Zakāh: The obligatory ‘poor due’ that must be paid by the rich to the poor (Islam 2.5)

The third pillar, zakaah, is only a duty for wealthier Muslims whose wealth has reached a minimum “threshold amount” that has been in their possession for a year. Each year, they must pay 2.5% of their accumulated gold, silver and savings to those less fortunate in the community. In this way they purify their wealth. Zakaah means to “purify” or “cleanse” one’s halaal (permissible) earnings. Illegal earnings are not accepted by Allaah because the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Allaah is pure and good and loves only that which is pure and good.”

How much? Zakaah is payable when a person’s (male or female) wealth has reached or exceeded a specified amount (called a nisaab) that is mentioned in the Sharee’ah. The specific wealth upon which the zakaah is payable is four categories:

  1. That which comes out of the ground from crops and fruit.
  2. Grazing livestock animals.
  3. Gold, silver and cash.
  4. Products sold as merchandise.

The most common to people living in Europe is the zakaah payable on the third and fourth categories. As for the threshold amount (nisaab) after which zakaah must be paid, then:

  • for gold it is 85 grams;
  • for silver it is 640 grams;
  • for money it the value of 85 grams of gold which in 2015 is £2227.00
Those Muslims with wealth should give willingly to avoid disturbing scenes like this.

Wealthy Muslims should give willingly to avoid disturbing scenes like this. Shaikh Fawzān: “Zakāh is a right the poor have over the wealthy.”

The Qur’aan does not specifically mention the amounts payable; however, these amounts are reported in the Sunnah by authentic hadīth, in great detail – which proves the great importance of this pillar. So if anyone’s wealth exceeds the nisaab amounts, and they have had it for a year, then 2.5% in zakaah (the obligatory poor due) must be paid. Zakaah is not paid by anyone who has less than this amount of wealth. Zakaah is not paid on diamonds, platinum or other types of jewellery. It is not paid on cars, houses or property (but it is paid on money earned through rent and profit from investments). So to work out the amount of zakaah to be paid, add up your all your cash savings and gold you have had for a year above the value of nisaab, then work out 2.5% of it and give it in charity to be spent on any of the eight categories mentioned in the Qur’aan (At-Tawbah 9:60):

  1. The very poor (fuqaraa)
  2. The needy (masakeen)
  3. Those employed to collect it (to meet their needs)
  4. To attract the hearts of those non-Muslims who are inclined towards Islaam
  5. Freeing captives
  6. Helping those in genuine debt
  7. To the governmental army of a Muslim country
  8. The traveller to help him reach his destination

“As-Sadaqaat (here it means Zakat) are only for the Fuqara’ (poor), and Al-Masakin (the poor) and those employed to collect (the funds); and 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, the armies of the Muslim countries), and for the a traveller who is prevented from reaching his destination; a duty imposed by Allah. And Allah is All-Knower, All-Wise.” (9:60)

Case study:

  • Gold worth: £1500
  • Cash in house: £50
  • Bank account: £1000
  • Total savings: £2550 (Been in possession for a whole year)
  • This is higher than the nisaab (minimum threshold).
  • 2.5% payable = £63.75

How should it be paid? Some mosques collect zakaah from the congregation and spend it according to the Qur’aan and Sunnah. Some charities also collect zakaah – but a person can give the zakaah away himself. In many Muslim countries the zakaah is collected by the government and spent accordingly. In the UK and Europe, Muslims must take care that zakaah or other forms of charity are not given to organisations who support terrorist groups such as Hamas (Palestine), ISIS (Syria and Iraq), Taliban (Pakistan and Afghanistan), Al-Shabab (Somalia), etc. The zakaah or charity given to them is not considered as valid in Sharee’ah Law since they are not eligible recipients. Zakaah cannot be given for political campaigns or electing candidates into parliament. Zakaat cannot be given for the building of mosques or schools. See above the valid categories.

Its importance in the Qur’an:

And establish prayer and give zakah and bow with those who bow [in worship and obedience].” (2:43)

And establish prayer and give zakah, and whatever good you put forward for yourselves – you will find it with Allah. Indeed, Allah of what you do, is all-Seeing.” (2:110)

“And Allah had already taken a covenant from the Children of Israel, and We delegated from among them twelve leaders. And Allah said, “I am with you. If you establish prayer and give zakah and believe in My messengers and support them and loan Allah a goodly loan, I will surely remove from you your misdeeds and admit you to gardens beneath which rivers flow…” (5:12)

“But if they repent, establish prayer, and give zakah, then they are your brothers in religion; and We detail the verses for a people who know.” (9:11)

Importance of zakaah:

  • It is an act of worship, a duty to Allaah commanded in the Qur’aan.
  • It reduces the suffering of the poor.
  • It strengthens the community – it makes sure than everyone knows and cares about those less fortunate.
  • It strengthens the economy and business in the community by giving more people money to spend.
  • It purifies the halaal wealth, and prevents one from being a hoarder of wealth.
  • It makes a person generous and caring and less attached to the world.
  • The Qur’aan and Sunnah make clear that those who do not pay zakaah are sinners threatened with Allaah’s punishment in the Hereafter. Withholding Zakaah is a major sin.
  • The two duties are salaah and zakaah are linked in the Qur’aan. In salaah you call upon Allaah, and seek his aid and feel strength of faith. By paying zakaah you put those feelings into action.

All Muslims are expected to be generous and to give what they can to good causes. Paying zakaah is an obligation for those blessed with wealth – it is the least that is expected from them.

Poorer Muslims are also obligated to be generous with general acts of kindness and charity, but they are not obligated to give zakaah if their wealth has not reached the nisaab.

Questions:

  1. What categories of people is zakaah given to?
  2. What types of possessions is zakaah paid on?
  3. What types of possessions is zakaah not paid on?
  4. What is nisaab and what is its level for gold, silver and cash?
  5. “I can see the importance of money and its good effects, if it is in the hands of a pious man.” Explain this sentence.

NOTE:

I initially compiled these worksheets for my students at the Redstone Academy (aged between 13 and 16 years), Moseley Road, Birmingham, UK who are working towards their General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE). I felt that others who do not attend the school can also benefit from these topics since they are presented in simple bitesize chapters. I have relied upon GCSE text books (especially AQA Religious Studies) and adapted them for my classes.

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