Back 2 Basics: Zakaah

1. So what’s this Zakat business all about?

The word “Zakat” literally means "that which purifies" and "that which fosters growth". So the act of giving Zakat means purifying one's wealth to gain the blessings of Allah (swt).

Zakat is the third pillar of Islam and is one of the most fundamental acts of Ibadah (worship) hence being mentioned over 30 times in the Holy Quran. In simple terms, it is the more able people giving 2.5% of their yearly income to those who are less financially able. Performing Zakat is to re-distribute wealth from the rich to the poor so the rich can help those who are less fortunate than themselves.

2. Who has to give it?

Zakat is Fardh (obligatory) upon every sane adult Muslim man and woman. The only condition is that they must be in possession of a certain minimum amount of extra wealth called Nisab, and must remain above this amount for one full Islamic year. Nisab is the threshold or line which separates people on whom it is Fardh to pay Zakat and those who are eligible to receive it.

3. But why the hell should I pay Zakat? It's my money!

There are several benefits a person can gain by paying Zakat. It is stated in a Hadith that by giving Zakat the following benefits are derived: pleasure of Allah (swt), increase in wealth and protection from loss, Allah’s (swt) forgiveness and blessings, protection from the wrath of Allah (swt) and from a bad death, a shelter on the Day of Judgement and security from seventy misfortunes.

Not only that, Zakat purifies believers from selfishness and greed of worldly wealth. It also reminds Muslims of the fact that whatever wealth they may possess is a blessing of Allah (swt) and as such it is to be spent according to His commands. Zakat also helps develop love and compassion for the poor and purifies the heart of the one who receives it from any jealousy or bad feeling towards those better off than them, so it strengthens the feeling of brotherhood and lessens the economic divide between the rich and poor.

Allah (swt) says in the Quran:

"Whoever spends their wealth in the cause of Allah and doesn’t follow their gifts with reminders of how generous they were, nor with hurtful humiliation, they shall have their reward with Allah and they will not be afraid nor will they be sad." (Surah Al-Bakarah, 2:262).

So clearly a Zakat payer will never be a loser in the sight of Allah (swt).

4. Who’s getting my dough?

There are eight groups of people on whom Zakat should be spent, as mentioned in the Holy Quran in Surah Tawbah (9:60):

  1. The Fuqara (poor) – those who do not have wealth equal to Nisab, i.e. not enough to take care of their basic needs.
  2. The Al-Masakin (needy) - those who work, but only earn just enough to get by, so by receiving Zakat they don’t have to beg.
  3. The Aamileen - those whose only job is to collect and distribute the Zakat funds.
  4. The Mu’allafatul Qulub - those who have just newly accepted Islam as their religion or those who are close to accepting Islam and are in need of basic necessities.
  5. The Riqab – those in captivity, i.e. to buy their freedom and free them from oppression (whether a slave back in the old times, or a prisoner of war in our times).
  6. The Al-Gharimeen – those that are in debt because they have borrowed money to pay for basic necessities so that they can lead a normal life
  7. The Fisabilillah – those who are away from home fighting in Allah (swt)’s cause or seeking knowledge to spread the message of Islam.
  8. The Ibn as-Sabil - the wayfarer who is stranded in a foreign land and cannot get enough money to go back to his homeland. Even if he might be rich he should still be given enough money to allow him to return to his homeland.

If you have family members who are eligible to receive Zakat then priority should be given to them first. The Holy Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam (Peace and Blessings be upon him) said,

"The charity to a poor person is a charity, but charity to a relative is a charity and a Silah (an act of strengthening the tie of kinship)." (Tirmidhi)

Zakat can NOT be given to the following:

  • The descendants of the Holy Prophet (saw).
  • Parents and grandparents. In the same manner one's children and grandchildren cannot be given Zakat. A husband and wife cannot give Zakat to each other.
  • A child of a wealthy father cannot be given Zakat. When such a child becomes mature in age, and does not own wealth to the value of Nisab, he may then be given Zakat.
  • If a person owns wealth which in value exceeds the amount of Nisab, but this wealth is not intended for business nor does he require it for his daily needs, such a person is regarded as well-to-do and should not be given Zakat.
  • Institutions or organizations that do not give the rightful recipients possession of Zakat, but instead use Zakat funds for constructions, investment or salaries.
  • The construction of Masjid, Madrasah, Hospital, a Well, a Bridge or any other public amenity.

Zakat given to Madrasah:

For Zakat to be accepted the recipient must become the owner of the money given. Therefore a Madrasah cannot be given Zakat directly without it being passed on (usually by the Madrasah) to a poor person, who then accepts the money and then gives all of it or part of it to the Madrasah as a donation. This process is called Hila-e-Shara’ih.

5. I’m rubbish at maths, how can I work out how much I need to give?

Zakat-al-Mal (Zakat on wealth) can be subdivided into Zakat on: business, rental income, personal income, savings, gold and sliver, shares, livestock and crop. A total of 2.5% of that wealth should be given as Zakat. Basic necessities such as food, water, clothes, shelter etc, ain't included.

There seems to be some confusion on the length that wealth has to be held before Zakat is due on it. For example, many people believe that if they came in to possession of £1000 then they would need to have that £1000 for one year before any Zakat is due. This is incorrect. The correct way to ensure that Zakat is given is when a person becomes a Nisab holder and remains a Nisab holder for 1 year then whatever he has at the end of the financial year the Zakat is due on that total amount.

The value of Nisab is approximately 520 grams of silver or 75 grams of gold or its value in money. In current day’s calculation 520 grams = £135 approx. and 75 grams of Gold = £750 approx. Therefore if a person has £135 or more in savings for Basics 1 year then he will have to pay Zakat at the end of the financial year on whatever he has.

Here's an example: a person has come into some money and he has £200 in the month of Muharram. He then has enough savings for the whole year which does not drop below the threshold of £135. However in the month of Dhul Hajj he comes into some more money and on the 30th of Dhul Hajj he has £2000. Then on the 1st of Muharram the next year he would have to pay 2.5 % of £2000 i.e. £50 in Zakat.

Zakat isn’t imposed on:

  • On any metals other than gold or silver
  • Fixtures and fittings of a shop, car, trucks or any delivery vehicle etc. which is used in the running of a business.
  • Diamonds, pearls, other precious or semi precious stones which are for personal use.
  • There is no Zakat on personal residence, household furniture, pots and pans, personal clothing, whether they are in use or not.

6. So when do you want it?

Zakat should be given on a yearly basis. A complete year in the Islamic calendar should pass, starting from the very day you came into possession of Nisab. After that day passes, Zakat becomes obligatory therefore payment should be made.

Many Muslims wait for Ramadan to give their Zakat as every good deed receives extra blessings in that blessed month. However, one shouldn’t delay their payment as it is possible for death to occur any time hence failure in fulfilling your obligation.

Zakat doesn’t need to be paid by an individual just once a year; it can be paid as many times as the individual wants, if they have the means to do so. This can be an opportunity to reap in more good rewards from Allah (swt).

7. What about the Zakat that I ain't paid over the years?

Ibn Abbas (ra) reported:

A woman came to the Messenger of Allah Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam (Peace and Blessings be upon him) and said: "My mother has died, and fasts of a month are due from her." Thereupon he said: "Don't you see that if debt was due from her, would you not pay it?" She said "Yes (I would pay on her behalf)" Thereupon he said "The debt of Allah deserves its payment more than (the payment of anyone else)". (Muslim)

If you’ve missed your payments over the past years, scholars have deduced that the missed Zakat must be paid as soon as possible even though you didn’t know it was Fardh back then.

It’s also deduced from the above Hadith that if a family member has deceased without paying Zakat, it is the duty of the living family members to pay the debt that the deceased has left, so to pay Zakat on their behalf.

8. What if I don’t pay Zakat?

Allah (swt) says:

"... and those who hoard gold and silver and spend them not in the way of Allah announce unto them a most grievous penalty. On the Day, when they (gold and silver) will be heated in the fire of Hell and used to brand their foreheads, their flanks, and their backs. This is what you have hoarded for yourselves, taste you then what you have hoarded." (Surah Tawbah, 9:34-35).

The verse above clearly states what the consequence is for those who don’t pay their obligatory Zakat, so if you want to receive your book of deeds in your right arm, paying Zakat is a must!

9. So what’s Zakat-ul-Fitr all about?

Zakat-ul-Fitr is a different sort of charity that is due at the end of Ramadan. This type of charity is Wajib (necessary) on every Muslim, be it, old, young, sane, insane, slave, freeman, woman or man.

It is obligatory on the head of the family to give Fitr of all persons that take food in his house.

The rich are obliged to come in direct contact with the poor, and the poor are put in contact with the extremely poor. This contact between the various levels of society helps to build real bonds of brotherhood and love within the Islamic community and trains those who have, to be generous to those who do not have.

This form of charity becomes obligatory from sunset on the last day of fasting and remains obligatory until the beginning of Salah al-Eid (i.e. shortly after sunrise on the following day). However, it can be paid prior to the above mentioned period, as many of the companions of the Holy Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam (Peace and Blessings be upon him) used to pay Zakatul- Fitr a couple days before the Eid so that the poor could also enjoy Eid.

The amount of Zakat is the same for everyone regardless of their different incomes. The minimum amount is one Saa` (two handfuls) of food, grain or dried fruit for each member of the family. This is usually between £1 and £3 [per person].

10. Is there anything else I have to do?

Yes. Since the payment of Zakat is an act of worship, its validity depends upon the expression of your intention. So, at the time of payment or when Zakat money is set aside from one’s assets, intention (Niyyah) should be made.

Authority can be delegated to another person or an organization for the distribution of your Zakat so that it can be utilized in accordance with the laws of Zakat. If an agent is given Zakat for distribution, and he does not distribute it, then the Zakat will not be regarded as fulfilled, and the sin for not paying the obligatory Zakat will remain a burden on you. So you must choose an organisation that you know will deliver your Zakat directly or simply give your Zakat directly yourself.

Also when the payment of Zakat is being made, you shouldn’t brag about how much you’re giving rather give it in secrecy, Allah (swt) says:

"If you give alms openly, it is well, and if you hide it and give it to the poor, it is better for you; and this will do away with some of your evil deeds; and Allah (swt) is aware of what you do." (Surah Bakarah, 2:271).

Note: If you have any questions or queries regarding Zakat please and we will provide answers from a qualified Scholar


Noor wrote:

The value of Nisab is approximately 520 grams of silver or 75 grams of gold or its value in money. In current day’s calculation 520 grams = £135 approx. and 75 grams of Gold = £750 approx. Therefore if a person has £135 or more in savings for Basics 1 year then he will have to pay Zakat at the end of the financial year on whatever he has.

Is this a typo? According to others its 85 (and one site I came across says 87) Why the difference?

Also according to zakat calculator, you have to have £2,930.58 to pay zakaah ...that's a big difference compared to the above stated, £135 :S

"How many people find fault in what they're reading and the fault is in their own understanding" Al Mutanabbi