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Saturday, 29 June 2013

Friday sermon: Remember zakat as Ramadan nears

As the holy month of giving approaches, Muslims should be mindful of paying zakat, the third pillar of Islam, today's sermon says.

"It is a month of mercy and a good time for Muslims to spend and give out alms, most importantly zakat," the sermon tells worshippers.

All able Muslims are required to pay zakat, a type of alms based on the amount of wealth a person accumulates in a full lunar year.

Highlighting its importance, the Quran often associates zakat with prayer and zakat is also seen as offering salvation from hellfire.

"So I have warned you of a fire which is blazing. None will enter to burn therein except the most wretched one who had denied and turned away. But the righteous one will avoid it - he who gives from his wealth to purify himself," says a verse from the Quran.

"Zakat is therefore meant to purify the heart of the wealthy from stinginess and the heart of the poor from envy and hatred."

Ethics are involved in giving zakat. It must not be given with arrogance, or to show off. The ultimate goal of givers must be to please Allah. Zakat must also be paid from legitimately earned sources.

"Last but not least, it should preferably go first to relatives and other ties of kinship. In so doing the giver will be doubly rewarded," notes the sermon.

Specific sections of society are considered worthy of zakat. The Quran explains: "Zakat expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy and for those employed to collect zakat, and for bringing hearts together for Islam, and for freeing captives or slaves, and for those in debt, and for the cause of Allah, and for the stranded traveller - an obligation imposed by Allah. And Allah is knowing and wise."

The sermon continues: "In this context, our wise leadership has set up the Zakat Fund, with the mission of raising zakat money and distributing it to the eligible segments of society fairly and in accordance with religious rules."

(The National / 27 June 2013)

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