Zakat – A pillar of Islam!

Zakat or Zakah literally means to cleanse or to purify. In our context, it is to purify our wealth by giving charity to those in need. Many have a lot of confusion with regards to this pillar of Islam. So let us try to understand about it as the pillar of Islam in a way that it becomes easy for us to implement it in our lives.

Being one of the pillars of Islam, we need to pay special attention to it because there is a strong evidence from the Hadith to pay Zakat and a warning of hell-fire for those who do not give their Zakat that’s due. Not only that, Allah has also revealed it at so many places in the Quran thus reminding us that it’s a commandment from Allah.

So now, what is Zakat?

Zakat is an obligatory charity which one gives out of his wealth. The concept is to have a proper distribution of wealth in the society such that people are able to live their lives peacefully on this earth. If u see the world today, most of the issues in this world are due to improper distribution of wealth. As a result of which the rich are becoming richer and the poor are becoming poorer! So we need to encourage each one of us to learn about Zakat and give it in accordance to the rules and commands of Allah.

What is Zakat applicable on?

It’s applicable on four things as a whole.

1. Gold & Silver (this includes the cash what u get like salary). Do note other stones like diamond and platinum are exempted, if used for personal use.

2. Business/commerce: Buying and selling of goods like trading or shops if you own; or if you are dealing in real estate for sale or rent.

3. Agriculture: Produce which are not perishable such as rice, wheat, barley etc are eligible for Zakat. But if they are sold and made money then they fall back into the second category of business/commerce.

Similarly the perishable goods like fruits & vegetables all will fall in the second category, if it is used for buying and selling. As such perishable goods have no Zakat on them.

4. Cattle: Livestock such as Camel, Cows, Sheep and goats, if they graze on the free lands of earth then Zakat is incumbent. But if they are fed by the food you buy then Zakat is not eligible. Also to be noted, if these animals are used for trade like for leather or meat industry then it will be dealt in the likes of second category i.e. Business/commerce.

We will be dealing more with the first two categories, as the majority fall in them in today’s time and there will be few who would be dealing in the last two. And also the bulk of them who will be reading my posts إن شاء الله will be from the former two groups, I hope, and so will stress more on that.

Whom Zakat is applicable?

Following are the conditions:

1. Person must be Muslim

2. He/ She must be free and not a slave

3. Maturity – You need to above the age of puberty. So children below puberty are exempted for the same.

4. Mental status – If a person is insane then Zakat won’t be applicable on him but then the guardian of such person can do this on his behalf if he is taking care of his wealth.

When is Zakat applicable?

The conditions that have to be met before Zakat becomes due are mainly two;

1. Nisaab – It’s the minimum amount or the threshold level that the wealth much reach to be eligible for Zakat. As per all the opinions of scholars taken together collectively, for easier understanding and implementing in today’s time, the nisaab for gold is kept at 85gms and the nisaab for silver is kept at 595grams.

In case of cash, because we deal with paper money these days, it has been opined to consider the value of silver worth 595 grams as nisaab.

With regards to farm produce the nisaab level is 5 awsaqs which is roughly around 612kgs, as per the opinion of many scholars.

And with regards to live stocks it varies from animal to animal which can be known from the Hadith or one can consult the scholars around.

2. Time (lunar year) – You have to complete one year of the Hijri calendar from the time that you reach the nisaab level. For example if you saved wealth above the nisaab level in Muharram last year and when you reach Muharram of this year, then your eligible for the Zakat on the wealth accumulated. And in case you go below the nisaab level when Muharram arrives, then you won’t be eligible for Zakat.

Now Nisaab has to be seen in all categories of wealth but the condition of time of one lunar year is applicable for the first two and the latter two are exempted. For agriculture produce Zakat will be considered at the time of harvesting and for livestock whatever u possess at the time when you pay Zakat on your other wealth. In short you don’t need to wait for the animals to complete 1 year of your possession.

Whom to give your Zakat?

Zakat is right of those Muslim brothers who are below the nisaab level. Many among us have this misconception that, we ourselves no matter how much debt we are in, being from middle class or from the high class we don’t accept Zakat due to shame or ego. But in actual, you are eligible for receiving Zakat if u haven’t got wealth above nisaab level. So many a times, due to such a misconception, many of our close relatives are kept far away from this right of theirs. We go to help others but we don’t help our own close relatives who are more worthy for our Zakat. It not only helps to relieve their burden but also builds your relation with your kin.

The categories that are told in the Quran:

a. Fuqara (poor)-below the nisaab level,

b. Those who are needy (misqeen),

c. Those who are in debt,

d. Those who are employed to collect Zakat,

e. To help those inclined towards Islam,

f. To help to free slaves or captives,

g. To those who work for Allah’s cause

h. To travelers who are in need.

Kindly note those who are dependent on you and are your responsibility, you cannot give them Zakat. For example, our parents, our children and wife except in one situation where you are trying to repay their loan taken for any other reason and not for spending on themselves; as we are obliged to spend for their daily needs. Hope that’s clear!

Lastly how to give Zakat?

It’s basically giving 2.5% on your wealth that exceeds nisaab level. So whatever gold u accumulate, if that reaches the nisaab level, u multiply that with 2.5% and pay that amount as Zakat. For example if u have 100grams of gold, so you are above the nisaab level. So u multiply 100×2.5/100 =2.5grams worth gold. So we calculate based on current market rate of gold per gram for 22 karat or 24 karat gold whatever you have and you can pay by cash or you can give 2.5 grams gold as Zakat.

In terms of silver, it’s the same. For example if you have silver above the nisaab level, say around 1000 grams of silver then you multiply with 2.5% = 25 grams of silver will be the zakat on that. So we can pay it by cash based on the current market rate of silver or you can give 25 grams of silver as well as Zakat.

When it comes to cash we take the nisaab level of 595 grams of silver worth the market rate in terms of cash and then calculate based on that. So if you have cash equivalent to 595grams of silver or more as savings then it will be incumbent for Zakat. This is after deducting all the expenses that you would need on monthly or daily basis and also deducting the loans that you have to pay; i.e. loans which are taken without interest and not those loans which u have taken on interest and you’re paying them as monthly installments. The reason being it falls under Riba and Riba is haram in Islam.

When it comes to business if incase u have store of clothes or grocery or flower shops etc. You will need to calculate based on the profit earned for the entire year and if it goes above the nisaab level of silver, after deducting all ur expenses of ur basic family requirements then whatever is remaining if it reaches the nisaab level then you pay Zakat in the same manner of 2.5% on it. There is one more thing to note for those who have inventory in their businesses like having stocks in their shops. They would then need to calculate, on that particular date when they are calculating their annual Zakat, the value of stocks they possess and this stock has no ruling to complete a lunar year. So if in case you have stocks worth of 1 lakh (100,000) then you calculate based on 2.5% on that. So that would be around 2500 of the money or currency you deal with in your country.

Few controversies surrounding it:

All of the Imams have opined that Zakat is not eligible for the gold that u use except Imam Abu Hanifa (May Allah have mercy on his soul) who considered Zakat is eligible for all gold that reaches the nisaab level. And that is the safer side coz of the Hadith that has been backed up with. Remember when it comes to obligations it’s always better to be on safer side than falter. That’s what I would prefer, then it’s up to you what you choose!

Each one will be held responsible for his/her Zakat. So it’s on individual basis and not as a family in whole. So a woman must pay her Zakat and a man must pay his separately for whatever each one is entitled to purify one’s wealth and to get rid of the punishment of hell-fire. Sadly many are careless and give a blind eye or take it casually. We must not forget that it’s a pillar and an obligatory act like Salah, where if one misses he/she will be punished unless u seek repentance and pay off the due Zakat.

Zakat is not eligible for the property that you own which you use as residence and for rental. But in case of rental properties, you don’t pay Zakat on the property itself but on the rental amount that you make, again calculating for the whole lunar year and on that what you save. And if what u get from rental properties is used for your expenses and it does not reach the nisaab level, then that is not eligible for Zakat. And if it reaches nisaab, then it has to be for a period of one lunar year to be eligible for Zakat.

If in case you’re in a situation that you are unable to pay Zakat especially on properties that you own, which you bought with the intention of selling it later then you need to calculate on yearly basis based on the current market prices and then pay all the zakat once u sell your property.

With regards to agricultural produce, you pay the Zakat on what you harvest and on the day of harvest. If it was grown with Rain water then you pay 10% as zakat and if it’s with other source that on which you made effort then you pay 5%. But if you sell it and make profit and that money u save and keep over a lunar year then that is eligible for Zakat, if it reaches the nisaab level.

And with regards to live stock, it varies based on the number of camels or cows or sheep or goats that you possess. You can either pay with the cattle stock itself or pay money for the same based on the number that you possess, if it reaches the nisaab level. For exact figures you can find out from the scholars in that regard, as it varies for each animal.

Finally, just to add that many get confused with their salary which they get on monthly basis and so they are not knowing how to calculate. These days the amount is mostly credited in bank accounts. On the other hand, those who get salary in their hands will be very less; and what they get is only enough to meet their ends. So such people who would cross the nisab level in a lunar year will hardly be few. And they can easily give based on their savings on lunar calendar.

So the following answer will address those who get their money in bank accounts. As there is inflow and outflow of funds on regular basis, the yearly bank statement can be taken and put in context to lunar months. Here you can check for the threshold level of the amount, which is above the nisab level, that existed for a period of one lunar year. Take that amount and apply 2.5% as zakat on it. Thus, that will help to sort out zakat from your salary. But don’t forget if you have any other source of wealth then it has to be taken cumulatively by adding each other.

To summarize, Zakat is an obligatory charity which is incumbent on an adult when the wealth of the individual reaches the nisaab level and it completes 1 lunar year as in possession, then he or she has to pay 2.5% on that wealth. So be generous in giving and start from your close relatives as that is better. That is because if you enable your relative to reach the nisaab level then you have created more people who can give Zakat. Thus in turn helping one another to grow in prosperity.

I have tried my best to get this vast topic into a brief note as much as possible. Hope it helps one and all!

Incase you have queries u can put across in comment section, I will try my best to answer within my capacity.

Rest Allāhu Alam- Allah knows best!

© Dr. Nisar Ahmad Ibn Ibrahim


My evidence: (interpreted in English as)

(Quran 2:43)

❝ And establish prayer and give zakah and bow with those who bow [in worship and obedience].❞

(Quran 9:60)

❝Zakah expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy and for those employed to collect [zakah] and for bringing hearts together [for Islam] and for freeing captives [or slaves] and for those in debt and for those in the cause of Allah and for the [stranded] traveler – an obligation [imposed] by Allah . And Allah is Knowing and Wise. ❞

(Quran 6:141) ❝ Eat from their fruits, and give the due zakah on the day of harvest ❞

Narrated Abu Aiyub( may Allah be pleased with him)

A man said to the Prophet (ﷺ) “Tell me of such a deed as will make me enter Paradise.” The people said, “What is the matter with him? What is the matter with him?” The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “He has something to ask. (What he needs greatly) The Prophet (ﷺ) said: (In order to enter Paradise) you should worship Allah and do not ascribe any partners to Him, offer prayer perfectly, pay the Zakat and keep good relations with your Kith and kin.”

(Sahih Al- Bukhari)

Aisha (رضي الله عنها) narrated: “The Messenger of Allah came to me and saw me wearing silver rings, whereupon, he asked: ‘What is this, Aisha?’ I replied: ‘I made them to adorn myself for you, O Messenger of Allah.’ He said: ‘Did you pay their zakat?’ I said: ‘No, or what Allah wishes.’ Then he said: ‘Their punishment in Hell is enough for you.'”

(Narrated by Abu Dawud)

Amr bin Shu’aib narrated from his father, from his grandfather, that two women came to the Messenger of Allah, and they each had a bracelet of gold on their forearms. So he said to them: “Have you paid their Zakat?” They said, “No.” The Messenger of Allah said to them: “Would you like for Allah to fashion then into two bracelets of Fire?” They said, “No.” He said: “Then pay its Zakat.”


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