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The 5 pillars of Islam
Needy people in India waiting to receive alms

The Zakāt ( Arabic زكاة, DMG Zakāh  'purity, integrity, growth') is the obligation for Muslims to give a certain share of their property to the needy and other defined groups of people. It forms one of the five pillars of Islam .

In addition to the term Zakāt , the term Sadaqa ( ṣadaqa ) is sometimes used, but it mainly describes a voluntary gift, in contrast to the obligatory Zakāt. According to Muslim commentators, the statutory fee must be used in favor of Muslims, while voluntary alms can also be given to non-Muslims.

Statements in the Koran

The Zakāt as a "gift of purification" has its origin in the Koran . Already in sura 92, one of the oldest suras of the Qur'an, the unhappy who burns in hellfire is contrasted with the godly who is spared by him because he lends his wealth to purify himself ( alla alī yuʾtī mālahū yatazakkā , sura 92 : 18). The Arabic word zakāt itself occurs 32 times in the Koran. In the Meccan suras (e.g. 18:81 , 19:13 ) it sometimes still stands abstractly for "integrity". In addition, it is stated that the earlier prophets such as Abraham , Isaac and Jacob (Sura 21:73) and Jesus (Sura 19:31) were asked to perform the salaat and to give the zakat. On the other hand, it is said of the co- sellers that they do not give Zakāt (Sura 41: 7). In Sura 30:39 Zakāt is contrasted with interest borrowing: The money that man gives to borrow interest so that it can increase does not increase with God; the money, on the other hand, which he gives as zakāt in striving for God's good pleasure, brings people many times over.

Direct requests to Muhammad's followers to give zakāt, however, date from the Medinan times (Sura 2: 110; 22:78; 24:56; 58:13; 73:20). In Sura 9, Salāt and Zakāt are mentioned several times next to each other as a sign of conversion to Islam. For example, in Sura 9 : 11 addressed to the Muslims, it says that those who repent, do the salaat and pay the zakat, are “your brothers”. In the same way, the pair of words appears in the so-called sword verse (sura 9: 5), where it says: "But if they convert, keep up the prayer and give the zakat, then let them go on their way!" Sura 9 belongs to the late ones Suras of the Qur'an that were handed down in the period after 630. The quoted Quranic verses show that at this time an institutionalization of almsgiving had already taken place. This fits in with the reports in Islamic lore, according to which agents were first sent to the various Arab tribes in 630 to collect the zakāt there.

Zakāt in Islamic Law

According to Islamic law, cattle, crops, precious metals and goods are subject to zakāt. However, the Zakāt obligation only occurs when a certain minimum value, the so-called Nisāb, is reached. For sheep and goats, for example, the nisāb is forty head of cattle. The amount of the Zakāt is 2.5 percent of the value of the goods in question per tax year.

For the question of the distribution of zakāt, a passage from sura 9 is fundamental, in which there is no mention of zakāt, but of sadaqa, which the jurists understood to be synonymous. It says here:

“The alms ( aṣ-ṣadaqāt ) are for the poor ( li-l-fuqarāʾ ), the needy ( wa-l-masākīn ), those who care for them ( wa-l-ʿāmilīn ʿalai-hā ), and the whose hearts are to be won ( wa-l-muʾallafati qulūbu-hum ), for the slaves ( fī r-riqāb ) and debtors ( wa-l-ġārimīn ), for the way of God and the Son of the way ( wa-bni sabīl ), as an obligation on the part of God. God is knowing and wise. "

- Koran, Sura 9:60

From this passage it was concluded that there are a total of eight different groups of beneficiaries of Zakāt: 1. Poor; 2. needy; 3. those who collect and administer the zakāt; 4. People who are to be won over to Islam in this way; 5. People who want to buy slaves free; 6. indebted; 7. Jihad fighters and 8. Travelers.

A special form of Zakāt is the Zakāt al-fitr ('Zakāt of breaking the fast'), which is related to the festival of breaking the fast . It consists of a gift of staple food (grain, dates, raisins, dairy products, rice) with the volume of one Sāʿ and is incumbent on all male and female Muslims, which they do not only for themselves, but for all people who benefit from them financially are dependent, have to muster. The Zakāt al-fitr should be paid at the end of the month of Ramadan , but payment in the earlier days of Ramadan is also permitted. Even more than in ordinary zakāt, in zakāt al-fitr the thought of cleansing from sins plays an important role. Zakāt al-fitr has its basis not in the Koran, but in the Hadith , although verses from the Koran are cited to justify it (especially Sura 87 : 14: "Well, he who keeps himself clean").

Zakāt in the present

Zakāt in modern Islamic thought

Since around the end of the Second World War, attempts have been made to reformulate the conditions of the Zakat or to adapt them to the current conditions. As early as the beginning of the 20th century, Rashīd Ridā suggested using the term slaves in Sura 9:60 not only for individuals but for entire societies that had been enslaved by colonization . Furthermore, “those who have followed the path of God” do not mean an armed jihad , but this form of zakat must go to those who try to reintroduce Islam with the help of convincing arguments. Fazlur Rahman emphasized the spiritual side of the Zakāt institution. By giving zakāt to combat material shortages in society, Muslims can give their own life greater spiritual value.

Zakāt practice

Timur Kuran explains in his book Islam and Mammon that only a few countries such as Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and Pakistan collect the tax by the state. In the other Islamic countries, Zakat is defined as a voluntary contribution. However, the definition of Zakat mostly still corresponds to the Koranic, i.e. the 7th century: Many professional groups are excluded from it, but the poorer branches of the economy are primarily prosecuted. So z. For example, the state of Malaysia uses zakat mainly for rice farmers, most of whom live below the poverty line.

In Indonesia, a semi-state agency for the collection and distribution of zakāt was created in 1968, the Badan Amil Zakat (BAZ), which in 1973 expanded its responsibility for other religious donations ( infāq , ṣadaqa ) in Badan Amil Zakat, Infāq dan Sadaqa (BAZIS ) was renamed. The payment of zakāt al-fitr is also processed through this institution.

In Islamic countries, where the income of the majority of the population is below the poverty line, the amount of Zakāt is insufficient to meet the basic needs of the entire poor population. Often there are also no long-term strategies for spending zakāt in these countries. Some oil-rich Islamic states such as Kuwait , Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have set up agencies that distribute part of the zakāt in poorer countries in Africa and Asia. However, these amounts are insufficient to alleviate poverty in the countries concerned. The Central Zakat Council in Pakistan and the Nasir Bank in Egypt have set up Zakāt funds to pay the poor the Zakāt in the form of a monthly maintenance allowance. However, since all of these measures have had little success in reducing poverty, the Islamic Development Bank is considering developing new sustainable strategies for the use of zakāt that are more geared towards increasing the productivity of the poor.


  • Al-Tayib Zein Al-Abdin: "The Disbursement of Zakāh" in Islamic Studies 42 (2003) 127-136.
  • Jan A. Ali: "Zakat and Poverty in Islam" in Matthew Clarke, David Tittensor (ed.): Islam and Development. Exploring the Invisible Aid Economy . Asghate, Farnham, 2014. pp. 15-32.
  • Mohamed Ariff: The Islamic Voluntary Sector in Southeast Asia. Islam and the Econcomic Development of Southeast Asia . Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore 1991, ISBN 98-13-01607-8 .
  • Norman Calder, “Zakāt in Imāmī Shī'ī Jurisprudence, from the Tenth to the Sixteenth Century AD” in Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 44 (1981) 468-480.
  • Olaf Farschid: Zakāt in Islamic Economics. On norm formation in Islam . Ergon, Würzburg 2012, ISBN 978-3-89913-925-9 (Partly at the same time dissertation at the FU Berlin 1999 under the title: Islamische Ökonomik und Zakāt , DNB 959885625 ).
  • Timur Kuran: Islam & Mammon. The Economic Predicaments of Islamism , Princeton University Press , Princeton, NJ 2006, ISBN 0-691-12629-1 .
  • Aron Zysow: "Zakāt" in The Encyclopaedia of Islam. New Edition . Vol. XI, pp. 406-422. Brill, Leiden [et al.] 2001, ISBN 90-04-08118-6 .

See also

Individual evidence

  1. Thomas H. Weir / Aaron Zysow: Art. "Ṣadaqa", in: Encyclopaedia of Islam , 2nd A., Vol. 8 (1995), 708-716, here 708.
  2. Fakhr ad-Din al-Razi : Mafatih al-ghayb, Volume VIII, 16, p. 117, Beirut 1990, and Raschid Rida: Tafsir al-Manar, Volume X, p. 293. Quoted in: Adel Theodor Khoury , Der Koran, Volume 7, p. 347.
  3. See on this term Tilman Nagel: Mohammed. Life and legend. Munich 2008, p. 117.
  4. Cf. Zysow: Zakāt . 2001, p. 407b.
  5. 73:20 is a Medinic addition to a Meccan sura, see Angelika Neuwirth : Der Koran. Hand comment with translation. Volume 1: Early Meccan Suras. Poetic prophecy. Verlag der Weltreligionen, Berlin 2011, p. 355.
  6. See Zysow 407b-408a.
  7. See Zysow 412b.
  8. See Farschid 57.
  9. See Zysow 415b.
  10. Cf. Zysow: Art. "Zakāt" in EI² Vol. XI, pp. 415b-416a and Ali: "Zakat and Poverty in Islam" 2014, pp. 21f.
  11. See Zysow 418.
  12. See Ali: Zakat and Poverty in Islam. 2014, p. 23.
  13. ^ Taufik Abdullah: Zakat Collection and Distribution in Indonesia in Ariff 50-85, here p. 59.
  14. Cf. Norbert Hofmann: The Islamic festival calendar in Java and Sumatra with special consideration of the month of fasting and the break of the fast in Jakarta and Medan . Bock + Herchen, Bad Honnef 1978, p. 156.
  15. See Ali: "Zakat and Poverty in Islam" 2014, p. 28.