The operations of Zakat in respect to calculation, collection, distribution show another dimension of how Zakat functions. The following are rulings of Zakat from the different schools of law:

Zakat is paid once a year
Zakat is paid on specific assets such as: gold, silver, cash, business assets, agricultural produce, livestock, treasure troves
Certain liabilities can be deducted from a Zakat calculation
Zakat was collected and distributed by the Islamic government
According to some schools of law, Zakat can be forcefully taken. The state can take punitive measures on the non-payers of Zakat,
Abandoning Zakat payments is tantamount to treason
Zakat has thresholds and bands (Nisab)
Zakat was generally distributed where it was collected
Zakat has specific areas and categories for spend
Zakat cannot be given to facilitate sin

The above demonstrates clearly demonstrate that Zakat has an operational reality to it; it is not simply a charity. The clear guidelines and governmental framework exhibit that Zakat is an institution within a system. One could almost argue that the payment of Zakat and Zakat distribution operate like a wealth tax and has elements of government public sector spending, however, the spiritual element in Zakat makes it more wholesome than tax. Zakat is not viewed as a burden. It is considered more as a commitment and membership payment to a godly cause. The spiritual filter of Zakat makes it different to a secular welfare and benefit system.

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