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Does Zakah Encourage Unemployment?

10 May, 2017
Q I have a problem with the zakah system in Islam. If a rich Muslim gives out the zakah to the needy and the poor, this will encourage such people not work or even look for work. The poor and the needy will depend heavily on this regular income that comes from the rich. Therefore, zakah encourages unemployment in the society, right?


Salam (Peace),

Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.

Zakah (obligatory alms) in Islam is one of the main five deeds which are considered the pillars of Islam.

Muslims believe that God Almighty, Allah in Arabic, is the All-Wise and that when He commands humans, it is always to benefit them.

Saying that zakah encourages unemployment is invalid. Actually, the opposite is true. Zakah is really a way of reducing unemployment.

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One of the conditions of zakah is transferring the ownership of the amount of the zakah money from the rich to the poor. This means that an amount of money is taken from the pockets of the rich –who tend to save– into the pockets of the poo–, who tend to spend in order to fulfill their needs.

Give a rich person 100 dollars, it may be kept unspent in his pocket for a year. In contrast to that, it will evaporate from the pocket of a poor person in less than 30 minutes, because he needs food, clothing, and other essentials for himself and his family.

This means that 2.5% of the cash savings, 5-10% of the agriculture income, and 20% of the income of extracted minerals will be spent in the market through the poor.

This will lead to the increase in market demand on goods. To accommodate this increase in demand, there should be an increase in production. This, in turn, will lead to an increase in job opportunities. God tells us in the Quran:

{What Allah has bestowed on His Messenger (and taken away) from the people of the town belongs to Allah, to His Messenger, and to kindred and orphans, the needy, and the wayfarer; In order that it may not (merely) make a circuit between the wealthy among you.} (Quran 59:7)

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in this verse is mentioned as the authority which collects zakah and tax from the rich all over the country, and has to spend it on the orphans and the needy.

Therefore, the money and wealth is not kept circulating between the rich. This circuit should be broken by taking an amount, even if small, and giving it to the poor who are in need of the money and will spend it in the market as we explained above.

I hope this answers your question. Please keep in touch.


This response is from About Islam’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.
Please continue feeding your curiosity, and find more info in the following links:

Zakah and the Economic System in Islam

Zakah and Distributive Justice

Zakah & Purifying Wealth