We probably all have a general idea what zakat is. But not so many can say they’re confident enough to explain it to others. This is because we do not practice giving zakat unless we arrive at a certain financial prosperity level, which is most likely when we become adults and old enough to earn and save. Until then, we gloss off the study of zakat and wait until then to ask about it. Well, here is a brief explanation of what zakat really is.

What does the Quran say about Zakat?

Zakat is the Arabic word for alms which means the money or food given to the poor people. The Arabic word itself means growth and purification. This linguistic meaning represents the true essence of zakat as it was derived from the ayah in surah at-Tawbah 9:103

خُذْ مِنْ أَمْوَٰلِهِمْ صَدَقَةًۭ تُطَهِّرُهُمْ وَتُزَكِّيهِم بِهَا وَصَلِّ عَلَيْهِمْ ۖ إِنَّ صَلَوٰتَكَ سَكَنٌۭ لَّهُمْ ۗ وَٱللَّهُ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ

Take from their wealth ˹O Prophet˺ charity to purify and bless them, and pray for them—surely your prayer is a source of comfort for them. And Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.

It is a means to help you and I to purify our wealth and our souls from miserliness and greed. It also assists in the growth of our personal spirituality and the culture of altruism. Zakat is about sharing a small predetermined percentage of the wealth we accumulate every year and then giving it back to the less fortunate in the community. It is an act of worship which Allah Almighty prescribed upon the excess wealth of the rich from among us to be given to the poor.

Yaser Birjas