat ranks very close to that of prayer. They are often mentioned together in the Quran- in eighty two instances to be exact. The importance of zakat can also be seen in the following verse of the Quran where Allah orders the Companions to fight the mushrikeen (polytheists) wherever they can:

"And when the sacred months have passed, then kill the polytheists wherever you find them and capture them and besiege them and sit in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they should repent, establish prayer, and give zakah, let them [go] on their way. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful."

In this verse, Allah orders the Companions to fight them until they repent, establish the prayer and pay the zakat. Shortly afterwards in the same surah, following the same line of discussion, Allah says,

"But if they repent, establish prayer, and give zakah, then they are your brothers in religion; and We detail the verses for a people who know."

These two verses clearly prove the importance of zakat in Allah’s sight. The disbelievers will become a part of this religion when they repent, pray and give the zakat. Hence, the payment of zakat is a true sign that a person is a Muslim and submitting himself to Allah. One can also see from the Quran, that one of the keys to receiving Allah’s mercy in the Hereafter is the payment of zakat.

In surah al-Taubah, verse 71, Allah states,

"The believing men and believing women are allies of one another. They enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and establish prayer and give zakah and obey Allah and His Messenger. Those - Allah will have mercy upon them. Indeed, Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise."

The payment of zakat should purify a person. It also purifies his wealth. Allah said to the Prophet (peace be upon him),

"Take, [O, Muhammad], from their wealth a charity by which you purify them and cause them increase, and invoke [ Allah 's blessings] upon them..."

Beyond that, it can purify a believer’s soul by cleansing him of the diseases of stinginess and miserliness. It also purifies the wealth of the person by removing any evil effect from it.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) once said,

"Whoever pays the zakat on his wealth will have its evil removed from him."

Zakat also has a very important role to play for society as a whole. There are some obvious factors that may be stated here. For example, zakat helps the poor of society as they receive wealth that they need. This should also help to strengthen the ties of brotherhood within a Muslim society, as the poor know that the rich will come to their aid through zakat and other means of charity. Even for those who are not very rich, it makes them realize that they can afford to give for the sake of Allah. They may realize that they will not starve or die if they give some of their wealth for the sake of Allah. Furthermore, it can make those who possess wealth realize that such wealth has actually come as a blessing from Allah. Hence, the person must use it in the way that is pleasing to Allah. One of the most pleasing aspects is to fulfill one’s responsibility of paying zakat upon such wealth.

There are other important social aspects that can be deduced from the Quran and sunnah. For example, one of the keys to the establishment of a Muslim community and Muslim state is the giving of zakat. Allah says in the Quran,

"[And they are] those who, if We give them authority in the land, establish prayer and give zakah and enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong. And to Allah belongs the outcome of [all] matters."

Muslims who do not pay their zakat are not only harming themselves but they can actually harm the entire Muslim ummah.

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said,

"A people do not keep from giving the zakat on their wealth except that they will be kept from having rain falling from the sky. If it were not for the animals, it would not rain at all."

The Prophet (peace be upon him) warned of the consequences of not paying such zakat. Note the following hadith from Sahih al-Bukhari:

"Whoever is made wealthy by Allah and does not pay zakat on his wealth, then on Day of Resurrection his wealth will be made like a bald-headed poisonous snake with two poisonous glands. It will encircle his neck and bite his cheeks and say, 'I am your wealth, I am your treasure.'"

In another verse that also includes those who do not pay zakat, Allah has said,

“O you who have believed, indeed many of the scholars and the monks devour the wealth of people unjustly and avert [them] from the way of Allah. And those who hoard gold and silver and spend it not in the way of Allah - give them tidings of a painful punishment. The Day when it will be heated in the fire of Hell and seared therewith will be their foreheads, their flanks, and their backs, [it will be said], ‘This is what you hoarded for yourselves, so taste what you used to hoard.’”