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Zakat - A
Solution for Muslim Poverty
Many Muslims around the world either don’t pay Zakat, pay it reluctantly or
cut corners to minimize the due amount. Some Muslims living in high tax
areas feel Zakat overburdens them after paying direct and indirect taxes.
This attitude is of course due to weakness in faith as many Muslims have not
understood the principles of Zakat and what good it can do for the Muslim
Let us try to understand some principles about Zakat.
Zakat is one of the five pillars which constitute the foundation of Islam(other four being declaration of belief, prayer 5 times a day, fasting in Ramadan and pilgrimage to Makkah if health and resources permit). Hardly ever is faith mentioned in the Quran without it being associated with prayer and Zakat and the need to fulfill both duties. So much is the importance of Zakat in Islam that it has been mentioned in eighty two places in the Quran in close connection with prayer. Prayer and Zakat are given precedence over other types of Islamic worship because prayer, which is offered purely for Allah’s sake, has an important role in restraining people from committing sinful and evil deeds, while Zakat has a greatly beneficial effect on both individuals and the society.
It is obligatory upon every Muslim, in possession of wealth above a prescribed limit, to pay Zakat. There are many advantages of which some are mentioned below:
1-It meets the needs of the poor of the society
2-It strengthens the good relation between the rich and the poor
3-It cleanse and purify the wealth
4-It promotes open-handedness, generosity and sympathy in a Muslim towards the needy person
5-It draws Allah’s blessing; causes increase in wealth and replacement of
spent wealth as promised in the Quran “And whatsoever you spend of
anything(in Allah’s cause), He will replace it. He is the Best of those who
Gold: 3 oz(85 grams)
Silver: 21 oz (595 grams)
Cash: equivalent to gold or silver which ever is less
Stocks & Merchandise: same as for cash
Zakat is obligatory on the following kinds of wealth
· The produce of earth like grains and fruits
· The grazing animals
· Gold, silver, cash
· Commercial commodities
Leaving aside animals and agricultural yield for which specific rules apply, Zakat is paid at one-fortyth(1/40) part or 2.5% of the total accumulated wealth. For example, if the total of all liquid assets is $100,000 the Zakat due will be $2500. Items of personal use such as the house one lives in, furniture, cloths, cars, household items etc are exempt. Zakat is due on gold and silver jewelry even though it may be for personal use as such items are liquid assets and readily cashable for other use. Property, tools and equipment used to generate business income are exempt.
If one has liquid assets on the due date, Zakat will be paid on all of it
irrespective of the future intent for some or all of it. For example, one
may be saving money to buy a house; however, till the time when the money is
used to buy the house it will be included in the calculation of Zakat as the
money is liquid asset which can be used for any other purpose also if the
· the poor
· those employed to collect Zakat
· to attract the hearts of those inclined towards Islam
· to free the captives
· for those in debt
· for Allah’s cause, i.e for Mujahideen
· for the wayfarer(traveler in need)
Relatives to whom Zakat may be paid are those to whom we are not duty bound
to support. These include sons and daughters, parents and grandparents as
supporting them is our religious obligation. It is recommended to pay Zakat
in the following order of priorty; relatives, neighbours, community, city,
country and then to Muslims in the rest of the world. For those of us living
in Saudi Arabia or similar places where there is general prosperity and
people eligible for Zakat are difficult to find, we may send our Zakat to
the communities where we originally grew up.
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