What is Zakat?

Zakat is a form of obligatory charity that has the potential to ease the suffering of millions. Crisis Aid utilises zakat to help some of the world’s poorest and most destitute communities. Your donations bring joy to these people and bring hope that one day they will be able to give rather than receive zakat. A common misconception is that Zakat is a form of tax. However, it is a spiritual obligation in which we will be accountable to Allah directly. Zakat plays a key role in supporting the poorest in the community, through providing them with essential aid as well as helping them come out of a life of poverty.

“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, 60

Chapter 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).

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8 types of people can receive Zakat?

Zakat Categories

Breaking of an oath (Kafaarat Yameen). Oath is only permissible if it has been taken with Allah's name. Taking oath with other than Allah is not permissible.

1. The poor (Al-fuqara)

meaning low-income or indigent: This can mean a homeless person in your area, kids whose families qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, or orphans in Bangladesh. Anyone who does not have the funds to live a stable life, feeds themselves and their family, go to the doctor when they need to and grow up to be a productive citizen falls under this category.

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

It includes people who manage zakat funds whether in charitable organisations, masjid or in other institutions. If an Imam is involved in collecting Zakat funds, he can also be qualified to receive from such collections. It is important that only a reasonable amount is taken for this cause and it is not abused.

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.

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