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Tuesday, September 26, 2023
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Zakat

Understanding the Importance and Practicalities of Zakat in Islam

Islam places a great emphasis on the concept of charity and helping those in need. One of the Five Pillars of Islam, the Zakat, is a mandatory annual wealth tax for Muslims to give a portion of their wealth to the poor and needy. In this article, we will be exploring the importance of Zakat in Islam and the practicalities of giving it.
The word "zakat" comes from the Arabic word "zakat," which means "purification." In the Islamic faith, Zakat is seen as a way to purify one's wealth and earn blessings from God. It is also a means of providing for those in need and helping to alleviate poverty. The act of giving Zakat is considered an act of worship, and it is seen as a way to demonstrate one's gratitude and appreciation for the blessings they have received.
The prophet Muhammad ﷺ said,

"Giving charity (Zakat) does not decrease your wealth, rather it increases it"
(Sahih Muslim)

The Concept of Nisab in zakat donation

According to Islamic teachings, Zakat is mandatory for all adult Muslims who meet certain criteria. The criteria for zakat donation includes having a certain amount of wealth, called the nisab, and having possession of that wealth for one lunar year. The nisab is determined by the market value of certain amounts of gold and silver, which are traditionally used as a measure of wealth in Islamic culture.
The amount of Zakat that must be given is 2.5% of one's wealth, which includes cash, savings, investments, and gold and silver. However, it is not just limited to these, agricultural produce, livestock, and any trade items also falls under the category of zakat calculation. It is important to note that Zakat is calculated based on one's net wealth, after taking into account any outstanding debts or liabilities.
It is also important to note that Zakat is not the same as sadaqah, or voluntary charity. While sadaqah is encouraged and is a way to earn blessings, Zakat is mandatory and is a legal obligation for Muslims.
The recipients of Zakat are known as the "as-sadaqaat," which includes the poor, the needy, and those who work to collect and distribute Zakat. Additionally, Zakat can also be given to new Muslims, slaves, those in debt, and those who are fighting in the cause of Allah. It is also considered good practice to give Zakat to one's own family, relatives and the community.

Practicalities of Zakat

When it comes to the practicalities of giving Zakat, it is generally recommended to give it directly to the needy individuals, as it would help to provide for their immediate needs. However, there are also various organizations and institutions that collect and distribute Zakat on behalf of the donors. These organizations are often specialized in collecting and distributing Zakat, and they have knowledge and the ability to reach out the people in need and make sure that the Zakat reaches to the right people.

The idea of zakat al-fitr during Ramadan

It is also important to note that Zakat should be given in a timely manner and it is encouraged not mandatory to give it during the month of Ramadan, as the rewards for giving it during this month is believed to be greater. You can also donate Zakat al-Fitr, also known as Fitrana or Sadaqat al-Fitr, is a charitable payment that Muslims are required to give before the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. It is a means of providing for those in need and purifying the fast of those who have fulfilled the obligation of Ramadan fasting. There are multiple organizations that help you in paying Zakat al-fitr in Canada, USA, and UK.
The Zakat is an important aspect of Islam, and it serves as a means of providing for those in need while also purifying one's wealth. It is a legal obligation for Muslims who meet certain criteria, and it is seen as an act of worship. The practicalities of giving Zakat involve calculating one's net wealth, giving a portion of it to the poor and needy, and ensuring that it is given in a timely manner and preferably in the month of Ramadan.
Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said,

"Charity (Zakat) is a Necessity for Every Muslim"
(Sahih Muslim)

FAQs

What is Zakat?

Zakat is a mandatory form of giving or charity in Islam, which is calculated on a percentage of one's wealth and is paid to the poor and needy in the community. It is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and is considered a religious obligation for Muslims.

Who is eligible to receive Zakat?

According to Islamic teachings, there are eight categories of individuals who are eligible to receive Zakat, known as the "asnaf" (beneficiaries). These include the poor, the needy, those who work to collect and distribute Zakat, those who convert to Islam, those in debt, those in the way of Allah (jihad), travelers in need, and those who are slaves trying to buy their freedom.

How is Zakat calculated?

The calculation of Zakat is based on the value of one's wealth, including cash, savings, investments, and valuable assets such as gold and silver. The current standard rate of Zakat is 2.5%, however, it can vary according to the country or location of the payer. Some scholars also allow for a slightly higher percentage for people with less savings, for example for the rate of 3.5% for those with assets under a certain limit, and decrease for the wealthy with larger savings

When is Zakat due?

The timing of Zakat is traditionally based on the Islamic lunar calendar, and it is due on the date of the Islamic lunar month of Ramadan. However, it can also be given at any time throughout the year, as long as the individual is able to fulfill the obligation and has the means to do so. The most important is to give it as soon as the individual can, not delaying it and not giving it before the wealth has met the nisab (minimum amount of wealth) for Zakat.