Tanzania: Muslims Urged to Pay Zakat

Zanzibar — MUSLIMS have been urged to pay their 'Zakat' willingly because it is one of the blessed ways to address poverty in the country, particularly in rural areas.

At a meeting organised to launch 'Zakat payment guidelines' and encourage Muslims (the wealthy including farmers producing food in bulk) to pay the due, clerics from the Imam Association of Zanzibar (JUMAZA), asked people to contribute to the 'zakat fund' so that many poor people can be reached and economically empowered.

JUMAZA Secretary, Sheikh Muhyddin Zubeir said every Muslim is eligible to pay Zakat because it is one of the five pillars of Islam, a mandatory giving where all Muslims are eligible to pay it, and must donate at least 2.5 percent of their accumulated wealth for the benefit of the poor, destitute and others.

While countries including Tanzania have been taking different measures to combat poverty, and interest-based microfinance being one of the popular measures adopted in many parts of the World, Zakat is one of the largest forms of wealth transfer to the poor in existence.

"Let us also intensify the war against poverty by paying Zakat," Mr Zubeir told members of the business community, adding that Zakat (Charity) is based on the guidance of the holy Quran as well as proper marketing, which can be utilized across the social spectrum to reduce poverty.

Sheikh Nassor Hamad Salum, a Zakat Fund board member introduced the charity guidelines, asking everyone to read to increase understanding on how best to pay Zakat, which can be used as an alternative approach to poverty reduction and capacity building for the poor to be more productive, thereby contributing more to the economy. Zakat, a mandatory charitable contribution, is often considered to be a tax.

Zakat literally means "that which purifies," one's income and wealth. It is also considered by Muslims to be an act of piety, through which one expresses concern for the well-being of fellow Muslims, as well as preserving social harmony between the wealthy and the poor.

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