ABU DHABI // The far-reaching effects that zakat has on a community have been detailed by two scholars who argued that it was important to both the giver and the receiver.
In a discussion about the social benefits of the Muslim charity doctrine, Dr Hassan Mohammad al Marzouqi from the United Arab Emirates University gave an account of how improving one person could benefit the whole community.
"Giving zakat is evidence that an individual has strong faith and is an act that purifies the soul," he said. "Giving zakat does away with miserliness, envy and hatred."
One of the most relevant social aspects of zakat was that it fostered brotherhood, compassion and harmony, Dr al Marzouqi said. Among the rewards for giving zakat were that it reflected positively on an individual's health and wealth and his family's wellbeing, he said.
People who gave happily of their wealth to others fulfilled their religious duties and their positive contribution was received with the same spirit, he said. The needy could therefore accept their help without a sense of humiliation, which promoted good social relations.
Zakat could also achieve social stability because collective action supervised by the state could help the poor to escape the cycle of poverty. The idea behind zakat, Dr al Marzouqi said, was to give the poor and needy enough money to achieve a decent life. He stressed that zakat was a duty.
The thread of belief was continued by Shaikh Taleb Mohammad al Shehi from the General Authority for Islamic Affairs and Awqaf, who spoke about the role of zakat in maintaining security.
"Zakat helps to consolidate security, safety and civil peace," he said. He also said that since many crimes were committed by people who needed money, zakat helped to spread morality and solidarity, promoted economic development and enhanced family bonds.