Understanding Islam & Zakat

Zakat means ‘purification’ or ‘to cleanse.’ In the Islamic faith, Zakat means the purification of your wealth for Allah’s will. Zakat is 2.5% of a year’s cumulative capital according to Islamic regulations.

Means Of Purification
Zakat is a tool to purify your wealth but is also a spiritual purification that serves as a tool to create you closer to Allah. Zakat is both a moral and religious obligation, and this is why every year Muslims give Zakat to the poor.
The whole concept of donating part of your wealth to the poor is an honorable act that comes with blessings and valuable lessons. It teaches the Muslim self-discipline thus enabling the giver to free themselves of greed and love of possessions.
Who Should Pay Zakat?
Zakat is one of Islam’s five pillars. Therefore, it is compulsory for every Muslim if they meet certain criteria and conditions. Any Muslim, who possesses the necessary ‘Saab’ for a full year, is bound to pay Zakat on that wealth. It is important for Muslims to know the amount of Zakat they owe and how to calculate it to ensure that the proper amount is given to intended recipients.
Many people opt to pay their Zakat in the month of Ramadan for good reasons. Ramadan is the month of blessings. Also, rewards for all the righteous deeds are greater in this month than in any other month.

Who Benefits From Zakat?

The people that are poor and suffering are eligible to receive Zakat money. They can be:
– The Destitute – Those that have no funds or wealth and are living life on the bare necessities
– Travelers – Muslims in the middle of their journey but without money are eligible for Zakat
– People in Debt – Those in debt but cannot pay it back are eligible for Zakat
– The Needy & Poor- These may have some funds and wealth but not enough to make up for Saab
– Zakat Collectors- Those that collect and distribute Zakat
– Muslim Converts – This category was designed just to get new Muslim converts that are genuinely sick on their feet.

You Cannot Use Zakat For:
– Burying the deceased
– Clearing debts of the deceased
– Building mosques

Items That Fall Under Zakat

Precious Metals & Jewelry – Case in point, Silver and Gold. Both these precious metals come under Zakat even though they are just used for decorative purposes. The primary objective for their inclusion is that they contribute towards your total wealth, and thus, their worth needs to be tabulated when calculating Zakat.
Crops & Cattle – Crops and cattle that are more than your need
Bank Accounts- Any cash, stocks, or bonds that you may have in your savings account. The money should be in the bank for a year. Funds received, and loans given are part of the Zakat process.

General Conditions Of Zakat
Making ‘Niyat’ is just part of the journey. Muslims need to consider the following conditions to ensure that they pay their Zakat Contributions correctly.
Recipient’s Eligibility – It is vital that any piece of aid reaches only those that need it most. Therefore, Zakat recipients must be sufficiently poor to get it.
Paying Zakat In Advance – If you wish to pay Zakat in advance for future years, you are free to do so.
Paying Zakat In Kind – You can pay Zakat in kind in a variety of ways. The commonest way in this modern world is cash, but you can still pay for goods of equal value to the cash amount.

Zakat and Tax
Zakat is not a form of tax. Tax is a requirement of secular law while Zakat is an obligation and spiritual act. Zakat is a concept designed to help the poor and those suffering so that they may get back on their feet.

In a nutshell, Zakat is a critical pillar of Islam as shown in this article. It is both a spiritual and Muslim obligation that all Muslims need to uphold.