Theory and Practice
Edited by Mohamed Ariff and Shamsher Mohamad
Chapter 20: Zakat in Islamic wealth management
A significant distinction between mainstream and Islamic wealth management is the latter’s planning for zakat, an obligatory charity on the faithful with wealth in excess of needs above a specific threshold. This chapter reviews the concept of zakat, its levying structure, its rules and objectives and the economic impact of its distribution. Furthermore, we consider in brief the evolution of this institutions with its clearly defined principles. There are also challenges: there is no consensus on levying zakat on businesses since individuals could hoard wealth in firms (as do non-dividend paying firms) and most ministries consider it an obligation on individual shareholders, apart from the business. Challenges also exist in the effective distribution to eligible recipients. Without efficient disbursement, the responsibility may continue to burden the zakat-payer as a compulsory duty. Unless the challenges are overcome, the wealth effects of zakat may not achieve the desired objective of poverty-reduction and socio-economic empowerment.
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