Zakah الزكاة (Almsgiving) Posted by Fisal on Aug 20, 2011 in Arabic Language, Culture, Vocabulary
Zakah or Zakat الزكاة is the third pillar of Islam, so it is a religious duty (Fard فرض ) that often follows Salah الصلاة in Qura’an. Zakat is the financial obligation upon Muslims. The word itself means “that which purifies” or “alms“. It means both “purification تطهير and growth نُموّ “. Our wealth and possessions are purified by giving a fixed portion of one’s wealth to those in need and for the society in general.
Zakat is the amount of money that every adult, mentally-stable, free and financially-able Muslim, male or female, has to pay to support specific categories of people. These categories of people are defined in Surah At-Tawbah التوبة verse (60) in which Allah says:
“The alms are only for the poor and the needy, and those who collect them, and those whose hearts are to be reconciled, and to free the captives and the debtors, and for the cause of Allah, and (for) the wayfarers; a duty imposed by Allah. Allah is knower, wise.” (The Holy Qura’an 9:60).
The obligatory nature of paying Zakah for gold and silver and other kinds of currency is agreed among all Muslims in all centuries. Zakat is obligatory when a certain amount of money, called Ni’saab النصاب , is reached or exceeded. Ni’saab is the minimum amount upon which Zakat is due. Zakat is not obligatory if the amount owned is less than that Ni’saab. The Ni’saab of gold and golden currency is approximately 85 grams of pure gold الذهب or what is equal on the day in which Zakat is paid.
Zakat is due on the passage of One Lunar year. It is obligatory after a time span of one lunar year passes with the money in the control of its owner. Then, the owner needs to pay the portion نسبة of 2.5 % of the money as Zakah. If the owner had enough money to satisfy the Ni’saab at the beginning of the year then the money increased (in profits, salaries, inheritance … etc.), the owner needs to add the increase to the Ni’saab amount owned at the beginning of the year and then pay the Zakah (2.5 %) of the total at the end of the lunar year. Each Muslim calculates his or her on Zakah individually. For most purposes this involves the payment each year of two and a half percent of one’s capital.
Zakat is considered by Muslims to be an act of piety تقوى through which one expresses concern for the well-being of fellow Muslims, as well as preserving social harmony between the wealthy and the poor. It promotes a more equitable redistribution of wealth, and fosters a sense of solidarity amongst members of the society المجتمع .
In addition to their Zakah obligations, Muslims are encouraged to make and give out other voluntary contributions. A pious person may give as much as he or she pleases as a Sadaqah صدقة , and does so preferably in secret. Although this word (Sadaqah) can be translated as ‘voluntary charity’ it has a wider meaning. The Prophet said, “‘Even meeting your brother with a cheerful face is charity.”
(Note: As the holy month of Ramadan is approaching the end, next time we will be looking at another kind of Zakah; (Zakat Al-Fitr).
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Peace سلام / Salam/
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