Islam is not only recommended to give alms, it is the duty of every financially stable Muslim. Giving alms to those who are entitled to it is part of the Muslim character and one of the five pillars of the Islamic way of life. Zakat is considered a mandatory charity; it is a duty for all who have received their belongings from God so that they can help the needy members of the community. Completely insensitive and without a community spirit, some people are only interested in how they can hoard and increase their wealth by lending it with interest. Islamic teaching commands exactly the opposite of this selfish behavior. Islam recommends sharing wealth with others and helping people
In Arabic, Zakat literally means “purification” because Zakat purifies the heart of man from greed. The love of wealth is only too natural, and it takes a firm belief in God to share some of his wealth with others. Zakat has to be paid for different categories of property – gold, silver, money; Pasture stock, agricultural products and commercial goods – and is payable one year after it has come into possession and the total assets have exceeded a set minimum limit. An annual amount of 2.5% of an individual’s property and assets is required. (The delivery of a harvest or grazing animals is measured differently.)
Similar to prayer, which is both an individual and a community commitment, the zakat expresses the worship and gratitude of a Muslim to God by helping those in need. In Islam, the real owner of all things is not man, but God. The accumulation of wealth for oneself or to increase one’s reputation is condemned. Pure accumulation of wealth does not count at all in the face of God. It is of no use to man in this life or in the hereafter. Islam teaches people to increase their wealth with the intention of donating it for their own needs and the needs of others.
“’Man,‘ said the Prophet, ’says: My wealth! My wealth! ‚ Do you have no wealth other than what you give in alms and so you keep it, clothe yourself and feed on it, eat and use it up? ”
The whole concept of wealth is viewed in Islam as a gift from God. God, who made this wealth available to the person, gave him part of it for the poor, so the poor are entitled to the person’s wealth. Zakat reminds Muslims that everything they own belongs to God. People are given their wealth as something entrusted to them by God, and Zakat frees Muslims from their love of money. The money that is given as Zakat is not something that God needs or receives. He is above any kind of dependency. In His boundless grace, God promises reward for those who help the needy with the one basic requirement that they donate Zakat in the name of God; one should not expect or demand any worldly profits from the Zakat recipients, nor should one praise his name as a benefactor. The feelings of a Zakat recipient should not be hurt by making them feel inferior or by reminding them of the support.
Money given as Zakat can only be used for special, special things. Islamic law stipulates that alms may only be used to support the poor, orphans and widows, to free slaves and debtors, and to help others in need, as the Quran (9:60) specifically mentions. Zakat, which was introduced over 1400 years ago, functions as a kind of social security in Muslim society.
Neither the Jewish nor the Christian scriptures praise the liberation of slaves by elevating it to the rank of an act of worship. Indeed, Islam is the only religion in the world that instructs believers to financially support slaves so that they can regain their freedom, and it raised the release of a slave to the rank of worship – if it is done – to please God.
Under the caliphs, the collection and payment of Zakat was the responsibility of the state. In the current Muslim world, it is up to the individual, with the exception of some countries where the state partially takes on this role. Most Muslims in the West distribute Zakat through Islamic charities, mosques or give it directly to the poor. Money is not collected at religious events or on collector plates, but in some mosques there is a collecting box for those who want to give Zakat. Apart from the Zakat, it is also recommended to give other forms of alms privately, if possible in secret, with the intention of doing this solely for God.
In addition to Zakat, the Quran and Hadith (statements and deeds of the Prophet Muhammad, may God increase his mention) emphasize Sadaqah, or voluntary almsgiving intended for the needy. The Quran recommends feeding the hungry, dressing the naked, helping those who need help, and the more you help, the more God helps you; and the more you give, the more God gives you. You feel that when you take care of others, God takes care of you.