Deep down, you may think of zakat as a tiresome once-a-year event that simply involves a quick online payment of 2.5% of your cash and a bunch of gold weighed on scales in your kitchen! But there is a lot more to it. Fully understanding and practicing this beautiful pillar of Islam can lead to a more productive and successful existence at both an individual and a community level. How?
Paying your zakat correctly triggers some marvelous productivity boosters that you probably have never thought of! Here’s what actually happens to you and your life when you pay your zakat:
1. Purifies Your Soul
Nothing prevents us more from reaching the heights of productivity than our sins. Day and night, we disobey Allah سبحانه و تعالى in all sorts of ways, knowingly and unknowingly, blotting our hearts and blocking the light of Allah سبحانه و تعالى from entering them. One critical way of clearing out the junk from our hearts is to pay zakat.
Linguistically, zakat carries meanings of cleansing and purification, originating from the same root as the word Tazkiyah. In fact, when Allah سبحانه و تعالى commanded the Prophet Muhammad سبحانه و تعالى to collect zakat, He سبحانه و تعالى specifically mentioned its purifying power:
“Take from their wealth a charity to cleanse and purify them through it and pray for them. Indeed your prayer gives them tranquility. And indeed Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.” [Qur’an: Chapter 9, Verse 103]
2. Blesses Your Wealth
Apart from purification, zakat also carries meanings of growth and enhancement. Paying your zakat means that what is left of your money will be more blessed and more productive for you. Our Prophet ﷺ emphasized this by warning against delaying the payment of Zakat or not paying it at all:
“Zakat is never intermingled with any amount of wealth without destroying and rotting it.” [Bukhari]
It is said that zakat represents the ‘filth’ within our wealth, i.e. an amount that we may have incurred through some form of sin or dishonesty, however small or great. For our money to remain blessed, it is vital to get rid of the ‘filth’ as soon as possible. This is akin to the dross that is filtered from a blast furnace, leaving a pure, pristine metal behind.
3. Creates Opportunities for the Poor and Needy
Although paying Zakat online in the way we do nowadays is extremely efficient, it has also disconnected us from the benefits of what our zakat does for its recipients.
One doubtless benefit of zakat is to help the poor and needy become more productive. By freeing them of the immediate stress of meeting their very basic needs, distributing zakat effectively allows those in need to pursue opportunities to help them turn their lives around.
For example, in December 2012, the National Zakat Foundation was contacted by a Turkish Muslim man who had recently left prison, penniless and homeless. He didn’t even have a toothbrush! By providing him with short-term financial support for his food, clothing, and shelter, the foundation helped him to become presentable and go out to look for a job. Alhamdulillah, within a fortnight of having contacted the foundation, he had found a job at a restaurant and was then able to look after himself.
4. Incurs the Mercy of Allah سبحانه و تعالى
In a powerful verse in the Qur’an, Allah سبحانه و تعالى says:
“…I afflict with my punishment whomsoever I choose, but My mercy encompasses everything. So I will prescribe it (i.e. My mercy) for those who are God-conscious, pay Zakat, and believe in Our signs.” [Qur’an: Chapter 7, Verse 156]
This verse is one of just two in the Qur’an where zakat is not mentioned in conjunction with obligatory prayer. Notice how Allah سبحانه و تعالى mentions the fulfillment of zakat in such an amazing position: between the qualities of taqwa (God-consciousness) and iman (belief) in His signs. At the same time, He سبحانه و تعالى makes paying zakat a direct cause for incurring His mercy, without which being productive would be utterly impossible.
5. Brings Endless Rewards
Just after one of the most famous verses in the Qur’an, the verse of light, Allah سبحانه و تعالى mentions a special group of people:
“Men who are not diverted by business or trade from the remembrance of Allah, establishing the prayer and paying zakat, fearing the day (of judgment) in which hearts and sights are turned upside down.” [Qur’an: Chapter 24, Verse 37]
Here Allah سبحانه و تعالى extols the virtues of those who are busy, productive and successful in a worldly sense but at the same time do not allow themselves to forget the most important aspects of their faith: remembering their Lord, establishing the prayer and paying zakat.
Allah then promises them an amazing outcome:
“Allah will recompense them according to the best of what they have done and He will grant them increase out of His bounty. Allah provides for whomsoever He wills without measure.” [Qur’an: Chapter 24, Verse 38]
May Allah سبحانه و تعالى make among those mentioned in the above verse! May He enable Muslims everywhere to understand and fulfill their obligation of zakat, thereby incurring His mercy and pleasure, Aameen.