Understanding Zakat


Zakat is one of the major religious duties in Islam. Literally, zakat means to “purify”. It refers to the purification of a believers’ wealth and soul. Wealth purification denotes the mobilization of assets for the purpose of financial growth and justified distribution. Purification of the soul implies freedom from hatred, jealousy, selfishness, uneasiness and greed. Other Quranic connotations also include the purification of sin.

Zakat is a fixed proportion collected from the surplus wealth and earnings of a believer. It is then distributed to prescribed beneficiaries and for the welfare as well as the infrastructure of a society in general. This contribution is made payable by a Muslim once every year.

Zakat is paid on the net balance after a Muslim has spent on basic necessities, family expenses, due credits, donations and taxes. Every Muslim male or female who at the end of the Hijri year is in possession of the equivalent of 85 grams of gold or more in cash or articles of trade, must pay his or her zakat at the minimum rate of 2.5 percent.

Zakat has a deep humanitarian and social-political value. This religious act prevents the hoarding of wealth and advocates solidarity with humanity because excessive wealth is distributed amongst the poor. The paying of zakat also helps purify one’s soul and encourages a person to have gratitude towards God’s bounties.

Zakat is mentioned along with Salat (prayer) in 30 verses of the Quran. It was first revealed in Surah 73:20;

“…. and establish regular prayers and give regular charity; and loan to Goda beautiful loan. And whatever good ye send forth for your souls, ye shall find it in God’s presence, Yea, better and greater in reward and seek ye the grace of God: for Godis oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.”

In another verse, God declares that those who pay zakat, are included within the Muslim society

“But (even so), if they repent, establish regular prayers, and practice regular charity, they are your brethren in Faith: (thus) do We explain the Signs in detail, for those who understand.” (9:11)

God says in the Quran:

“They were enjoined only to worship God, sincere in their faith in Him alone – and of upright religion – and to establish the Salat and the Zakat. Such is the upright religion, (98:5)

“Those who lay up treasures of gold and silver and spend them not in the way of God; give them the news of a painful punishment, on the Day when that (wealth) will be heated in hellfire, and their foreheads and their sides and their backs branded therewith: “This is the treasure which you laid up for yourselves! Taste, then, your hoarded treasure!” (9:34-35).

“Let not those who are miserly with what God has given them of His bounty think that this is good for them. Rather, it is bad for them. That which they withhold shall be hung around their necks on the Day of Arising. (3:180)

Bukhari and Muslim relate on the authority of Ibn Abbas that the Messenger of God sent Mu’adh to the 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 God, and that I am the Messenger of God. If they respond to this, then teach them that God has imposed five Salats upon them in every day. If they respond to this, then teach them that God has imposed upon them a charity to be taken from the wealthy amongst them and given to their poor. If they respond to this, then beware of taking any more of their wealth! Beware also of the prayer of the oppressed, for there is no veil between such a prayer and God.”

Then he recited the verse: “Let not those who are miserly with what God has given them of His bounty think that this is good for them. Rather, it is bad for them. That which they withhold shall be hung around their necks on the Day of Arising.” (3:180)

Conditions for Zakat 

Several conditions must be fulfilled before zakat can be paid. These conditions are necessary as zakat can only be applied on those who are of legal age and who own enough assets. These conditions are categorized into two broad categories, namely performer and asset.

Every Muslim who is of a certain age and owns enough assets is required to pay zakat.

Zakat Asset 

Full Ownership A Muslim will only be required to pay zakat if he or she has full and legal ownership of an asset.

Zakat is payable only on those assets that are acquired for the purpose of creating or generating wealth. Some examples of this type of assets are livestock or crops that are traded or sold, inventory of goods used for trading, and investments such as gold or securities that have potential for appreciation in value. However, zakat is not payable in the case of fixed assets such as buildings, if they are not subjected to “capital circulation”.

Assets that exceed a minimum value 

Zakat need only be paid on those assets that exceed a minimum value. This minimum value is calculated based on the market price of 85 grams of gold or 595 grams of pure silver. This minimum value is termed Nisab. The Islamic Fiqh and Research Councils, as well as Jumhur (majority) of Ulama’ recommend that gold be used as the basis for the calculation of nisab.

Completion of Haul 

Haul is defined as the completion period for a zakat asset. The length of time for haul is one Islamic or Hijri year (1 year Hijri = 354.5 days, 1 year Solar = 365.25 days). Zakat is only payable on assets that have been held for at least this period.

Beneficiaries of Zakat 

The Holy Quran (9:60) classifies the due recipients of zakat under the following eight categories.

“Zakat is for the poor, and the needy and those who are employed to administer and collect it, and the new converts, and for those who are in bondage, and in debt and service of the cause of God, and for the wayfarers, a duty ordained by God, and Godis the All-Knowing, the Wise”.

Zakat can only be distributed to any of the eight eligible beneficiaries (asnaf) that are mentioned in the Quran in Surah Taubah:60. However, priority should be given to the poor and needy. Where there is no central authority to administer zakat, it can be paid directly to the needy.

“Alms are for the poor and the needy, and those employed to administer the (funds); for those whose hearts have been (recently) reconciled (to the truth); for those in bondage and in debt; in the cause of God; and for the wayfarer: (thus is it) ordained by God, and Godis full of knowledge and wisdom.” (9:60)

  • The poor (Faqir/Fuqara)

    • Those without any means of livelihood and material possessions.

  • The needy (Miskeen)

    • Those without sufficient means of livelihood to meet their basic necessities. For instance, those who, although may have a job, a house and a car, but whose income is below the minimum requirement.

  • The administrators of zakat (Amil)

    • Those appointed to manage and administer zakat. This category is sub-divided into the following categories:

      • Group of people who go out to the society and determine those who fall Fuqara and Miskeen categories.

      • Those who collect the Zakat money.

      • The accountant of the Zakat money.

      • The administrator, manager, clerical worker or secretary who puts the files in order.

      • Those who handle Zakat distributions.

      • The auditor who audits overall Zakat management and administration.

  • The sympathizers (Muallaf-at-Quloobuhum)

    • Those whose hearts are inclined towards or have accepted Islam.

  • To free slaves (Riqab)

    • Zakat can also be used to free slaves or captives.

  • Those who are in debt (Gharimin)

    • Zakat can be used to pay off the debts of a person who has borrowed to pay for basic necessities so that he/she can lead a normal life. Zakat can also be distributed to those in financial difficulties e.g. bankruptcy due to the loss of employment and heavy debt.

  • For the cause of God (Fisabillillah)

    • Zakat can be used to finance any form of struggle or work for the love of God. The following examples fall under this category, e.g. Da’wah; building & developing society’s infrastructure; defending Muslims, who are being oppressed; assisting poor travelers and sponsoring a student’s educational expenses.

  • Those who are stranded during a journey (Ibnus Sabil)

    • Zakat can also be used to help a traveler facing difficulties in continuing his journey due to reasons such as loss of money or the break down of his vehicles, the repair of which he cannot afford.

The Prophet said, “If someone gives as charity so much as the equivalent of a single date from honest earnings – and God accepts only what is honest – God takes it in the Right Hand, then makes it increase for the one responsible, just as one of you raises foal, until it becomes as big as a mountain.

Source: The Peninsula



Source: IslamiCity | Category: Articles, Faith, Featured | Topic: wealth, zakat | Values: kindness, knowledge | Views: 30,674 | Comments: 12

SAME TOPIC(S)/VALUE(S) POSTS YOU MIGHT BE INTERESTED IN:
[Next]

12 Comments

  1. The one who pays Zakah shows that he/she has strong or real Faith and Reliance of Allah called Iman .Normally Zakah and Salah are joined together as mentioned in various places of the Quran by Allah (S.W.T) Both these two are obligations i.e Salat and Zakah are fardh (obligatory duties) and of course Salat comes first always mentioned first before Zakah ie. establish prayers and pay Zakah. The Messenger of Allah (S.A.W)is reported to have said ( something to this effect near meaning) “If I had gold equal to the mountain of Uhud,it would not please me that anything of it should remain with me (spending it all for the sake of Allah) after three nights except what I would keep for repaying debts” Subhanallah that is the Iman of our Dear Prophet who did not like to keep anything for himself for personal benefit for tomorrow it is like burden if not spent Fi Sabilillah.In short Zakah is an obligatory Charity given of a certain fixed proportion of the wealth of every kind of property liable to Zakat of a Muslim to be paid yearly for the benefit of the poor in the Muslim Community. The payment of Zakat is one of the five pillars of Islam like the Shahadah Salah Fasting and Hajj. Zakah is a major economic means for establishing social justice leading to prosperity and security in Muslim Society.

    May Allah give us the taufiq to understand the importance of giving Zakah out of our wealth to help the down trodden poor Amen.

  2. Assets that exceed a minimum value i.e. market price of 85 grams of

    gold or 595 grams of pure silver (Nisab).

    In my opinion this Nisab was defined for the society about 1500

    years ago. It means at that time a person with this nisab was

    considered rich and he was placed in the category of zakat payer.But

    today, the society living standard and purchasing power has been

    changed. A person with such nisab can not be placed even in a poor

    category. I do not think this nisab is Quaranic decision but it is

    defined in the light of Hadiths and keeping in view the society’s

    living standard (economy).Islam has provided the opportunity of

    Ijtahad that is why Islam is a dynamic Religion. It is valid for all

    ages. In my opinion this nisab should be redefined from time to time

    and from country to country keeping in view the society’s economy

    standards (living standard… per capita income, purchasing power,

    currency devaluation and so many other factors etc) as on every Eid-

    ul-Fitr fitrana is calculated every time.I think a group of persons

    should decide the Nisab for the country for some specified

    period.The nisab should not be defined for the whole life. A team of

    the following persons should calculate the Nisab:

    1. Economist

    2. Statistician

    3. Sociologist

    4. Chartered Accountant

    5. Ijtahadi Ulma

    6. Quotation Expert Ulma

    The need to define Nisab is similar as to define tax rules. As Nisab

    mismatch the society standards so peoples are not paying zakat. If

    some are paying but they are not sure about what they are paying.

  3. Zakatul Fitr which is to be given at the end of Ramadan is Waajib on every Muslim male female young and old even a new born baby. Unlike the general Fardh Zakat which only the rich people give 2.5% of their annual earnings, Zakatul Fitr is given at the end of Ramadan which is generally meant to purify and accept our Ramadan Fast.It is encouraged that every one gives out or does it although the head of the household would suffice by giving the Zakatul Fitr on behalf of all the family as dictated and varies according to different local condition where one finds himself or herself as it varies. As we know different Masajid sets out the amount due for Zakataul Fitr every year for that Masajid as seen here in U.K.Most important thing to consider, as I said one has to pay for his whole family including a new baby born. Anyhow the best way is to ask the Ulama who will tell us more about giving out the Zakah whether the general Zakat or Zakatul Fitr.

  4. We are paying our zakat via internet without going through emir. This

    is a norm now. Why is it allowed without going through emir

  5. All the defined areas of purification is agreed, but when we talk about purification of Mall or asset, most of us imply it in diffirent way. People of knowledge who write about ZAKAT should mentioned that purification of Mall does not mean that we earned our money from HARAM means and when pay ZAKAT from it, the HARAM earnings becomes HALAL. Most of us if not all of us do think in this way. ZAKAT is obligation on Muslims, therefore; our earnings must be from HALAL means and not from HARAM means.

  6. I disagree with your example given under needy. What is the minimum income requirement? Who can determine that amount? Many Muslims today world because of what they see on TV and watching what their neighbours have tend to live beyond their means and then create the impression of being needy.

    The needy are, WIDOWS AND ORPHANS AND THE AGED WHO ARE UNABLE TO WORK AND HAVE NO BREADWINNERS. The needy are those faced with huge health bills but have no means of paying for essential healthcare and medication. The needy are those who have no potable water and acess to clean water. In my opinion a person who has a job, a car and a house cannot be considered needy when there are other categories who are more in need.

    Nowhere do you mention widows, orphans and the aged. They must be our first priority and they are the worthy recipients of Zakaat.

  7. Alhamdul’Allah it is educative. Informative. Analytic and entertaining. It really increases my understanding on what zakat is all about. But i want you to please let us know the current nisab on cash for zakat this year. Jazaka Allahu khayran.

  8. For example if last Ramadan I had cash with me 100,000 usd and I paid 2.5% of that as Zakat which comes to 2500 usd and now in 2010 I still have the balance left from previous year 97500 usd and from new earnings have saved this 2010 year 20000 usd. So this year I pay zakat on the new savings 20000 usd only or I have to pay zakat on the 97500 usd left over from last year and this years surplus of 20000 too.

    Please advice

  9. It is a good article but lack the clearity. I was not able to pick out what kind of income paying Zakat is ordained, Halal or Haram or combination of both. You see, majority of Muslims in their own Muslim countires and abroad, are involed with earning Haram by selling: liqure, earning interest, gambling, bribery, and so much more. How can they purify their Haram earning by paying Zakat.

    Zakat is a part of bigger picture of “Infaqe-Fee-Sabilillah”. A Ma’umin with all of his love for Allah and His mesengers continue to spent through out the year and their life. They do not wait for the end of the year to see what thay have accumilated to pay Zakat on. In other words, if I am spending out of my sustinence every day, every week, every month, shuld there be any thing left for me to pay Zakat on? Teach people the purpose of Zakat, beause it is not just only the action to be performed, but a system to followed.

  10. I wonder whether the category of ‘fi sabilillah’ has been defined too inclusively by the article writer. Certainly we know that dawah, defense of Islam, and funding of charitable Islamic schools and orphanages belong in this category. But “any form of struggle or work for the love of God” and “building & developing society’s infrastructure” seem so broad and ambiguous that they can easily be misleading. I would like to know how Islamic scholars have interpreted this category over the centuries.

Leave a Reply