Zakat: 3rd Pillar of Islam
Charity is one of the Five Pillars of Islamic practice. Zakat is an obligation for those who have received their wealth from God to respond to those members of the community in need.
Islam encourages the sharing of wealth with others and helps people to stand on their own and become productive members of the society. In Arabic it is known as zakat which literally means “purification”, because zakat is considered to purify one’s heart of greed.
Like prayer, which is both an individual and communal responsibility, zakat expresses a Muslim’s worship of and thanksgiving to God by supporting those in need.
Islam teaches that people should acquire wealth with the intention of spending it on their own needs and the needs of others.
The whole concept of wealth is considered in Islam as a gift from God. God, who provided it to the person, made a portion of it for the poor, so the poor have a right over one’s wealth. Zakat reminds Muslims that everything they have belongs to God. People are given their wealth as a trust from God.
God, in His boundless mercy, promises rewards for helping those in need with one basic condition that zakat be paid in the name of God; one should not expect or demand any worldly gains from the beneficiaries nor aim at making one’s name as a philanthropist. The feelings of a beneficiary should not be hurt by making him feel inferior or reminding him of the assistance.
Zakat is a mandatory duty on all able Muslims who meet nisab values. There is no ambiguity as to the rate at which Zakat should be calculated; 2.5% of all net savings one possesses that is above the nisab value. Net savings is total maintained wealth for one lunar year before Zakat is due.
Zakat must be paid on different categories of property – gold, silver, money and business commodities – and is payable each year after one year’s possession.
It requires an annual contribution of 2.5 percent of an individual’s wealth and assets.
Money given as zakat can only be used for certain specific things. Islam stipulates that alms are to be used to support the poor and the needy.
The Quran emphasizes feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, helping those who are in need, and the more one helps, the more God helps the person, and the more one gives, the more God gives the person. One feels he is taking care of others and God is taking care of him.
The Zakat year begins on the date on which you were first in possessions of wealth above the nisab.
This will be your seed date, whenever it comes around you will have to calculate Zakat, irrespective of any fluctuations in the amount of wealth in your possession.
The only situation in which your seed date will change is if you were to become totally bankrupt and lose all your assets and belongings. In this situation, your new seed date will begin when you are once again in possession of wealth above the nisab.
If you are not sure of your seed date, then estimate it to the best of your ability.
Zakat al-Fitr is a form of charity given to the poor at the end of Ramadan. Zakat al-Fitr is due on every member of a household, including any children or elderly persons and is obligatory to pay before the day of Eid.
The amount of Zakat al-Fitr is the value of one meal which must be received by the person in need before the Eid prayer. As such, we recommend that you make a donation as early as possible in Ramadan. The current value of Zakat al-Fitr is £7.