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Pitfalls of Indian Zakat

India is forging ahead as one of fastest economy of the world with annual GDP growth of 7.5%.  In another 10-20 years’ time, it will emerge as the leading superpower of the world. The foreign powers envy at the success of Indians in computers, science and technology. In this fast evolving situation, what is the role of Indian Muslims if we ask, we have no answer. Everyone in the country has gone ahead, whereas Muslim is left behind – far behind in the race. What’s wrong? What was lacking – time, money, energy, skill? Was it opposite wind which hindered us? Or was it our complacency?

Basically, Allah does not change the condition of the people, unless they want to make the change.  One of the best instrument available to the community for removal of its backwardness is the instrument of zakat.  However, there is no effective utilization of this instrument.

Salaat and Zakaat go hand in hand.  In the Holy Quran, the two duties Salaat and Zakaat are often mentioned side by side at number of places.   Of all the duties i.e. Namaz, Roza, Zakat and Hajj, the most neglected duty is zakat.   India is a home to almost 20 crores Muslims.  Considering this aspect, the zakat liability can be estimated to be at least Rs. 20,000 crores.  Unfortunately, there is no a single institution which can claim zakat collection of Rs. 100 crores.  What are the reasons for such a huge default in Zakat system?  Let us find the reasons.


Problems on Collection Side

  • The rich man who is liable for zakat payment defaults in making payment of zakat satisfactorily. He is not fully aware of principles of zakat payment – nisab level, zakat due date, rate of zakat payment on different assets, stock taking of his wealth, etc.  Most of the rich persons do not take stock of their wealth – gold and silver, stock of their trading assets, investments in bank deposits, shares, bonds and cash balance.  There is the first serious flaw in the determination of zakat liability.
  • The rich man determines his zakat liability in a random manner without considering the valuation principles of zakatable wealth, mostly at much lower level without any guidance from any qualified person.
  • The rich man liable to make zakat payment, has no time to visit the poor man’s hutment or settlement.  He does not know who the most deserving persons to receive his zakat are.
  • The rich man does not identify the nature of needs of the zakat recipient, does not know the duration and amount of zakat entitlement of each zakat recipient.
  • There are no expert service rendered by zakat institutions for valuation of zakat liability of rich persons.
  • Inspite of modern technology, we have failed to utilize the new technology in channelizing the zakat for growth and development of the community.  Modern day economy consists of different financial instruments like shares, debentures, bonds, Mutual Funds, insurance policies, provident funds, pension schemes, mortgages, derivatives, bitcoins, dividends, bonus shares, right issues, etc.  There is dearth of guidance on these issues to the common Muslim.

Therefore, the easiest option for an ordinary Muslim is to pay the zakat amount to Moulvi of a Madrasa who approaches him for collection. He hands over a small amount – may be Rs. 1000, Rs. 5000/- .   With meagre payments, he thinks he has discharged his liability in full.


Problems on Disbursement Side

  • There is no data bank of people who are eligible to receive zakat payments.
  • There is no system of evaluation of needs of the deserving persons.
  • There is no assessment of level of poverty of the deserving persons.
  • There is no system of ascertaining the quantum of financial aid and time duration of financial aid to be given to the deserving persons.
  • There is no system of checks and balances in disbursement process.

With these rampant defects in the system, zakat compliance level in India is very low.  Most of the rich persons do not pay off their full zakat liability.  Even if they do, they do not disburse it to the right deserving persons.  They make the payment on individual basis. With the result, the benefits of zakat system do not percolate to the poor and needy of the community.    These serious defects in collection and disbursement sides are the main reasons for failure of zakat system in India.


What is the Solution?

There are number of ways to find a solution.  The solution should provide for removal of each and every defect in the collection side and disbursement side. The entire process needs to be fully integrated with full cooperation of all stakeholders.  A few suggestions are worth considering.  

The modern technology is of great help in carrying forward the concept of institutionalization of zakat system with full system of checks and balances and involvement of Imams, Aalims, scholars and computer professional experts. There is a need to establish a Zakat Markaz (zakat centre) in mosques.  Two volunteers – young, educated, qualified professionals, residing in the same locality can effectively liaise with the Imam to carry forward the objective of zakat markaz.

In institutionalization of zakat system, Imams can play a vital role in evolving a zakat-compliant society.  The volunteers can distribute the zakat claim forms.  These forms can be scrutinized at Zakat Markaz with the help of Imam.  Muezzin can give a helping hand. In addition to the normal duty of performance of Salat, Imams can take part in performance of another duty and that will be enormous job enrichment for which they would be entitled to some compensation – being part of “Aamileen-e-alaiha”.  Another key responsibility of the Imams would be to guide the zakat givers – to clarify as to how to determine zakat liability of traders, merchants, shareholders, salaried class persons and how to determine zakat liability on different class of assets – be it gold and silver, shares and bonds, stock in trade, Mutual Funds, bitcoins, building and property, crops, livestock etc. The collections of zakat markaz will improve a lot if this quality education is imparted to all the rich persons above nisab level.  With high sense of integrity and honesty and in-built checks and balances of the institution, the element of trust will improve in institutionalized system of zakat. All the records of zakat payers and zakat receivers can be collectively maintained at central level in electronic format by the zakat institution.  This will be helpful in tracking and analyzing the collection and disbursement cycle.

Zakat institution will have to organize multiple programmes for socio-economic and educational upliftment of the community – children, youth, women and old persons. Special counselling sessions for youth to improve their career will have to be organized with the involvement of specialists in the field of sociology, psychology, economics, law, IT, etc. Apart from helping the poor and needy, the zakat institution can extend help during calamities to the affected persons or displaced persons. In all such disasters, zakat volunteers would be of great relief.  This would be one of the key responsibility of the zakat institution.

A mass awareness programme is required to be undertaken in each city and town in order to mobilise the institutionalized based zakat system.  The collection can be as high as Rs. 20,000 crores in India. This can bring significant improvement to the community. 

Team AMP

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