Zakat Restrictions: Religious, Social, Institutional, and Political. Case Study: Qatar

  •  Ola Mahmood Alkahlout    


Since the early of Islam, zakat - compulsory Islamic almsgiving - has received widespread interest in religious, social, institutional as well as political fields. Zakat distribution, theoretically, comes in the form of providing eight beneficiaries through projects of religious, educational, and medical foundations, provision of military weapons, and so on. However, the annual estimates of zakat indicate that zakat is exposed to factors that restrict its mechanism (collections and distributions). A combination of the theoretical frameworks of the sociology of religion/Islam and political sociology helps to discover and understand these factors. The quantitative method in this research through the interviews conducted with Muslim scholars, charitable organisations’ staff, and Qatari Muslims (citizens and residents), show that zakat distribution is affected by Muslim scholars’ interpretations of ‘for the cause of Allah’ zakat beneficiary, the behaviour of zakat payers in paying individually and conditional zakat projects, Qatar’s tribal culture (citizens), family bonding (residents), the behaviour of charitable organisations in promoting specific projects, and interests of the Qatari state. Furthermore, most participants agreed that the purpose of zakat is to support the less fortunate, rather than personal interests, conflicts, or wars. Any defect in zakat applications is considered a significant loss, especially since the world witnessed a rise in zakat beneficiaries such as the poor and refugees, whether they result from natural or war disasters.

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