Zakat is an Islamic requirement that ranks third in the five pillar of Islam which are the core practices all Muslims aim to fulfil.
Zakat is a charitable donation that is a required obligation upon all Muslims in the aim of helping the less fortunate and increasing of spirituality as linguistically Zakat implies purification, blessings and growth.
Despite being a charitable donation, it is not your usual type of voluntary charitable offerings it is a required fundamental concept that is paid upon specific assets that meet the minimum Nisab threshold (minimum amount of wealth accumulated).
Muslims believe it is a form of confirmation and validates one’s faith in Allah (God) and is a form of proof of it.
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There are multiple Zakat rules for every aspect of the Zakat process with every Madhab however within specific Madhabs there are exact rules which must be specifically followed.
These difference of opinions on rulings of Zakat only associate with the third pillar of Islam Zakat and Not Zakat Al-Fitr as this is separate and is only obliged at the time of breaking the fast of Ramadan. So, nothing to do with the big Zakat payment that all Muslims must pay.
Common Zakat Rules:
When it comes to the topic of the Nisab threshold, there are many different interpretations since there are no specific guidelines on payments from the Qur’an (Holy Islamic Book), however the interpreted customarily payment is 2.5% on all capital assets. But again, there are different interpretations regarding Nisab threshold, but majority of Muslims follow the customarily payment between 2.5% and 20%.
For example, Sunni Hanafi’s strictly follow the customarily 2.5% required payment of Zakat, however some other Sunni madhabs differ on this expected payment. Other Islamic sects such as shiism and Wahabism all believe that Zakat is an obligation but may differ on the topic of Nisab Threshold.
Here are the common straight forward and agreeable rules that all Muslims follow:
- Zakat must always be given with a pure intention of it being accepted as Zakat. Cannot be given in the form of a generic donation as it does not count.
- Only Muslim individuals who meet and exceed the Nisab threshold are eligible to pay Zakat.
- Must have sustainable wealth for a full Islamic year (Lunar year) before having to pay Zakat.
- Zakat can be donated at any point in the year however many Muslims donate during the holy month of Ramadan.
- Zakat is donated only once a year.
- Be aware of who is eligible for Zakat and only give to those who are eligible to receive it.
Most of these differences stem from interpretation of Islamic teachings however they mostly revolve around the practical side of Zakat however all Muslims agree on the spiritual and humanitarian aspects from the act of Zakat.
“The likeness of those who spend in the way of Allah is like a seed [of grain], which grows seven spikes, in each spike is a hundred grains, and Allah multiples [His reward] for whom He wills. And Allah is All Encompassing, All Knowing.” (Surah al-Baqarah:261)
Zakat is a form of payment donated in the way of God and contains many blessings and rewards which help Muslims to improve the spiritual ranks and become better individuals.
A form of purification of oneself from selfishness and greed, teaching believer’s lessons of sacrifice for the love of God and Humanity. Creating a circulation of money, leaving the hands of the wealthy and is given to those in need, projecting mindfulness and compassion towards those facing hardships.
Zakat can often be a sticky area for those new to the process however we hope that our simple run down of what Zakat is and its rulings will make the process a little easier.