This month, in honor of the holy month of Ramadan, we will be taking a look at one of the five pillars of Islam, ‘zakat’ (زكاة) for our Arabic Word of the Month series.
When translated to English, ‘zakat’ takes on the meaning of ‘alms-giving’ or ‘charity,’ but this definition is rather misleading, as it is not an ordinary type of charitable giving like that associated with the other Arabic word for charity ‘sadaqah’ (صدقة). While ‘zakat’ does refer to charitable giving, it is not similar to the voluntary charity associated with the term ‘sadaqah’. Zakat is characterized by its connection to the religion of Islam: as one of the five pillars, zakat is an obligatory form of charitable giving for all Muslims that have the ability to do so.
It is incumbent upon Muslims to help others that are in need and to strive towards the elimination of inequality, and zakat provides a means for Muslims to carry out this responsibility. In addition to assisting the needy, the act of zakat also acts as a form of purification and growth for an individual.
We hope you enjoyed learning about this month’s word. We look forward to continuing to share the beauty of the Arabic language.