Servants of Allah! Zakah is not charity, It is not voluntary charity, not a tax, but an obligation. By giving Zakah, a Muslim is acknowledging that everything we have is Allah’s and we do not really own these, and we should use it to remember Allah and help those who are in need.
Brothers and Sisters! Zakah, the giving of alms to the poor and needy, is one of the five pillars of Islam (the others are declaration of faith, prayer, fasting in Ramadan and Hajj). It is obligatory upon every adult Muslim of sound mind and means.
The individual must own a specific amount of wealth or savings (after living costs, expenses etc). This is referred to as Nisab and is the threshold at which Zakah becomes payable. The amount of Zakah to be paid is 2.5 percent of Nisab.
Allah the Almighty said:
“The alms (Zakah) are only for the Fuqarah (the poor), and Al-Masakin (the needy) and those employed to collect (the funds); and to attract the hearts of those who have been inclined (towards Islam); and to free the captives; and for those in debt; and for Allah’s Cause, and for the wayfarer (a traveler who is cut off from everything); a duty imposed by Allah. And Allah is All-Knower, All-Wise.” [Al-Quran, 9:60]
And He (Allah) the Most High also said:
“They ask you as to what they should spend. Say: Whatever wealth you spend, it is for the parents and the near of kin and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer, and whatever good you do, Allah surely knows it.” [Al-Quran, 2:215]
And He said:
“(Alms are) for the poor who are confined in the way of Allah – they cannot go about in the land; the ignorant man thinks them to be rich on account of (their) abstaining (from begging); you can recognise them by their mark; they do not beg from men importunately; and whatever good thing you spend, surely Allah knows it.” [Al-Quran, 2:273]
Servants of Allah! Zakah is not charity, It is not voluntary charity, not a tax, but an obligation. By giving Zakah, a Muslim is acknowledging that everything we have is Allah’s and we do not really own these, and we should use it to remember Allah and help those who are in need. It is also an act to help free us from excessive desire, stinginess and greed, and to learn self-discipline and honesty.
My friend! You should record the Islamic date on which you first became the owner of Nisab – if, on the same date the following lunar year, you are still the owner of Nisab, you will be obliged to pay Zakah. Many Muslims choose to give it during Ramadan as the rewards for good deeds performed in Ramadan are greater than in any other month.
My respected people! Know that, Zakah can only be paid to specific beneficiaries and projects.
The Noble Qur’an mentions eight groups of people in Surah At-Tawbah 9:60 on who Zakah should be spent, as follows:
1. The Fuqarah (the poor);
2. Al-Masakin (the needy);
3. Amilina alaiha (Zakah collector);
4. Mu’allafatu Qulubuhum (poor and needy who recently converted to Islam);
5. Ar-Riqab (slaves; Zakah can be used to purchase their freedom);
6. Ibnus-Sabil: A stranded traveller in need of financial assistance;
7. Al Gharimina: A debtor;
8. Fi Sabilillah: Those who are away from home in the path of Allah.
Dear Brothers and Sisters! Imam Ibn Qudamah said in his book Umdah fil Fiqh:
“Alms (zakah) must be paid by every free Muslim who has complete ownership of the minimum amount. There are no alms (Zakah) on property until an entire lunar year has passed, except for that which comes from the land and the growth of capital through livestock or profit. The period of time for these is their origin.” Alms (Zakah) is obligatory on four types of wealth:
1. Free-grazing, domesticated livestock;
2. Growth from the land;
3. Silver and gold (or their equivalent in cash);
4. Merchandise prepared for sale.
There are no alms until any of these reaches the minimum amount. If the value reaches or exceeds the minimum amount, then alms is obligatory on the full amount, except for livestock for which there is nothing obligatory on that which falls between the two amounts (i.e. the obligatory amount upon thirty or more cows will be the same until the owner has forty cows).
It is not permissible to delay paying alms until after it has become an obligation if one is capable of paying it. If one has delayed payment and the property has become lost, then the payment will not be nullified. However, if the property is lost before the time of obligation has arrived, then the payment will be nullified.
It is permissible to pay alms early if the minimum amount has been reached, but it is not permissible before that. If one pays it early to someone who does not deserve it, then it will not count, even if that person becomes a worthy recipient on the due date. If one pays it early to someone who deserves it and then that person dies or no longer needs it or becomes an apostate, then it will still count for him. However, if his property is lost after he paid alms, then he cannot ask for it back from the person who received it.
It is not permissible to transport charity (Zakah) to a faraway place such that it becomes permissible to shorten the prayer, unless he cannot find anyone eligible to receive it in his own country.
There are eight categories of people eligible to receive alms (Zakah):
1. The poor. They are those who cannot afford whatever they need, even despite working or otherwise;
2. The needy. They are those who can afford only some of their needs;
3. The collectors. They are those who are needed to collect alms;
4. Those whose hearts are to be reconciled. They are the authorities within their tribes whose evil may be repelled or whose faith may be strengthened by giving them alms, or it is hoped it will prevent them from harming the Muslims, or who may help collect alms from those who are withholding it;
5. Slaves. They are indentured servants and may be emancipated;
6. The indebted. They are those who have borrowed money as payment for lawful items or to reconcile two Muslim parties;
7. In defense of the cause of Allah. They are the unpaid soldiers who are not part of a regular army;
8. The traveler. They are those who lack the means to return home, even if wealthy in their own land.
These are those who are eligible to receive alms and it is not permissible to give it to others.
And it is permissible to pay it to only one of them since the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) instructed Bani Zuraiq to pay alms to Salamah ibn Sakhr and the Prophet said to Qubaisa:
“O Qubaisa, wait until we receive charity and then we will give it to you.”
The poor and the needy are to be given what is sufficient for their needs. The collector is to be given a fair compensation for his work. The one to be reconciled is given what will reconcile him. The indentured servant and the indebted are to be given what they need to pay what is due upon them. The soldier is to be given what is needed to perform his duty. The traveler is to be given enough for him to return to his country. None of them may be given more than this.
Five of these categories do not take anything unless it is needed. They are the poor, the needy, the indentured servant, the indebted, and the traveler.
It is permissible to give alms (Zakah) to four of these categories, even if they are not in need. They are the collector, the one to be reconciled, the soldier, and the indebted.
It is not permissible for charity (Zakah) to be given to someone who is wealthy, strong, and able to work. It is also not permissible for the household of Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, which is Bani Hashim and their emancipated slaves.
It is not permissible to pay obligatory alms (Zakah) to one’s parents, grandparents, children, grandchildren, and those from whom he is responsible, or to the unbelievers. However, voluntary charity may be given to such people and to others.
It is only permissible to pay alms with an intention unless the leader has taken it by force.
If one has paid alms to someone who is not deserving, then it is not valid unless it is paid to someone who is self-sufficient but whom the donor mistakenly thought was poor.
Dear Brothers and Sisters! A lot of people today are confused about whether they are eligible to pay Zakah or not, as they are not clear about what are the exact rules of Zakah. Zakah is a delicate matter and is calculated on the wealth of all individuals who have owned a certain amount of gold, silver or cash for a whole year, hence they are liable to pay 2.5 percent of the total value. There are other rules of Zakah in Islam which are listed below:
A person that possesses 85 grams of gold or 595 grams of silver or the cash equivalent to any one of these amounts and has maintained this for over a year, has to pay 2.5 percent of Zakah on it every year.
A person that has a collection of gold, silver, diamonds, savings, savings bonds, foreign currency or even fixed deposits that are equal to that amount is liable to pay Zakah.
Owning business products, animals intended for business purpose, land or house that is equal to or more than the value of 85 grams of gold or 592 grams of silver then they have to pay the same amount of Zakah.
If you have agricultural products as savings or for business purposes and the weight of those products is 1,100 kilos, then one-tenth of the naturally produced crop or one twentieth of the crops harvested with water is to be given away as Zakah.
One has to pay their Zakah after proper and precise calculation. Any amount of donations given to charity without intention are not considered as Zakah but Sadaqah, and you will still be liable to pay Zakah. The intention of Zakah should be clear from the beginning even when separating the money for donation.
Servants of Allah! Now what are the punishments for not paying Zakah?
Allah (The Glorified and the Exalted) has strongly warned those who are negligent in the fulfillment of these duties. Thus He said:
“Those who hoard up treasures of gold and silver (and money) and spend them not in the way of Allah; give them the news of a painful punishment, on the Day when that (wealth) will be heated in the Fire of Hell and with it will be branded their forehead, their sides, and their backs, (and it will be said to them:) ‘This is the treasure which you hoarded for yourselves. Now taste of what you used to hoard.” [Al-Quran, 9:34-35]
“And let not those who hoard up that which Allah has bestowed upon them of His bounty think that it is better for them. Rather, it is worse for them. That which they hoard will be their collar on the Day of Resurrection. Allah’s is the heritage of the heavens and the earth, and Allah is informed of what you do.” [Al-Quran, 3:180]
Further, Imam At-Tabarani relates, on the authority of Ali, that the Prophet (Pbuh) said:
“Allah has enjoined upon rich Muslims a due to be taken from their properties corresponding to the needs of the poor among them. The poor will never suffer from starvation or lack of clothes unless the rich neglect their due. If they do, Allah will surely hold them accountable and punish them severely.” (Related by At-Tabarani in Al-Aswat and as-Saghir)
Also Abu Hurairah narrated that Allah’s Messenger (Pbuh) said:
“Whoever is made wealthy by Allah and does not pay the Zakah of his wealth, then on the Day of Resurrection his wealth will be made like a baldheaded poisonous male snake with two black spots over the eyes. The snake will encircle his neck and bite his cheeks and say, ‘I am your wealth, I am your treasure.” (Sahih Bukhari)
Abu Zar narrated:
“Once I went to him (the Prophet Pbuh) and he said: “By Allah in Whose Hands my life is (or probably said, ‘By Allah, except Whom none has the right to be worshipped) whoever had camels or cows or sheep and did not pay their Zakah, those animals will be brought on the Day of Resurrection far bigger and fatter than before and they will tread him under their hooves, and will butt him with their horns, and (those animals will come in circle): When the last does its turn, the first will start again, and this punishment will go on till Allah has finished the judgments amongst the people.” (Sahih Bukhari)
Abdullah ibn Umar (RA) said:
“The Prophet (Pbuh) came to us and said: ‘O Muhajirun, (emigrants from Makkah to Madinah) you may be afflicted by five things; Allah forbid that you should live to see them. If fornication should become widespread, you should realises that this has never happened without new diseases befalling the people which their forebears never suffered. If people should begin to cheat in weighing out goods, you should realise that this has never happened without drought and famine befalling the people, and their leaders oppressing them. If people should withhold Zakah (refused to give out Zakah), you should realise that this has never happened without the rain being stopped from falling; and were it not for the animal’s sake, it would never rain again. If people should break their covenant with Allah and His Messenger, you should realise that this has never happened without Allah sending an enemy against them to take some of their possessions by force. If the leaders do not govern according to the Book of Allah, you should realise that this has never happened without Allah making them into groups (Disunity among the Muslims) and making them fight one another.” (Sunan Ibn Majah)
Ali ibn Abi Talib (RA) said:
“The Prophet (Pbuh) said: ‘If my Ummah bears fifteen traits, tribulation will befall it.’ Someone asked, ‘What are they, O Messenger of Allah?’ He said, ‘When any gain is shared out only among the rich, with no benefit to the poor; when a trust becomes a means of making a profit; when paying Zakah becomes a burden; when a man obeys his wife and disobeys his mother; and treats his friend kindly whilst shunning his father; when voices are raised in the Mosques; when the leader of a people is the worst of them; when people treat a man with respect because they fear some evil he may do; when much wine is drunk; when men wear silk; when female singers and musical instruments become popular; when the last ones of this Ummah curse the first ones – then let them expect a red wind, or the earth to swallow them, or to be transformed into animals.” (Sunan at-Tirmidhi)
Ali ibn Abi Talib (RA) said:
“The Prophet led us in praying Salat al-Fajr (the morning prayer). When he had finished, a man called to him: ‘When will the Hour be?’ The Prophet reprimanded him and said ‘Be quiet!’ After a while he raised his eyes to the sky and said, ‘Glorified be the One Who raised it and is taking care of it.’ Then he lowered his gaze to the earth and said, ‘Glory be to the One Who has outspread it and has created it.’ Then the Prophet said, ‘Where is the one who asked me about the Hour?’ The man knelt down and said, ‘I asked you.’ The Prophet said, ‘The Hour will come when leaders are oppressors, when people believe in the stars and reject al-Qadar (the Divine Decree of destiny) when a trust becomes a way of making a profit, when people give to charity (Zakah/ Sadaqah) reluctantly, when adultery becomes widespread – when this happens, then your people will perish.”
And Allah knows best.
Prepared by your brother Imam Murtadha Muhammad Gusau, from Okene Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached via: +2348038289761.