Zakat, in a nutshell…

Zakat, the third pillar of Islam, is an obligatory act upon all qualifying Muslims and is the undertaking of submitting a set percentage of his or her profitable wealth to charity.

It isn’t an optional act of generosity; it is a compulsory act that each qualifying Muslim needs to carry out annually – the giving of 2.5% of one’s profitable wealth to those in need.

The many benefits of giving zakat include:

  • The acceptance that nothing on this earth is truly ours and is given to us by Allah SWT to share
  • Recognition that we both enter and leave this world with nothing
  • The acknowledgement that our status in this world and how much wealth we have is not our choice, but in fact, our Lord’s choice
  • Emancipating ourselves from the greed of wealth and worldly possessions
  • Exercising self-discipline
  • Learning to share and help one another; observing humanity
  • Remaining humble
  • A way of purifying one’s own wealth
  • Promoting a balanced society; circulating money equally and fairly
  • And, above all, obedience to Allah SWT

Common Misconceptions of Zakat in Islam

“Zakat purifies haram wealth”

No. Something which is haram is purely that; haram and invalid. If a Muslim acquires haram wealth, the wealth is not the property of the Muslim in the first place. Therefore it does not even come into the equation of zakat as zakat is calculated based on the Muslim’s own wealth.

“Zakat should be paid during Ramadan”

Zakat is paid annually, dependant on the Muslim’s own circumstances, along with the time when zakat first became due on their wealth. The Islamic year is based on the lunar calendar, which means that the year rotates. A large number of Muslims prefer to pay their zakat specifically during the Holy month of Ramadan due to the sheer amount of rewards and blessings for those who give to charity during the auspicious month. However, it is not an option to delay zakat submission if your zakat becomes due before the month of Ramadan.

“Zakat is payable on gold only”

No, zakat is payable on cash, gold, silver, pension funds, stocks, shares, property on rent and any money owed to you. If a married woman owns her own gold amounting to above the nisab value, she is liable to pay zakat on this. It is entirely up to her husband should he wish to pay this on her behalf.

Remember, zakat is due on a Muslim’s total wealth as opposed to primarily the excess wealth. Always check the current nisab rates prior to paying zakat.

How is Zakat Distributed?

The receivers of zakat fall into eight categories:

  • The poor
  • The needy
  • Those reverted to Islam who are in less fortunate circumstances
  • To free slaves
  • For the sake of Allah SWT
  • Those who are in debt
  • Zakat administrators
  • Stranded travellers

It is important to remember that Islam is a religion that encourages and promotes peace and love, so such acts of humanity and maintaining humility are essential to ensure we make the world a better place.

Source: Muslim Aid