Friday, 21 December 2012

Zakaat (or Zakath)

For those who give in charity, men and women, and loan to Allah A Beautiful Loan, it shall be increased manifold (to their credit) and they shall have (besides) a generous reward.” (Al-Qur`an 57:18)
A Beautiful Loan. How apt a metaphor for charity and spending in the cause of Allah.

And the Reward? Blessings and ample returns from our Lord.

At another place, Allah says in the Holy Qur`an: “The parable of those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah is that of a grain of corn: it growth seven ears, and each ear has a hundred grains. Allah giveth manifold increase to whom He pleaseth: and Allah careth for all and knoweth all things.” (2:261)
Charity in Islam is known as Zakaat. A vital element, one of the pillars on which rests the socio-economic and religious structure of Islam, it is only second to Salaah or the regular prayers. Allah has made Zakaat mandatory and says in the HQ, “Of their wealth take alms so that thou mightiest purify and sanctify them..." (Al - Qur`an, 9: 103)
At atleast 32 places in the holy Qur`an have Salaah and Zakaat been mentioned together… “And be steadfast in prayer and give Zakaat….” (2:110)
The attributes of the righteous and God-fearing man given in the Holy Qur`an among others are “…..who establish regular prayers and give Zakaat….
While Salaah stands for bodily worship and helps us to fulfill Allah’s rights, Zakaat is the way to use our wealth (and possessions) in a way that pleases Allah and also helps us fulfill the rights of our fellow beings.
In a famous Hadith reported by `Umar Bin Khattab (RA), the Messenger of Allah (SAW) responded to Archangel Gabriel (AS) and said: “... Islam is to testify that there is no deity but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, to perform the prayer, to pay Zakaat, to observe fasting in Ramadan, and to make pilgrimage to the house of Allah if you are able to do so....” (Bukhari, Muslim)
The word Zakaat literally means “to purify” and “to increase”. It is an important act of worship by which every affluent Muslim returns from his wealth the amount ordained by the Shariah to those who are in need.
Religious Importance
Zakaat cleanses our mind and soul of excessive love for this world and worldly desires. It instills in its place the love of Allah, that love which causes us to readily give out of our wealth in His way. It creates in a Muslim the passion to willingly sacrifice his wealth and his self and use his strengths and capabilities in the Way of Allah.
Zakaat is not important just for its socio-economic benefits but also for its necessity in the spiritual growth of the soul into a humble and devoted servant of Allah.
It is a way of thanking Allah for his countless gifts.
Economic Importance
The giving of Zakaat enables the proper distribution of wealth and ensures that it does not remain hoarded with just a few. Thus it helps in the building of a stable economy and maintains the circulation of wealth.It makes everyone responsible for the well being of the destitute and needy. Unlike taxes, Zakaat is the exclusive privilege of the poor and cannot be used for any other purpose. Thus it is used for the betterment of the poverty stricken, orphans, widows, old people and handicapped people, those ill with incurable diseases and those unable to work anymore. The Zakaat money is used to run free hospitals, orphanages, old age homes etc for them.
Zakaat in the Shariahs of the past
Zakaat has been mandatory on the people of all the Messengers of Allah in the past too. It was also an important part of the laws or Shariahs that they followed or brought during the period of their prophethood though the amount and the laws governing may have varied. Sura Al-Anbiyaa sums up the lives of the Messengers of Allah, Moses, Aaron, Abraham, Lut, Issac and Jacob peace be upon them all) with this verse-
And We made them leaders, guiding (men) by Our Command, and We inspired them to do good deeds, to establish regular prayers, and to give Zakaat; and they constantly served Us (and Us only).”
The Holy Qur`an also speaks of the covenant taken from the Children of Israel at many places and in Al-Baqarah verse 83 says-
And remember We took a covenant from the Children of Israel (to this effect): Worship none but Allah; treat with kindness your parents and kindred, and orphans and those in need; speak fair to the people; be steadfast in prayer; and give Zakaat…”
And Jesus Christ (pbuh) when brought forth to his people for the first time in the cradle, and defended his mother Mary saying, "And He hath made me blessed wheresoever I be, and hath enjoined on me Prayer and Zakaat as long as I live;

What should be given for Zakaat
O ye who believe! Give of the good things which ye have (honourably) earned and of the fruits of the earth which We have produced for you, and do not aim at anything which is bad , out of which ye may give away when ye yourselves would not receive it except with closed eyes. And know that Allah is Free of all wants and Worthy of all praise” (Al-Baqarah verse 267)
The Zakaat given has value only if it is (a) something good, (b) honourably earned or acquired by the giver and (c) anything which can be referred to as the bounty of Allah. It may include things that are of use and value to others but superfluous to us on account of having acquired something better. For eg, old clothes, utensils, or a used car etc can be given but they should be in good condition and not in any position to harm the user.
Ill gotten gains cannot be purified of their taint by giving them in charity. The economic code of Islam requires that every gain be honest and honourable. Tainted things cannot be referred to as the bounty of Allah. To dedicate any tainted thing to Him is to dishonour Him, Who is Free of all wants. Hence care should be taken when giving out money or any other goods in Zakaat.
Who should give Zakaat?
The obligation of Zakaat is mandatory on every Muslim who possesses the minimum Nisaab, whether the person is man, woman, young, old sane or insane. This is because the proof in the Holy Qur`an and Sunnah is general and does not exclude anyone. In one hadith , reported by Anas bin Malik, the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: “Trade with the money of the orphan, lest it is eaten up by Zakaat.” (At-Tabraani) In another Hadith `Amru bin Shuaib related from his grandfather that the Messenger of Allah said:
Whoever is entrusted with money of an orphan should trade with it and should not leave it sitting to be used up by charity.” (Tirmidhi)
Allah has prescribed the minimum amount that is obligatory for Zakaat in different ranges of properties, and that minimum amount is known as Nisaab.
Reasons for Nisaab-
It ensures that no one is forced to give out of what he does not have. As a result, it protects the interest of the poor and the needy.
It is also a reference point for the average Muslim, and removes any doubt in his mind whether he possesses the minimum wealth on which Zakaat is obligatory.
Conditions for validity of Nisaab
1. “They ask thee how much they are to spend; Say: ‘What is beyond your needs.’” (Al-Baqarah verse219)
The amount reaching Nisaab must be surplus or in excess of the essential needs. Food, articles of clothing and personals, the house and all its things, vehicles, things used in business and anything given on rent do not fall under this category.
2. Nisaab is not liable for Zakaat unless and until it has remained for a whole year in the possession of the Zakaat giver.
However, the Zakaat for farm produce should be given on the day of harvest, as per stated in the Holy Qur`an-
….but render the dues that are proper on the day that the harvest is gathered…..” (Al-An`aam verse 141)
The concept of wealth being liable for Zakaat only if it has “matured” for a year increases the chance of eradicating poverty because the poor receives a lump sum at the end of the year which he can invest in such a way as to rise above the shackles of poverty, as opposed to receiving a little every month.
Zakaat is mandatory on gold, silver, money (or paper currency), cattle and farm produce and merchandise used in business.
Nisaab for:
1. Gold and silver: Zakaat is mandatory o gold and silver, whatever form it may be in, like coins, bars, nugget, jewelry (whether it is worn everyday or not) and any other item in which gold or/and silver is present.
The Nisaab amount for gold is 20 dinaar in accordance with a hadith where the Messenger (SAW) said: “No Zakaat on you is due until it reaches 20 dinaar.” (Abu Dawud). That amounts to approximately 85 gm.
The Nisaab for silver is 200 dirhams (also in accordance with a the hadith where SAW says “There is no Zakaat on less then five oqiyah.” (Muslim/Bukhari) Oqiyah is equal to forty Islamic dirhams.) this is equal to 612 gm of silver.
The Zakaat on both is 2.5% of the total amount.
2. Money/ Currency notes and coins: Though there is no Zakaat on the monthly paycheck a person receives, it is mandatory on his savings at the end of the Zakaat year. Sadaqah or optional charity can be given. The earned money should be added to any existing money, and the Zakaat should be given after it matures.
Since most paper currency nowadays is backed by gold or silver, the Nisaab of gold or siver multiplied by the cost of an ounce or that of ten gram gives the Nisaab for money. After the Nisaab has been determined, the Zakaat is 2.5% of it. For eg, if the Nisaab is 1,00,000/- then the Zakaat is 1,00,000 x .025 =2500/-
3. Cattle: This includes camels, cows, sheep and goats that graze freely and are raised for business (i.e. meat, milk etc.). If they have been tamed in the house for their milk or meat etc then there is no zakaat on them. Zakaat is mandatory only if they are intended for business. The Nisaab for camels is five, of cows 30 and of sheep and/or goats, 40. Zakaat is mandatory on any profit that is earned on cattle, if it reaches the nisaab by itself or in combination with others.
4. Farm produce:
….but render the dues that are proper on the day that the harvest is gathered…..” (Al-An`aam verse 141) “Give of the good things which ye have (honourably) earned and of the fruits of the earth which We have produced for you,….” (Al-Baqarah verse 267). No farm product is liable for Zakaat unless it is a product that is considered as food and does not need refrigeration for preserving it. If the produce is perishable fruit, such as grapes, there is no Zakaat. But if they are sold then Zakaat is a must on the profit earned when it matures. The Nisaab is 612 kg. If the crops grown do not require manual irrigation, then the Zakaat is 1/10th or 10% of the total. If irrigation is done then it is ½ of 1/10th of the total.
5. Merchandise for business/trade and commerce: Anything that has been obtained for buying and/or selling is valid for Zakaat. The books of the establishment must be evaluated at the end of the year, and Zakaat must be given on the cash-in-hand, the stock-in-trade orders and credits. Any business activity that brings any profit to the investor should be assessed for Zakaat. If it has a prescribed Nisaab then Zakaat (as in gold, silver or money) must be paid accordingly otherwise the Nisaab for commerce is applied. It is not the business name that is charged for Zakaat, but the individual investors, share holders and owner(s). The rate of Zakaat for commerce is also 2.5%.
Intention (Niyyah)
The intention of the person giving Zakaat is of utmost importance because even a trace of false motives and feelings would result in the nullification of rewards in the hereafter and destroy the spirit of Zakaat. We should not do charity in such a way that we be seen by men and expect praise for our generosity. Our reward is with Allah (SWT) and not in the laurels of this world. These verses of the Holy Qur`an deal specifically with this aspect-
Those who spend their substance in the cause of Allah, and follow not up their gifts with reminders of their generosity or with injury,-for them their reward is with their Lord: on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve. (Al-Baqarah verse 262)
Kind words and the covering of faults are better than charity followed by injury. Allah is free of all wants, and He is Most-Forbearing.” (Al-Baqarah verse 263)
O ye who believe! Cancel not your charity by reminders of your generosity or by injury,- like those who spend their substance to be seen of men, but believe neither in Allah nor in the Last Day. They are in parable like a hard, barren rock, on which is a little soil: on it falls heavy rain, which leaves it (Just) a bare stone. They will be able to do nothing with aught they have earned. And Allah guideth not those who reject faith.” (Al-Baqarah verse 264)
If ye disclose (acts of) charity, even so it is well, but if ye conceal them, and make them reach those (really) in need, that is best for you: It will remove from you some of your (stains of) evil. And Allah is well acquainted with what ye do.” (Al-Baqarah verse 271)
How to give Zakaat
The best and easiest way to give Zakaat is to decide on a month (preferably according to the lunar calendar, the month of Ramadan) and a year later pay your Zakaat that month. Whatever you have saved is due for Zakaat, whether all of it has been with you for the whole year or not.
Who should be given Zakaat
Allah (SWT) has specified in the Holy Qur`an the people eligible for receiving Zakaat.
Charity is) for those in need, who, in Allah's cause are restricted (from travel), and cannot move about in the land, seeking (For trade or work): the ignorant man thinks, because of their modesty, that they are free from want. Thou shalt know them by their (Unfailing) mark: They beg not importunately from all the sundry. And whatever of good ye give, be assured Allah knoweth it well.” (Al-Baqarah verse 273)
Alms are 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: (thus is it) ordained by Allah, and Allah is full of knowledge and wisdom.” (At-Tauba verse 60)
The poor and the needy: Those who have neither material possessions nor means of livelihood or those with insufficient means of livelihood to meet basic needs
Those who work in the Zakaat department: Workers associated with the collection and distribution of Zakat. They should only take the amount equal to the expenses they incurred during the process.
New converts to Islam: Whom we want to harmonize into the fold of Islam. They are given Zakaat to help them strengthen their faith and to adjust.
The bonds person: Zakaat should be given to one who wants to free himself from bondage or slavery. It can also be given to prisoners of war where money is the requirement for freedom. Blood money can also be paid off from Zakaat if the person who has killed someone accidentally has no other means.
The people in debt (money borrowed to meet basic, halal expenditure): Both the guarantor and the person who is in debt.
In the Way of Allah: by financing any efforts of striving in the way of Allah or Jihad.
The wayfarer: Anyone who has run out of money during a journey, even if his wealthy. (but he must pay Zakaat on reaching his destination)
Who should not be given Zakaat
Non Muslims cannot be given Zakaat. People who hail from the family of the Messenger of Allah (the Sayyeds and the Banu Hashims) cannot be given Zakaat.
Parents, grandparents, children and grandchildren or anyone whom the person giving Zakaat supports cannot be given Zakaat.
Special Cases
  1. A loan cannot be written of as Zakaat by the creditor. It can be forgiven as Sadaqah.
  2. Though Zakaat cannot be given to family members( wife, parents, children etc.) it is permissible if they are under debt. The Zakaat money can be given to them to pay off their debts.
  3. Zakaat cannot be given as remuneration for any services rendered.
  4. If some property was lost some years back but has been found again, there is no zakaat on it for all the years it was lost. Zakaat will however be due on it the next year.
  5. Any joint holding or venture though totaling the Nisaab amount is not eligible for Zakaat if the individual holders do not have wealth reaching the Nisaab.
  6. There is no Zakaat on any property in which people other than the Zakaat giver have shares.
  7. If a person has the prescribed Nisaab at the starting of the year, then it falls below the prescribed amount during the middle, but goes on to reach the nisaab value at the end, he will be eligible for Zakaat on it. However if it does not reach the Nisaab at the end of the year, their will be no zakaat on it.

Consequences of not paying Zakaat in this world and the hereafter
Because of the extraordinary importance of Zakaat in Islam and its immense benefits, a very painful punishment has been foretold for those people who do not give Zakaat. They have been warned not to get so enamoured with this ephemeral world that they have no share in the hereafter.
“….And there are those who bury gold and silver and spend it not in the way of Allah: announce unto them a most grievous penalty-
On the Day when heat will be produced out of that (wealth) in the fire of Hell, and with it will be branded their foreheads, their flanks, and their backs, their flanks, and their backs.- ‘This is the (treasure) which ye buried for yourselves: taste ye, then, the (treasures) ye buried!’”
In the Ahadith, Prophet Muhammed(SAW) has warned of severe natural calamities like famine, drought, earthquake etc. if Zakaat is not paid.
Hazrat Umar (RA) narrates that Prophet Muhammed(SAW) said, “Wealth is generally lost on the land and the sea because Zakaat has not been paid on it.” (Tabraani)
The person on whom Allah has bestowed wealth, and he does not give Zakaat, on the Day of Qiyaamah, his wealth will be turned into a venomous bald serpent which will wind around his neck and bite his jaws and say: "I am your wealth, I am your treasure." (Bukhari)
Once Prophet Muhammed (SAW) saw gold bangles on the hands of two women. He enquired if they gave the Zakaat for the bangles. They replied "No." Prophet Muhammed (SAW) then said: 'Do you wish on the Day of Qiyaamah that you be made to dress in bangles of fire?" They replied: "No." He then said: 'Give Zakaat on them." (Tirmizi)
-Ayesha Khan