Imam al-Tabari (d.310 AH) mentions that the eight categories can be summarised into two essential functions:

Fulfilling the needs of the Muslims
Assisting and strengthening Islam

Thus, strengthening Islam is inherently a part of the objectives of Zakat. It is worth noting that even the first objective has a critical function to play not just in providing a believer with the material resources he/she requires for essential needs, but in their individual sense of belonging to the Muslim community and in their own ability to maintain a healthy and sustainable state of subservience. In one prayer, the Prophet (peace be upon him) sought refuge in Allah from >“disbelief and poverty”> (Sahih Ibn Hibban). In another statement, he indicated that poverty leads to disbelief (Al-Tabarani and al-Bayhaqi).

Mulla Ali al-Qārī (d.1014 AH) describes Zakat as the ‘bridge to Islam’. The contemporary Hanafi jurist, Dr Salah Abul Haj argues that Zakat entitlement and worthiness is focused on the adjective and attribute coined by Allah for the meta-categories and not just the physical recipients. Each meta-category is anchored on an underlying outcome and impact which is the objective of that category.

The combination of these meta-categories results in achieving the overarching objectives of Zakat. Thus, the overarching objectives of Zakat can only and truly be realised through the effective distribution of Zakat across the eight categories of Zakat and not just by focusing on the accurate payment of Zakat alone.

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