Zakat in Islam

What is Zakat

Zakat, or Zakat al-Mal, means obligatory “alms” or “alms upon wealth.” It stands as the Third Pillar of Islam, coming immediately after Salat, or the daily Ritual Prayer. Every Muslim possessing the designated minimal amount of wealth (called nisab) for a full cycle of a lunar year must, as a matter of worship, satisfy the duty of the Zakat-Charity.

The Zakat Foundation of America has collected and organized a series of questions and answers to provide clarification on the following subjects:

Zakat Essentials All possessions can be classified into either Zakatable or Non-zakatable wealth. The Quran specifies how Zakât is to be collected and distributed precisely and who should receive Zakat.
Zakat Assessment In order to accurately calculate your Zakat, it is important to know what types of wealth on which Zakat is due and what types of wealth are nonzakatable.
Zakat & Business Many questions that American Muslims have about Zakat are related to wealth that is acquired through business and investment, debt and trade-goods.
Zakat Conditions & Calculation Zakat falls due when certain conditions are met and Zakât is due only on zakatable wealth that reaches an established minimum threshold for that particular kind of wealth. A lunar year’s full cycle must elapse on nisâb for Zakât to come due.
Zakat & Social Justice One of the Quran’s major themes is social justice for those whom society disadvantages and compassion for the vulnerable. Islam builds its community out of human obligation toward each other, making each Muslim accountable for the wellbeing of every other Muslim.
Beyond Zakat Besides Zakat, Muslims are strongly encouraged to give Sadaqa — optional charity—throughout the entire year.

Unfortunately, the calculation of Zakat in our wealth diverse times has become unclear to many Muslims. This has led to a kind of guessing at the Zakat payment one owes to the eligible—which has, in turn, commonly resulted in either underpayment of Zakat or a hasty “fulfillment” made simply to rid oneself of the nagging feeling of the unresolved religious obligation.

Zakat Foundation’s mission is to help American Muslims nationwide carry out their Zakât duties easily and correctly. Many crucial, yet readily answerable, questions have come to light. The novel Zakât issues facing us now, along with widespread unawareness about established Zakât principles and rules, made clear to us the need for a fairly comprehensive list of questions and answers, one that would straightforwardly address the contemporary uncertainties and concerns of Muslims, whether one is on monthly salary, a small business owner, an investor in the markets, or anxious about the implications of a pension plan on his or her Zakât.

Who Answers the Zakat Questions?

To ensure that these questions and answers accurately represents sound religious rulings and the Sharî’ah, much research and consultation went into its compilation. Based on the teachings of Zakât by our most prominent scholars, it is well grounded and reliable. Be assured that we have presented here the positions of scholars recognized as mujtahidîn (or, qualified, independent legal practitioners) on current Zakât topics, largely unexplored before our times. A noted source for contemporary cases is the celebrated Dr. Yusuf al-Qardawi’s Fiqh az-Zakât (a book translated into English under the same name (with the subtitle: A Comparative Study, published by Dar al-Taqwa, London, UK, 1999). This list relies heavily on Shaykh Yusuf’s monumental service to contemporary Muslims in Fiqh az-Zakât. Yet even the opinions of Shaykh Yusuf herein have undergone secondary scholarly review, in light of the four widely practiced schools of jurisprudence (madhâhib) in Islam. Basic differences of detail are not uncommon. Hence, on occasion, variant opinions are noted before finally endorsing the one that seems to enjoy the broadest scholarly support.

Zakat Foundation has published The Zakat Handbook: A Practical Guide for Muslims in the West (available here) in consultation with renowned contemporary scholars in order to increase the awareness and practice of the beautiful Pillar of Zakat.

We are also offering a free Zakat Kit (available here (pdf)). This kit is a supplemental resource to the book meant to assist Mosque Islamic Centers in getting started.

Zakat Foundation of America, a Muslim charity that collects zakat, sadaqa / donations to provide humanitarian, emergency relief and sustainable development programs to empower lives throughout the world. We offer top Zakat resources including The Zakat Handbook: A Practical Guide for Muslims in the West, Zakat kit, ask an Imam feature, and you can calculate and pay zakat through our easy, online calculator.

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