بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ


The Importance of Zakah

One of the most important principles of Islam is that all things belong to Allah SWT, and that wealth is therefore held by human beings in trust.

The obligatory nature of Zakat is firmly established in the Quran, the Sunnah, and the consensus of the Companions and the Muslim scholars.

Zakah or alms can be defined as that portion of a person’s wealth which is designated for the poor. The term is derived from the Arabic verbal root meaning “to increase”, “to purify”, and “to bless”. It finds its origin in Allah’s command

خذ من أموالهم صدقة تطهرهم وتزكيهم بها

“Take Sadaqah (charity) from their property in order to purify and sanctify them” (Quran 9:103)

That is why this kind of Sadaqah is called Zakah, for by paying it one is aspiring to attain blessing, purification, and the cultivation of good deeds.

The Zakah constitutes one of the five pillars of Islam. It is associated with prayer (Salah) in eighty-two Quranic verses. Ibn Abbas RAA reported that when prophet SAW sent Muadh Ibn Jabal RAA to Yemen, he said to him: “You are going to a people who are people of the scripture. Invite them to accept the Shahadah that there is no god but Allah and I am His Messenger. If they accept and affirm this, tell them that Allah has enjoined five prayers upon them during the day and night. If they accept that, tell them also that He has enjoined Sadaqah upon their assets which will be taken from the rich of the (Muslim) community and distributed to the poor. If they accept that, refrain from laying hands upon the best of their goods and fear the cry of the oppressed, for there is no barrier between Allah and it.” (Bukhari & Muslim)

Allah SWT orders Muslims to pay their dues of charity in different places. Every time a verse of the Quran calls for the performance of prayer, there is a call for practicing charity. Charity and prayer are firm foundations on which Islam is established. Allah SWT says:

أقيموا الصلاة و آتوا الزكاة

“Establish prayer and pay charity.” (Quran 2:43)

Religious fraternity that ties the Muslim individual to other Muslims is established mainly through the performance of prayer and charity. Quran says: “If they repent, establish regular prayers and practice regular charity, they are your brethren in faith.” (Quran 9:10)

Abu Kabshah Al-Anmari RAA narrates that the Prophet SAW said: “I swear upon three [things] and ask you to memorize my words: Sadaqah taken from a property never decreases it; a man who suffers injustice and is patient with it, Allah will grant him strength, a man who starts begging, Allah will cause him to be poor.” (Al-Tirmizi)

Warning against neglecting Zakah

Allah SWT warns those who refuse to give charity, saying: “Let not those who covetously withhold of the gifts which Allah has given them of His grace think that it is good for them: Nay, it will be the worse for them. Soon shall the things which they covetously withheld be tied to their necks like a twisted collar, on the Day of Judgment.” (Quran 3:180)

At-Tabarani relates on the authority of Ali RAA that the Prophet SAW said: “Allah has enjoined upon rich Muslims a due, to be taken from their properties corresponding to the needs of the poor among them. The poor will never suffer from starvation or lack of clothes unless the rich neglect their due. If they do, Allah will surely hold them accountable and punish them severely.” (Al-Tabrani)

Prophet Mohammed SAW has also warned those who refrain from the charity in drought and difficult times: “Those who refrain from paying charity are deprived of rain from the sky, had it not been for the livestock, it would not have rained.” (Ibn Majah & Al-Baihaqi)

Assets that attract Zakah

Zakah is generally imposed on:

Gold and silver, in any form; not on other metals

Financial assets such as cash, banknotes, and stocks

Merchandise for business

Income derived from rental business


Personal needs are not subject to Zakah. These include, among other things, clothing, household furniture, utensils, cars, pearls, diamonds and other precious or semi-precious stones etc.

The recipients of Zakah

The recipients of Zakah Islam does not leave the question of charity to the personal estimation of those in whose trust its revenues are put, it assigns where these revenues should go, as the following verse plainly declares:

إنما الصدقات للفقراء والمساكين والعاملين عليها والمؤلفة قلوبهم وفي الرقاب والغارمين و في سبيل الله وابن السبيل فريضة من الله ، والله حكيم عليم.

“The alms are only for the poor and the needy, and those who collect them, and those whose hearts are to be reconciled, and to free the captives and the debtors, and for the cause of Allah, and (for) the wayfarers; a duty imposed by Allah. Allah is All-knower, All-Wise.” (9:60).

The revenues of charity may also be offered to certain institutions like welfare hospitals and schools and to orphanages etc. Institutions like these are established for the welfare of the poor. Whether the revenues of charity should be spent on all those who deserve it, scholars of Fiqh explain that a donor should not necessarily contribute indiscriminately, he may choose only one and contribute to it. The person in charge, however, has to give priority to socially more urgent cases and then to less urgent ones.

Nisab of Zakah

Nisab is the term used for the threshold at which Zakah becomes obligatory. Zakah is obligatory when a certain amount of money – Nisab – is reached or exceeded and is maintained for a period of one lunar year. Zakah is not obligatory if the amount owned is less than this Nisab.

The Nisab of gold is 20 Mithqal, (7.5 Tolas), this is approximately 87.48 grams of pure gold. The Nisab of silver is 200 Dirhams, (52,5 Tolas), which is approximately 612 grams of pure silver. The Nisab of other kinds of monies and currencies is to be scaled to that of gold and silver, e.g. 87.48 grams of pure gold, or to that of silver, e.g. 612 grams of pure silver.

The rate of Zakah which is fixed by Rasulullah SAW is two and a half percent (2.5%) of one’s capital (1/40).

Zakat ul-Fitr

Every Muslim is required to pay Zakat-ul-Fitr at the conclusion of the month of Ramadhan as a token of thankfulness to Allah SWT for having enabled him to observe fasts.

Its purpose is to purify those who fast from any indecent act or speech and to help the poor and needy. 

In this Hadith two purposes are highlighted; one is related to the individual for completion of his fast and compensation for any shortcomings in his actions or speech, and the other is related to society; for the spreading of love and happiness among its members, particularly the poor and needy, during the day of `Eid.

This view is based upon a Hadith which states: “The Messenger of Allah SAW enjoined Zakat ul-fitr on those who fast to shield them from any indecent act or speech, and for the purpose of providing food for the needy. It is accepted as Zakah for the one who pays it before the `Eid prayer, and it is Sadaqah for the one who pays it after the prayer.” (Abu Daood).

Zakat al-Fitr is mandatory on every Muslim on his behalf and on the behalf of all people he is in charge of. This means he has to pay for himself and for those whom he takes care of- young or old, male or female, free or slave as the Hadeeth of Ibn Umar RAA states:

“Allah’s Messenger ordered Sadaqat ul-fitr on behalf of the young and the old, and the free and the slave – whom you provide for.” (Ad-Daraqutni and al-Baihaqi). Ibn Umar RAA relates that the Prophet SAW enjoined the payment of one sa’ of dates or one sa’ of barley as Zakat ul-fitr on every Muslim, young and old, male and female, free and slave. (Bukhari & Muslim)

The amount of the Zakat ul-fitr mentioned by the Prophet SAW is one Sa’ of dates, raisins, wheat, or barley. Muslim scholars deduced from this hadith that it is permissible to give any kind of food as long as it is part of the staple diet in that particular region or the normal food of that locality. According to contemporary Muslim scholars, the scale of Sa’ is estimated to be about 3.180 kilograms. This can also be paid in its equivalent in cash instead, which is currently calculated in New Zealand at $10.00 per person.

When is Zakat ul-fitr payable

The jurists agree that zakat ul-fitr is due at the end of Ramadan. They differ, however, about the exact time. There are two openions; first, that it is due at the sunset of the night of breaking the fast, for this is when the fast of Ramadan ends, second, it is due at the start of dawn on the day of Eid.

In short, this charity must be paid before the Eid prayer. There are different opinions among the jurists as to how early you can pay zakat ul-fitr, some say the payment can be made a day or two before Eid, while some others say the payment can be made at the beginning of Ramadhan, yet some others say it can be made even before Ramadhan. If someone pays before the Eid prayer it will be considered as valid zakat ul-fitr, and if he delays and pays after the prayer then it will be counted as general charity. However, if someone has missed the payment before Eid prayer he still has to pay it.

The conditions for distribution of zakat ul-fitr is the same as that of Zakah, that is, it has to be distributed to the eight groups of beneficiaries mentioned in the ayah: “The alms are only for the poor …” (Quran 9:60)

Conclusion: In a nutshell, Zakat is a mandatory tenant of Islam and the objective of it is to help the society share the bounties of Allah and give a chance to the unfortunate ones at a better life. Therefore, every Muslim must gain knowledge about Zakat and ensure that it be paid to the deserving people.


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