4th Pillar: Zakah
by A. Asim
What is Zakat?
The word Zakah came from the Arabic word Zakah which means ‘to purify’. Zakah occupies a prominent position in the religious observances of Islam and has spiritual significance attached to it. Zakah is basically an amount of money that is given to the less fortunate class of Muslims by the upper classes annually and it is far (compulsory) in Islam.
Importance of zakat
Zakah means to make something clean. Zakah is the 4th Pillar of Islam. It is normally mentioned in Quran alongside Salah, showing the importance of Zakah. It is Fard like the Salah, although Salah is fard for every adult Muslim, the Zakah is fard for only those who have enough savings to give to the unfortunate, Zakah is must be paid by the rich people to the needy/poor. It teaches us to care about the poor and the less fortunate, it teaches us to share our money and wealth to others by trusting Allah (SWT) and to give our money for the sake of Allah’s pleasure. Also those who pay Zakah to the needy should not expect anything in return, they should not even think they are doing a favour to someone rather they are doing it to assist them only. They should seek their reward only with Allah (SWT).Zakah is a fard that everyone must fulfil. Allah (SWT) loves us more when we give more, this can be in regards to (good) deeds, wealth or knowledge. Such a giving is called Sadaqah, surely Riyaa (show) and greediness are both very damaging diseases and Sadaqah that is done secretly is great power to them.
The Arabic meaning of Zakah is ‘to purify’ which it indeed does. Our possessions are purified by setting aside a proportion for those in need.
Payment of Zakah purifies a person’s heart from the love of wealth. Payment of zakat makes the love of Almighty Allah flourish in the heart and infuses an inner sense of satisfaction in a person.
Zakah is a fixed amount of our savings that we must give in charity. Rate of Zakah and those who are obliged to pay it according to the Islamic law, Zakah is compulsory on every adult free Muslim who possesses wealth equivalent to the nisab. Such person is known as Sahib-e-nisab.
On every 7.5 tolas of gold = 2.5%
On every 52.5 tolas of silver or (equivalent in cash) = 2.5%
Khums is 1/5 of the produce from mines.
For every five camels, 1 sheep; for 25 – 35 camels, one year old she – camel; for 36 – 45 camels, two year old she – camel.
Zakah is also imposed on land, trading goods and some other assets.
People who have a right to receive Zakah. According to Islamic law Zakah cannot be given to everyone, the amount of Zakah is given to the poor and the needy Muslims.
The people having right of receiving zakat are:
1) Fuqara: They are those needy people who are unable to fulfill their basic necessities of life such as eating, clothing and basic housing.
2) Masakeen: They are the ones who are in greater distress than the common needy people but do not ask for assistance.
3) Collectors of zakat: They are those who collect Zakah from people or administer the collection of Zakah. They can be paid wages from the contributions of Zakah no matter how rich they maybe.
4) Those recently reconciled to the truth: Funds from Zakah may also be given to the new Muslims who have possibilities of reverting to disbelief if no monetary help was extended to them.
5) To purchase freedom for slaves: Zakah can also be paid to the masters of slaves as a payment for their freedom.
6) Those in debts: a person who is deeply in debts and has not taken debt for any un-Islamic activity so that can be given from the amount of Zakah.
7) In the way of Allah: amount of Zakah can be used in activities that are done in the way of Allah like jihad.
8) The wayfarer: payment of Zakah is also valid on such a person who could be well – off in his hometown but facing financial problems due to the course of travel.