Difference between Zakat and Tax

Difference between Zakat and Tax:

Zakat is a religious obligation; tax is the economic need of
the state.

  1. Zakat is levied only on Muslims. Tax is imposed on Muslim and non-Muslim alike.
  2. Zakat is a duty, which must be paid under all circumstances; taxes can be remitted.
  3. The rate of Zakat has been fixed by the Holy Quran and
    Sunnah. This rate is unchangeable. Tax-rates are fixed by the Government according to the prevailing circumstances and are changeable.
  4. The heads of expenditure of Zakat have also been fixed by the Holy Quran.
  5. Zakat fund is collected from the rich and expended on the poor. Tax revenues are expended for the benefit of all, rich or poor.

(k) Economic Importance of the Zakat System: 1. Circulation of Wealth:

In the capitalist system wealth continues to accumulate in a few hands. In the laissez-fare economy there is no limit on earnings.

The capitalist system brings into existence two distinct classes: the Haves and the Have-nots. Islam firstly declares it illegal to use unfair means for accumulation of wealth. Secondly, even in the lawfully earned wealth of a person Islam prescribes a legal share for the poor sections of the Society. Thus wealth starts flowing from the rich to the poor. The Holy Quran states this purpose in the following words:

“…So that it (the wealth) does not remain circulating

among your rich people only.”                              [59: 7]

When wealth is transferred from the rich to the poor the collective demand in the economy increases. To satisfy this demand there is an inevitable growth in production. As a result new job opportunities open up for the people. The cycle continues and the overall economy flourishes by leaps and bounds.

  1. 2.      Just Distribution of Wealth:

The payment of Zakat narrows the wide gulf between the rich and the poor. The standard of living of the poor people begins to improve. As a result the friction between the two classes disappears and their relations become harmonious.

  1. 3.      A Remedy for Unemployment:

The jurists are of the opinion that professional people i.e., tailors, iron smiths, launderers, butchers etc. should be given monetary grants to buy tools of their trade. A cultivator should be granted capital from the Zakat fund to buy a plot of land to grow crops. Besides, as we have said earlier, the system of Zakat will increase employment opportunities for the people. Unemployment is one of the major economic problems in the modern era. The’ system of Zakat can go a long way in solving this problem.

  1. 4.      National Assistance:

The System of Zakat provides economic security to the poor, the destitute and the needy. In the words of Syed Abu Ala’ Maududi:

“It is a cooperative society, an Insurance Company, a Provident Fund of the Muslims. It is a fund for the ass.:stance of the unemployed. It is a means of livelihood for the disabled, the sick, the orphans, the widows and the jobless. It is a guarantee that no one shfll lack necessaries of life in the Muslim Community.”

[Syed Abu Ala’ Maududi, The Economic System of Islam, p.132]

5. Eradication of Poverty:

Today capitalism is generating poverty on an increasing scale. On the one hand there are millions of deprived destitute and poor people and on the other godowns and shops are heaped up with agricultural production and manufactured goods, which lie, unsold. Million of tons of wheat is dumped into the sea because capitalist ethics forbids its free supply to the starving poor. The system of Zakat gives purchasing power to the poor. This was demonstrated in the time of Hazrat Umar bin Abdul Aziz (RA) when the affluent people searched in vain for those who needed assistance from Zakat

fund. lqbal wrote:

“Islam is a way of life in which the poor tax the rich. It is not alms or charity, but a legal right of the poor, the destitute and the deprived upon the rich. The rich are the culprits and debtors of Allah, His Messenger (S.A.W) and all the poor and the destitute till they have discharged this right to the full.”

  1. 6.    Economic Expansion:

As in the past, so in modern economy the people prefer to hoard their wealth underground instead of investing it in business. Islam curbs this tendency through he System of Zakat. All hoarded wealth is subject to Zakat and if it is not invested in a profitable business venture, it is likely to be exhausted in a few years. Hence in the Muslim Community individuals would want to put this wealth in business enterprises such as private company, partnership or Modarba firms. As a result economy will grow and expand and job opportunities will increase.

The Apostle of Allah (S.A.W) observed:

“Beware! If any of you is a guardian of a wealthy orphan, he should invest his ward’s wealth in trade and should not hoard it lest Zakat should exhaust it.”

  1. 7.    Elimination of Concentration of Wealth:

Prof. Kuznet in his book ‘Economic Development and

Unequal Distribution of Income,’ writes:

“It is generally observed that the rich are comparatively richer and the poor, poorer. For instance, in Pakistan, sixty per cent of the population receives twenty-eight per cent of the Gross National Income; in Ceylon this ratio is thirty per cent and in America thirty-four percent. In India and Pakistan twenty per cent of the population (the rich class) receives fifty-five per cent of the

Gross National Income.”

The above-quoted statistics make it clear that wealth continues to accumulate in few hands and poverty grows apace.

The System of Zakat halts the process of concentration of wealth. According to Syed Abu Ala’ Maududi:

“In contrast Islam decrees that in the first place money should not be hoarded; but if it has been accumulated, it should be spilled into the channels of Zakat so as to irrigate dry land and turn the whole surrounding area into a green pasture.” [The Economic System of Islam]

(II) Islamic Law of Inheritance:

If despite spending on one’s needs, giving it away in Sadaqa and alms and Zakat, wealth does accumulate in one hand, Islam has adopted another measure the Law of Inheritance to bring the accumulated wealth back into circulation. The purpose of this law is to break up the estate, big or small, of the deceased into prescribed shares and distribute them among his near and distant relatives. If a man has no heir or his heir is untraceable he cannot be given the right to adopt an heir. His estate will go to the Bait-al-Mal and will become national property. It will serve the interest of the whole


(a) Inheritance:

Inheritance is an involuntary transfer of ownership by means of which the deceased’s estate is transferred to his heirs.

There are three articles of inheritance:

I.         The Owner

  1. The Heir
  2. The Estate

(b) The Estate:

“The whole property, movable or immovable, cash of goods, of a man, whether in his possession or due to him by others, at the time of his death, shall be his estate.”

(c)    The Law of Inheritance:

Regarding the estate of a deceased man or woman the Holy Quran lays down the law that the estate sha’l be distributed among the deceased’s parents, offspring, wife or husband according to a prescribed rate, In the absence of parents and offspring the real or maternal or paternal half brothers and sisters shall receive on this have been given in Sura Al-Nisa (Ayat No.7-12 and 176) of the Holy Quran. The Holy Prophet (S.A.W) has called the knowledge of the Law of inheritance ‘the Knowledge of Duties.’

He (S.A.W) observed:

“0 people, obtain the knowledge of duties and pass it on to others for it is half of knowledge. Verily, it shall be forgotten. The first knowledge which shall be withdrawn from my Ummat (followers) is the knowledge of Duties.”

(d)     Orders of Inheritance in the Holy Quran:

In Sura Al-Nisa of the Holy Quran, Allah Almighty says:

“There is a share for men in what has been left by parents and near relatives, and there is a share also for women in what has been left by parents and near relatives, whether it be little or much: for this share has been prescsibed (by Allah). And if the people of the family, orphans and the poor be present at the division of the inheritance, give them also something out of it and speak to them kind words.”

[4: 7 — 8]

“Let the people apprehend and be afraid of this: how solicitous they would have been on the eve of their death about the helpless children they would be leaving behind. They should, therefore, fear Allah and say the just and right

thing.”                                                                       [4: 9]

“As regards inheritance, Allah enjoins you concerning your children that “The share of the male shall be twice that of the female. In case the heirs be more than two females, their total share shall be two-thirds of the whole and if there be only one daughter, her share shall be half of the whole.

If the deceased has children, each of his parents shall get

one-sixth of the whole, but if he be childless and his parents alone are his heirs, the mother shall have one-third of the whole. If the deceased has brothers and sisters also, the mother shall be entitled to ono-sixth of the whole. The division of all these shares shall take place_ only after fulfilling the terms of the will and after the payment of the

debt (if any).”                                                            [4: 10]

Regarding the estate left by an individual the Islamic Law of inheritance lays down that two-thirds of the estate must be divided among the heirs according to the ratio prescribed by Allah in the Holy Quran. As for the remaining one-third it is left to the discretion of the legator to will it to anyone.

The procedure followed to dispose off the estate shall be as


Firstly, the funeral expenses of the deceased shall be defrayed from the estate.

Secondly, debt, if any, shall be paid.

Thirdly, one-third of the estate shall be divided according to the will of the deceased.

Fourthly, the remaining estate shall be divided among the near or distant kindred according to the shares prescribed in the Law of Inheritance.

The rule of making a will has been given in Sura Al-Baqara:

“It has been prescribed for you that when death approaches one of you and he is leaving some property behind him, he should bequeath it equitably for his parents and relatives: it

is an obligation on those who fear Allah.”

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