Zakat is the Arabic word for charity, or alms-giving. Unlike Jesus Christ, Mohammed never condemned wealth or possessions of this world. He himself had become rather wealthy, working for Khadiga, the wealthy merchant-trader who would become his first wife. Muhammad always respected industriousness and never required individuals to give away their possessions.
Muhammad did, however, oppose hoarding and the amassing of fortunes for fortune’s sake. To counter the impulse, he required Muslims always to set aside a portion of their wealth for the poor—a self-imposed and regular tax on income. Zakat is at the root of Islam’s egalitarian principles, a constant reminder that ostentation is against God’s will.