What Exactly Is Zakat? – Meaning, Importance, Eligibility, And Facing

In Islam, there are five essential pillars: shahada, salat, zakat, sawm, and hajj.

Every Muslim is obligated to follow these five pillars and live life with pure hearts. If you’re wondering what zakat is, it’s the third pillar of Islam that requires people to do charity and give a portion of their wealth to the poor and needy. It is a way of praying and living life in accordance with Allah’s will. Although not everyone is required to make an annual donation, those who are eligible can pay zakat as a religious obligation.

What is zakat: zakat meaning

Zakat literally means “to increase,” and technically, “that which purifies.” As a result, it is a fundamental Islamic tenet that purifies an individual’s yearly earnings. It must be donated on excess wealth, which includes money in a bank account or at home, gold/silver possession, agricultural produce, livestock earnings, and profits from stocks and investments. As a result, it frees a person from greed and selfishness. It is a method of achieving and maintaining social harmony.

Importance of zakat

The importance of zakat is mentioned more than 80 times in the Quran. It requires a person to be sincere in its proper calculation and donation. Their faith brings them closer to Allah, the only source of truth in the world. It is a critical factor in maintaining social order and eliminating beggary. Furthermore, a balanced distribution of wealth between the rich and poor eliminates social evils such as slavery, exploitation, and crime. The basic idea behind annual donations is to promote brotherhood and Muslim unity throughout the world in the name of Allah, the Almighty.

Types of Zakat

  1. Zakat al-Mal: Zakat al-Mal, the most common type of Zakat, is an annual donation made on an individual’s wealth. Money in cash, gold, silver, and property are examples of wealth.
  2. Zakat al Fitr: Zakat al Fitr is another significant obligatory donation for Muslims. The donation is made before Eid within the time limit specified in order for it to be valid.

Zakat Hadith

Charity is a more profitable investment than any other system. In a hadith narrated by Abu Huraira, Allah mentions the benefits of profits:

“If one gives in charity what equals (the size of) one date fruit from honestly-earned money, and Allah accepts only honestly-earned money -Allah takes it in His right (hand) and then enlarges its reward for that person (who has given it), as anyone of you brings up his baby horse to the size of a mountain.”

– Sahih Bukhari, Vol 2, Book 24, No. 491

Benefits of zakat

01: Charity in the name of Allah has numerous implications and benefits for both the individual and the society in which they live. Among these are:

Unification in Allah’s cause: According to a hadith, an Angel prays to Allah to provide for the person who donates to the divine cause. The donation brings two paths together: one led by an individual and one shown by Allah.

02: Protection from hellfire: Allah loves the righteous and those who obey Him completely. According to Islamic scholars, a person who donates wealth on time is safe from hellfire, and Allah provides a home on Judgment Day.

03: Encourage a sense of belonging in a society: Donation lays the groundwork for equitable wealth distribution and helps the poor and needy. As a result, it eliminates the social distinction between rich and poor and makes every individual, as Allah created them, equal to each other.

Zakat Rules

Every Muslim must be aware of several basic rules regarding annual donations. As a result, the following are the essential rules for paying the annual donation:

Who is eligible for zakat?

Individuals must donate wealth as a responsibility if their annual income exceeds a certain threshold. From then on, the individual must donate their wealth every year. Charity should not be postponed because it is an individual obligation. Furthermore, the head of the family is required to pay Zakat al-Fitr at the end of Ramadan. Every fasting member of the family must pay Zakat al-Fitr in the form of money or food equal to the member’s one-day fasting.

Nisab Meaning

The smallest amount of a person’s wealth at which they are eligible to pay Zakat. The total nisab is calculated differently for different wealth sources and assets. Furthermore, if an individual’s wealth falls below the nisab at any point during the zakat year, the year’s calculation will be restarted once the wealth exceeds the nisab.

Who is eligible to receive zakat?

There are eight categories of people who can receive donated wealth. These are:

  • Fakir – poor and needy
  • Miskin – is hungry and have nothing to eat
  • Amil – zakat collector who distributes it on behalf of others
  • Riqab – enslaved people or captives
  • Gharmin – people in debt
  • Fisabilillah – individuals who work towards the cause of Allah
  • Ibnus Sabil – stranded travellers
  • Muallaf – new members or converts

How to calculate Zakat

To calculate it, first determine your Zakatable income. Muslims can calculate their total income by adding all sources of income such as gold and silver, cash, stocks, shares, real estate, and so on. Now, one must calculate their annual needs and living expenses. The expenses must now be deducted from the total income to determine the total Zakatable amount. If the amount is greater than the nisab, the Zakatable wealth is multiplied by the Zakat percentage to determine the individual’s yearly donation. However, if the Zakatable amount is less than nisab, the donation is not required.

How to calculate zakat on salary

Zakat on salary is calculated based on how much one is able to save as wealth rather than how much one earns. As a result, one should calculate zakat based on their salary savings. If the savings exceed nisab, the donor must be paid. If an individual’s salary is not consistent, the total amount saved over the year can be calculated and the obligatory donation paid accordingly.

Zakat facts

  • Only those who have held wealth for the entire year are eligible to donate
  • It is the right of every poor person to receive as Allah has ordered. Its main goal is to empower the poor and give them equal standing with the rich.
  • It is second only to five daily prayers when discussing the five pillars of Islam.
  • All calculations must be done in a specific order, not according to individual preferences. Neighbourhoods should be prioritised for charitable contributions.

To put it simply, Zakat is an obligation imposed on Muslims to protect the poor from the evils of greed and riches. It is a method of maintaining social balance and order by eliminating immoral and sinful acts and replacing them with goodness and truth. Pay the obligatory donation according to your ability and contribute to the restoration of Ummah’s prosperity.

Zakat FAQs

Can an individual give zakat to family members?

Yes, one can donate wealth to family members if the member falls in the receiving criteria.

What is nisab?

The threshold of wealth above which one has to pay obligatory donation is nisab.

What is Zakat al-Fitr?

It is the charity performed by the head of the family at the end of Ramadan on behalf of fasting family members. It is a separate charity from the annual donation.

What are the benefits of zakat?

It helps in establishing balance in society and bringing an individual close to Allah.

How does zakat work?

It is different from general charity. For a donation to work, the sole intention or niyat should be to pay zakat alone.

Zakat is given in which month?

People can donate in any month of the year but should maintain the date to give the next donation on the same date in the following year.

Can zakat be given to siblings?

Yes, one can pay it to siblings in need.

Can you pay zakat on behalf of someone else?

Yes, head of the family can pay the donation on behalf of other family members.

Do I need to pay zakat on land?

Yes, one will have to pay donation on land if it is generating or adding to the wealth of the individual.

Can zakat be given to masjid?

Most of the scholars do not promote the idea of giving an obligatory donation to mosques. However, there are some scholars who suggest that individuals can donate it to mosques.

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