By Shaykh Abdul Qayum | 23 Feb 2024

As Ramadan approaches, I reflected on one of the most important yet overlooked pillars of Islam – Zakat (mandatory charity). Far beyond a tax, Zakat represents spiritual purification and brings us closer to Allah. As many as 82 Qur’anic verses mention the giving of Zakat, highlighting the importance of discharging the duty of paying the mandatory charity every year, such as (Qur’an 2:110)

Establish prayer and pay the Zakat.

Allah instructs us multiple times, connecting Zakat with Salah, underscoring its foundational pillar alongside the daily worship. 

With Ramadan approaching, our thoughts about discharging the obligations of paying Zakat intensify. We turn to Allah with sincerity, hoping and working for His endless mercy and rewards by performing this important duty. Zakat is not a tax, as it’s often assumed, nor is it a penalty. It is first and foremost a form of ‘Ibadah (worship). Charity – the mandatory Zakat and the voluntary Sadaqah – is among the keys that can help us to secure paradise in the Hereafter.

Allah has blessed us all with relative prosperity. It’s unlikely that any of us are recipients of Zakat. We should look upon this as a blessing and see our ability to pay Zakat as a special opportunity from Allah – it is a privilege He has granted. To be able to share a portion of our wealth with those who need it, is a trust which he has placed under our stewardship.  

We ought to feel immense gratitude for this blessing. Many of our brothers and sisters around the world suffer in adversity, relying on Zakat for their survival. In granting us the financial means to support vital social welfare initiatives, Allah has conferred honour and privilege to us. Let us appreciate this role and thank Allah for this immense blessing. 

The Qur’an also emphasizes Zakat’s spiritual dimension. As Allah says (Qur’an 9:103):

Take, [O, Muhammad], from their wealth a charity by which you purify them and cause them increase.

Zakat elevates our faith by helping us to suppress our attachment to the world. Not only is our wealth purified by Zakat, our souls are purified by the act of giving sincerely.

The Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him) reinforced this, stating in many ahadeeth that whoever pays Zakat on his wealth will have its evil removed. By surrendering our obsession with material possession, Zakat cleanses our hearts of greed and ego, thus opening ourselves to a life infused with greater purpose.

Our neglect of Zakat has ominous consequences. Allah warns (Qur’an 9:34):

And those who hoard gold and silver and spend it not in the way of Allah – give them tidings of a painful punishment.

Accumulating wealth for its own sake and abandoning our duty in discharging the responsibility that comes with enjoying Allah’s blessings can lead to our ruin in the Hereafter. 

Refusing to give Zakat denies the poor of their rights over our wealth. Allah says in the Qur’an, affirming that rights of the poor upon the rich (Qur’an 51:19):

And in their properties was the right of those who ask and those deprived. 

Through Zakat Allah uplifts vulnerable Muslims from destitution and empowers self-reliance. Let us not overlook our duties towards the poor and forget their rights over us. 

Certainly, some people worry that paying Zakat will diminish their wealth. However, the Allah reassures us (Qur’an 2:261):

The example of those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah is like a seed [that] grows seven spikes; in each spike is a hundred grains. And Allah multiplies [His reward] for whom He wills.

Allah promises to shower endless blessings upon those who selflessly give Zakat.  

This Ramadan, I encourage you all to calculate and pay Zakat consciously, with sincerity towards Allah and with compassion and humanity for our brothers and sisters less fortunate than you. The importance of fulfilling Zakat becomes more urgent when we witness populations enduring humanitarian crises, such as the situation currently unfolding with our brothers and sisters in Palestine.

We must continue responding generously to aid appeals for Gaza, especially as ongoing bombardment and displacement by Israel has plunged the population into worsening humanitarian crises. While our individual donations may seem inadequate in scale, together they can alleviate suffering whilst strengthening the bonds of brotherhood within the Ummah. 

As I often emphasize, Allah looks not at the quantity we give as Zakat and charity, but the genuine intention and sympathy in our hearts for those in need. Give within your means – even small acts of kindness – performed sincerely for the sake of Allah is heavy in the eyes of the Most High. This is what truly matters in nurturing solidarity and uplifting our brothers and sisters worldwide.  

This is what truly counts in fostering solidarity and uplifting our brothers and sisters who, through circumstances beyond their control, endure poverty and destitution. The sincerity behind giving Zakat is essential, irrespective of the size of the amount we give. Let us embrace this spirit wholeheartedly as we fulfil our duties in the blessed days ahead.

If you need to pay your Zakat, simply click here.

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