Zakāt is the taxation of income and wealth of a Muslim. It is a form of obligatory alms giving. Zakat is one of the five pillars of Islam, and is expected to be paid by all practicing Muslims who have the financial means above a minimum amount called nisab. Sharia mandates it as a requirement and evidence of being a Muslim.
Zakat, literally means “that which purifies”. Zakat is a way to purify one’s income and wealth from sometimes worldly, impure way of acquisition. The word indicates a sacrifice that cleanses the means of gaining wealth by giving a part of it to the ummah (community). Just as ablutions purify the body and salāt purifies the soul (in Islam), so zakat purifies possessions and makes them pleasing to God.”
Qur’an discusses charity in many verses, some of which relate to zakat. Also, each of the most trusted hadith collections in Islam have a book dedicated to zakat. They discuss various aspects of zakat, including who must pay, how much, when and what. The 2.5% rate is also recited in the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad.
In the quranic view, zakat is obligatory, but considered more than taxation. One must give zakat for the sake of one’s salvation: while those who give zakat can expect reward from God in the afterlife, neglecting to give zakat can result in damnation. The giving of the zakat is considered a means of purifying one’s wealth and soul.
The amount of Zakat to be paid by an individual depends on the amount of money and the type of assets the individual possesses. The Quran does not provide specific guidelines on which types of wealth are taxable under the zakat, nor does it specify percentages to be given. But the customary practice is that the amount of zakat paid on capital assets like money is 2.5% ). Zakat is additionally payable on agricultural goods, precious metals, minerals, and livestock at a rate varying between 2.5 (1/40) and 20 percent, depending on the type of goods.
Zakat is usually payable on assets continuously owned over one lunar year that are in excess of the nisab, a minimum monetary value.
In a handful of Muslim countries including Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and Pakistan, the zakat is obligatory and is collected by the state. In Jordan, Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon, and Bangladesh, the zakat is regulated by the state, but contributions are voluntary.
Who are the Repicients ?
According to the Quran, there are eight categories of people who qualify to benefit from zakat funds.
Scholars have interpreted this verse as identifying the following eight categories of Muslim causes to be the proper recipients of zakat:
- First for Those who are living without means of livelihood (Al-Fugharā’)
- Those who cannot meet their basic needs (Al-Masākīn)
- To zakat collectors
- To persuade those sympathetic to or expected to convert to Islam (Al-Mu’allafatu Qulūbuhum), recent converts to Islam and potential allies in the cause of Islam
- To free from slavery or servitude (Fir-Riqāb)
- Those who are subject to overwhelming debts while attempting to satisfy their basic needs (Al-Ghārimīn),
- Those who are striving for religious cause or cause of God (Fī Sabīlillāh) against injustice
- Stranded travellers (Ibnu Al-Sabīl)]
Role in Society
When it comes to the role of it, Zakat is considered by Muslims to be an act of piety through which one expresses concern for the well-being of fellow Muslims, as well as preserving social harmony between the wealthy and the poor. Zakat promotes a more fair re-distribution of wealth and fosters a sense of solidarity among members of the Ummah.
Another charity type in Islam is called Zakat al-Fitr or sadakat al Fitr. Zakat al-Fitr is charity given to the poor at the end of the fasting in the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
Zakat al-Fitr is a duty which is wajib (required) of every Muslim, whether male or female, minor or adult as long as he/she has the means to do so.
The head of the household may pay the required amount for the other members.
Sadaqat al-Fitr plays a very important role in the development of the bonds of community. The rich are obliged to come in direct contact with the poor, and the poor are put in contact with the extremely poor. This contact between the various levels of society helps to build real bonds of brotherhood and love within the Islamic community and trains those who have, to be generous to those who do not have.
The main purpose of Zakat al-Fitr is to provide the poor with a means with which they can celebrate the festival of breaking the fast (`Eid al-Fitr) along with the rest of the Muslims.
Every Muslim is required to pay this zakat as a token of thankfulness to God for having enabled him or her to observe the obligatory fast.
The amount of this sadaqa is the same for everyone regardless of their different income. The minimum amount is one sa` (four double handfuls ) of food, grain or dried fruit for each member of the family. Cash equivalent (of the food weight) may also be given, if food collection and distribution is unavailable in that particular country.
Sadaqah is an Islamic term that means “voluntary charity”. This concept includes any act of giving out of compassion, love, friendship (fraternity), religious duty or generosity. As mentioned in sayings of the Prophet Muhammad
- “Sadaqah extinguishes sin and mistakes as water extinguishes fire.” (2541)
- “The believer’s shade and comfort on the Day of Resurrection will be his Sadaqah‘.” (1925)
The range of Sadaqah is very broad.
Building or sponsoring a mosque, hospital, school, house for orphans can be sadaqah.
Also smiling a friend, helping a senior or disabled, cleaning a public area, providing food for animals, teaching someone how to read or write, plant a tree can be sadaqah as well