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Hadith Section > A Manual of Hadith > Chapter 16: Charity and Zakat (Summary of the Chapter)


Chapter 16:
Charity and Zakat (Summary of the Chapter):


The Arabic word for charity is sadaqah (from sidq, meaning truth). Zakat is originally zakawah, of the same measure as sadaqah, and its primary significance is increase or purification. Technically zakat is a fixed portion of one's wealth which it is obligatory to give away annually for the benefit of the poor; the giving away of wealth to the needy is thus regarded as bringing about its purification and increase. Charity is likened to the sowing of seed which brings immense reward (v. 1). Only that charity is acceptable to God which is given out of one's lawful earnings (v. 2). It may be given either openly or in secret (v. 3). Zakat is obligatory charity in addition to voluntary charity, and it forms with the keeping up of prayer the basis of Islam (v. 4; h. 10). Those appointed to collect the zakat are included among the persons who are entitled to receive the zakat (v. 5); and thus it is definitely laid down that the zakat must be collected as public money, and distributed as such, under the directions of the head of the state or the head of a community.

Hadith gives equal conspicuousness to this subject. Charity is here given to the broadest possible significance, including the doing of any good to a fellowman or to an animal, refraining from doing evil, meeting one's brother with a cheerful countenance and so on (hh. 1-6). The giving of charity in secret is praised (h. 7). Asking for other people's charity is disapproved, earning one's livelihood by hard labour being far more preferable (h. 8).

Zakat is a tax distinct from voluntary charity and the most important obligation next to prayer (H. ii : 5, 6; hh. 9, 10). The minimum limit on which zakat is payable is in silver about Rs. 50 (h. 11). Zakat is payable at the rate of 2.5 p.c. on all savings (h. 12) over which a year has passed (h. 13). A woman must pay zakat out of her ornaments (h. 14). A trader is also liable to pay zakat on his goods (h. 15), and being a tax on property is payable out of the property of an orphan (h. 16). The zakat is payable to the Muslim state or some other authority; it must be collected at some central place and then distributed (hh. 17, 18). One-third or one-fourth of zakat may be left in the hands of the person who pays the zakat, for distribution according to his choice (h. 19). The tax on land-produce is one-tenth or one-twentieth (h. 20), while in the case of treasure-trove or minerals it is one-fifth (hh. 21, 22).

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Hadith Section > A Manual of Hadith > Chapter 16: Charity and Zakat (Summary of the Chapter)

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