This is the Third Pillar of Islam. Zakat, or alms-giving, is the practice of charitable giving based on accumulated wealth and is obligatory for all who are able to do so. It is a personal responsibility to ease the hardship of others and decrease economic inequality. The word zakat means both “purification” and “growth.” Our possessions are purified by setting aside a proportion for those in need and for the society in general. Like the pruning of plants, this cutting back balances and encourages new growth (Zahid).
The Third Pillar consists of giving 2.5% of your income to the benefit of the needy (i.e. poor, slaves, debtors, and travelers). A Muslim can donate more as an act of voluntary charity, rather than to achieve additional divine reward.
There are two main types of Zakat: kajj (fixed amount) and variable amounts (not monetary). There are five principles that one should follow when giving the Zakat:
- The giver must declare his intention to give Zakat to God.
- It must be paid on the day it is due.
- After the offering, the prayer must not exaggerate on spending his or her money more than usual means.
- Payment must be in kind. This means if one is wealthy, then he or she needs to pay 2.5% of their income. If a person does not have much money, then they should compensate for it in different ways, such as good deeds and good behavior towards others.
- The Zakat must be distributed in the community from which it was taken.
Charity is a must. Be charitable.
- Zahid, Ishaq. “Five Pillars of Islam.” Five Pillars of Islam. Islam 101, n.d. Web. 06 July 2012. http://www.islam101.com/dawah/pillars.html.