Updated: Jun 22, 2019
by Dr. Musa Qutub
Zakat is the monitory form of worship, Zakat means to increase, to purify ones wealth and position by giving a given amount of money from the net income that one earns for a complete year to the poor or needy as a form of prayer. Zakat has been ordained in the Shariat (revelations from Allah to the prophets). The law of Nisab (the amount of wealth ones make which is liable for Zakat) was deferent through time and as the economic condition dictate, but the contributing of Zakat in Allah's legislation was the same to all the prophets (PBUT). Zakat is one of the five pillars of Islam; it is mentioned in the Holy Quran thirty-eight verses immediately after the prayer. So Allah (the God) is telling mankind that Zakat is very important to Him. Here are some selected verses: And establish the prayer and give Zakat and bow with those who are bowing in prayer. (Sura 2, Ver. 43). And We took the covenant of the children of Jacob (Israel) that you should pray to no one but Allah and be kind to your parents and your relatives and the orphans and the poor and say kind words to people and establish the prayer and give Zakat and then some of you responded but most rejected (Sura 2, Ver. 83). And establish the prayer and give Zakat and what you contribute for the needy you will find it written for you and Allah knows what you are doing and he can see that. (Surra 2, Ver. 110). Righteousness is not to turn your faces toward east or west, but righteousness is to believe in Allah, and the day of judgment and the Angels, and the Holy Quran and to believe in the prophets and to contribute willingly from your money to the needy and relatives and orphans, and the poor and those who are traveling and in need, and those who can not pay their bills and those who establish the prayer, and those who give the Zakat and those who fulfill when they make a promise and those who are patient when they face a calamity and they are the ones who are sincere and they are the ones who heed Allah. (Sura 2, Ver. 177). And those who believed and did good deeds and established the prayer and gave the Zakat they will have their rewards waiting for them with their Lord, and they should have no fear nor sadness. (Sura 2, Ver. 277). And those who are seeking knowledge some believe in what was revealed to you and in what was revealed to the prophets before you and they are the ones who are establishing the prayers on regular basis and the Zakat and they believe in Allah and the day of judgment and they will be given their reward for their effort. (Sura 4, Ver. 162). And Allah took the covenant from the children of Jacob (Israel) and he sent twelve captains, I'm with you if you establish the prayer on regular basis and give the Zakat and if you believe in all my prophets and you obeyed them and contributed to the needy, I will forgive you for your bad deeds and I will enter you into paradise under which rivers will flow and after that whoever disbelieves in Me, then he will be living a life astray. (Sura 5, Ver. 12). Allah is your trustee and your messenger and those who believe are the ones who establish the prayer on a regular basis and give the Zakat while they are bowing in prayer. (Sura 5, Ver. 55). And write for us in this life good deeds and on the day of judgment we guided to you, we are submitted to you, and Allah says my punishment will touch those whom I wish, but my mercy fills the entire universe and I will extend it to those who heed me and those who give the Zakat on regular basis and those who believe in my revelation. (Sura 7, 156). And if they repented and established the prayer and gave the Zakat then they are brothers in the religion and that's how we are legislating for you so you may know. (Sura 9, Ver. I 1). Those who built houses for Allah are the ones who believe in Allah and the Day of Judgment and establish the prayer on regular basis and the Zakat and fear no one except Allah and they maybe the ones who are guided. (Sura 9, Ver. IS). And the believers, males or females they have friendship among them and compassion they ask the people to obey what Allah revealed and prevent the people from doing things that will spread mischief on the earth and they are the ones who establish the prayer and give the Zakat and obey Allah and his prophets and they are the ones that Allah extends his mercy to; to them Allah is kind and wise. (Sura 9, Ver. 71). Those that if we make them secure on the earth, they establish prayer and give the Zakat and ask the people to obey Allah and not to do things that Allah asked not to do and all matters revert to Allah. (Sura22, ver.41). And so, compete in the obedience of Allah the way he should be obeyed, he is one who guided you and he did not make religion a burden to you, and follow the revelation that were revealed to Abraham, he is the one who called you Muslims before and so that the prophet be a witness on you, and you will be witnesses on mankind, so establish the prayer and give the Zakat and stand united, he is your trustee and you will have no one better, he will be the one who will give you victory. (Sura 22, ver. 18). Men who will not be spread away by the daily business from remembering Allah and establishing the prayer on a daily basis 'and give the Zakat and they fear the day that their heart will not be turned away from Allah. (Sura 24, ver. 37). And establish the prayer and give the Zakat and obey the messenger so you may receive mercy. (Sura 24, ver. 56). Those who do not give Zakat and they do not believe in the day of judgment are blasphemers. (Sura 4 1, ver. 7). And they were ordered to pray only to Allah since you establish and practice the religion with sincerity and establish the prayer and give the Zakat and that is the right religion. (Sura 98, ver. 5). And in a reference to the prophet Ismail, Allah says he used to order his family to pray and give Zakat and he was well accepted by Allah. (Sura 19, ver. 55). From these verses Allah considered Zakat very important as a form of prayer and it is referred to in the Quran in nearly all the verses next to establishing the prayer; therefore, it is a form of prayer but performed monetarily. Muslims who perform this obligatory duty Allah promised them a great reward during their life on earth and the hereafter. Allah also gave a strong warning to those who do not give Zakat and are absentminded about it, and also purposely and knowingly avoid giving Zakat. The money and wealth mankind accumulates is provided to them by Allah (the God) thus, part of it must be given back to the poor and the needy to circulate in the economy. Allah says an example of those who contribute for the needy is an example of a grain that grew in to seven ears and in each ear there is a hundred-grain and Allah multiplies the giving to whom he ever pleases. (Sura 2, ver. 26 1). Allah also mentioned that he will not accept interest, he will erase it and he will multiply the contribution to the needy, and so Satan threatens human beings or with poverty and whispers to them to commit evil. Allah promises forgiveness and bounty because Allah is bountiful and knowing. The benefits of Zakat are numerous and they are not limited to the following: Acceptance from Allah. Increase in wealth. Avoidance of calamity. Protection form loses or decreases in wealth. It is a shield from Hell. It serves as a shelter on the Day of Judgment. It secures Allah's forgiveness. It removes grief and fear. Avoidance of sickness. Those who do not give Zakat Allah will punish them with their wealth and then wealth will take away their happiness on earth and mercy of Allah on the Day of Judgment. Allah reminded the people that those who save gold and silver and do not contribute for the needy and the poor they should receive stem penalty on the day of judgment when their wealth symbolized in gold will be thrown on them in the form of fire and with it they will be branded on their forehead and their flanks and backs and it will be said to them this is the wealth that you saved and did not contribute to the needy and the poor. Allah gave an example of every situation the human being may encounter and gave us good examples considering those who do not contribute for the Zakat when they get rich. An example of that is the case of Thalaba Bin Hafith who used to pray with the prophet five times a day in the mosque, and he came to the prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and said to him: ask Allah so he may give me wealth and he kept insisting on that and the prophet said you have enough now, and wealth may become a problem and he said no, he replied no I can give everyone what he deserves. So, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) made a supplication to Allah and asked Him to give Thalaba wealth, and so Thalaba took the trade of raising sheep and they multiplied like ants. Then he began to pray less in the mosque, and one day the prophet asked about him, and they told him that he is a very rich man and he left the city because his sheep multiplied to a very large number, and the prophet replied: I am concerned about Thalaba. When Allah ordained Zakat prophet Muhammad (PBUH) sent for Thalaba to collect it, so Thalaba said: this is a tax, I will not pay it, then he said let me think about it so they came to the prophet and told him. The prophet was very upset then Thalaba changed his mind and came to the prophet. The prophet said no, I told you that you can not handle the wealth and you said you would give everyone what he deserves. Allah gave you this wealth and now it is time for you to give to the needy and you refused. The prophet died without accepting his Zakat and Thalaba died without paying the Zakat. Allah revealed this verse concerning Thalaba. From among them, there are those who promised Allah that if He gave them wealth, they will contribute and be an example to others and when Allah provided for them they became stingy and did not contribute. He made them hypocrites until they face Him because they did not fulfill their promise. (Sura 9, ver. 75-77). Zakat has basically two main benefits: The Zakat money will be given to the poor, the orphans, widows and the disabled. If that happens, society will be stable and there will be less need and there will be fewer thefts. It is an equitable system of distribution wealth. Zakat leads its giver away and shields him from evil, sin, and loss of wealth and valuables. Zakat is a must for every Muslim, and Zakat was ordained to all the prophets. Zakat is due after completion of a full Islamic year, which is twelve months. It is 2.5% of the net income, which equals or exceeds the value of Nisab. Zakat is a must; it is to be assessed on: Gold, silver either cash or in the form of jewelry. The gold and silver must-be weighed then Zakat value assessed. Merchandise for business equal to the value of the Nisab. Livestock. Increase in property ownership if it is equal to the value of Nisab. Current value of the real estate. Income derived from business. Zakat is not due on: Cars, fixtures or equipment used to operate a business. Diamonds, stones, or metals. Zakat should be given to: Fuqarraa: (the poor) who do not possess wealth equal to Nisab. Masaakeen: (extremely needy) who peg for their daily needs. Alaamlieen Alyha: those appointed by the government to collect Zakat or the local authority and in the United States those who are in charge of the mosques. Almulafati Qulobohom: those who became Muslims and are in need. Arriqaab: Slaves who are permitted to buy their freedom. Aighaarimeen: those who have dept and can not pay it. Fisabeelillah: those who have to carry out obligatory items and are not eager to fulfill it. Zakat should not be given to any relatives of the prophet; it should not be given to parents, wives, sisters, and grand parents. It is preferably be given to Muslims. It should not be given to institutions, organizations who do not give it to the right recipients. It should not be given to build a school or hospitals or to bury the dead. Another form of fasting, Zakat is given at the end of Ramadan, which is approximately five dollars per person, and the head of the family is to give it. It is called Zakat Alfitr. Zakat is one of the five pillars of Islam, It is mandatory and Muslims are to practice it as a from of obedience to Allah. InIslamic countries, the government collects the Zakat and gives it to the needy but although there are seventy five countries where are the majority are Muslim, but none of them has established an Islamicgovernment to collect the Zakat and so the mosques are responsible to collect and distribute the Zakat.
Zakat must not be confused with tax, Zakat is a form of contribution from one's net income to help those who are unfortunate, so they can go through that rough period, but it is not meant for the poor to depend on it and not to go and seek employment and be lazy. On the contrary, Islam does not encourage laziness or dependency. Islam encourages every human being to rise and work and earn a living, Zakat must be practiced just like prayer or fasting. It is a form of obedience to Allah; it is a form of prayer that must be obeyed.