Zakah (alms) is one of the five pillars of Islam. Its importance can be realized from the fact that in 82 verses of the Qur’an Zakah is associated with prayer (Salah), such as:
Establish regular prayer and give Zakah; and obey Allah and His messenger. Quran (33:33)
If social justice and compassion to fellow humans who are disadvantaged is one of the central themes in the message of Allah to humanity, then it is no wonder that Zakah, like prayer and fasting, was also enjoined upon the people of the past messengers:
And We made them (descendants of Abraham) leaders, guiding by Our command, and We sent them inspiration to do good deeds, to establish regular Prayers and to practice Zakah; and they constantly served Us. Quran (21:73)
The Benefits of Giving Zakah
- It purifies your wealth as Allah says in the Qur’an:
- It keeps one away from sin and saves the giver from the moral ill arising from the love and greed of wealth.
- Through Zakah, the poor are cared for; these include widows, orphans, the disabled, the needy and the destitute.
Zakah is the Right of the Poor
Zakah is not considered a favor that is given to the poor by the rich. It is the right of the poor on the wealth of the rich. Allah says:
Zakah, therefore, is unlike charity that is given to the needy voluntarily. Withholding Zakah is considered depriving the poor of their due share. Thus one who pays Zakah actually “purifies” his wealth by separating from it the portion that belongs to the poor.
Do I Have To Give Zakat?
Zakah is obligatory on one who has wealth that reaches or exceeds a certain level called the Nisab. Unlike tax, however, Zakah is an act of worship for which one receives reward from Allah. Ignoring to pay Zakah, on the other hand, is a major sin. According to the scholars, anyone who does not pay Zakah by denying its obligation is considered a disbeliever.
How Much Do I Have To Give?
If you are in possession of money, gold, silver, stocks or shares that amount to more than the value of 85 grams of gold or 595 grams of Silver called nisab (at current market rates) then you are obliged to pay Zakah.
If you own this amount for a full lunar year then your Zakah is due at the last day of the 12 lunar months.
The rate of Zakah is 2.5%, i.e. 2.5 cents in every dollar.