THE South African National Zakah Fund, or SANZAF as it is fondly known, is one of the country’s most enduring and established humanitarian agencies. For over 40 years, SANZAF has served the Muslim community by ensuring that Zakah, a communal pillar of faith, has been executed.

This SANZAF has done without reproach, producing an audited balance sheet every year to guarantee its total transparency. In addition, its beneficiaries have been known to all and sundry, the organisation’s PR and marketing team making sure that the public is duly informed of who gets what.

The Wayfarer

IT is always interesting reminding ourselves that those who qualify for Zakah fall into eight basic categories. Zakah, one of the five pillars of Islam, is not an alms tax – as so many like to define it – but more a cleansing of one’s stable assets, an act of faith executed by the redistribution of a small portion of one’s wealth.

The Prophet [SAW] once said that Allah Himself ruled on Zakah, and that its categories were divinely decreed: the poor, the needy, Zakah administrators, hearts to be reconciled such as reverts and those friendly to the community, those in bondage, the debt-ridden, those on the path of Allah and the wayfarer, or traveller.

Ramadan, the time to give hope

A solid Islamic financial base is said to be the soundest way to harnessing Zakah, the compulsory cleansing and redistribution of wealth, deemed to be a pillar of the faith. In many parts of the globe, Zakah is said to be the forgotten pillar, either due to grinding poverty, famine and warfare in Islamic lands, or due to minorities with threatened civil liberties.

Nonetheless, Zakah as an institution in the 21st century has started to make great strides, especially since the dissolution of the Ottoman Caliphate in 1923 rocked the Muslim word, and set it back on all fronts – socially, economically, educationally and politically.

We are blessed to pay Zakah

MOST outsiders to Islam understand Zakah as an alms tax, a poor tax, of a Muslim’s wealth. Of course, superficially, it is – but in terms of its real definition, it is not. For Zakah, say Arabic lexicons, means “cleanliness, growth, blessing and praise”.

All these connotations of the word are understood in the context of Qur’an and Hadith, which extol time and time again how Zakah is an investment of the heart. Indeed, we all understand that Zakah is a pillar of faith – together with the profession of belief (the kalimah shahadah), Salah (prayer), Ramadan (the fast) and Hajj (the major pilgrimage.

The Cycles of Being, towards the Holy Months

WE always seem to recognise things around us in cycles. We have the cycles of life (the seven stages of man described by Shakespeare) and the cycles of the weather, today a big concern to us, due to global warming. Then we have the cycle of bear and bull markets, the ups and the downs, on the stock exchanges of the world.

Reconciling Rajab and preparing for the great month

RAJAB, the seventh month of the lunar Islamic calendar, is as the Qur’an [9:36] tells us, a holy month. “On the day Allah created heaven and earth, He decreed that the number of months should be twelve. Of these, four (Rajab, Dhul Qa’dah, Dhul Hijjah and Muharram) are sacred…”

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