“Seek help with steadfastness and prayer– though this is hard indeed for anyone but the humble”  [Qur’an 2:45]

“But there came after them generations who neglected prayer and were driven by their own desires. These will come face to face with their evil” [Qur’an 19:59]

“There is nothing more important in the life of a believer than the prayer (salah). If someone says Islam is the prayer they are not wrong as prayer is the best way to turn to Allah subhana huwa ta’ala. We have been created to turn to Allah alone (hanifiyyah) and to submit to Him (islam). Prayer combines both of these aspects. This is why the first thing commanded to all the Prophets, Messengers and their followers is the prayer” – Shaykh Dr Mohammad Akram Nadwi

If there is nothing more important in ones life than prayer then why do we ignore it; why do we neglect it and why do we not enjoy it? The simple answer is we do not know what prayer is; we do not know what prayer means and we do not know how to pray. As a result our prayers have become superficial and lacking life. We focus on the outward aspects of the prayer (and sometimes even fight over them) but the inward is neglected. The real prayer is the prayer that is prayed with not only the body and the tongue but also with the mind and the heart. So how do we bring back the real spirit of the prayer in our lives, the prayer that combines the mind, body and the heart?

Zakat is the third pillar of Islam coming even before the Fast of Ramadhan and Hajj to the House of Allah. As such, it’s importance cannot be overstated. Zakat can also be the most complicated pillar of Islam, especially in modern times where wealth, investments and finance can take a variety of new forms as can the recipients. For us, living in the West, there is the additional dimension of living as a minority. Just a few of the questions we may have include:

  • How should we allocate Zakat? Who should have priority?
  • Can Zakat be given to educational institutions?
  • Can Zakat be sent to other countries or must it be spent locally?
  • How should we organise Zakat distribution within Muslim communities in the West?
  • How should Zakat be calculated on investments such as stocks, pension schemes, properties etc.?
  • Is there Zakat on any personal effects? If so, on what and how is it calculated?
  • How is the nisab and the ‘time period’ determined for perpetual income/savings?
  • Should each and every income be recorded to determine Zakat or is there an easier way?
  • Is it better to give Zakat to individuals or to organisations?
  • How is Zakat calculated on trade and business?
  • Is there Zakat on jewellery? If so, how is it calculated?

No doubt, there are many more questions. The answers for these questions lie in understanding the purpose and the principles of Zakat. It is this understanding that unravels the complexities of Zakat.