Zakat (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 Zakat is associated with prayer (Salah), such as:
Establish regular prayer and give Zakat; 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 Zakat, 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 Zakat; and they constantly served Us. Quran (21:73)
The Benefits of Giving Zakat
- 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 Zakat, the poor are cared for; these include widows, orphans, the disabled, the needy and the destitute.
Zakat is the Right of the Poor
Zakat 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:
Zakat, therefore, is unlike charity that is given to the needy voluntarily. Withholding Zakat is considered depriving the poor of their due share. Thus one who pays Zakat actually “purifies” his wealth by separating from it the portion that belongs to the poor.
Do I Have To Give Zakat?
Zakat is obligatory on one who has wealth that reaches or exceeds a certain level called the Nisab. Unlike tax, however, Zakat is an act of worship for which one receives reward from Allah. Ignoring to pay Zakat, on the other hand, is a major sin. According to the scholars, anyone who does not pay Zakat 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 Zakat.
If you own this amount for a full lunar year then your Zakat is due at the last day of the 12 lunar months.
The rate of Zakat is 2.5%, i.e. 2.5 cents in every dollar.