What is Zakat in Islam?
Zakat is the Third Pillar of Islam. The word Zakat means ‘purity, progress, blessings, and praise’ and in practice, it means to give money or food to the poor. Zakat is a form of charity or tax given in Islam as a religious obligation which according to the Quranic hierarchy is important after prayers. Zakaat is one of the five pillars of Islam. It is a religious duty for all Muslims who meet the required standards of wealth. Zakaat has the power to change lives, from sheltering the homeless to feeding families who have been starving for days.
- The Profession of Faith (Shahadah) – The First Pillar of Islam
- Prayer (Salah) – The Second Pillar of Islam
Zakat is different from just helping someone. By giving zakat, you also give hope to needy people. Zakat regulates the sharing of one’s minimum wealth and makes it a religious duty from which one cannot free oneself or take privileges because society has the right to provide for the needy and the disabled.
Zakat vs Nisab
In order to be eligible to pay Zakat, Nisab is the minimum wealth that a Muslim should have after calculating the necessary expenses while Zakat is a mandatory annual payment to clear all wealth above the curriculum limit.
Types of zakat
There are two types of zakat
- Zakat al mal
- Zakat al fitr
Zakat al-mal: Zakat al-Mal is a cleansing of wealth that is done through an annual donation to charity in the percentage of income. Zakat al-mal can be attributed to every Muslim man and woman who has a certain amount of wealth, deserving people are obliged to pay a certain amount. Therefore, zakaat is the amount of savings (liability) paid for one year and should be paid to needy people, whether financially or in the form of commodities. Zakat-ul-Mal was made compulsory for Muslims.
Zakat-al-mal also applies to all financial instruments such as currency, gold, silver, property, and vehicles if they are either protected with the intention of trade or savings ie Zakat is not applicable to things that are necessary for life. An example of this can be given with the example that a person does not have to pay Zakaat on the price of the house where he resides and uses it for housing. However, if a house has been purchased with the intention of making a definite profit in the price of the house, then Zakaat will be applicable to this house.
Zakat al Fitr: This is also known as Fitrana. Before the Eid al-Fitr prayers at the end of Ramadan, every adult Muslim who has the ability to pay must pay Zakat al-Fitr. The head of the household can also pay Zakaat al-Fitr for his dependents such as children, servants, and any dependent relatives. During Ramadan, Zakat al-Fitr can be paid before the Eid al-Fitr prayers, so that the poor can enjoy the day of Eid. The minimum amount is equivalent to wheat flour, rice, or other important food items, including one member of the household including dependents, even if they do not live in the same household.
Who has to Pay Zakaat?
Any Muslim who is working or earning more than necessary to meet his daily needs is expected to pay some percentage of his wealth to charity. Children are not required to pay zakat even if they get a huge amount of money or the money extra than their necessities but their parents can give zakat on their behalf. So, we can say that any adult who is not poor and gets the money required more than his requirement should give zakaat.
To ensure that we have enough money for our personal expenses, including enough to take care of our own family, Zakat is paid only on the minimum assets called which is calculated on gold or silver.
On gold: If you have 88 grams (7.5 tola) of Gold, you should pay Zakat on it.
On silver: If you have 612 grams (52.5 tola) of silver, you have to pay zakat on it.
How much Zakaat do I need to Pay?
One should pay zakat equal to 2.5% of their wealth. For example, if you have a total asset of money equivalent to 20,000, you should pay 500 as zakat as this is 2.5% of 20,000. If you have money, gold, silver, stocks or shares that are more than the price of 85 grams of gold or 595 grams of silver then you will be obliged to pay zakat. If you have this amount for the entire lunar year, then your zakat will be on the last day of the 12-lunar month.
What do I need to Pay Zakat?
As Zakat is a pillar of Islam, so I need to pay zakaat to fulfill my requirements as a Muslim. Zakat is a form of obligatory charity that has the potential to alleviate the suffering of millions of people. With the literal meaning of the word ‘cleansing’, Muslims believe that paying Zakaat saves their wealth, increases it, and brings blessings. Zakat is the right of poor people so we have to pay zakat.
Zakat has many benefits including
- It purifies our wealth
- It helps in keeping us away from the sins
- Many people get care for themselves including widows, orphans, disabled and needy people.
How to Calculate Zakat?
As zakat is 2.5% of your wealth so you can calculate zakaat by taking 2.5% of your money. This is 2.5% of all your assets such as if your all assets are of money in cash and they have a value of 10,000$, so you have to pay zakaat of 250$. Similarly, for the gold, silver, house (which is extra than your basic need), you can calculate zakat by taking 2.5% of your gold and silver. If you are getting benefits from your house, then 2.5% of that benefit will be zakat.
Who should we give Zakat to?
Every person is not entitled to receive zakat. To be eligible to receive zakat, the recipient must be poor and/or needy. A poor person is one whose property does not reach the threshold of the curriculum beyond his basic needs. The common belief is that if a person pays Zakaat as he becomes eligible to pay, he is not entitled to receive it. According to the Quran, eight types of people can receive zakat money
- Miskeen: Miskeens are eligible to get zakat. These are very poor people, i.e. Those who do not have money for food, clothing, and shelter.
- Poor: Poor people are those whose wealth is below the level of fulfilling their requirements.
- Aamileen: It is an Arabic word that means Zakaat collectors. That is, the officials who collect Zakat can be paid from the Zakat fund.
- Muallafatul Qulub: The poor who need Zakat to strengthen their hearts.
- Ar-Riqaab: Zakat funds can be used to free slaves.
- Ibn Sabil: A traveler who is trapped can take benefit from Zakat
- Al-gharimeen: People whose debt is more than their assets, so if the debt is repaid, their remaining wealth will be below the curriculum level.
- Fi-sbeelilah means for the sake of Allah: Those who are on the path of Allah and are in need (such as those on Hajj or those who acquire knowledge)
So, these eight people are eligible to get zakat. If someone has his/her needy sister or brother, he can give zakat to his sister/brother. Giving zakat to relatives is better than giving zakat to someone else.
Who can’t we give zakat to?
We cannot give zakat to any person. Rather, we should see whether the people are eligible for zakaat or not otherwise our zakaat will be invalid. The following people are not eligible to get zakat money
- Grand parents
- Poor person whose property is more than his basic requirements.
- Member of the Prophet Muhammad’s (S.A.W.) family.
Best time to give Zakat
Ramadan is the best time to give zakaat. Most Muslims choose to offer Zakat in Ramadan because of the high spiritual rewards in the holy month, but it is not necessary to give zakat in Ramadan. Zakaat should be paid once a year Since the days of the Holy Prophet, peace be upon him, Muslims prefer to pay their Zakaat in Ramadan.
The great Companions and the third Caliph agreed with this and advised the Muslims of his time about Ramadan: “Here is the month for paying your Zakat. If you have a debt, then pay it to them so that you can sort out your wealth and take Zakaat from it. However, the presence of an urgent need may make it better to pay someone’s zakaat payment at another time than during Ramadan such as lack of charity, losses due to war or some natural emergency, famine, etc.
The reason why Ramadan is the best month to give Zakat is that Allah multiplies the reward of Zakaat many times in this month. Furthermore, Allah Almighty honored the month of Ramadan by associating it with the ancient spiritual devotion known as fasting. At the same time, he has honored Muslims by pointing them to the proper and purity of fasting and pointing out the point of view. So, this month is considered as the best month to pay zakat.