What is Zakat?

The word “Zakat” means “purification”. Zakat is the fourth pillar of Islam and it serves for purification of wealth. As Muslim, we all believe that Allah SWT owns everything in the universe and our wealth is also belongs to Allah and we should use it according to his commands.

Those Muslims who are blessed with wealth above certain ration Allah SWT has set a portion and share of less fortunate and deserving people. If a wealthy person keeps the share of deserving people it will be haram for him. So it is obligatory to every wealthy Muslim to purify his/her wealth from getting impure with haram wealth.

The other meaning of Zakat is “Growth” which implies that those Muslims who pay Zakat with responsibility get special blessings of Allah and observe better growth in their wealth.

Who is obligated to give Zakat?

Every Muslim (Man/woman) who is free, sane, reached the age of puberty and has a net worth exceeding than nisab is bound to pay Zakat which 1/40th (2.5%) of net worth. The Nisab is zakatable amount which is 87.479 grams of gold and 607.350 grams of silver or amount equal to one of their price.  A Muslim must possess wealth in excess of the niṣab level for 1 lunar year (354 days) is liable for Zakat.

This year begins on the date the wealth is obtained; so long as the assets are in its owner’s possession at the beginning and end of the lunar year the zakat is applicable. In modern societies, niṣāb is considered equivalent to the poverty threshold.

What are the Benefits of Zakat?

There are many reasons pertaining to the importance of Zakat. Zakat helps in building society by helping the less fortunate of society. It also balances the distribution of money in society. It gives non-wealthy people a chance to enjoy a standard lifestyle.  Zakat also accounts for the circulation of money in society and money is runs in society and goes to needy people from wealthy members of society.
Zakat develops a sense of sacrifice and habit of charity. Allah loves those who give the sacrifice most important things and perhaps wealth is one of the most important elements of a person. It also removes the love of material and greed from the heart.

Who can be Given Zakat?

In the Quran, Allah Almighty says:

“The alms are only for the Fuqara (the poor), and Al-Masakin (the needy) and those employed to collect (the funds), and to attract the hearts of those who have been inclined (towards Islam); and to free captives; and for those in debt; and for Allah’s cause, and for the wayfarer (a traveler who is cut off from everything); a duty imposed by Allah. And Allah is All-Knower, All-Wise.” (9:60)

From the above verse of the Quran the following people are eligible of getting Zakat:

  1. The Poor – These are the deserving people who don’t have the means to live their standard life.
  2. The Needy – These are poor people but, their dignity, self-respect, and bashfulness don’t allow them to expose their poverty.
  3. The Collectors –The people who are involved in collecting Zakat can also take money from it for their needs.
  4. The New Converts – People who convert to Islam are also eligible to accept Zakat for assistance in starting a new life.
  5. To Free Slaves – The Zakat money can be spent on freeing the people who are slaves.
  6. To Help Someone Pay Debt – The money of Zakat can be spent to pay off the debt of those people who are under debt and they are not in good economic condition.
  7. In Cause Of Allah – Zakat can also be spent on people who strive in the way of Allah.
  8. For Travelers – Zakat can also be given to travelers as they are far from their homes and they might need the money during traveling.

Some misconceptions about Zakat

Here are some common misconceptions about Zakat which are cleared in the following lines.

1. Is Zakat to be paid in Ramadan Only?

No, Zakat is not only to be paid in Ramadan rather it is to be paid within a year when a Muslim becomes liable to pay Zakat.

2. Do Zakat Purifies Haram Wealth?

No,  Zakat is only and only liable on the Halal earned wealth.

3. Is Zakat  On Gold Only?

No, this is not right. Gold and silver is mentioned in Quran and Hadith only to define the unit of measurement. Zakat is on every asset anything whether its cash, silver, stocks, livestock, property, or another asset that is worth the same amount as the gold mentioned by Islam.

4. The husband has to pay Zakat for his Wife?

This is also a misconception that the Husband has to pay the Zakat of Women. In Islam, the woman has to pay it on his belongings such as jewelry or any other asset.

5. Zakat is not for Relatives?

Zakat can be paid to poor relatives except for blood relations such are siblings, spouses, parents.