By Roma Rashidi
Afghan Muslims are responsible for carrying out the duties and rituals commonly referred to as the five pillars of Islam. These include the recitation of the creed (shahdah), daily prayers (namaz), almsgiving (zakat), fasting (ruzah) and pilgrimage (hajj), (Sitar, 1969).
In this paper I will be focusing on the zakat system as practiced in Afghanistan. Zakat, or almsgiving, means donating a percentage of one’s wealth to the needy or poor. Currently, many institutions and organization are surviving solely on zakat money within Afghanistan. Schools and orphanages actively collect zakat donations yearly, especially within the month of Ramadan. In fact, many of these orphanages rely heavily on their zakat funds for their annual budget. The poor and impoverished also receive much of their medical needs, schooling and basic daily living from this money. Thus, Islam has emphasized the importance of zakat and has used the Muslim religious text of the Quran to highlight its need within Muslim societies. According to the Encyclopedia of Islam, any Muslim who does not believe in the five pillars of Islam is not categorized as a Muslim. Also, the prayers of those who do not pay their zakat will not be accepted within Islam (Houtsma et al, 1913-1938). There is no specific amount of zakat that must be paid, but traditionally, in Afghanistan and other Islamic states, 2.5 % of one’s accumulated wealth over a year is given (Ahmad, 2009).
Every year my family and I send our zakat money to an orphanage in Afghanistan. I personally believe that orphans deserve most of our zakat funds since they experienced many traumas as result of the war and many of them lost their parents and other love ones. At the orphanage, they are in a safe and clean environment with people that cares about them and the children are able to study to build their future.
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Mohammad, F.Z. (1991). Prospects of poverty Eradication through the existing zakat system in Pakistan. The Pakistan Development Review, 1119-1129.
Sirat, A.S. (1969). Islamic study review: sharia and Islamic education in modern Afghanistan. Middle East Journal, 23(2), 217-219.