“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.”
– The Qur’an (2:177)
The literal meaning is ‘to cleanse’ or ‘purification’. In the Islamic faith, Zakat means purifying your wealth for the will of God; to acknowledge that everything we own belongs to God and to work towards the betterment of the Muslim Ummah. According to Islamic regulations, Zakat is 2.5% of one year’s total cumulative wealth. This amount is then distributed to the poor. Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) has said:
“Whoever pays the zakat on his wealth will have its evil removed from him”
– Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ)
Zakat is not only a means to purify one’s wealth but it is also a spiritual purification which serves as a means to draw an individual closer to the Creator, God. Ibn Taymiyyah, a famous scholar said that, “the soul of one who gives zakat is blessed and so is his wealth”. It is quite clear from the above narration that in addition to being a moral obligation, it is also a spiritual one which is why millions of Muslims every year give Zakat.
“In their wealth there is a known share for the beggars and the destitute.”
– The Qur’an (70:24-25)
We mentioned how Zakat is a means of connection between the person and God. It also provides a connection between the giver and the recipient. The entire concept of donating a fraction of one’s wealth to the poor is a highly honorable act; one that comes with valuable lessons as well as blessings. First and foremost, it teaches Muslims self-discipline, allowing the giver to free themselves from the love of possessions and greed.
Zakat is one of the five pillars of Islam. As such, it is compulsory on Muslims, provided they meet certain conditions and criteria.
Any Muslim who possesses the required nisaab (the minimum amount of wealth that one must have before their Zakat is payable) for one whole year is bound to pay Zakat on that wealth. It is imperative that Muslims know exactly how much Zakat they owe and how to calculate so that the right amount can be given to the intended recipient. A lot of people choose Ramadan as the month in which they pay their zakat and for good reasons. Ramadan is the month of blessings and the rewards for all good deeds is far greater in this blessed Ramadan that in any other month.
Jewellery and Precious Metal – Case in point, Gold and Silver. Both come under Zakat even if they are used merely for decorative purposes. The reason behind it is simple; they contribute towards your cumulative wealth and as such their worth must be tabulated when calculating Zakat.
Bank Accounts – Any cash, bonds, stock one might have in their savings account. The amount should be in the bank for one year. Loans given or funds received are also part of the Zakat process.
Cattle and Crops – Cattle and crops that are in excess of one’s need.
“Take alms from their property that you may purify and sanctify them, and pray for them. Verily your prayers are a comfort for them.”
– The Qur’an (9:103)
Making Niyyah (intention) is only half the task. Muslims must also consider the following conditions in order to ensure their contribution is paid correctly.
Recipient’s Eligibility: It is absolutely imperative that every shred of aid given reaches only those who need it most. As such, recipients must be sufficiently poor to receive it. In a nutshell, if they don’t have personal assets that either meet or exceed the nisab, they are eligible to receive Zakat.
Paying Zakat in Advance: People who wish to pay for future years can certainly do so. Keep in mind that the pre-paid amount can be offset against the actual liability incurred in future years.
Payment in Kind: Zakat can be paid in many ways. The ideal way for today’s fast paced world is cash or if some people prefer, they can pay in kind as long as the value of goods are equal to the cash amount and furthermore, the recipient has agreed to accept the goods in kind.
With millions of Muslims donating to relief aid organizations around the world, it is a pivotal way to fight poverty. UMR uses these funds to help poor communities in isolated and remote corners of the world. We assist them in a number of ways such as income generation, food aid and providing a range of essential services. The funds also go towards emergency relief in case of natural disasters.