Answered by Shaykh Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari
In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,
There are many wisdoms and benefits behind the obligation of Zakat, of which some are mentioned here:
1) The foremost and primary is to distribute the wealth of the community among the poor, as mentioned in the famous Hadith of Mu’adh (Allah be pleased with him):
“If they obey you to do so, then inform them that Allah has made it Fard upon them to pay Zakat from their wealth. It is to be taken from the wealthy and given to the poor amongst them”. (Sahih al-Bukhari, No.1331)
2) Removing the love of wealth from one’s heart, a spiritual disease that could be detrimental to one’s Iman. Thus, it is a form of Tazkiya (self-purification).
3) Giving in the path of Allah acknowledging that whatever wealth one possesses is in reality the Almighty’s, and giving a monetary sacrifice for one’s lord.
4) Prevention of monopolies in society.
These are just some of the basic reasons behind the obligation of Zakat, but one must remember that Zakat is also a form of worship (ibadah) of Allah Almighty, and an obligation set by Him. As such, one must accept this obligation and the rulings connected to it, even if one is not able to understand the wisdom behind it, for the meaning of ‘worship’ is to submit to the will and command of Allah Most High.
At the same time, Allah Almighty through His infinite mercy did not make Zakat obligatory (fard) on everything; rather Zakat is to be paid only on certain items, which are: Gold and silver, Cash (money), Merchandise (i.e. items for resale), Agricultural products and Livestock.
To ask, why Zakat is obligatory on one item and not another, is similar to asking why there are four Rak’ats Fard in Zuhr prayer and not five? Or why is it necessary to shorten the prayers when travelling even when one has no difficulties, or why is Hajj Fard in the month of Zul-Hijjah and not Ramadhan, etc.
Therefore, it is necessary that we accept the various acts of worship (ibadah) as they are and not insist on understanding the wisdom behind it, for Ibadah is something that is carried out in a submissive form without questioning its rationality.
And Allah knows best
Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari
Darul Iftaa, Leicester, UK
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