What is Zakat?
Zakat is the third of the five pillars in Islam and the only pillar which directly concerns the material/financial aspect of life. The fact that Allah made it a pillar shows the importance of a material/financial comfort to reach a balanced life.
Zakat has so much significance that Allah combined it with prayer (salah) in many instances in the Quran. By making it a pillar, Allah makes almost everyone experience it either as a giver or as a receiver.
Zakat has a double meaning: purification and growth.
Why do we give Zakat?
Zakat is not voluntary charity; rather it is a command from Allah, Most High. On a societal level, Zakat has important consequences, as it helps achieve reform. It helps to eliminate or decrease misery.
On an individual point of view, when one gives Zakat, one is acknowledging that everything belongs to Allah, and everything returns to Allah. When giving Zakat we do experience that money is a blessing from Allah; that we are not the real owners but trustees with the wealth we have. So Zakat is a reminder.
Muslims give Zakat, and as they do, they remember Allah and they think about those in need. Zakat might make us postpone or delay something we really want in favour of giving someone else what is really needed. We here have a wish, in opposition to a very basic need.
Like a reminder to our sense of priority. In that sense, Zakat is a compass Allah has ordered us to use, to find our way back as we can forget our direction/ priorities in life.
In fact, giving Zakat is also an opportunity to compare realities; to step back when thinking about our lives, as we can sometimes be overwhelmed: how important are my wishes or lifestyle compared to others’ vital needs; to maybe realise the blessings Allah has granted us with. Zakat is a call to step back and ponder on Allah’s blessings. Only then, Zakat can become an act of caring and mercy.
It is also an act to help free us from excessive desire and greed, learn self-discipline and honesty. In fact, and maybe today even more as societies are very consumerism oriented, it is essential to assess what importance money has in our life and especially in our hearts. How does my heart feel/react when I give Zakat? Allah has commanded us to assess our heart by giving Zakat, aiming to protect, correct and heal it.
Zakat is actually a small percentage of our wealth. There is here a disproportion between the importance of Zakat and its amount. In fact Allah has made it a pillar, which means a fundamental of the Deen; without what our Deen would be wobbly and unstable. And its rate is 1/40th of savings from a certain amount and after a certain period of time. It shows here that this pillar doesn’t aim to be a burden but that the aim of Zakat is deeper.
Indeed, by giving 1/40th of our wealth, that will obviously not affect our life style. However the spiritual process behind it enriches us so much: re-define our vision of life; re-define what we want vs what we need; release someone’s struggle, and we all know how good it feels; re-assess our attachment to material world (Dunya); re-connect with our Humanity and turn back to the One who distributes His blessings without counting. And these reminders or teachings are invaluable.
That is why it is named Zakat: purification of heart and soul and growth in Humanity. So Zakat is a beautiful act of obedience, as it is an expression of piety, God consciousness as well as being a spiritual, moral and social duty.
When should we give Zakat?
For monetary wealth, Zakat is paid once a year. One should record the Islamic date on which one has attained the minimal wealth (nisaab). Then, once a full lunar year has passed, one has to pay Zakat. Many Muslims choose to give Zakat during Ramadan as the rewards for good deeds performed in Ramadan are greater than in any other month.
How is Zakat calculated?
Assets to include in your Zakat calculation are cash (in hand, in bank accounts or money lent to someone), shares, pensions, gold and silver. Items used for personal use (home, furniture, cars, food, clothing) are not included.
The measure of minimal wealth is best done according to the Gold standard. If you own the equivalent to 84.5g of gold, for one year, then you own the minimal wealth (nisaab), and you have to pay Zakat. The price will vary according to the current market value of gold.
Zakatul Fitr is the charity which becomes obligatory on the Muslim when the sun sets on the last day of Ramadan. If one owns in excess of one’s expenditure, then one has to pay Zakatul Fitr, on his behalf and on behalf of all one’s dependents.
It is permissible to give it in Ramadan; and one should avoid delaying it beyond the Eid Prayer. The amount varies from year to year. Check with our charities below to find out how much it is.
British Muslims are among the highest sectors who give donations and charity. This is more so in Ramadan, following the guidance of our beloved Prophet Muhammad, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, who used to be the most generous in Ramadan.
There are many charities to give your donations or Zakat to.
The following charity only accepts Zakat
MAB Charitable Trust
The MAB Charitable Trust (MAB CT) was launched in 2012 to educate and assist the Muslim community with its religious and spiritual needs; and to contribute positively to the British Society. MAB CT is a focused charity, which endeavours to contribute through its humanitarian work to present the positive image of Muslims in the UK. There are many Muslims living in the UK who live below the poverty line. We use your Zakat to help those people who are in need in the UK, as well as supporting those who need in help in Europe. Your Zakat will be used to assist those who need help.