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What is zakat?

The word zakat came from the Arabic word zaka which means ‘to purify’. Zakat occupies a prominent position in the religious observances of Islam and has spiritual significance attached to it. Zakat 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. It is the fourth pillar of Islam.

Importance of zakat

Purifies wealth:

The Arabic meaning of zakat is ‘to purify’ which it indeed does. Our possessions are purified by setting aside
a proportion for those in need.

Purifies heart:

Payment of zakat 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.

Allah’s warning:

Allah Almighty has strictly warned human beings of the severe punishment in store for those who do not bother to fulfill the commandment of zakat. According to the saying of prophet (P.B.U.H) ,
a person on whom Allah almighty has bestowed wealth but does but pay zakat, on the day of judgment his
wealth would be transformed into a poisonous large snake which would wrap itself on such person’s neck.

Rate of zakat and those who are obliged to pay it according to the Islamic law, zakat 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 is1/5 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.


Zakat is also imposed on land, trading goods and some other assets.

People who have a right to receive zakat

According to Islamic law zakat cannot be given to everyone, the amount of zakat 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 zakat from people or administer the collection of zakat.
They can be paid wages from the contributions of zakat no matter how rich they maybe.

4) Those recently reconciled to the truth: Funds from zakat 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: zakat can also be paid to the masters of slaves as a payment for their

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 zakat.

7) In the way of Allah: amount of zakat can be used in activities that are done in the way of Allah like jihad.

8) The wayfarer: payment of zakat 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.

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