Idiomatically Zakah means purity and involves the annual deduction of 2.5% of each individual’s net property, whether money, livestock and cattles or other treasures, after spending the basic necessities, expenses, and due credits of the year, provided that it reaches the Nisab.
Zakah is an obligatory act and duty on every sane Muslim who’s reached puberty.
Idiomatically Zakah means purity and involves the annual deduction of 2.5% of each individual’s net property, whether money, livestock and cattles or other treasures, after spending the basic necessities, expenses, due credits, donations and taxes of the year, provided that it reaches the Nisab.
Constituting one of the Five Main Pillars of Islam, Zakah money is to be distributed yearly among the poor and needy Muslims as well as fresh converts to help them meet their basic needs till they settle in their new life and establish new living. Other due recipients of Zakah money include Muslim prisoners of war so as to liberate them by paying required ransom, Muslim employees appointed to be in charge of Zakah distribution, and those Muslims who are serving a Cause of God whether working in the field of Dawah and preaching or research and studies. Also Muslim wayfarers who are stranded in foreign countries and Muslims who are in debt are valid recipients of Zakah.
Zakah is not a voluntary act or charity, but an obligatory duty aimed at fostering harmony, mutual care and social solidarity among Muslim communities, by removing social barriers and ill-feelings or bigotry resulting from the economic gaps splitting societies into so many hierarchical standards.
It removes any shades of greed from the heart of the wealthy, and any envious feelings from the heart of the poor and needy.
Allah has warned those greedy who, out of fear of losing their wealth, withhold due payment of Zakah money.
“And let not those who [greedily] withhold what Allah has given them of His bounty ever think that it is better for them. Rather, it is worse for them. Their necks will be encircled by what they withheld on the Day of Resurrection. And to Allah belongs the heritage of the heavens and the earth. And Allah, with what you do, is [fully] Acquainted.”—Quran 3:180
First revealed in Surah Al Muzzamil (Chapter 73 of the Quran) Zakah is mentioned along with Obligatory Prayers (Salat) in many verses throughout the Holy Qur'an.
“Indeed, your Lord knows, [O Muhammad], that you stand [in prayer] almost two thirds of the night or half of it or a third of it, and [so do] a group of those with you. And Allah determines [the extent of] the night and the day. He has known that you [Muslims] will not be able to do it and has turned to you in forgiveness, so recite what is easy [for you] of the Qur'an. He has known that there will be among you those who are ill and others traveling throughout the land seeking [something] of the bounty of Allah and others fighting for the cause of Allah. So recite what is easy from it and establish prayer and give Zakah and loan Allah a goodly loan. And whatever good you put forward for yourselves - you will find it with Allah. It is better and greater in reward. And seek forgiveness of Allah. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” – Quran 73:20
Imams Bukhari and Muslim relate on the authority of Ibn Abbas (May Allah be pleased with them all) that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) sent Mu`adh to the Yemen he told him, "You are going to a people who have a Scripture, so call them to testify that there is no deity but God, and that I am the Messenger of God. If they respond to this, then teach them that God has imposed five Salats (Prayers) upon them in every day. If they respond to this, then teach them that God has imposed upon them a charity to be taken from the wealthy amongst them and given to their poor. If they respond to this, then beware of taking any more of their wealth! Beware also of the prayer of the oppressed, for there is no veil between such a prayer and God."
And in another Hadith Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: "Whoever is given wealth by God and does not pay the Zakat due thereupon shall find that on the Day of Arising it is made to appear to him as a hairless snake with two black specks, which chains him, and then seizes him by his jaw and says, 'I am your wealth! I am your treasure!'" Then he recited the verse, 'Let not those who are miserly with what God has given them of His bounty think that this is good for them. Rather, it is bad for them. That which they withhold shall be hung around their necks on the Day of Resurrection.' [Quran 3:180]
-- Sahih Bukhari
The Prophet’s Sunnah is full of stark warnings against those who withhold obligatory Zakah payment.
In another Hadith, also narrated by Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him), Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: "(On the Day of Resurrection) camels will come to their owner in the best state of health they have ever had (in the world), and if he had not paid their Zakat (in the world) then they would tread him with their feet; and similarly, sheep will come to their owner in the best state of health they have ever had in the world, and if he had not paid their Zakat, then they would tread him with their hooves and would butt him with their horns." The Prophet added, "One of their rights is that they should be milked while water is kept in front of them." The Prophet added, "I do not want anyone of you to come to me on the Day of Resurrection, carrying over his neck a sheep that will be bleating. Such a person will (then) say, 'O Muhammad! (please intercede for me,) I will say to him. 'I can't help you, for I conveyed Allah's Message to you.' Similarly, I do not want anyone of you to come to me carrying over his neck a camel that will be grunting. Such a person (then) will say "O Muhammad! (please intercede for me)." I will say to him, "I can't help you for I conveyed Allah's message to you.
Paying Zakah is compulsory on every able and sound Muslim, and withholding it is a sever sin.
In another Hadith Imam Bukhari on the authority of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with them both) narrated: When the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) died and Abu Bakr was elected as a Caliph (ruler) after him, some of the Arabs reverted to disbelief, 'Umar said to Abu Bakr, "How dare you fight the people while Allah's Apostle said, I have been ordered to fight the people till they say 'None has the right to be worshipped but Allah' And whoever says: None has the right to be worshipped but Allah.' waves his wealth and his life from me unless he deserves a legal punishment lusty, and his account will be with Allah! Abu Bakr said, "By Allah, I will fight him who discriminates between zakat and prayers, for zakat is the Compulsory right to be taken from the wealth By Allah, if they refuse to give me even a tying rope which they use to give to Allah's Apostle, I would fight them for withholding it." 'Umar said, 'By Allah, It was nothing, except I saw that Allah had opened the chest of Abu Bakr to the fight, and I came to know for certain that was the truth."
Zakah is a means of purifying a Muslims’ property and wealth.
Allah says in the Quran:
“Take, [O, Muhammad], from their wealth a charity by which you purify them and cause them increase, and invoke [ Allah 's blessings] upon them. Indeed, your invocations are reassurance for them. And Allah is Hearing and Knowing.”
-- Quran 9:103
“And whatever you give for interest to increase within the wealth of people will not increase with Allah. But what you give in zakah, desiring the countenance of Allah - those are the multipliers.”
And in another instance Allah warns those who deny the payment of Zakah of His sever punishment on the Day of Judgment, saying:
“O you who have believed, indeed many of the scholars and the monks devour the wealth of people unjustly and avert [them] from the way of Allah. And those who hoard gold and silver and spend it not in the way of Allah - give them tidings of a painful punishment. The Day when it will be heated in the fire of Hell and seared therewith will be their foreheads, their flanks, and their backs, [it will be said], "This is what you hoarded for yourselves, so taste what you used to hoard."
Zakat Al Fitr
It refers to the amount of Zakah paid right before the Eid (festival) following the holy month of Ramadan. The word Fitr means breaking the fast, which Muslims commit to throughout the 30 days of the month of Ramadan.
Zakat al Fitr is a Waajib, or duty on every sane, able Muslim, whether male or female, who has reached the age of puberty, as long as has the power, money, ability, and have met the requirements for Zakat payment.
Ibn `Umar reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) made Zakat al Fitr compulsory on every slave, freeman, male, female, young and old among the Muslims; one Saa` (amount) of dried dates or one Saa` of barely. [collected by Bukhari - Arabic/English, vol. 2, p. 339, no. 579]
The Saa’, that is the minimum amount of Zakah money required, equals four double handfuls of food, whether grain or dried fruit for each member of the family, regardless of the net amount of their wealth.
Try to be as generous as you can and you shall be rewarded immensely by Allah (SWT).
And generally you may consult the Islamic leader of your local community for the financial equivalent of the Zakah al Fitr of the year- The money value of the Saa’ (or the Zakah al Fitr money) is usually announced in every country on a yearly basis.
Abu Sa'eed al-Khudree said, "On behalf of our young and old, free men and slaves, we used to take out during Allah's Messenger's (pbuh) lifetime one Saa` of grain, cheese or raisins". [collected by Muslim - English transl. vol. 2, p. 469, no. 2155]
The Due recipients of Zakat al Fitr are same as those of the general annual Zakah.
And as a general rule, the person who forgets to pay the Zakah, whether the annual Zakah or Zakat al- Fitr on time should do so as soon as he remembers.
More of the General Merits of Zakah:
Abu Hurayrah also narrated: Allah's Messenger (PBUH) said, "If one give in charity what equals one date-fruit from the honestly-earned money and Allah accepts only the honestly earned money --Allah takes it in His right (hand) and then enlarges its reward for that person (who has given it), as anyone of you brings up his baby horse, so much as that it becomes as big as a mountain.
Also Haritha bin Wahab narrated: I heard the Prophet saying, "O people! Give in charity as a time will come upon you when a person will wander about with his object of charity and will not find anybody to accept it, and one (who will be requested to take it) will say, "If you had brought it yesterday, would have taken it, but to-day I am not in need of it."
And in another Hadith, also narrated by Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him), Prophet (peace be upon him said, "The Hour (Day of Judgment) will not be established till your wealth increases so much so that one will be worried, for no one will accept his Zakat and the person to whom he will give it will reply, 'I am not in need of it.' "
So dear brothers and sisters, I beg you grasp that fully and seize the opportunity while you able and healthy, to pay your due amount of Zakah even if what you have is little, before you regret it one day.
In a noble Hadith, Abu Hurayrah narrated that:
‘A man came to the Prophet and asked, "O Messenger of Allah! Which charity is the most superior in reward?" He replied, "The charity which you practice while you are healthy, niggardly and afraid of poverty and wish to become wealthy. Do not delay it to the time of approaching death and then say, 'Give so much to such and such, and so much to such and such.' And it has already belonged to such and such (as it is too late)."’
May Allah accept the best of your deeds and reward you immensely for your struggle to remain on the straight path at such difficult time Muslims are living through, a time when the righteous are living as strangers, beguiled at times, ridiculed at others, and at best seeming odd.
May Allah use us for serving humanity, enjoining what’s good and forbidding what’s evil. May He use us and help us draw a smile on the faces of the poor and the deprived.
With the Eid drawing near, time cannot be more appropriate to mobilize efforts to alleviate the sufferings of those in need whether in our local communities or in remote destinations where fellow Muslims die, daily, out of hunger and diseases, while we suffer binge eating.
Give generously and know that “whatever good ye send forth for your souls before you, ye shall find it with Allah: for Allah sees Well all that ye do.”—Quran 2:110
May Allah forgive us and foster love and solidarity amongst us and our brothers in Islam throughout the world. He is All- Capable, All- Merciful. Amen.
The Muslim Tribune Staff Writers
Posted on: August 25, 2011