MNA Feature Desk: Zakat is one of the five pillars of Islam and holds huge importance for the Muslims during Ramadan. One of the most important principles of Islam is that all things belong to Allah, and that wealth is therefore held by human beings in trust. Therefore, our possessions are purified by setting aside a proportion for those in need.
Zakat – also known as zakah – is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, and serves principally as the welfare contribution to poor and deprived individuals. This mandatory payment is obligatory for every sane and mature Muslim whenever there is an economic activity resulting in the net increase in their wealth.
Zakat not only purifies the property of the contributor but also purifies his heart from selfishness and greed. It also purifies the heart of the recipient from envy and jealousy, from hatred and uneasiness and it fosters instead goodwill and warm wishes for the contributors.
One only has to look at the state of the Muslim Ummah today in order to understand just how important this concept is today. So many Muslims are suffering in different parts of the world through poverty and conflict. The Syria crisis is more than four years old and to this day, no end is in sight.
Myanmar is going through some tough times and Muslims over there have been the victims of violence and poverty. In Bangladesh and Pakistan, many people are exposed to frequent natural disasters. And who can forget Palestine, where outbreaks of violence regularly endanger lives.
How is Zakat distributed?
Zakat is distributed amongst eight categories of people. The Qur’an states that:
“Zakat is for the poor, and the needy and those who are employed to administer and collect it, and the new converts, and for those who are in bondage, and in debt and service of the cause of Allah, and for the wayfarers, a duty ordained by Allah, and Allah is the All-Knowing, the Wise.”
How to calculate?
It is an obligation to pay 2.5 per cent of the wealth you have made after a full lunar year. Farmers who own their own land and harvest their own crops are required to pay 5 or 10 per cent of their harvest’s worth, depending on the type of irrigation.
No, as long as you have one house. If you have a second house for investment purposes, this is subject to zakat. You should pay 2.5 per cent of the total saved from the house, excluding what is spent on maintenance or insurance. The same applies for cars. If you are renting a car to someone, this is considered a business entity, therefore also subject to poor’s right.
What about Zakat on businesses?
It is advised that if a businessman earns a certain amount from his business, whatever he saves after taking care of his family’s needs and his business expenses, he pays zakat of 2.5 per cent. Secondly, a businessman has to pay zakat on the commodities in his store. This would require evaluating the purchasing power of the commodity and then paying 2.5 per cent of this amount.
The significance of Zakat during Ramadan
Most Muslims prefer to give their zakat in Ramadan because there are more rewards for doing so, but it is not necessary. However, it is obligatory to pay Zakat Al Fitr, which is for fasting Muslims to give food or money on behalf of fasting people. The food or money is equal to one day’s meals for one person. The head of the family pays this amount on behalf of each person in the family.
The funds collected through Zakat are meant to be used specifically for the betterment of people in poverty. Legitimate help such as assistance with basic life provisions like food, water, clothing, medicine and shelter; things they cannot provide for themselves or for their families.
Relief Aid agencies take Zakat donations from donors and use them to provide aid to these people. Be it refugees or widows who have no one left to provide for them or orphans who need sponsors to support them in education and basic living, Zakat donations are invaluable.
The Muslim population is estimated to be around one billion today. As such, there is immense potential to collect sizeable Zakat donations that can be used for the betterment of humanity. Your Zakat donation will ensure no child goes to bed hungry; the elderly get their medicine on time and widows get the financial assistance they need to support their families.