Saturday 14 April 2018

Zakat - Mandatory Charitable Contribution

Giving away charity is a norm to the poor all across the world. But this is generally done in value, cash or kind as per one's own wishes and liking. However, in Islam, the giving away of the charity, called Zakat, is not only mandatory for every Muslim who has the means to do so, but a scale has been laid down as to who qualifies to be eligible to pay this mandatory charity to one's needy Muslim brethren.

Since everything given to man is from Allah, one has to spend one's wealth in the directions prescribed by Allah. This mandatory charity ensures that every Muslim who has less or no means of substance is given charity by those who have the means and are blessed by countless bounties and wealth by Allah.

The main aim of zakat is to improve the socio-economic status of the recipients. Here I would like to narrate a small incident regarding the payment of zakat and its benefits. During the time of second caliph of Islam Hazrat Umer (AS), the caliph dispatched a pious person as governor to an area with a very poor population and stressed upon him the payment of zakat to them collected from the wealthy Muslims of the area. After some time, the governor remitted a large sum of money to the caliph. The caliph was furious as to why the money has not been given to the poor instead. To this the governor replied that over a period of time, the poor who have been reeving zakat have become eligible to pay zakat themselves. 

Thus this is the concept of charity or zakat in Islam - holding hands of the poor to allow them live honourably without asking or spreading their hand in front of others. In fact by giving zakat, one purifies his wealth, which then gets multiplied as Allah bestows more upon the charity givers for taking care of the poor.

An eligible person is to pay zakat 2.5 percent of an individual's total net worth, excluding obligations and family expenses, held over a period of one lunar year. The minimum threshold of one's wealth to be eligible to pay zakat is known as Nisab.  Anyone have more than the following quantity of gold or silver held by him/her over a period of one lunar year is to pay 2.5% of the quantity over this threshold level is to pay zakat:
Money equal to the value of either of the above
Koran lays down the heads and people to whom zakat can be paid:
“Zakat is for the poor and the needy; and those employed to administer the funds; for those whose hearts have been recently reconciled to Truth; for those in bondage and in debt; in the cause of Allah; and for the wayfarer. It is ordained by Allah and Allah is full of knowledge and wisdom. "(Surah 9. Tawba, verse 60)
It may be noted that Zakat cannot be paid to parents, grandparents, children, grandchildren, husband, wife and non-Muslims. Nor it can be used to build masjid, buildings (even if to be used for any Islamic purpose), hospitals, roads and bridges etc. It is to be paid in cash to those are eligible to receive it.

Photo: Pixabay
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