Between God, the People, and the State: Citizen Conceptions of Zakat
van den Boogaard, Vanessa
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Zakat – one of the five pillars of Islam – is an annual obligatory payment, typically equivalent to 2.5 per cent of an individual’s productive wealth, to a set of appropriate recipients, including the poor. The annual global zakat pool is estimated to make up between US$200 billion and 1 trillion. States have long sought to harness zakat for their own budgets – and legitimacy. To date, however, there has been no systematic empirical discussion of how citizens perceive and engage with state involvement in zakat and how they perceive state-run zakat funds. These perceptions and experiences are central to important questions of how we conceptualise fiscal transfers and the relationship between citizens and states: if zakat is legally treated as a tax, does it function like one too? Do citizens engage with it differently? Does its formalisation strengthen or undermine the social norms in which it is embedded? Summary of Working Paper 167.