The Punishment of not Giving Zakaat

Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Apostle said, “Whoever is made wealthy by Allah and does not pay the Zakaat of his wealth, then on the Day of Resurrection his wealth will be made like a bald-headed poisonous male snake with two black spots over the eyes. The snake will encircle his neck and bite his cheeks and say, ‘I am your wealth, I am your treasure.’ “Then the Prophet recited the holy verses:– ‘Let not those who withhold . . .’ (to the end of the verse). (3.180).
Sahih Bukhari – (Book #24, Hadith #486)

Zakaat is the third pillar of Islam. Zakaat or alms-giving is Arabic word which means “to purify”. It is a practice and obligation followed by the Muslims to pay a prescribed amount of their accumulated wealth as zakaat to the poor and needy. This is an easy way to ease economic hardships and eliminate inequality in the society. One of the benefits of zakaat is that it purifies the wealth and keeps who are wealthy clean monetarily from sins. Zakaat was made compulsory at Makah at the same time as salat. Many benefits and rewards are associated with zakaat however severe punishment has also been affirmed by Allah. The Holy Qur’an describes the punishment for this greater sin in the following verse:

“And (as for) those who hoard up gold and silver and do not spend it in Allah’s way announce to them a painful chastisement. On the day when it shall be heated in the fire of hell, then their foreheads and their sides and their backs shall be branded with it, this is that you hoarded up for yourselves, therefore taste what you hoarded.” [Surah at-Tawba 9: 34-35]


A person wealth and possession belong entirely to Allah. It is by his grace and favors that earned him everything.  Therefore when Allah asks him to spend the bounties in his way than a person should not hesitate and do so in a manner Allah has commanded. Zakaat is obligatory just like namaz.

Imam Muhammad Baqir (AS) says,

“The Almighty Allah has appointed Zakaat with Prayer, and said, ‘Establish prayer and pay Zakaat.’ Then one who recites prayer but does not pay Zakaat (it is as if) he has not performed prayer also, because the two of them are connected.”


Zakaat is an important part of Imaan. Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (AS) says, “One who avoids paying Zakaat equal to one carat (four grains of barley) is neither a believer nor a Muslim. He is the same whose condition at the time of death is mentioned by Allah that he shall say, “Send me back my Lord, send me back, haply I may do good in that which I left.”


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