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1802, from Persian zakat, etc., from Arabic zakah.
an obligatory tax required of Muslims, one of the five Pillars of Islam. The zakat is levied on five categories of property-food grains; fruit; camels, cattle, sheep, and goats; gold and silver; and movable goods-and is payable each year after one year's possession. The tax levy required by religious law varies with the category. Recipients of the zakat include the poor and needy, the collectors themselves, and "those whose hearts it is necessary to conciliate"-e.g., discordant tribesmen, debtors, volunteers in jihad (holy war), and pilgrims.