The Moral Sphere

We have already mentioned the fact that the one of the main functions of Zakah is that it instills moral qualities and uprightness in man. Here, however, it is necessary to consider the role of the Zakah insofar as the moral development of the Islamic man is concerned in some detail. According to the Islamic economists, one of the most important roles of Zakah in the Islamic economic order is that it “washes away the greed and acquisitiveness of the rich”, thereby seeking to undermine the excessive and over-zealous wealth accumulative attitude of some elements of the society.

However, I should stress here that Islam is not anti-wealth, so to speak, but, on the contrary, Islam encourages the lawful seeking of wealth. Nevertheless, Islam is against the excessive materialistic attitude which some people tend to exemplify.

Nonetheless, man by nature is a selfish and greedy creature, and as such is rarely content with his lot. The more man is given, the more he craves for. In short, his insatiable self knows no bounds. Referring to such insatiable and acquisitive nature of man, the Quran states:

{Rivalry in worldly increase distracts you until ye come to the graves. Nay, but ye will come to know! Nay, but ye will come to know!} (At-Takathur 102: 1-4)

Similarly the Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) remarked:

“Had there been two mountains of wealth for the son of Adam, he would have sought the third one; nothing but the earth can fill the belly of the son of Adam.” (Al-Bukhari)

In light of this, the role of Zakah in fostering moral qualities and attributes in people in an Islamic society is exceptional because it encourages and also impresses a sense of moral responsibility on the rich to look after the poor and the less fortunate members of the society, thereby seeking to suppress wanton greed, miserliness and selfishness in order to create a society that is caring, loving, equitable and just.
In short, the role played by Zakah in developing and strengthening the moral qualities of “sacrifice and goodness and in suppressing evil qualities of selfishness and greed among the people is no small contribution”.