WHAT DOES ZAKAT MEAN?

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Zakat, literally, holds numerous meanings: to profit, to purify, to increase, to be worthy, nice, mercy, truth, blessing, to extol and to exonerate are just to mention a few. 1  All of these abundant meanings can be        sighted in the Qur’an and hadith (sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, Peace Be Upon Him).

For instance, in the following verses, “He has indeed prospered who purifies it (the self)2 and “Prosperous indeed are those who purify themselves,3 zakat means to purify and to exonerate, while it is also used to denote prosperity in another verse: “A compassion from Our presence, and prosperity.4 Additionally, it can refer to purity itself “…and let him see what food is purest there.”5

Moreover in many verses, zakat denotes purification, as corroborated by a hadith that uses the same word in describing the sanitization of soil.6 Consider these references: “…that is more virtuous for you, and purer”, “…for that is purer for you,”7 “…and let him see what food is purest there,”8 “He said ‘I am only a Messenger of your Lord to announce to you the gift of a pure son,’”9 “And Moses said: ‘Have you slain a pure soul though he had killed nobody?’”10

 

WHAT IS TO BE GENERALLY UNDERSTOOD BY ZAKAT IN ISLAM?

In Islamic terminology, zakat is the process where a certain amount of property or money is collected from those who are sufficiently endowed and then given to needy group of people, with donors, recipients, and the proportion of required donations being clearly specified in both the Qur’an and Sunna.11 Taking this definition into account, zakat (the prescribed purifying alms) is simply spending what has been bestowed by God, in the amount and places designated by Him, for the sole purpose of physical and spiritual purification.

 

Senturk, Omer Faruk. “Charity in Islam” Tughra Books Press. January 2007.