Zakat is an annual obligatory low rate contributed by Muslims to help their poor brethren out of 2.5% of their annual wealth, savings or income. This is categories as Zakat on Wealth.
Other than that, there is also what we called as Zakat fitrah, which is obligatory on all Muslims young and old. It is something like the poll tax for Muslims. It is to be paid annually anytime during the fasting month but not after the ‘idil fitri (not until entering month of Syawal of Islamic calendar). The amount will be fixed by the Muslim religious council according to the cost of medium quality of staple food on the region of the year. It usually can be paid at appointed centers generally at the mosques etc.
Zakat is distributed among the following group which we called as Asnaf and their are eight group of them:
- The poor Muslims, which called as Fakir;
- The needy Muslims, which called as Miskin;
- The Amil or zakat fund manager, usually in form of salaries to officials appointed or a recognised Muslim body/organization over the collection of zakat;
- Those hearts who are inclined to embrace Islam which we called as Muallaf;
- Ransoming of captives, which we called as Al-Riqab;
- Those in the way of Allah, which called as Fi sabilillah;
- Those Muslims who are in debt, called as Al-Gharimin;
- The wayfarer that lost his/her resources to continue, this we called as Ibnu Sabil.
It should be noted that Zakat is to be given for cleansing the soul and the wealth of Muslims. On the hand, Sadaqah is a term use for optional charity. It can be given to anyone even to a non-Muslim without any specific rate or restriction to some extent. Some example of sadaqah other than using wealth is like giving ideas, giving a helping hand, teaching people etc.