Zakat In Islam – Full Guide

Zakat in Islam

Zakat, a fundamental pillar of Islam, represents a divine obligation upon Muslims to purify their wealth and contribute to the welfare of society. It is mandated when a Muslim’s wealth surpasses the nisab threshold, remains in their possession for a full lunar year, and is free from liabilities that diminish its value. The nisab for Zakat is defined as 85 grams of gold of 21 carats, and the Zakat rate is set at one-quarter of ten, equivalent to 2.5% of the total wealth. Debts owed by the payer are deducted from the total wealth before calculating Zakat, and newly acquired wealth during the year is added to the existing wealth for Zakat calculation, payable once at the end of the lunar year.

Zakat applies to various assets, including cash, savings, gold, silver, and certain types of investments, and it is obligatory on the wealth itself, not on the debtor. The recipients of Zakat are specified by Allah in the Quran and include the poor, needy, those employed to administer Zakat, captives, debtors, those in the cause of Allah, and wayfarers.

Zakat distribution is governed by specific guidelines, emphasizing the importance of giving to those in need while maintaining family ties and fulfilling religious duties. While Zakat should ideally be paid immediately once its conditions are met, deferral is permissible under genuine circumstances or difficulty, with the intention to pay the remaining amount when feasible.

The Zakat payer can give Zakat to relatives eligible for Zakat, earning a double reward for both giving Zakat and maintaining family ties. Zakat should be given in the form of wealth, but in exceptional circumstances, it can be given in kind if it benefits the recipient, as determined by religious rulings. Ultimately, Zakat serves as a means of social welfare and solidarity, embodying the principles of charity, compassion, and justice in Islam.

What Is Zakat?

Zakat is a mandatory act of charity in Islam. It is the 3rd of the five pillars of Islam and requires Muslims to donate part of their wealth to those in need. What Zakat in Islam represents is not just a means of giving to those in need; it is also a means of purifying one’s wealth and seeking Allah’s blessings.

Zakat is a fundamental pillar of Islam, mandated by Allah to ensure the prosperity and success of believers. It is obligatory on wealth that is not for personal use, such as money, trade goods, livestock, and agricultural produce meeting specific criteria.

Zakat is not required on items used for personal needs like housing, clothing, or vehicles. It is distributed to eight categories of recipients, as mentioned in the Quran (Surah At-Tawbah:60). Muslims need to fulfill their Zakat obligation timely and accurately, alongside acquiring knowledge of its rules and regulations. Seeking guidance from trustworthy scholars is encouraged to ensure compliance with Islamic teachings.

What Does Zakat Mean In Islam?

The word “zakat” comes from the Arabic word meaning “purification” or “growth.” It is a crucial component of Islamic charity and serves to help those in need while providing spiritual benefits for the giver.

In Islam, Zakat is considered an essential act of worship and serves as a way to show gratitude towards Allah for His blessings. The amount of Zakat that a Muslim must pay depends on the value of their assets and income, besides other factors such as family size and debts.

What are the conditions for paying zakat?

Conditions of Zakat are as follows:

  1. Islam: Zakat is obligatory only for Muslims and cannot be accepted from non-believers.
  2. Freedom: Zakat is not obligatory on slaves, as they do not possess full ownership over their wealth. (Note: Slavery has been abolished in Islam.)
  3. Complete ownership: The wealth subject to Zakat must be fully owned and under the control of the individual.
  4. Productivity: The wealth should either grow or have the potential for growth. This includes livestock, crops, trade goods, and money that can grow through investment. Items used for personal needs, like horses and slaves, are exempt from Zakat.
  5. Exceeding basic necessities: Zakat is not obligatory on wealth needed to fulfill essential needs such as food, drink, clothing, housing, and expenses for family maintenance.
  6. The passing of a lunar year: A lunar year must pass over the ownership of the minimum taxable amount (nisaab) for Zakat to become obligatory. However, crops, fruits, and trade merchandise have their Zakat due at the time of harvest or sale.
  7. Grazing (for livestock): Animals that graze freely without incurring additional costs for feeding are exempt from Zakat.
  8. Ownership of the minimum taxable amount (nisaab): Zakat is only obligatory on wealth that exceeds the minimum threshold (nisaab) set by Islamic law. The nisaab varies depending on the type of wealth owned.

Read: the importance of zakah.

What is the Nisab of Zakat?

The nisab for Zakat varies depending on the type of wealth. Here are the nisab amounts for different categories:

  1. Gold and Silver: The nisab for gold is 85 grams of pure gold, while for silver, it is 595 grams of pure silver. Zakat is obligatory when wealth exceeds this amount, typically at a rate of 2.5%.
  2. Crops and Fruits: The nisab for crops and fruits is equivalent to five awsuq, where each awsuq equals sixty sa’ according to the prophetic measurement. The current equivalent is approximately 611 kilograms. Zakat is due at a rate of one-tenth (10%) if watered without incurring costs, and half of that if watered with incurred costs.
  3. Metals: Zakat is obligatory on metals like gold, regardless of quantity, at a rate of one-fifth (20%) to be spent for the general welfare of Muslims. The majority opinion considers the nisab for metals equivalent to that of gold and silver.
  4. Buried Treasure (Rikaz): Zakat is obligatory on buried treasures at a rate of one-fifth (20%), regardless of quantity, as long as they have value. The Shafi’i school requires a nisab for Rikaz.
  5. Livestock (Animals): For livestock such as camels, cows, and sheep, the nisab varies. For example, for sheep, one sheep is obligatory for every forty to one hundred and twenty-one. After reaching two hundred and one sheep, two sheep are due, and so forth. Similar calculations apply to cows and camels.

These amounts represent the nisab for Zakat, defining the minimum threshold of wealth upon which Zakat becomes obligatory.

Who Is Eligible For Zakat?

Zakat is given to those who are in need and meet fixed eligibility criteria. In Islamic doctrine, 

Zakat is given to those who are in need and meet fixed eligibility criteria. In Islamic doctrine, eight specific groups of people are eligible to receive Zakat:

1. The poor (Al-Fuqara)

Al-Fuqara are the persons who have no resources or insufficient income to meet their primary needs.

2. The needy (Al-Masakeen)

Al-Masakeen are the ones who have some wealth but not enough to meet their primary needs.

3. Zakat collectors (Al-Amileen)

Those are the persons who collect and distribute Zakat on behalf of those in need.

4. New Muslims or those whose hearts are to be conciliated (Al-Mu’allafatu Qulubuhum)

That includes those who have recently entered Islam or who may be near to entering, as this can help strengthen their faith.

5. Slaves or captives (Fi Sabilillah)

Those who are held against their will, such as prisoners of war, may require funds for their release.

6. Debtors (Al-Gharimin)

Debtors, or Al-Gharimin in Arabic, refer to individuals who owe money to others as a result of borrowing funds or purchasing goods and services on credit and cannot repay it on their own.

7. Travelers (Ibnus-Sabeel)

“Travelers” or “Ibn As-Sabeel” are people who are stranded. These individuals travel and do not possess enough resources (money, food, shelter) to complete their journey or return home.

8. Those committed in the cause of Allah (Fisabilillah)

Those who work for the betterment of society, such as scholars, students, and activists, may need financial aid to continue their work.

Zakat In Quran And Sunnah:

Zakat is explicitly mentioned in the Quran as one of the fundamental pillars of Islam, alongside faith, prayer, and righteous deeds. In Surah Al-Baqarah (2:277), Allah promises a reward for those who believe, perform good deeds, establish prayers, and give Zakat, ensuring no fear or grief for them. Furthermore, in Surah Al-An’am (6:141), Allah instructs believers to consume the lawful sustenance He has provided and to fulfill the due rights, including Zakat, on the day of harvest, emphasizing moderation and warning against extravagance.

In the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), Zakat is reaffirmed as a foundational aspect of Islam. The Prophet (peace be upon him) stated that Islam is built upon five pillars: the testimony of faith, establishing prayers, giving Zakat, fasting during Ramadan, and performing Hajj for those capable of doing so. This hadith emphasizes the centrality of Zakat as an essential obligation for Muslims, demonstrating its significance alongside other pillars of Islam. These Quranic verses and Prophetic traditions underscore the importance of Zakat as a religious duty and a means of social welfare and equity in Islamic teachings.

How To Pay Zakat?

Zakat can be paid in various ways, depending on personal preference and convenience. Here are some methods of paying Zakat:

1. Directly to the needy

You can find individuals or organizations who meet the eligibility criteria for Zakat and pay your Zakat directly to them.

Instead of donating money, you can donate items or goods, such as food, clothing, or household items.

2. Through a Zakat committee

Many mosques or Islamic centers have Zakat committees that collect and distribute Zakat to those in need. You can donate your Zakat to such committees as well.

3. Online donation platforms

Many online platforms allow you to donate your Zakat easily and securely. You can search for reputable platforms that work with verified charities and organizations.

4. Automatic deductions

Some banks and financial institutions offer automatic Zakat deduction services, where a percentage of your wealth is automatically donated yearly.

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What Is Zakat Al fitr?

Zakat al-Fitr is a characteristic form of Zakat. It is paid at Ramadan end, the Islamic holy month of fasting. It is compulsory for every Muslim who possesses food to exceed his and his family’s needs. 

Zakat al-Fitr’s primary purpose is to contribute alms toward those in need, helping them celebrate Eid al-Fitr by providing them with essentials such as food, clothing, or money before Salah of Eid al-Fitr.

It is meant to purify the person offering it from any shortcomings or mistakes made during Ramadan. Besides, it helps to ensure that all Muslims enjoy the Eid.

The amount of Zakat al-Fitr is equivalent to the cost of one meal for each household member, including dependents like children, elderly parents or grandparents, and servants. The exact amount is determined based on the cost of staple foods in the local area, and one can give it in the form of food or money.

It is recommended to pay Zakat al-Fitr before Eid Salah so that those in need have enough time to prepare for that festive occasion. It’s important to note that Zakat al-Fitr is separate from the annual Zakat, and all eligible Muslims must pay it regardless of their annual Zakat.

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In conclusion, Zakat stands as a cornerstone of Islam, embodying principles of charity, compassion, and social justice. It serves not only as a means of purifying wealth but also as a mechanism for redistributing resources to those in need, thereby fostering solidarity and welfare within the Muslim community. With its roots firmly embedded in the Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), Zakat represents a sacred duty incumbent upon every Muslim to fulfill.

By adhering to its principles and fulfilling its obligations, Muslims uphold the values of generosity, empathy, and communal responsibility, thereby contributing to the betterment of society as a whole. Through the institution of Zakat, Islam provides a framework for addressing economic disparities and ensuring the equitable distribution of wealth, ultimately striving towards a more just and compassionate world.

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