What is Zakat?
“Whoever pays the zakat on his wealth will have its evil removed from him”(Ibn Khuzaimah and at-Tabarani)
Who has to pay Zakat?
You must pay Zakat if, firstly, you are an adult Muslim of sound mind, and secondly, you have possessed the minimum amount of wealth (known as Nisab) for one lunar year.
Nisab must be maintained for one lunar year for Zakat to be required and must be paid as soon as it is due. Your Zakat year, therefore, starts on the date your wealth first equalled or exceeded the Nisab and should be calculated on that date for each subsequent year.
Who is eligible for Zakat
The Holy Qur’an determined who is eligible to receive Zakat, stating:
“As-Sadaqat (Zakat) are only for the Fuqara' (poor), and Al-Masakin (the needy) and those employed to collect (Zakat funds); and for to attract the hearts of those who have been inclined (towards Islam); and to free the captives; and for those in debt; and for Allah's Cause (i.e. for Mujahidun - those fighting in the holy wars), and for the wayfarer (a traveller who is cut off from everything); a duty imposed by Allah. And Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise.” - Chapter at-Tawbah Tevbe, 60Chapter at-Tawbah Tevbe, 60
This means that Zakat donations cannot be given to just anyone. A husband cannot give his Zakat to his wife as he is already responsible for her, just as he is his children. A wife, though, is permitted to give Zakat to her husband, so long as he meets the relevant criteria – she must not benefit in any way from this donation (i.e. the husband using the funds to pay for a gift for his wife).
1. The poor (Al-fuqara)
2. The needy (al-masakin)
meaning someone who is in difficulty: Someone in need might not necessarily be poor, right? Some people are forced from their homes by war or natural disasters. Or imagine a mother who gets sick and cannot take care of her children. Even with money in the bank, they may still need help. Your zakat can be there for them.
3. Those in charge of distributing the zakat
4. Those whose hearts are to be reconciled
meaning new Muslims and friends of the Muslim community: You read that right. Your zakat can be distributed to new Muslims, and to people in the larger community. This not only exemplifies the Muslim tradition of social justice for all, but shows reverts how important they are, and helps build bonds of cooperation and friendship between Muslims and non-Muslims.
5. Those in bondage
(slaves and captives): Even though slavery is outlawed in most parts of the world, many people are still trafficked, meaning bought and sold, as slaves. Using zakat to help any of these people become free and independent again seems like a no-brainer.
6. The debt-ridden
Yes, zakat can help people pay their debts. Living with a great burden of debt can be debilitating to an individual or family, but your zakat can help.
7. In the cause of God
This includes funding for dawah, Islamic propagation and media, Islamic institutes and universities, funding students of knowledge and supporting teachers preaching Islam and calling to goodness. It also includes any project or worthy cause that is directly involved in working in the broader meaning of the path of Allah.
8. The Wayfarer
meaning those who are stranded or travelling with few resources: Whether a refugee who is fleeing violence in a distant country or a motorist stranded on the side of the road, God has designated that anyone who is away from home, out of cash and in need of help is eligible to receive your zakat.