The Institution of Zakat in Pakistan

Zakat is the third pillar in the five basic tenets of Islam. It is where worship converges with socioeconomic affairs of society in the Islamic paradigm, seeking to establish a link between the spiritual and temporal. An obligation ordained by the Qur’an, the Prophet Muhammad implemented Zakat in a broadly encompassing framework, which included the […]

  • Syed Irfan Munawar Gilani
  • Roskilde University
  • 2006
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The Institution of Zakat in Pakistan
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    Zakat is the third pillar in the five basic tenets of Islam. It is where worship converges with socioeconomic affairs of society in the Islamic paradigm, seeking to establish a link between the spiritual and temporal. An obligation ordained by the Qur’an, the Prophet Muhammad implemented Zakat in a broadly encompassing framework, which included the fiscal support of the poor and needy, enabling them to enhance their livelihoods and thereby eradicating poverty. By the time of the Prophet’s death the processes and practices that governed the collection and distribution of Zakat were taking a formalised juristic institutionalisation, to be a complimented and ‘completed’ by his immediate successors. As modern Muslim states, such as Pakistan, are increasingly relating issues of their heritage and faith to questions of self-identification and development, this study explores the concept of Zakat and discerns the role of the state in the early Islamic period in the pursuit of grasping the essence of the context in which the institution was originally established, to thereby conduct an appraisal of the system of Zakat in Pakistan. Throughout this process we see how Zakat as an institution and concept has evolved over centuries.Conceptually, Zakat is the financial instrument in Islam, for ensuring social security and curbing economic disparities by redistributing a minimum amount of wealth from the rich to the poor. Yet my research shows that in practice, the institution has not achieved the desired results in Pakistan. There are multiple reasons for this. Although one could deliberate on the much needed improvements in structural mechanisms for the collection and distribution of Zakat by the state in Pakistan, or to the items of wealth that are exempted from the levy; I have rather asserted that for the institution of Zakat to truly flourish, it is dependent on the willingness of the state to associate itself with Islamic ideals. Hence, the identity of Pakistan comes into sharp focus, concluding that quintessentially it is the identity of the nation, which will determine the role of the state in the collection and distribution of Zakat in Pakistan.

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    • Syed Irfan Munawar Gilani
    • Roskilde University
    • 2006
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