Short Answer: Zakat in Arabic means Al Barakah wa Al Nama’ (blessing and prosperity). Just like plants grow and prosper when they’re planted, our faith grows and prospers when we give mindfully, humbly and obediently for the sake of Allah. The Zakat (or almsgiving) is considered the third pillar of Islam. The root word of Zakat also means purification. Zakat is a means of purification of one’s material wealth and soul as well.
Thank you for this great question.
Zakat is such a major act that Allah Almighty The Wise, The Acquainted made it an actual pillar of Islam.
This should lead us to ponder on its meaning, significance and implications.
The Meaning and Implications of Zakah
Zakat in Arabic means Al Barakah wa Al Nama’ (blessing and prosperity). Just like plants grow and prosper when they’re planted, our faith grows and prospers when we give mindfully, humbly and obediently for the sake of Allah.
The Zakat (or almsgiving) is considered the third pillar of Islam. The root word of Zakat also means purification. Zakat is a means of purification of one’s material wealth and soul as well.
It is a reminder that the person’s wealth is a blessing from Allah. It is a blessing that one ought to share with others. This helps humble the person and increases the sense of unity with members of the community. It is a selfless act that one performs in pursuit of His Creator’s pleasure and in service to His creation.
It promotes social justice as the rich always have an obligation towards the poor.
It is a purification of the soul from indulging in heedlessness, selfishness, egoism, self-love, greed and stinginess.
Zakat is a Testimony
When you give Zakat, in essence it is a testimony that:
- You believe in the unseen and in the rewards of Allah
- You trust that Allah is The Provider Ar-Razaq
- You acknowledge that all rizq (sustenance) come from and belong to Allah
- Your faith is more powerful than your fear of loss
- You believe in what the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “Wealth does not diminish by giving Sadaqah (charity) […].” [Related by Muslim].
- You show Allah sincere and pure faith in Him and pursuit of His Pleasure. As He said: “(As for the one) who gives from his wealth for the increase in self-purification, And has in his mind no favor from anyone for which a reward is expected in return, But only seeking the pleasure of his Lord, Most High. He surely soon will be pleased.” (Qur’an 92: 18-21)
- You elevate over the self to attend to the needs of others mindfully and practically.
- You’re conscious of the afterlife and the rewards and judgment of the hereafter.
Repeated mention in the Quran
Allah has ordained zakah on the community of believers as repeatedly mentioned in the Quran.
“And establish prayer and give zakah and bow with those who bow [in worship and obedience].” (2: 43)
“And establish prayer and give zakah, and whatever good you put forward for yourselves – you will find it with Allah. Indeed, Allah of what you do, is Seeing.” (2: 110)
“Indeed, those who believe and do righteous deeds and establish prayer and give zakah will have their reward with their Lord, and there will be no fear concerning them, nor will they grieve.” (2: 277)
“But those firm in knowledge among them and the believers believe in what has been revealed to you, [O Muhammad], and what was revealed before you. And the establishers of prayer [especially] and the givers of zakah and the believers in Allah and the Last Day – those We will give a great reward.” (4: 162)
What Prophets said on Zakah
It is also the path of the Prophets who deeply believe in Allah. As Jesus (peace be upon him) said:
“And He has made me blessed wherever I am and has enjoined upon me prayer and zakah as long as I remain alive” (19:31)
And Ishmael (peace be upon him) said:
“And mention in the Book, Ishmael. Indeed, he was true to his promise, and he was a messenger and a prophet. And he used to enjoin on his people prayer and zakah and was to his Lord pleasing.” (19: 54-55)
Abu Bakr As-Siddique and Zakah War
Abu Bakr AsSiddique (may Allah be pleased with Him), the first Caliph, was a wealthy man. However, he has repeatedly given out his entire wealth for the sake of Allah. He was not concerned about making himself richer, he was giving out consistently from whatever Allah gives him for the sake of Allah, His deen and the welfare of the people.
Narrated Zaid bin Aslam:
“I heard ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab saying: ‘We were ordered by the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) to give in charity, and that coincided with a time in which I had some wealth, so I said, “Today I will beat Abu Bakr, if ever I beat him.”‘ So I came with half of my wealth, and the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “What did you leave for your family?” I said: “The like of it.” And Abu Bakr came with everything he had, so he said: “O Abu Bakr! What did you leave for your family?” He said: “I left Allah and His Messenger for them.” I said: ‘[By Allah] I will never be able to beat him to something.'” [Jami’ at-Tirmidhi]
This is his pure unwavering faith in Allah.
Many people talk about the rights of the poor, but Abu Bakr AsSiddique was ready to go to war for it. When a fraction of people in the time of his Caliphate decided not to pay zakat, Abu Bakr fought them and this was a clear fight to preserve human rights against those who wanted to violate and abuse the rights of other people to receive zakat.
This was a unique point in history where a leader went to war to defend the rights of the poor.
Let’s think about that the next time we handle our Zakat casually or carelessly, and remember that giving out for the sake of Allah is a purification of our souls and affirmation of our faith.
And Allah knows best.
I hope this helps.
Salam and please keep in touch.
(From Ask About Islam archives)
Please continue feeding your curiosity, and find more info in the following links: