What is Zakat and Who are the Recipients?
Zakat is one of the five fundamental concepts (also known as the 5 pillars) in Islam. This makes it a compulsory act, and therefore, all Muslims must give Zakat, provided they meet certain conditions. The concept of Zakat is to purify one’s wealth and soul. Calculation of Zakat is based on the total savings of a Muslim during one lunar (Islamic) year. It is important to note that only the beginning and end of the year are taken into account. Muslims must possess a minimum “Zakatable” amount of wealth, both at the beginning and at the end of their Zakat year, for them to pay Zakat. Items like gold, silver, paper currency held in cash or in bank, tradable assets owned by a business, crops, and herded animals, are all taken into consideration when calculating Zakat.
“The alms are only for the poor or needy; and the destitute; and those employed to collect Zakat; and to attract the hearts of those who have been inclined towards Islam; and to free the captives; and for those in debt; and for Allah’s Cause; and for the wayfarer, a traveler who is cut off from everything; a duty imposed by Allah. And Allah is All-Knower, All-Wise.” [Al-Quran 9:60]
According to the Holy Quran, a Muslim should give Zakat to the following types of people:
Translated as the ‘poor’ or ‘needy’, these people have some money, but not sufficient for their everyday needs.
Translated as the ‘destitute’, these are people of extreme poverty who possess no wealth at all, and are in need of asking others for food, clothing and shelter.
- ‘Amil Zakat:
These are people appointed by an Islamic Head of State or Government to collect Zakat. The authority gives them a fee for their work, which includes collecting, recording, guarding, dividing and distributing Zakat.
These are people who have just become Muslim, or those whose circumstances are so desperate they fear turning to crime if they are not helpful.
These are slaves whose masters have agreed to set them free on a payment of a fixed amount. Zakat may be used to purchase their freedom.
Translated as the ‘wayfarers’, these are travellers stranded in a foreign land in need of money. These people can receive Zakat if the purpose for travelling is lawful.
- Al Ghaarimeen:
These are the debtors, people burdened by debts because of personal needs or social necessity. These people are given Zakat if they do not have enough money beyond their basic needs to repay debts. Help is also provided to those who may have landed themselves in debt as a result of social obligations such as supporting an orphan or renovating a school. It is conditional that the debts were not created for any un-Islamic or sinful purpose.
- Fi Sabeelillah:
These are people who are away from home in the path of Allah. Those in Jihaad, those seeking knowledge or a stranded in Hajj, may be assisted with Zakat when in need.
Who has to give Zakat and How Much?
According to the Hanafi School of Thought, Zakat is compulsory for every Muslim adult who is mentally sane, and also possesses an amount of wealth which is above the Nisab (it is the minimum amount a Muslim must have before being obliged to Zakat). The Shafi’i, Maliki and Hanbali Schools of Thoughts also have a similar view on this, however, according to these Schools of Thoughts, Zakat is also payable by children and the insane, as long as their wealth is above the Nisab. All those Muslims whose savings meet or exceed Nisab values are obligated to pay 2.5% of their total yearly savings to the poor and needy.
Importance of Zakat
Zakat purifies the possessions and the spirituality of one who gives it. It creates a sense of self-discipline and shows your obedience to Allah s.w.t.
- Become Prosperous Muslims
By giving Zakat a person shows that he obeying the rules set by Allah s.w.t. His obedience brings him prosperity in both this world and the hereafter.
- Closer to Allah s.w.t
Giving Zakat brings you closer to your God and increases your faith in Him.
- Rewarded by Allah s.w.t
The Prophet (pbuh) said: “Whoever gives away charity the size of a date, which is earned lawfully, since Allah only accepts the good lawful things, Allah will indeed take it with His right hand and cause it to grow for its owner, just as one of you raises up his colt, to the point that the charity will become like the size of a mountain.” [Reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
- Sins are Wiped away.
The Prophet (pbuh) said: “Giving charity wipes away sins just as water extinguishes fire.” The word charity (sadaqah) here refers to the Zakat as well as the supererogatory form of charity.
“True piety is this: to believe in God, and the Last Day, the Angels, the Book, and the Prophets, to give of one’s substance, however cherished, to kinsmen, and orphans, the needy, the traveler, beggars, and to ransom the slave, to perform the prayer, to pay the Zakat.” Surah Baqarah, Ayah 177 (Qur’an 2:177).”
Zakat is not a voluntary charity or tax, but it is an obligation as it is one of the 5 main pillars of Islam. By giving Zakat, a Muslim acknowledges that everything belongs to Allah s.w.t, and we should use it to remember Allah s.w.t and help those who are in need. Apart from obligatory payment, Zakat also carries a lot of importance as it is also an act to help us free from excessive desires and greed, learn self-discipline and honesty. Zakat means purification and growth which means to purify one’s wealth and possessions by distributing a fixed amount among the poor and needy.
Finally, we are delighted to highlight that all of you are now able to do your obligatory duty by only a click of a button! Yes, you can now perform your zakat online through our Global Sadaqah platform.