It is a month of ‘ramzam’, where our good deeds are multiplied manifold for its rewards, so consequently, majority of muslims give their ‘zakat'(alms) in this month. I see a plethora of ads, billboards, pamphlets where they are requesting for zakat money. No doubt, pakistanis are most philanthropists, but everyone seems to be jumping to cash on it.
We should remember, that zakat should be given in the form of money, so that the receiver has the complete authority to spend it the way he/she likes, ie to fulfil any of his/her most important need. Or in other words, you cannot buy food, or goods with zakat money and give to these poor people. The idea being, Zakat is poor person’s right, not something you give to oblige him/her, it’s their right. Unlike zakat, you are free to give other charities, and how much you want to give and in what form you want to give, eg charities like ‘sadqua’, ‘khairaat’, etc.
But ‘zakat’ is obligatory. Let me brief you about its basic rulings for Zakat. I have included only common points, while skipping others. Obviously I could not cover this topic comprehensively in one blog post, so don’t take this as comprehensive guide to cover every scenario. However, I will share link at the bottom, should you need to read further.
Linguistically, ZAKAT has two meanings: purification and growth. Technically, it means to purify ones possession of wealth by distributing a prescribed amount to the poor, the indigent, the slaves or captives, and the wayfarer.
Who has to give:
It is obligatory for an adult who has saved more than *87 grams (7.5 tola) of gold or it’s equivalent cash or assets (that grows in value), continuously over a period of a year.
* 87 grams of Gold is ‘Nisab’.
Who can receive it:
I have listed only 5 common persons, we usually give zakat to:
- Fuqaraa: Those who own property in excess of basic necessities but below the value of Nisab.
- Masakeen: Persons of extreme poverty who possess no wealth whatsoever.
- Aamileen: (Zakat collector) Those persons who are appointed by an Islamic Head of State or Government to collect Zakat. It is not necessary that this be a needy person.
- Muallafatul Quloob: Those poor and needy persons who are given Zakat with the intentions of solidifying their hearts because they maybe recently converted to Islam or to bring them closer to Islam.
- Al Ghaarimeen: A person whose debts exceeds his assets and his net assets (after deducting his liabilities) is below the Nisab limit. To determine whether a person qualifies, his basic necessities of life (house, furniture, clothes, vehicle, etc.) will not be taken into account. It is conditional that the debts were not created for any un-Islamic or sinful purpose.
Benefits of Zakat:
- It reminds Muslims of the fact that whatever wealth they may possess is due to the blessings of Allah and as such it is to be spent according to the His commands.
- Zakat functions as a social security for all. Those who have enough money today pay for what they have. If they need money tomorrow they will get what is necessary to help them live decently.
- Zakat payer pays his dues to Allah as an act of worship, a token of submission and an acknowledgment of gratitude. The receiver of Zakat receives it as a grant from Allah out of His bounty, a favor for which he is thankful to Allah.
- Economically, Zakat is the best check against hoarding. Those who do not invest their wealth but prefer to save or hoard it would see their wealth dwindling year after year at the rate of the payable Zakat. This helps increase production and stimulates supply because it is a redistribution of income that enhances the demand by putting more real purchasing power in the hands of poor.
Allah says in the Quran: “The parable of those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah is that of a grain of corn. It grows seven ears and each ear has hundred grains. Allah increases manifold to whom He pleases.” (Quran 2:261)
Further reading (& sources):