By Mayuri Thiageshwaran
Zakat, a compulsory practice for Muslims, is mandated by Allah for all adult able-bodied and well-off Muslims to donate 2.5 percent of their income annually to those who face challenges in regards to living in poverty or in relatively poor communities. Zakat is included as part of one of the five pillars in Islam, and its importance is readily emphasized. This practice symbolizes gratitude by refraining individuals from using their wealth in an unjust manner or for sinful actions. As Zakat Advisor (2014) states, “the word “Zakat” means purification because it helps to purify, since one would be setting aside money to help others and also helps to keep Muslims who are wealthy from sin” (p.1). Furthermore, Muslims are taught and encouraged through the Qur’an to donate voluntarily, as it is called Sadaqah (Charity) (Ummah Welfare Trust, 2014).
In the country of Sudan, the practice of Zakat was implemented in their law in 1990 as it plays a key importance in social unity and social security (Bryon, 2013). In addition the custom of Zakat is also practiced in countries such as Malaysia, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Pakistan (Bryon, 2013). The practice of Zakat is not only to contribute to those in underprivileged communities but also to fight poverty and aid in merging social safety nets in regions that it is increasingly essential for. As Zakat Advisor (2014) states, “Sudan is considered to be one of the most impoverished countries in Africa, due to drought and decades of war that has ravaged much of the country” (p.1). Sudan is a foundered home to refugee populations, where it houses over 300,000 refugees on the border of Sudan who agonize from malnourishment, poverty, exploitation and human trafficking (Zakat Advisor, 2014).
Due to the practice and donations contributed to Zakat, Sudan has increasingly done well as a country to help those who are labeled as disabled individuals, refugees, poor students, individuals who face homelessness, orphans, mentally ill individuals, individuals who struggle with health conditions and the severely poor (Bryon, 2013). The government has also granted individuals of these groups with free health insurance (Bryon, 2013). Through the total collection of Zakat, the government of Sudan has set aside 32 million of Sudan’s Zakat to aid in natural disasters, along with donating funds to those who struggle with starvation of being unable to grow crops and agriculture due to living in desertification (Bryon, 2013). To those who earn a income of more than 1,500 per month, the 2 percent of Zakat is involuntarily withdrawn. Between 2011-2012 700 million Sudanese pounds was collected through the practice of Zakat (Bryon, 2013).
In conclusion, the practice of Zakat brings forth the unity of a country as seen in Sudan, who are helping those in need. The teaching of charity is evident as it instills the concepts of giving back to those who are in need. Islam is one of the religions where the act of charity is considered one of the highest merits as it exemplifies a person’s generosity to donate through their own benevolence and maintain the harmony within a community.
Bryon, A. (2013, December). Zakat ensures social cohesion. Retrieved from http://www.worldfolio.co.uk/region/africa/sudan/zakat-the-islamic-practice-sudan-n2603
Ummah Welfare Trust. (2014). What is Zakah? Retrieved from http://www.uwt.org/site/article.asp?id=172
ZakatAdvisor. (2014). What is Zakat. Retrieved from http://www.zakatadvisor.com/#!whatiszakat/cjg9