(Last Updated on : 19-01-2011)
Islam permits its believers to enjoy all the good things of life, whilst yet praying to God and observing Ramadan fast. But the prosperous Muslims have to render to society what belongs to society. In prayers, a Muslim recognizes his duty to God, but in Zakat he discharges his duty to society, especially to the poor and the needy. According to the Jewish custom a Jew had to pay tithe of his wealth i.e., 10% of his wealth either in cash or in kind. According to Zakat a Muslim has to pay 1% to 5% of his income for the poor and needy. This may be termed as the religious service tax for the poor.
Zakat is as important as the saying of five prayers every day. This giving is a religious obligation of the rich, and, at the same time is the claim of the poor on the rich. Most of the Arabs were shepherds, so they could pay their Zakat in terms of sheep and cattle. Apart from Zakat, especially during the period of Ramazan, Sadaqa was also an obligation for the Muslim. The difference between the two is that Zakat is religious obligation whereas Sadaqa is voluntary.