Even a number of non-Muslims truly acclaimed the worth and fruitfulness of Zakāt and how it is beneficial to mankind; how it supports and sustains the poor and safeguards the rights of the high and the low; and how this system improves national prosperity and raises the moral and spiritual conditions of the nation. They regard the system of Zakāt in Islam a very outstanding feature of the faith.
‘Besides the institution of the pilgrimage, the payment of the legal alms is another duty that continually reminds the Muslim that The faithfuls are brothers (49:10)–religious theory that is very realized in Muhammadan society and seldom fails to express itself in acts of kindness towards the new convert, whatever be his race, color or antecedents, he is received into the brotherhood of believers and takes his place as an equal among equals.’ (T. W. Arnold , The Preaching of Islam — Lahore edition, pp.415-416)
The famous German scholar, Joseph Hell, has also discussed the commendable commands of Islam in his book The Arab Civilisation. Having discussed the beauty and the admirable concept of social equality in Islam and the practical training given in the congregational Prayers in the mosque or outside, he goes to express his very high opinion regarding the excellent system of Zakāt in Islam:
‘Besides the common prayer, the conception of social equality was an innovation peculiar to Islam. Help and maintenance of the poor thus became a sacred trust. It was left no longer to individuals to give what they pleased, but the poor tax (zakāt) became an obligatory duty and was collected in a central treasury, and administered therefrom.’ (Joseph Hell, The Arab Civilization)
This, he points out, is a very important religious obligation. Every Muslim of means must pay the Zakāt to the State and it is their duty to disburse these funds where they deem to be fit. The payment of these alms has not been left to the whims and caprices of the individual paying the Zakāt. The needy person receiving the aid does not feel under any obligation or humiliation to a private individual.
In summing up the benefits of Zakāt we must also remember that Zakāt enhances the spiritual, moral and economical standards of mankind. It is a devotion offered through one’s wealth which purifies the heart and cleanses the soul. It also destroys the evils of Capitalism and underwrites the sustenance of the poor and needy. It provides dependable security for those who need assistance. It also creates the spirit of sympathy and brotherhood among men; maintains peace in the society and provides the opportunity for the proletariat to obtain their birthrights in the national wealth. Zakāt also guarantees human dignity and keeps the capital in circulation which in turn brings prosperity to the whole nation and foremost and above all the benefits, causes spiritual happiness and exultation for the individual and a pleasant and happy atmosphere to live in.
What we have said above is not a mere boast. It is a stark naked truth and history provides an undeniable evidence to its truth. Under the direct guidance of the Holy Prophet, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, his companions faithfully observed this divine command and so did those who followed them later for the next two hundred years. They truly inherited the spiritual qualities and the zeal of their fathers and obeyed all the commands and walked steadfastly in the paths of obedience and virtue. They paid the Zakāt as an act of devotion and seldom failed in this their religious as well as their national duty. The result was that history recorded that poverty and want practically disappeared from the Muslim society. Muslim culture and the Muslim way of life became the hallmark of prosperity, progress and success in all fields. There was such a radical change in social conditions that those who, at one time stood in need of assistance, began to contribute towards Zakāt themselves. However hard the administration of the State searched for the poor and the needy, they could not trace them. They were pure-hearted and righteous practical Muslims and followed all the injunctions of the Quran faithfully and steadfastly. The result was that they not only became the benefactors and patrons of the then civilized world, they also became a people whom God loved because they had become the torch-bearers of truth.
We earnestly pray that God Almighty may grant us also the very same true understanding of the system of Zakāt and its importance. May He grant us the strength and determination to observe this vital command along with all His other commands, so that each and every individual of our society may get his rightful share with dignity and honor. May it so happen that we all live together in brotherly affection without any enmity or hatred for any of us and that there may be no restlessness, no rebuffs, no repulses and no tumults in our midst. May we all gather together around our God, seeking His pleasure. Amen.