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zakat

zakat (zə-kät´) [Arab.,=purification], Islamic religious tax, one of the five basic requirements (arkan or "pillars" ) of Islam. All adult Muslims of sound mind and body with a set level of income and assets are expected to pay zakat.Zakat is due yearly on certain types of property and is distributed to eight categories of individuals specified by the Qur'an. These categories are usually defined to include orphans, the poor, travelers, beggars, debtors, slaves, and the efforts to propagate Islam. Zakat is payable, at different rates, on crops, harvests, herds, gold and silver, and merchandise. For gold and silver, which is understood to include all liquid assets, the rate is 2.5%. Being religiously prescribed, zakat is distinct from charity (sadaqa) which is voluntary. Zakat is essentially a personal exercise with no intermediary control, and could be given directly to its recipients, although a central treasury often collects it. In recent times, Pakistan, Sudan, and Saudi Arabia have enacted legislation to enforce the zakat.

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Zakāt

Zakāt. The third Pillar of Islam, the official alms tax levied on certain types of property and payable by every adult Muslim of sufficient means. The word is borrowed from the Heb. zakūt, and the Arab. root zakā is itself connected with the meaning of purity. This is elaborated by some commentators: the believer gives a portion of his wealth to Allāh, and so can ‘purify’ the rest and use it with a good conscience. In the Qurʾān, almsgiving is often cited along with prayer as a duty of the Muslim: ‘Perform the prayer, and give the alms’ (2. 43, 110, 277).

The percentage to be paid on property varies for different classes of goods, and interpretations differ between the schools of law.

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