Literally the word Zakat means to purify, and according to the terminology of Al-Quran and the hadith, it is that money, wealth, which is deposited in the “Bait-ul-Maal” of the Islamic state, every year, or at the time of ripening of the crop, according to a specific tariff. Zakat is paid as it is a divine command, and the command of Allah is carried only to win His pleasure and favor.
The wealth allocated for the Bait-ul-Maal is called as Zakat, since its paying makes the goods and wealth purified and holy.
Zakat is the third commandment of Islam. It has been excessively mentioned in the Holy Quran in conjunction with salat. If infidels claim to be Muslims and start offering salat, the war will continue against them, unless and until they agree to pay Zakat.
According to the command of Allah in Surah Taubah:
And, when the limit for peace or truce has expired and even the sacred months have passed; then slay the infidels wherever you find them. Capture them and besiege them; and ambush them at every opportune moment. And, Lo! If they repent from blasphemy, establish salat, and offer Zakat; then get aside from their way. (Do not be at war with them). Indeed Allah is the most Merciful, and the most Beneficent.
(Surah: Taubah, Verse: 5)
It is only after having paid the Zakat that one enjoys the fruits of Muslim brotherhood in an Islamic society.
Any one, who refuses to pay Zakat, cannot acquire the status of a religious brother (Deeni Brother)
Allah declares again in Surah Taubah:
(These infidels) express no consideration (regarding) Muslims neither to their relationship, nor their accord or promise; and it is they who have crossed (all the limits of justice and fairness) (O! The believers) if they seek penitence; establish salat and offer Zakat, then they are your brethren in Islam; (then do not offer any resistance to them); for those who know and understand, We are giving a detailed account of Our commands (So that there is no problem in grasping and understanding them)
(Surah: Taubah, Verse: 10,11)
It is clearly established from the quoted verses that reciting of Kalimah and offering of salat alone is not enough as a surety for protection against one’s life, property and the cherished status of a brother in an Islamic society. For enjoying an amicable and dignified place and position for a Muslim, it is must and obligatory to pay Zakat.
In Islam, “Iman” is linked to faith (Belief), the salat to body, and the Zakat to wealth. Zakat provides the very basis for the economic and political system of Islam. The wealth accumulated through the system of Zakat is utilized for the preparations of armaments and the equipments for the war. It is the Zakat, which provides the support and strength to the economic system of the Muslims.
So, Zakat is not only a solid source and platform for establishing a firm Islamic state, but also a practical demonstration of justice, sympathy and Islamic brotherhood