What is the importance of zakah (alms) in terms of the community?

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What is the importance of zakah (alms) in terms of the community?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

* Zakah (alms) is the balance of power in ownership. It neither eliminates the property of its owner nor does it leave it all to its owner, depriving the poor from it. It divides the property between the poor and the rich based on certain rates. 

* Zakah is a kind of social security and insurance. Among the aims of zakah are to help the needy, to support weak people like the poor, the destitute, those who are in debt and the travelers who cannot reach their destination. Everything that strengthens the personality of the individual that makes him economically strong and that improves his material and spiritual means strengthens the community, too. 

* Zakah is an insurance that covers all classes that are in need all of their needs regarding their bodies, spirits and ethics. The first foundations of modern social security were laid in 1941. Representatives from the UK and the USA convened for the treaty of the Atlantic in 1941 and decided to set up a social security organization for individuals. However, Islam introduced the organization of zakah 14 centuries ago. 

* Zakah eliminates the gaps and differences between the rich and the poor in the society. It decreases the distance between classes and enables the formation of the middle class.

The increase in the number of the middle class citizens will affect the market in the positive way. The property will not be something that is owned by one class only; the purchasing power of the poor will increase, too. Not only the rich but also a great portion of the community will be able to meet their needs and live comfortably in the community. 

Verse 7 of the chapter of al-Hashr prohibits the property from being some wealth that is circulated among the rich only. This can be achieved only through zakah.

* Zakah prevents money from being stockpiled; it leads money to investment. For, it is given from the capital not from the profit; so it will decrease if it is not put in business. The owner will invest the money in order to prevent it from being decreased; and he will try to increase it.

* Zakah enables social balance.  God Almighty created His servants differently in terms of both nature and living standards. Some of them are; rich some are poor and some are in between. 

The following is stated in a verse:

"Allah has bestowed His gifts of sustenance more freely on some of you than on others." (an-Nahl, 71)

It is impossible for everyone to have the same amount of income because there are different duties and jobs in the society that are different from one another in terms of responsibilities and working conditions. If some duties and professions are neglected, its impacts will cause irreparable harms to the society. If all the duties had the same salaries, nobody would want to do the harder works; everybody would prefer the easier ones. Thus, the harder jobs and the jobs that encumber more responsibilities would be neglected and life system would be broken. 

Therefore, it is a necessity for people to be different in terms of income and life standards. However, a bridge is necessary in order to prevent this difference from forming a cliff. This bridge is zakah.

* Zakah fastens together the individuals of a community. 

Zakah fastens together the individuals since it is a kind of social solidarity.  The rich will develop the feelings of love, compassion and mercy toward the poor. The poor will develop the feelings of obedience, respect, working carefully toward the rich. The feelings of jealousy, enmity, and envy will be soothed and even eliminated. The rich will not oppress the poor and put them under obligation; the poor will not develop the feelings of humility, slavery, grudge and enmity toward the rich. The following is stated in a hadith: "The heart makes a person love the one who does him a favor and makes a person dislike the one who treats him badly."

* Zakah prevents individuals from nurturing grudge and hatred and from cooperating with the enemies of the society and the subverters. If the rich do not meet the needs of the poor, necessity and financial difficulty will cause them to join the enemies of Muslims or will cause them to do evil deeds like stealing, robbing or killing.

* Zakah is a door to investment and a great initiative to development. Zakah has both social and economic aspects. Therefore, it is an initiative to development. 

* The difference between the rich and the poor has always caused a struggle of classes that has been going on openly or secretly since the beginning of social life - The revolutions and bloody riots seen in history are all the manifestations of this struggle that is the struggle of "you have; I do not have". Islam introduced the institutions of zakah,  sadaqah and foundations in order to soothe this struggle existing since the start of community life; it also trained its followers to have patience, content and consent to qadar. Neither the pride of wealth nor the envy caused by poverty is seen among believers who have been trained like that.

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