Zakat and Socio-Economic Development

Zakat and Socio-Economic Development

The Arabic term Zakat (or Zaka) (زَكَاةٌ, or زَكٰوةٌ,) (from the root ز ک و) has several meanings/ significations/ connotations, according to different dictionaries of the Arabic Language, including Lisan al-Arab and Lane’s Arabic-English Lexicon.

The primary signification of the word Zakat (زَكَاةٌ, or زَكٰوةٌ), is: increase, augmentation, growth, development, progress and prosperity (نمو،رَیْع).

It is said in a saying of Ali (R.A.), المَالُ تَنْقُصُهُ النَّفَقَةُ وَالعِلْمُ يَزْكُو عَلَى الإِنْفَاقِ  (Wealth diminishes through expending, but knowledge increases by expending). {Please note the word يَزْكُو (from the root ز ک و) translated as ‘increases’}

The Arabic phrase, زَكَتِ الأَرْضُ, means:   The land throve, or yielded increase.

زَكَا الغُلَامُ  means: The boy grew, or throve.

 زَکَی الزَرْ  عُ means: The crop grew.

 زَکَی الرَجُلُ means: The man grew in prosperity or made progress; The man was in a state of abundance of goods, conveniences, or comforts, of life.

Other meanings of the word Zakat, include: purity, purification (تطھیر); good or righteous conduct, thriving state (صلاح), financial contribution made for the purpose of Zakat/growth/development; praise; and the pure or the best part of anything.

The primary signification of the word Zakat includes not only the concept of ‘growth’ but also that of ‘progress/development and prosperity’.

Allah’s command, اٰتُوۡا الزَّكٰوةَ, is very comprehensive and includes all means of contribution for the socio-economic development of the community. But unfortunately, we have limited the concept of Zakat to just giving a certain amount of charity to the poor. The All-wise, Allah, certainly has a wisdom in using a specific Arabic root and word for a certain term, and the word Zakat cannot be any exception. Allah has certainly chosen the term Zakat, distinctly from the term Sadaqa, to draw our attention to its primary signification, i.e. growth, development and prosperity. The word Zakat appears in the Quran at least 32 times. The concept of اٰتَى الزَّکٰوةَ‌ has been distinctly mentioned in the Quran in comparison with the concept of اٰتَى الۡمَالَ (Al-Quran 2:177). It’s a key attribute of the believers that they work for the socio-economic development of community (وَالَّذِيۡنَ هُمۡ لِلزَّكٰوةِ فٰعِلُوۡنَۙ‏)[Al-Quran 23:4]. While, on one hand, Allah has made obligatory on every believer to contribute towards the socio-economic development of the community (اٰتُوۡا الزَّكٰوةَ)[Al-Quran 22:78], He has also made it obligatory upon the Islamic State/authority to establish a system of Zakat [Al-Quran 22:41]. The Public Sector Development Program (PSDP) of the Government can also be seen in the context of Zakat, and the public as well as the Government must consider it their Islamic duty to contribute towards this program as much as they can, in addition to contributing towards other avenues of the socio-economic development of the country because the concept of ‘development’ is so fundamental in the term Zakat, that it must never be ignored..

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