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

Those Muslims with wealth should give willingly to avoid disturbing scenes like this.
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The third pillar, Zakāh (or Zakāt), 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. Zakāh means to “purify” or “cleanse” one’s halāl (permissible) earnings. Illegal earnings are not accepted by Allah because the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Allāh is pure and good and loves only that which is pure and good.”

How much? Zakāt is payable when a person’s (male or female) wealth has reached or exceeded a specified amount (called a nisāb) that is mentioned in the Sharee’ah. The specific wealth upon which the Zakāt is payable on 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 zakāh payable on the third and fourth categories. As for the threshold amount (nisāb) after which zakāh must be paid, then:

  • for gold, it is 85 grams; (some scholars say 92 grams)
  • for silver, it is 595 grams; (some scholars say 640 grams)
  • for money it is the value of 595 grams of silver which in Ramadān 2018 was £232.05 (approx.)
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’an 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 nisāb amounts, and they have had it for a year, then 2.5% in Zakāh (the obligatory poor due) must be paid. Zakāh is not paid by anyone who has less than this amount of wealth. Zakāh 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 nisāb, 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’an (At-Tawbah 9:60):

  1. The very poor (fuqarā)
  2. The needy (masākeen)
  3. Those employed to collect it (to meet their needs)
  4. To attract the hearts of those non-Muslims who are inclined towards Islam
  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-Sadaqāt (here it means Zakāt) 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)

How is Zakāt on cash measured? Is it connected to the Nisāb of Gold or Silver?

It is known that the nisāb value of silver in this time is less than the nisāb value for gold. So when a person has paper currency whose value has reached the nisāb of silver, then he pays Zakāt on it. The nisāb of silver is 595 grams (or very close to that). So the one who has cash to this value (or more), he must pay 2.5% of all of it, as Zakāt.

The scholars have stated that it is more beneficial for the poor that the measure of paper money is set in accordance with the lesser of the two nisābs. (See Fatawa Ibn Bāz, 14/125, Fatawa Al-Lajnah Ad-Dā’imah, vol. 9/254, no. 1881, signed by Abdullah Ibn Qa’ood, Abdullah Ibn Ghudyān, Abdur-Razzāq Afeefi, Ibn Bāz) Additionally, Al-Lajnah Ad-Dā’imah (the same committee of scholars) stated that the nisāb for silver in the time of the Prophet (ﷺ) was 200 silver dirhams (which is equivalent to 595 grams of silver), so if a Muslim has paper money currency to that value, then Zakāt is to be paid on it. (Fatāwa Islamiyyah 3/163). Shaikh Ibn Bāz stated in his fatwa that Zakāt is compulsory on paper currency when its value reaches the lesser of the two nisābs out of silver and gold. (Fatawa Ibn Bāz, 14/125) And the lesser of the two nisābs is silver in our times.

Case study:

  • A person had gold weighing 110 grams. Each gram is worth £26 (approx.) as of Ramadan 2018 (at 22ct gold), therefore its cash value is = £2,860

This gold is above the nisāb amount of 85 grams, and the owner has had it for a year, so its Zakāt at 2.5% of £2,860 (if he is to pay in cash), comes to £71.50

  • Cash in the house: £350 + bank savings £1550 = £1,900

This cash has been in the possession of a person for a year. The Zakāt on it is calculated according to its worth in silver. The nisāb for silver is 595 grams. Each gram is worth £0.39 (approx.) in Ramadan 2018. So the nisāb value of silver is £232.05. This person has £1,900 so it is above the nisāb value. He must pay Zakāt at 2.5% of £1,900 which comes to £47.50

  • Total Zakāt payable is £71.50 + £47.50 = £119.00

Zakāt upon those earning monthly salaries or receiving monthly rents:

Ibn ‘Uthaimeen explained that the one who receives a monthly salary or monthly rent or what is similar to that — who takes that wealth and stores it in a box or in another means of saving (such as a bank). And he takes money from it as he needs and adds money to it through the year. So then he gets confused as to what amount he has had for a year. We say that in this situation if the balance has not decreased to less than the minimum amount of nisāb (equivalent to 595 grams of silver), it is better to consider the year from the first time the money reached the minimum amount (of nisāb). Then the person should pay the Zakāt on what he has once a year is completed (Muslims follow the lunar cycle of a year, e.g. Ramadan to Ramadan or Rajab to Rajab, etc). In that way, on whatever amount of money a year has completed he will have paid its Zakāt for its year — and on whatever amount of it that a year has not completed, its Zakāt has been paid by him in advance, and there is no harm in paying Zakāt early. This method is easier for him instead of considering each month precisely because that may be difficult for him. (Fatawa Islamiyyah 3/161-162)

How should it be paid?

Some mosques collect Zakāt from the congregation and spend it according to the Qur’an and Sunnah (such as salafibookstore.com/donate). Some charities also collect Zakāt – but a person can give theZakāt away himself. In many Muslim countries, the Zakāt is collected by the government and spent accordingly. In the UK and Europe, Muslims must take care that Zakāt 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 Zakāt or charity given to them is not considered as valid in Sharee’ah Law since they are not eligible recipients. Zakāt cannot be given for political campaigns or electing candidates into parliament. Zakāt cannot be given for the building of mosques or schools. See above the valid categories.

Importance of Zakāt mentioned in the Qur’an:

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

And establish prayer and give zakāh, 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 zakāh 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’an.
  • It reduces the suffering of the poor.
  • It strengthens the community – it makes sure that 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 halāl 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’an and Sunnah make clear that those who do not pay Zakāh are sinners threatened with Allah’s punishment in the Hereafter. Withholding Zakāh is a major sin.
  • The two duties of Salāh and Zakāh are linked in the Qur’an. In Salāh, you call upon Allah, and seek His aid and feel the strength of Imān. By paying Zakāt you put those feelings into action and are rewarded for that duty.

All Muslims are expected to be generous and to give what they can to good causes. Paying Zakāt 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 Zakāh if their wealth has not reached the nisāb amount.

Questions:

  1. What categories of people is Zakāt given to?
  2. What types of possessions is Zakāt paid on?
  3. What types of possessions is Zakāt not paid on?
  4. What is nisāb and what is its level of 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 bite-size chapters. I have relied upon GCSE textbooks (especially AQA Religious Studies) and adapted them for my classes.

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