x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Friday's sermon: Zakat is cleansing of the soul

Paying the zakat alms tax is an obligation and a source of social cohesion, Muslims will be told in today's sermon.

ABU DHABI // Paying the zakat alms tax is an obligation and a source of social cohesion, Muslims will be told in today's sermon. The sermon comes ahead of the start of the holy month of Ramadan, when Muslims are required to pay the zakat al fitr to support the poor at the end of the month, and many others choose to pay the annual tax.

Zakat is the third pillar of Islam. Its annual rate is 2.5 percent of financial assets but it also applies to other sources of wealth such as livestock and natural resources. "Servants of Allah, zakat is a pillar of this great religion proscribed by God and mandated on the able among his servants," the sermon says. "It is a purification of money and a cleansing of the soul." The sermon cites the Quranic verse: "Take alms out of their property, you would cleanse them and purify them thereby, and pray for them; surely your prayer is a relief to them; and Allah is Hearing, Knowing."

God promises Muslims ample rewards for paying the zakat, the sermon says, once again citing the Quran: "Those who believe, and do deeds of righteousness, and establish regular prayers and regular charity, will have their reward with their Lord: on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve." "Zakat is a form of social solidarity," the sermon says. "It strengthens the bonds of love and affinity between all members of society, and makes the society compassionate and holds it together like one body, and it aids the poor in fulfilling their needs."

The sermon, which is issued by the Government and must be read out by the vast majority of imams in the UAE, also urges Muslims to use the Zakat Fund, a government body that distributes zakat revenues. The sermon describes the fund as "trustworthy" and operating according to specific checks and balances. The second half of the sermon denounces the spreading of unsourced rumours and news by SMS. It calls on Muslims to check the sources of alleged Quranic verses and hadiths, or sayings of the Prophet, that are circulated by phone, and warns them against spreading false or unsubstantiated news, including those affecting individuals, companies or agencies.