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Recipients waiting to receive zakat in India.

Zakat (Arabic: زكاة‎ zakāh [zaˈkaːh], "that which purifies", also Zakat al-mal [zaˈkaːt alˈmaːl] زكاة المال, "zakat on wealth", or Zakah) is a form of alms-giving treated in Islam as a religious obligation or tax, which, by Quranic ranking, is next after prayer (salat) in importance.


  • Unlike prayers, we observe that even the ratio, the exemption, the kinds of wealth that are zakatable are subject to differences among scholars. Such differences have serious implications for Muslims at large when it comes to their application of the Islamic obligation of zakat. For example, some scholars consider the wealth of children and insane individuals zakatable, others don't. Some scholars consider all agricultural products zakatable, others restrict zakat to specific kinds only. Some consider debts zakatable, others don't. Similar differences exist for business assets and women's jewelry. Some require certain minimum (nisab) for zakatability, some don't. etc. The same kind of differences also exist about the disbursement of zakat.
    • – Shiekh Mahmud Shaltut. Yusuf al-Qaradawi (1999), Monzer Kahf (transl.) King Abdulaziz University, Saudi Arabia, Fiqh az-Zakat, Volume 1, Dar al Taqwa, London, ISBN 978-967-5062-766,
  • Alms are for the poor and the needy, and those employed to administer the (funds); for those whose hearts have been (recently) reconciled (to Truth); for those in bondage and in debt; in the cause of Allah; and for the wayfarer: (thus is it) ordained by Allah, and Allah is full of knowledge and wisdom.
    • — Qur'an, Sura 9 (Al-Tawba), ayat 60
  • It is not righteousness that ye turn your faces to the East and the West; but righteous is he who believeth in Allah and the Last Day and the angels and the Scripture and the Prophets; and giveth his wealth, for love of Him, to kinsfolk and to orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and to those who ask, and to set slaves free; and observeth proper worship and payeth the poor due. And those who keep their treaty when they make one, and the patient in tribulation and adversity and time of stress. Such are they who are sincere. Such are the God fearing.
    • Quran- 2:177
  • “There is a desire to equate Zakat with Jizyah to emphasize the fairness of the Islamic fiscal system. The Muslims pay Zakat and the non-Muslims Jizyah. But the analogy is fallacious. The rate of Zakat tax is as low as 2.5 per cent and that on the apparent [visible] property only. All kinds of concessions for payment of the Zakat exist with regard to the taxable minimum. In its collection no force is applied because force vitiates its character. On the other hand, the rate of Jizyah is very high for the non-Muslims: 48, 24, and 12 tankahs [one of the main historical currencies in Asia] for the rich, the middling, and the poor, whatever the currency and whichever the country. Besides, what is central to Jizyah is always the humiliation of the Infidel, particularly at the time of collection. What is central in Zakat is that it is voluntary; at least it should not be collected by force. In India Zakat ceased to be a religious tax imposed only on the Muslims. Zakat was levied in the shape of customs duties on merchandise and grazing fees on all milk-producing animals or those which went to pasture, and was realized both from Muslims and non-Muslims. According to Muslim law, ‘import duties for Muslims were 5 per cent and for non-Muslims 10 per cent of the community. Abu Hanifa, whose Sunni school of jurisprudence prevailed in India, would tax the merchandise of the Dhimmis as imposts at double the Zakat fixed for Muslims. Jizyah was calculated so as to inflict real financial pain on Infidels, and had to be paid no matter how poor they might be. This was part of their punishment for being Infidels, to pay for their own protection... Zakat, on the other hand, was never meant to be a financial burden on Muslims. Normally it would be only 2.5% of a Muslim’s wealth, and imposed only if he possessed a certain minimum wealth, or nisab.
    • K. S. Lal, “The Theory and Practice of the Muslim State In India”, Delhi,1999, on pp. 139-140.
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