Allah, the Almighty, prescribed Zakat on all Muslims and made it one of the five pillars of Islam. He says, “and establish prayer and give Zakat” [Al-Quran, Surah Al-Baqarah, verse 110]. The Prophet also said, “Islam is based on (the following) five (pillars): to testify that there is no deity save Allah and Muhammad is His Messenger, offer the (compulsory congregational) prayers, pay Zakat (obligatory charity), perform Hajj (Pilgrimage to Mecca) and observe fast during the month of Ramadan.”

Going down to its literal meaning, Zakat is making something grow and develop. As promised by Allah the Almighty, it is meant to increase the wealth and make it blessed as He says, “But what you give in Zakat, desiring the countenance of Allah – those are the multipliers.” [Al-Quran, Surah Ar-Room, verse 39]. That is: Allah, the Exalted accepts their Zakat and multiplies their rewards.

In Islam, Zakat is obligatory financial worship that every able Muslim must observe by allocating a percentage of their wealth based on certain criteria and paying it to the deserving people, like the poor and the helpless.

The types of wealth liable for Zakat include gold, silver, money, livestock (camel, cow, sheep), land crops and trading goods at a varying rate, depending on the assets.

As for the amount of Zakat, if the money a Muslim possesses reached the Zakat Nisab (minimum amount liable for paying Zakat), which is estimated at around RM14,000 (approx. USD 3,000), and when a full lunar year has elapsed since the Nisab has been reached, then he must pay Zakat at a rate of 2.5 per cent (%). The Messenger of Allah said in this regard, “whoever earns any money he is not liable to pay Zakat until the period of a year has passed (while it is still in his possession).”

Zakat is also payable yearly on trading stocks and shares as well as their profits provided that their value has reached the Nisab. The value is rated according to the market value at the time of payment of Zakat.

On another level, each category of livestock animals has a fixed Nisab amount based upon the number of animals owned. For instance, Zakat for every five cattle is one sheep, for every 30 cows one cow, and for between 40 to 120 sheep, one should be given.

In regards to Zakat on land crops that are machine-irrigated, it requires half of a tenth (5 per cent) as Zakat payment. It becomes due only at the time of harvest. The Almighty says, “and give its due [Zakat] on the day of its harvest.” [Al-Quran, Surah Al-An’am, verse 141].

Moreover, Zakat can be either paid in cash or in kind. No Zakat is payable on women’s jewellery if these are used for adornment. However, should further details be required regarding the same, they can be directed to the specialised competent scholars.

In the following verse, Allah, the Almighty, speaks about those who deserve Zakat. He says, “Zakat expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy and for those employed to collect [Zakat] and for bringing hearts together [for Islam] and for freeing captives [or slaves] and for those in debt and for the cause of Allah and for the [stranded] traveller – an obligation [imposed] by Allah. And Allah is Knowing and Wise.” [Al-Quran, Surah At-Tawbah, verse 60].

Here, the poor person is the one, who doesn’t earn any money, while the needy are those whose earnings are not sufficient enough to meet their needs. Those in debt are those who cannot afford to pay it off to the lender. The stranded traveller is the one who is short of means and is unable to find enough money to go back home. In this case, the traveller is eligible to receive Zakat to help him to return home.

However, Zakat cannot be given to one’s relatives who are under his guardianship, like parents, children or wife. Yet, a wife can give her husband out of the Zakat amount payable on her wealth if he deserves it.

Concerning where Zakat should be paid, scholars said, “Zakat on wealth should be paid in the country where its owner lives.” This was based on the Prophet’s message when he requested Muad ibn Jabal, may Allah be pleased with him, when he sent him to Yemen. He said, “then teach them that Allah has made it obligatory for them to pay the Zakat from their property and it is to be taken from the wealthy among them and given to the poor.”

Nonetheless, it is allowed to give out Zakat to the poor outside the country where one lives in if the destination place badly needs it. This can be done, for example, through the official authorities specified by the ruler. In this regard, Malaysia’s wise leadership has given great care to Zakat, seeking to exalt Allah’s decree and promote the performance of this pillar of Islam. As such, it set up the Zakat Fund with a mission to organise and manage the Zakat affairs in accordance to Allah’s Book and the Sunnah of His Messenger, combining between the authentic principles of Islam and the contemporary developments.

So indeed, it is such a great success for those who pay Zakat with goodwill.

Paying Zakat has great benefits for those who do it. Allah praised them in this verse: “Certainly will the believers have succeeded: They who are during their prayer humbly submissive; and they who turn away from ill speech; and they who are observant of Zakat.” [Al-Quran, Surah Al-Mu’minun, verse 1-4]. That is those who observe the obligation of Zakat in line with Allah’s orders.

When a Muslim gives out Zakat, he shows that he is a true believer. Also, he demonstrates that he is adherent to His Creator’s decrees, loves Him, trusts in His Mercy and Forgiveness and appreciates His bounties. In return, Allah, by His Grace, blesses him with the best of rewards. The Almighty says, “Indeed, those who believe and do righteous deeds and establish prayer and give Zakat will have their reward with their Lord, and there will be no fear concerning them, nor will they grieve.” [Al-Quran, Surah Al-Baqarah, verse 277].

This is because Zakat would purify their souls as the Most Exalted says, “Take, [O, Muhammad], from their wealth a charity by which you purify them and cause them to increase, and invoke [Allah’s blessings] upon them. Indeed, your invocations are reassurance for them. And Allah is Hearing and Knowing.” [Al-Quran, Surah At-Tawbah, verse 103]. In the interpretation of this verse, ibn Abbas, said, “It is the compulsory charity.” That is: Zakat.

With this in mind, let us implore to Allah to make us amongst those who seek His Satisfaction and so granted. May Allah purify our hearts and wealth and bless our wealth and children. O Allah, please guide us all to obey You and obey Your Messenger Muhammad and obey those You have commanded us to obey in line with Your orders: “O you who have believed, obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority among you.” [Al-Quran, Surah An-Nisa’, verse 59].

May Allah direct us all to the blessings of the Glorious Quran and the Sunnah of His Messenger.

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