Zakat is an important component of Islam, which carries huge weight in virtual practices of a Muslim. It plays a vital role in the well-being of the less privileged. It has been pronounced to be the fourth pillar of Islam and its significance before Allah can be determined from the fact that its order has been placed everywhere in Quran where the order of offering prayer has been passed. Zakat is an amount of money that Muslims spare annually for the poor and needy. It is a beautiful concept of Islam which contributes to the economies of Muslim States. It cause to prevail social balance in and prevents social disparity.
Today every country of the world is in an economic race with the other. Every aspect of life of an individual as well as of a state is connected with money and economic well being. Economic policies at domestic and at commercial level are made to accumulate money, overlooking the fact that the deprived people are equally rightful to share the amenities of life which vest with the wealthy. The concept of Zakat teaches it to the affluent that they ought to look after the needy around them. Islam is a complete code of life and provides guideline on all the aspects of life and the concept of Zakat is one of its economic aspects.
The benefits of Zakat are manifold at social and economic level. It is a principle of economics that money should not remain stagnant in few hands, rather it should circulate to increase the volume of production and activity. If wealth is accumulated in few hands it will stop the wheel of economy and will ultimately cause to increase poverty. Take an example of India where only thirty six families have the wealth of 191 billion dollars which is equal to one fourth of India’s GDP and the common man is bound to pass miserable life. The system of Zakat in Islam targets the root causes of poverty.
These days we observe that the gap between the rich and the poor has widened to an alarming level and as a result the crime rate has increased. People are frustrated and everyone tries to manage his/her affairs by fair or foul means. The implementation of Zakat system in its essence can solve these problems, because the distribution of Zakat to the deserving establishes the social solidarity and the gap between social classes decreases. This also reduces social conflicts and creates a balance in society. In other words, relations between the rich and the poor must not deteriorate if we want to maintain harmony in our society and avoid anarchy. Undoubtedly, these crucial relations can only be saved through fair system of Zakat and other principles of assistance. In societies where the system of Zakat doesn’t exist or any other system of helping poor, the gulf between the rich and the poor widens and causes havoc for social values. The inequality and poverty in any society can give birth to the stigmas and social evils. This is where the system of Zakat creates difference.
The proper Zakat system decreases the probability of recession in the economy. Since it is paid to the poor and the needy, it helps reduce the chances of a country experiencing recession where people start losing their jobs and families start starving for the essentials of life. Zakat also increases the purchase capacity of the common people which ultimately results in the increase in products and consumable items. The increased production volume gives rise to numerous economic activities and decreases unemployment, which causes the economic growth. Similarly, another significant impact of Zakat is that it discourages the hoarding.
Zakat and interest are two opposite and dichotomous poles. By giving Zakat we not only purify our wealth but it is also a fine concept of acknowledging the rights of the poor. On the other hand the major aspect of interest is to make rich ignominiously richer and leaving the poor stranded in destitution. The system of Zakat means the end of usury.
Zakat is a very jurisprudential concept of Islam and its roots are very deep in human psyche. It discourages the greed in human nature and creates the love and sympathies for others. The uncountable benefits of Zakat can’t be determined until experiencing it and following this major principle of Islam. May Allah Almighty gives us wisdom and understanding to realise the importance of these principles and follow them in their true spirit.