Zakat in Islam is the third one of the Islamic five pillars. It considers a kind of charity or almsgiving to poor Muslim people. This money is an Islamic obligation which is a very important order from Allah. Zakat is an Islamic duty for all of us, Muslims to help the needy. To pay zakat, you should meet certain wealth criteria because it depends on the value of your possessions.
Surah Al-Baqarah: “And establish prayer and give zakāh and bow with those who bow [in worship and obedience] (43)”
The payment of zakat caused wars before called El Reddah Wars. It is based on the person’s money and properties; each Muslim pays a sum related to his wealth. We can say it is the quarter of your total savings or 2.5% of what you own above an indicated minimum amount. According to our Quran, we collect zakat and pay it to the poor, needy, people in debt, and others.
Surah Fussilat: “Those who do not give zakāh, and in the Hereafter they are disbelievers (7)”
Yes, zakat is a Muslim tax that is obligatory and all Muslims should pay it to help each other. It is imposed on five items: food (grains and fruits), animals (sheep and camels), gold and silver, money, and the transported goods. You must pay it only once a year after at least one year of possession. Like the prayer, zakat in Islam is mentioned in the Quran but it also existed before Islam.
Surah Marium: “Also mention in the Book (the story of) Isma’il: He was (strictly) true to what he promised, and he was an apostle (and) a prophet(54) He used to enjoin on his people Salat and Zakat, and he was most acceptable in the sight of his Lord (55)”
In the beginning, In Makkah, zakat was generally voluntary payments as the person’s belief and his own estimation to decide how much to give and whom to give it to. After the migration of Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) to Madina, and around 18 months after his arrival, zakat became an obligation on Muslims. The Quranic verses clear everything about zakat and the Prophet (PBUH) used to send out specific workers to collect and distribute the due zakat.
Surah Al-Ma’arij: “And in whose wealth there is a right acknowledged(24) For the beggar and the destitute (25)”
Who is eligible for zakat?
Surah Al-Tawbah: “Zakāh expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy and for those employed for it and for bringing hearts together [for Islām] and for freeing captives [or slaves] and for those in debt and for the cause of Allah and for the [stranded] traveler – an obligation [imposed] by Allah. And Allah is Knowing and Wise (60)”
- The poor (al-fuqarâ’), meaning low-income or indigent.
- The needy (al-masâkîn), meaning someone who is in difficulty.
- Zakat administrators.
- Those whose hearts are to be reconciled, meaning new Muslims and friends of the Muslim community.
- Those in bondage (slaves and captives).
- The debt-ridden.
- In the cause of God.
- The wayfarer, meaning those who are stranded or traveling with few resources.
When to pay zakat?
Surah Al-Bayyinah: “And they were not commanded except to worship Allah, [being] sincere to Him in religion, inclining to truth, and to establish prayer and to give zakāh. And that is the correct religion (5)”
We pay zakat in Islam only once per year. It is obligatory on every Hijiri year after your wealth reached the minimum amount indicated in Islam. This minimum amount called Nisab and it is should exist to be obligate to pay zakat. Our beloved prophet has set it at a rate equivalent to: 87.48 grams of gold and 612.36 grams of silver. But nowadays we are not using gold and silver currency, so we have to check the rate of them in the market then convert the rate into money. Some prefer to use the gold value and the others like the Hanafi Madhab use the silver value to pay zakat. Islamic scientists advise using the silver value because its amount is always less than that of the gold. This means more Muslims will pay zakat and needier will be helped.
To donate zakat in Islam, there are many aspects and organizations that can help you. You must ask in your state about the authorized association to give them your zakat. Also, be careful and search well for those available places and be sure that they are honest and legal. Just don’t forget your sincere intention for Allah to get the rewards. Allah obligates zakat to approach Muslims to each other to get at the end a strong Ummah (community). If you once wonder how could your zakat be useful to somebody, here are some examples:
- Sponsor an orphan
- Building a mosque
- Payback the debt
- Dig water well
- Save somebody from starving
- Building schools
Surah Al-Tawbah: “The believing men and believing women are allies of one another. They enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and establish prayer and give zakāh and obey Allah and His Messenger. Those – Allah will have mercy upon them. Indeed, Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise (71)”
On the other side, there are some people who should not receive any money from zakat:
- The rich people.
- The strong and able poor (those capable to work)
- Those disbelievers and fighting Islam
- The family of the Prophet (PBUH)
- Direct descendants (children and grandchildren)
- Lineal ascendants (parents and grandparents)
- Wives of the payer
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