In the hierarchy of Islamic faith and religious duties, Zakat is next to only the acclamation of Allah’s Unity and Prophecy of Muhammad (PBUH) and the five daily prayers.
It is rather significant that a measure of far-reaching economic consequences should find such a high place in that hierarchy and be counted as one of the five pillars of Islam. On one hand, Zakat is a means of spiritual purification and on the other a way to regain balance in social and economic life. One would expect religious scholars as well as economists not to miss these points and pay due attention to this unique pillar of Islam or institution. However, the subject of Zakat has not attracted the attention of contemporary scholars to an extent commensurate with its diverse importance.
Zakat in terms of socio-economic role is a mandatory religious duty on the well to do members of the Ummah to part with a portion of their wealth for the well being of have-nots and helping other eligible social causes. To practically implement this policy, the prophet laid down a comprehensive legal framework for its collection of his time. However, in our contemporary time, jurists are faced with a question of efficacy of classical elaboration of Zakat jurisprudence to serve the socio-economic objectives of Zakat in modern time.
Zakat has many objectives which have been highlighted in both the Quran and Hadith. For example, from Quran, its main objective is to purify and to bless the Muslim’s wealth and soul and from the Hadith, its objective is o give a portion of wealth from the rich to be given to the poor. From these two objectives, it is to clear that its economic objective is to improve the condition of the receiver of Zakat this year to be a giver (Zakat payer) the following year.
In general, Zakat like other pillar of Islam is another fundamental Ibadah without whose fulfillment one’s claim of loyalty to Islam will be seriously doubted and even negated. That is why Abu Bakar (r’aa) resolved to fight those who defied paying it, contending among others that anyone who discriminates between the two pillars of Salat & Zakat by doing the former and willfully rejecting the latter, it would be legitimate to be fought against.
The Obligation of Zakat is consistent with the spirit of Islam in nourishing the values of brotherhood and caring. Allah describes believers as those who “spend out of hat we have provided for them” and orders, “O you who believe, spend out of what we have provided for you”. The prophet obligated charities on Muslim out of their wealth and their earnings.
Al Bukhari reports from Abu Musa Al Ash’ari from the Prophet (PBUH)
“A sadaqah is obligated on each Muslims” His listeners questioned, “O Prophet of God, what about the person who finds nothing to spend from?”He answered “He must work with his hands, so he can benefit himself and give charity “And if he cannot find a job? They asked, He replied; “He must help a person who is desperate for help” They asked, “What if he cannot” The prophet the answered, “He must do what is known as good and abstain from evil; this is a charity for him”
Therefore, there is a need for economists, legal experts, educationists and Shariah Scholars in Uganda to sit and analyze the institution of Zakat in contemporary manner because it is the economic pillar of Islam through which the demands of, the Poor, needy, the Wayfarers, the indebted, and Daawa & sensitization operations et al can be
Namungo Hamzah Kasujja
Admin Asst, House of Zakat & Waqf Uganda