Zakat is one of the five pillars of Islam which means it’s one of the core practices all Muslims should aim to fulfil. Charity makes up a large part of the Islamic religion because we are taught by Allah (SWT) to be thankful for all He has given us and to be mindful and compassionate of those who are facing hardship, hence the third pillar of Islam being Zakat.
The basic principle of Zakat is to make a charitable donation of 2.5% on your excess wealth, but figuring out how much Zakat to pay, who should pay Zakat and when to pay Zakat is more complex than it first appears.
Find out more about Zakat, what it means to Muslims and how it is undertaken by reading our Zakat facts.
What is Zakat?
As aforementioned, Zakat (also called Zakah) is one of the five pillars of Islam which means it’s an obligatory donation all able Muslims must make. It is a charity donation that can be given to eight categories of people, including:
- Fakir – meaning those who are living in poverty
- Miskin – meaning those who are hungry and without food
- Amil – meaning those who are eligible to distribute Zakat, such as charities
- Riqab – meaning those who are enslaved or living in captivity
- Gharmin – meaning those who have excessive debt
- Fisabilillah – meaning those who act in the name of Allah
- Ibnus Sabil – meaning those who are stranded or without resources whilst travelling
- Muallaf – meaning those who are new to Islam or who are friends of the community
It is not permissible to give Zakat to anyone or any cause that is not listed above. If you’re wondering, ‘can you give Zakat to build a mosque?’ or ‘can you give Zakat to fund a school?’, you cannot because donating Zakat to fund buildings of any type is not on the list of eligibile criteria. Likewise, you cannot give Zakat as a birthday gift or to someone who has wealth beyond their means because they’re not eligible in accordance with the list above.
What is the Zakat Meaning?
The word ‘Zakat’ translates to ‘that which purifies’. The goal of giving Zakat is to purify ones wealth in the name of Allah (SWT) and to be more compassionate towards those who are less fortunate by blurring the line that separates the poor from the rich.
Zakat is fairly straight forward with few rules to follow:
- Only those who meet and exceed the nisab are eligible to pay Zakat
- You must sustain your wealth for a full Islamic year before you have to pay Zakat
- Zakat must be given with the intention being to give Zakat – generic donations do not count
- You must donate once a year if you exceed the nisab
- You may donate Zakat at any time of the year
- You may only give Zakat to those who are eligible to receive it
Why is Zakat Important?
By donating Zakat, your wealth will be purified and you will be supporting those less fortunate to have a better quality of life. It will bring you closer to your brothers and sisters who have fallen on hard times, and make you more appreciative of all Allah has given you.
How Much is Zakat?
The amount of Zakat you pay will depend on the level of excess wealth you possess. Excess wealth includes:
- Money in the bank
- Cash in your house
- Personal silver/gold
- Second homes/cars
- Investments and stocks
The value of the house you live in, your primary vehicle and your business premises are not counted as excess wealth. The money you spend on monthly bills and outgoings is also not included as excess wealth.
How much excess wealth you have will depend on if you choose to use the silver nisab or the gold nisab. The silver nisab threshold is calculated to 612.36 grams of silver, and the gold nisab is calculated to 87.48 grams of gold. The silver nisab is lower which means more people are eligible to pay under this threshold than with the gold nisab, but you can choose which value you’d prefer to use.
If your wealth exceeds the value of either the silver nisab or the gold nisab, you must donate 2.5% of it to one of the eligible causes.
Not everyone will be eligible to pay Zakat. If you’re unsure whether or not you are required to pay Zakat, you can use our Zakat calculator to work out if you are obliged to pay and if so, how much.
When Do I Need to Pay Zakat?
There is no specific date Zakat is due to be paid; you may pay it at any point during the year. Many Muslims choose to pay their Zakat during the last 10 days of Ramadhan because it is thought the rewards for giving Zakat at this time of year brings with it more rewards than at any other time of the year.
Who Can Receive Zakat?
Those who can receive Zakat are the poor, hungry, enslaved, indebted, stranded, new Muslims/friends of Islam, charities and those who fight in the name of Allah, but there are exceptions to the rules. Some of the most commonly asked questions surrounding Zakat involve which family members Zakat can be given to.
Can Zakat be Given to Family?
Yes, Zakat may be given to family members (provided they fit into one of the eligible criteria), but not immediate family.
Can I Give Zakat to my Husband?
Yes, a wife may give her Zakat to her husband as she is not considered to be responsible for him, although a husband may not give his Zakat to his wife as he is expected to support her.
Can a Mother Give Zakat to Her Son?
No, Zakat may not be given to dependents. In the same way a husband cannot give Zakat to his wife because she is dependent on him, parents may not give Zakat to their children because they have a duty to provide for them.
Can I Give Zakat to My Aunt?
Yes, you may give your Zakat to your aunt or uncle (if they fit into the eligible categories) because you are not their dependent and they do not depend on you financially.
Can I Give Zakat to My Parents?
No, you cannot give Zakat to your parents (or grandparents) because you have a duty to look after them and provide for them when you are able to and when they get older.
How Many Types of Zakat Are There in Islam?
There are two types of Zakat in Islam. Zakat is sometimes confused with Zakat al-Fitr, but the two are different.
Zakat is a donation that is to be made by all Muslims who meet the nisab threshold, and the amount a person gives may vary from the amount another person is obliged to give. Zakat must be given with the intention of it being for Zakat. Making a charitable donation without the clear intention of it being for Zakat does not count.
In comparison, Zakat al-Fitr is a donation that must be made by all Muslims or the head of the household and is to be given before the commencement of Eid prayers. Zakat al-Fitr is a much smaller donation than Zakat.
Questions About Zakat
If you have any additional questions about Zakat, when to pay it, who to pay it to and why it’s paid, contact us and we will be happy to help.