What is Zakat in Islam?

Zakat is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, a mandatory form of charity that helps purify one’s wealth and fulfills a religious obligation. It signifies the importance of sharing wealth and fostering social justice with those less fortunate and promotes social justice within the Muslim community. The word “zakat” itself comes from an Arabic word meaning “purification,” highlighting how giving Zakat purifies one’s wealth.

How is Zakat calculated?

Zakat is typically calculated at a rate of 2.5% (or 1/40th) of a Muslim’s excess wealth that has been held for a full lunar year. This wealth includes things like:

  • Savings accounts
  • Investment accounts
  • Gold and silver holdings (if exceeding a specific amount)
  • Business inventory (excluding debt)

There are specific calculations for Zakat on livestock, crops, and other assets, but the basic principle remains the same: sharing a portion of one’s excess. It’s important to consult with a scholar or a trusted Islamic financial advisor for detailed guidance on calculating Zakat for your specific situation.

Who is eligible?

Zakat is obligatory for every free, adult Muslim who possesses wealth or assets exceeding wealth threshold (the Nisab) for a full lunar year.

This wealth threshold (Nisab) is roughly equivalent to the value of 3 ounces (87.4 grams) of 24ct gold. This includes cash, savings, investments, gold, silver, and tradable merchandise.

If a Muslim’s wealth falls below the Nisab during the year, they are not required to pay Zakat for that year.

To Whom Can Zakat be Paid?

The Quran identifies eight categories of people who are eligible to receive Zakat:

  1. The Poor (Fuqara): Those who have little to no income and cannot meet their basic needs.
  2. The Needy (Masakin): Those who have some income but not enough to cover their basic necessities.
  3. Zakat Collectors (Amil uz-Zakat): Those who are authorized and involved in the collection and distribution of Zakat Funds.
  4. Recent Converts (Muallaf): People who are new to Islam and may need assistance.
  5. Slaves (Riqab): In historical context, slaves who could buy their freedom. (Zakat is not applicable in societies that have abolished slavery)
  6. Debt Relief (Gharimin): People struggling with debt they cannot repay.
    In the Way of God (Fi سبيل الله): Funds used for Islamic propagation or charitable activities.
  7. Wayfarers (Ibn us-Sabil): Travelers who are stranded or in need of assistance.

When to pay Zakat?

There’s no specific date for Zakat payment. It can be given any time during the year as long as a full lunar year has passed since you reached the Nisab threshold for a particular type of wealth. Muslims may find it easier to choose to distribute it during Ramadan or just before Eid al-Fitr. However, it’s recommended to pay Zakat regularly to ensure timely distribution to those in need. The key point is to ensure your Zakat is paid on the anniversary of when you first reached the Nisab threshold on your wealth.

What is the difference between Zakat and Zakat al-Fitr?

Zakat and Zakat al-Fitr are two distinct types of obligatory charity in Islam, with some key differences:

Zakat (Zakat al-Mal):

  • Zakat is the annual charitable obligation on a Muslim’s accumulated wealth and assets meant to purify their wealth and increase blessings.
  • It is due when a person’s wealth reaches a minimum threshold called the Nisab.
  • Zakat can be paid at any time during the Islamic lunar year.
  • The standard Zakat rate is 2.5% of one’s total qualifying wealth.
  • Zakat can be distributed to the eight eligible categories of recipients as specified in the Quran.
  • MACA Mosque is accepting Zakat (Zakat al-Mal) donations throughout the year.

Zakat al-Fitr:

  • Zakat al-Fitr is an additional charitable obligation at the end of the Islamic month of Ramadan.
  • It should be paid by each individual in the household, including males and females, young and old, sick and elderly.
  • The required amount for Zakat al-Fitr is 1 Saa’, which is equal to 2.5 liters of dry food, including staple items like dates, rice, wheat, corn, raisins, nuts, beans, pasta, flour, and more.
  • Zakat al-Fitr is meant to purify the fasting person and provide for the less fortunate before the Eid celebration.
  • MACA Mosque accepts Zakat al-Fitr towards the end of each Ramadan and can be made in the form of money, which is currently calculated at $15 per person for 1 Saa’.
  • The link to give out Zakat al-Fitr will be opened 3 days prior to the end of the month of Ramadan, and will stay active until the Fajr prayer on Eid day. MACA Committee needs time to distribute Zakat al-Fitr, so it is recommended not to wait until the last minute to give out your Zakat al-Fitr.

To put it simply, Zakat is an obligation to purify wealth and provide for the poor on a yearly basis, while Zakat al-Fitr is a one-time obligation after Ramadan to purify the fasting person and offer assistance to the poor. Both are accepted and distributed by MACA Mosque to fulfill the Islamic requirements of charitable giving.

Frequently Asked Questions

Zakat purifies wealth, increases blessings, helps those in need, promotes social justice, and strengthens social solidarity in the Muslim community. It’s also considered an act of worship.

Zakat applies to wealth you intend to keep and use. Household items, your primary residence, and everyday clothing are generally exempt.

A Muslim is exempt from paying Zakat on their primary dwelling. If the house is considered a secondary residence that is occasionally rented out, Zakat is payable on it after deducting essential expenses from the rental income.

Zakat is calculated based on the minimum amount you possess at any given time during the lunar year.

Yes, you can give Zakat to close relatives (excluding parents, children, spouse, and grandparents) as long as they fall under one of the eight categories eligible to receive Zakat. However, it is generally discouraged to give Zakat to close relatives like parents or children, as they are your responsibility to support anyway.

Yes, you can distribute Zakat yourself to eligible recipients. There are also many reputable Islamic charities that collect and distribute Zakat efficiently.

It’s wise to consult with an Islamic scholar or a trusted Islamic financial advisor to ensure your calculations are accurate.

Zakat can be paid with any form of wealth that reaches the Nisab threshold, including livestock, crops, or saleable merchandise.

Zakat is due annually, typically at the end of the Islamic lunar year. However, it can be paid at any time during the year.

You can donate to reputable charities or Islamic organizations dedicated to Zakat distribution.

Yes, MACA Mosque has an ongoing Zakat collection and distribution program. Zakat donations can be made through various convenient methods:

  • Cash or Check Donations: You can drop off cash or check donations in the designated Zakat donation box at MACA Mosque. When making a check donation, please write “Zakat” in the description. It’s recommended to put cash or check donations in a sealed envelope labeled “Zakat.”
  • Online Donations: MACA Mosque has an online Zakat donation portal available at https://donorbox.org/maca-zakat-donation. You can securely make your Zakat contributions through this platform.

Distribution of Zakat: The Zakat funds collected by MACA Mosque are distributed throughout the year to eligible recipients, including the poor, needy, new Muslims, and others as per the Islamic guidelines. The mosque’s Zakat committee carefully identifies deserving individuals and organizations to ensure your Zakat reaches those most in need.

Year-end Receipts: MACA Mosque will issue year-end Zakat donation receipts to all contributors. These receipts can be used for tax purposes and record-keeping.

If you have any questions or need assistance with your Zakat payment, please don’t hesitate to contact the MACA Mosque Committee/Board Members.

Please note: This information is for general understanding only. It’s always best to consult a qualified scholar or Islamic organization for specific guidance on calculating and distributing Zakat on your individual case.

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