As the third pillar of islam, zakat is first of all an Ibadah – an act of worship. Zakat is an Islamic concept that seeks to bridge any socio-economic injustice.
‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Abbas (May Allah be pleased with him) narrates that when the Prophet (peace be upon him) sent Mu’adh ibn Jabal ( May Allah be pleased with him) to Yemen he told him, “You are going to a people who have a Scripture, so call them to testify that there is no deity but Allah and that I am the Messenger of Allah. If they respond to this, then teach them that Allah has imposed five Salat upon them every day. If they respond to this, then teach them that Allah has imposed upon them a charity to be taken from the wealthy amongst them and given to the poor. If they respond to this, then beware of taking any more of their wealth!”
Zakat was understood to be the transfer of a certain portion of wealth from the wealthier to those that are needier.