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Zakat, Simplified: What? Who? How?

The teachings of Islam comes in like a well-planned greenhouse that allows the lives inside it to breathe, grow and expand in a life that is fruitful. Being born a Muslim, we are safeguarded by the five pillars of Islam and one of the most mentioned of them all is ‘Zakat’. It is an act of piety and a religious obligation on Muslims with wealth to make the lives of the less fortunate ones easier in Ramadan in the form of alms-giving.

  • Marzan Jamia
  • Marzan Jamia
  • 01 Jun 2019

 

Zakat Photo

The teachings of Islam comes in like a well-planned greenhouse that allows the lives inside it to breathe, grow and expand in a life that is fruitful. Being born a Muslim, we are safeguarded by the five pillars of Islam and one of the most mentioned of them all is ‘Zakat’. It is an act of piety and a religious obligation on Muslims with wealth to make the lives of the less fortunate ones easier in Ramadan in the form of alms-giving.

 

“It is not righteousness that ye turn your faces to the East and the West; but righteous is he who believeth in Allah and the Last Day and the angels and the Scripture and the Prophets; and giveth his wealth, for love of Him, to kinsfolk and to orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and to those who ask, and to set slaves free; and observeth proper worship and payeth the poor due. And those who keep their treaty when they make one, and the patient in tribulation and adversity and time of stress. Such are they who are sincere. Such are the God fearing.”

(- 2:177, the Holy Quran)

 

Who Pays Zakat?

Given that any individual possessing wealth must pay Zakat, the payable amount varies on the type of asset he owns. Say you own capital asset such as money, you are to give out one-fourth of it as Zakat. Zakat also applies to possess assets like agricultural goods, precious metals and a common example of it is gold, livestock and the payable amount varies between one-fourth to one-fifth. However, you are to pay Zakat only when you have your asset for more than one year.

 

Who gets it?

As stated by Surah Al- Tawba in the Holy Quran, there are eight specific groups of people who are entitled to Zakah.

• The poor, one living without a livelihood.  (Al-Fuqarā')

• The needy, one who cannot provide for himself the basic necessities. (Al-Masākīn)

• People who collect Zakat on behalf of who needs it. (Al-Āmilīyn 'Alihā)

• To persuade those sympathetic to or converts to Islam as well as the potential allies of Islam. (Al-Mu'allafatu Qulūbuhum)

• To free from slavery or servitude through contract. (Fir-Riqāb)

• People who incurred huge debts trying to satisfy their basic needs. (Al-Ghārimīn)

• Those fighting for Allah’s cause.  (Fī Sabīlillāh)

• Travelers who are traveling with a legitimate cause but cannot reach their destination without financial help. (Ibnu Al-Sabīl)

 

“Alms are for the poor and the needy, and those employed to administer the (funds); for those whose hearts have been (recently) reconciled (to Truth); for those in bondage and in debt; in the cause of Allah; and for the wayfarer: (thus is it) ordained by Allah, and Allah is full of knowledge and wisdom.”

(- Surah Al-Tawba, ayat 60, the Holy Quran)

 

How May You Pay?

Given Zakat is a systematic distribution of wealth put forward in a more meaningful manner by Islam, this mandatory act of giving can be done in numerous ways. The amount that you are to give as Zakat can be gifted to a needy to purchase a mean of livelihood be it buying a poor man a CNG or buying a widow a sewing machine. It is your conscience where you would have that amount go and if you are feeding orphans on the street with daily iftar, even then Allah will consider your act of kindness. It is the well-intended act itself that achieve us much more even though it feels like we are giving out something.

 

Zakat al-Fitr

Another small charitable form of Zakah is Zakat al Fitr or Sadaqat al-Fitr.

It is mandatory for all Muslim to pay this amount as long as they are capable to do so. It is paid in the form of a fixed amount per person and traditionally, this charity is given out at the very end of Ramadan as a mean of celebration for those who cannot afford to celebrate on their own. It is different from the asset-based Zakat (Zakat al mal).

 

As Ramadan comes in with a bundle of lessons and values for the Muslims, one of its finest teachings is participation in Zakat. Through Zakat concerns of the well-being of the fellow Muslims are to be attained and also, it brings in harmony between the rich and the poor for The Almighty knows that His Ummah is to foster a sense of solidarity among themselves and what other ways could have been sought for it, if not through promoting kindness and equity.

 

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