What is Zakat?
Zakat means to purify.
The concept of zakat is for Muslims to purify their wealth by donating a portion of it to those in need within their communities. It is one of the five pillars of Islam, a mandatory responsibility on each individual who meets certain minimum criteria of wealth. Zakat enables Muslims to collectively elevate the poor, reduce their financial distress and enable them to live in dignity. Wealth is a gift, a blessing from Allah (God). It does not belong to us, but instead it has been given to us as a responsibility to use it in the path of God, in the service of mankind. Wealth is not to be wasted, because we all have to give an account of how we have spent it. It can be a source of blessing, a vehicle for sadaqa (continual good deeds). In the Quran, Allah commands us to give zakat not just with our wealth, but also zakat with our effort and time. That is the sign of the best of those among us.
Muslims donate a mandatory 2.5% of their assets annually as zakat. However, in addition, Allah encourages us to give additional amounts as "sadaqah", or voluntary charity, which can be any amount, to anyone in need.
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