Meaning of Zakat and Whom to Give Zakat

Zakat is one of the five pillars of Islam and became obligatory on the Muslims in the second year of the hijri calendar. The literal meaning of the word “Zakat” is to purify, to develop and cause to grow. According to Islamic Sharia, zakat is the amount of money that every adult, free, and financially able Muslim, male and female, has to pay to support the poor and the needy.

Paying zakat is an admission of the fact that all wealth and blessings are from Allah and the best way to utilize this wealth is to spend it in the way prescribed in the Quran. Allah has promised a great reward for those who pay their charity.

“The men who give in charity and the women who give in charity and set apart for Allah a goodly portion, it will be doubled for them, and theirs is a generous reward.” (The Quran 57:19)

Understanding “Nisab”

Zakat becomes obligatory when a certain amount of money, called the nisab is reached or exceeded and remains in control of the owner over a period of one year. The prescribed rate of zakat is 2.5% of accumulated wealth when it is in form of cash, gold or silver. Separate rates are fixed for commodities like cattle, crops and mineral resources, each explained clearly in the Quran and Hadith. Zakat is not applicable on things under personal use like residential house, cars or clothes. It becomes applicable if houses, shops and cars are given on rent for generation of income.

According to Prophet Muhammad’s advice to Muadh bin Jabel: “Inform them (the believers) that Allah has enjoined on them, the Zakat. And it is to be taken from the rich amongst them and given to the poor amongst them.” (Bukhari)

The purpose of charity in Islam:

The purpose of giving zakat, alms and charity is stated clearly in the Quran:

“So that [wealth] does not merely circulate between the wealthy among you”. (Quran 59:7)

In another place it is stated:

“And whosoever is saved from his own avarice, such are they who will be the successful” (Quran 59:9)

Hence the purpose of charity in Islam is twofold. It does not allow wealth to become stagnant and remain in hands of an elite few. It also purifies a Muslim’s soul from greed and avarice and helps him to achieve success in this life and hereafter.
Here, one important thing should be noted that taking Zakat is not an insult, rather Zakat is that purest part of money that is taken and given in the name of ALLAH as an obligation.

Whom should you give Zakat: 
1: Zakat cannot be given to a person who owns 7.5 tolal gold and 52.5 of silver or the equivalent wealth. A person who owns house hold items like carpets and utensils, etc that are under possession and are not being used, then these items come under accumulation of wealth then such a person does not deserve Zakat. Even if given Zakat, that will serve the obligation.
2: Zakat cannot be given to Non-Muslims.
3: Zakat cannot be given to mother, father, maternal and paternal grandparents, or great grandparents, to off springs, to grand or great grand children, husband to wife or wife to husband. Other than them, Zakat can be given to other relative, such as brothers, sisters, cousins, nieces, nephews etc.
4: Zakat cannot be given as a payment of services.
5: Zakat cannot be paid for building, repairing or renovation of mosques because mosque is a worship place and called place of ALLAH.
6: A person cannot use Zakat for burial and such expenses but if the heirs of the dead as poor, they can take Zakat and can use it for the same purpose.
7: Zakat money cannot be used to pay the outstanding debts of a person who died. If paid, such action will be considered invalid.

Zakat is indeed one of the pillar of Islam and is only farj (obligatory) to wealthy people. Also please note that Zakat and Sadqah are not the same thing. Sadqah can be given to anyone but Zakat can be given only to Muslims and it is also a form of ibadah.

The Holy Quran mentions about Zakat in many places which I will list down below.

Al Baqarah : Ayat 43

And be steadfast in prayer; give Zakat, and bow down your heads with those who bow down (in worship).

Al Baqarah : Ayat 83

And remember We took a covenant from the children of Israel (to this effect): worship none but Allah; treat with kindness your parents and kindred, and orphans and those in need; speak fair to the people; be steadfast in prayer; and give Zakat. then did ye turn back except a few among you, and ye backslide (even now).

Al Baqarah : Ayat 110

And be steadfast in prayer and given Zakat: and whatever good ye send forth for your souls before you, ye shall find it with Allah; for Allah sees well all that ye do

Al Baqarah : Ayat 177

It is not righteousness that ye turn your faces towards East or West; but it is righteousness―to believe in Allah and the Last Day and the Angels and the Book and the Messengers; to spend of your substance out of love for Him, for your kin, for orphans for the needy, for the wayfarer for those who ask and for the ransom of slaves; to be steadfast in prayer and practise regular charity; to fulfil the contracts which ye have made; and to be firm and patient in pain (or suffering) and adversity and throughout all periods of panic. Such are the people of truth the Allah-fearing.

Al Baqarah: Ayat 261

The parable of those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah is that of a grain of corn: it groweth seven ears, and each ear hath a hundred grains. Allah giveth manifold increase to whom He pleaseth; and Allah careth for all and He knoweth all things.

Al Baqarah: Ayat 263

Kind words and the covering of faults are better than charity followed by injury. Allah is free of all wants, and He is Most Forbearing.

Al Baqarah: Ayat 265

And the likeness of those who spend their substance seeking to please Allah and to strengthen their souls, is as a garden high and fertile: heavy rain falls on it but makes it yield a double increase of harvest, and if it receives not heavy rain, light moisture sufficeth it. Allah seeth well whatever ye do.

Al Baqarah: Ayat 267

O ye who believe! Give of the good things which ye have (honourably) earned, and of the fruits of the earth which We have produced for you, and do not even aim at getting anything which is bad in order, that out of it ye may give away something, when ye yourselves would not receive it except with closed eyes. And know that Allah is Free of all wants and Worthy of all praise.

Al Baqarah: Ayat 270

And whatever ye spend in charity or whatever vow you make, be sure Allah knows it all. But the wrong-doers have no helpers

Al Baqarah: Ayat 274

Those who (in charity) spend of their goods by night and by day, in secret, and in public, have their reward with their Lord: on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.

Al Baqarah: Ayat 276

Allah will deprive usury of all blessing, but will give increase for deeds of charity: for He loveth not creatures ungrateful and wicked.

Al Baqarah: Ayat 277

Those who believe, and do deeds of righteousness, and establish regular prayers and regular charity, will have their reward with their Lord: on them shall be no fear nor shall they grieve.

Ali ‘Imran: Ayat 92

By no means shall ye attain righteousness unless ye give (freely) of that which ye love; and whatever ye give, Allah knoweth it well.

Ali ‘Imran: Ayat 133 – 134

Be quick in the race for forgiveness from your Lord and for a Garden whose width is that (of the whole) of the heavens and of the earth, prepared for the righteous,― (133) Those who spend (freely) whether in prosperity or in adversity; who restrain anger and pardon (all) men; for Allah loves those who do good,― (134)

An Nisaa’: Ayat 77

Hast thou not turned thy thought to those who were told to hold back their hands (from fight) but establish regular prayers and spend in regular charity? When (at length) the order for fighting was issued to them behold! a section of them feared men as―or even more than―they should have feared Allah: they said: “Our Lord! why hast Thou ordered us to fight? Wouldst Thou not grant us respite to our (natural) term, near (enough)?” Say: “Short is the enjoyment of this world: the Hereafter is the best for those who do right: never will ye be dealt with unjustly in the very least!

An Nisaa’: Ayat 162

But those among them who are well-grounded in knowledge, and the Believers, believe in what hath been revealed to thee; and what was revealed before three; and (especially) those who establish regular prayer and practise regular charity and believe in Allah and in the Last Day: to them shall We soon give a great reward.

Al Maaidah: Ayat 12

Allah did aforetime take a Covenant from the Children of Israel, and We appointed twelve chieftains among them and Allah said: “I am with you: if ye (but) establish regular prayers, practise regular charity, believe in My Messengers honour and assist them, and loan to Allah a beautiful loan, verily I will wipe out from you your evils and admit you to Gardens with rivers flowing beneath; but if any of you after this resisteth faith, he hath truly wandered from the path of rectitude.”

Al Maaidah: Ayat 55

Your (real) friends are (no less than) Allah, His Messenger, and the Believers, those who establish regular prayers and pay charity, and they bow down humbly (in worship).

Al An’aam: Ayat 141

It is He who produceth gardens, with trellises and without, and dates, and tilth with produce of all kinds and olives and pomegranates, similar (in kind) and different (in variety): eat of their fruit in their season, but render the dues that are proper on the day that the harvest is gathered. But waste not by excess: for Allah loveth not the wasters.

Al A’raaf: Ayat 156

“And ordain for us that which is good, in this life and in the Hereafter: for we have turned unto Thee.” He said: “with My punishment I visit whom I will; but My mercy extendeth to all things. That (Mercy) I shall ordain for those who do right and practise regular charity and those who believe in Our signs.

Al Anfal: Ayat 2-3

For, believers are those who, when Allah is mentioned, feel a tremor in their hearts, and when they hear His signs rehearsed, find their faith strengthened, and put (all) their trust in their Lord. (2) Who establish regular prayers and spend (freely) out of the gifts We have given them for sustenance. (3)

At Taubah: Ayat 5

But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent, and establish regular prayers and practise regular charity, then open the way for them: for Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

At Taubah: Ayat 11

But (even so) if they repent, establish regular prayers, and practise regular charity― they are your brethren in Faith: (thus) do We explain signs in detail, for those who understand.

At Taubah: Ayat 18

The mosques of Allah shall be visited and maintained by such as believe in Allah and the Last Day, establish regular prayers, and practise regular charity, and fear none (at all) except Allah. It is they who are expected to be on true guidance.

At Taubah: Ayat 58

And among them are men who slander thee in the matter of (the distribution of) the alms. If they are given part thereof, they are pleased, but if not, behold! They are indignant!

At Taubah: Ayat 60

Alms are for the poor and the needy, and those employed to administer the (funds); for those whose hearts have been (recently) reconciled (to Truth); for those in bondage and in debt; in the cause of Allah; and for the wayfarer: (thus is it) ordained by Allah and Allah is full of knowledge and wisdom.

At Taubah: Ayat 71

The Believers men and women, are protectors one of another: they enjoin what is just, and forbid what is evil: they observe regular prayers, practice regular charity, and obey Allah and His Messenger. On them will Allah pour His mercy: for Allah is Exalted in power, Wise.

At Taubah: Ayat 103

Of their wealth take alms, that so thou mightest purify and sanctify them; and pray on their behalf. Verily thy prayers are a source of security for them: and Allah is One Who heareth and knoweth.

At Taubah: Ayat 104

Know they not that Allah doth accept repentance from His votaries and receives their gifts of charity and that Allah is verily He, the Oft-Returning, Most-Merciful?

Ar Ra’d: Ayat 22

Those who patiently persevere, seeking the countenance their Lord; establish regular prayers; spend out of (the gifts) We have bestowed for their sustenance, secretly and openly; and turn off Evil with good: for such there is the final attainment of the (Eternal) Home

Ibrahim: Ayat 31

Speak to My servants who have believed, that they may establish regular prayers and spend (in charity) out of the Sustenance We have given them secretly and openly before the coming of a Day in which there will be neither mutual bargaining nor befriending.

Bani Isra’il: Ayat 26

And render to the kindred their due rights, as (also) to those in want and to the wayfarer: but squander not (your wealth) in the manner of a spendthrift.

Maryam: Ayat 31

“And He hath made me Blessed wheresoever I be, and hath enjoined on me Prayer and Charity as long as I live;

Maryam: Ayat 55

He used to enjoin on his people Prayer and Charity and he was most acceptable in the sight of his Lord.

Al Anbiyaa’: Ayat 73

And We made them leaders, guiding (men) by Our Command, and We sent them inspiration to do good deeds, to establish regular prayers, and to practise regular charity; and they constantly served Us (and Us only)

Al Hajj: Ayat 35

To those whose hearts, when Allah is mentioned, are filled with fear, who show patient perseverance over their afflictions, keep up regular prayer, and spend (in charity) out of what we have bestowed upon them.

Al Hajj: Ayat 41

(They are) those who, if We establish them in the land, establish regular prayer and give regular charity, enjoin the right and forbid wrong: with Allah rests the end (and decision) of (all) affairs.

Al Hajj: Ayat 78

And strive in His cause as ye ought to strive, (with sincerity and under discipline): He has chosen you and has imposed no difficulties on you in religion; it is the cult of your father Abraham. It is He Who has named you Muslims, both before and in this (Revelation); that the Messenger may be a witness for you, and ye be witnesses for mankind! So establish regular Prayer give regular Charity, and hold fast to Allah! He is your Protector― the― Best to protect and the Best to help!

Al Mu’minuun: Ayat 1-4

The Believers must (eventually) win through (1) Those who humble themselves in their prayers; (2) Who avoid vain talk; (3) Who are active in deeds of charity; (4)

An Nur: Ayat 36-37

(Lit is such a light) in houses, which Allah hath permitted to be raised to honour; for the celebration, in them of His name: in them is He glorified in the mornings and in the evenings, (again and again)― (36) By men whom neither traffic nor merchandise can divert from the Remembrance of Allah nor from regular Prayer, nor from the practice of regular Charity: their (only) fear is for the Day when hearts and eyes will be transformed (in a world wholly new)― (37)

An Nur: Ayat 56

So establish regular Prayer and give regular Charity: and obey the Messenger; that ye may receive mercy.

An Naml: Ayat 1-3

Ta Sin. These are verses of the Qur’an― A Book that makes (things) clear; (1) A Guide; and Glad Tidings for the Believers― (2) Those who establish regular prayers and give in regular charity, and also have (full) assurance of the Hereafter. (3)

Ar Rum: Ayat 39

That which ye lay out for increase through the property of (other) people, will have no increase with Allah: but that which ye give for charity, seeking the Countenance of Allah (will increase): it is these who will get a recompense multiplied.

Luqman: Ayat 1-4

Alif Lam Mim. (1) These are Verses of the Wise Book,― (2) A Guide and a Mercy to the Doers of Good,― (3) Those who establish regular Prayer, and give regular Charity, and have (in their hearts) the assurance of the Hereafter. (4)

As Sajdah: Ayat 15-16

Only those believe in Our Signs, who when they are recited to them fall down in adoration, and celebrate the praises of their Lord, nor are they (ever) puffed up with pride. (15) Their limbs do forsake their beds of sleep, the while they call on their Lord, in Fear and Hope: and they spend (in charity) out of the sustenance which We have bestowed on them. (16)

Al Ahzab: Ayat 33

And stay quietly in your houses, and make not a dazzling display, like that of the former Times of Ignorance; and establish regular Prayer, and give regular Charity; and obey Allah and His Messenger. And Allah only wishes to remove all abomination from you, ye Members of the Family, and to make you pure and spotless.

Saba’: Ayat 39

Say: “Verily my Lord enlarges and restricts the Sustenance to such of His servants as He pleases: and nothing do ye spend in the least (in His cause) but He replaces it: for He is the Best of those Who grant Sustenance.”

Fatir: Ayat 29

Those who rehearse the Book of Allah, establish regular Prayer, and spend (in Charity) out of what We have provided for them, secretly and openly, hope for a Commerce that will never fail.

Fussilat: Ayat 6-7

Say thou: “I am but a man like you: it is revealed to me by inspiration, that your God is One God: so stand true to Him and ask for His forgiveness.” And woe to those who join gods with Allah― (6) Those who pay not Regular Charity, and who even deny the Hereafter. (7)

Ad-Dhariyat: Ayat 19

And in their wealth and possessions (was remembered) the right of the (needy), him who asked and him who (for some reason) was prevented (from asking).

Al Hadid: Ayat 7

Believe in Allah and His Messenger, and spend (in charity) out of the (substance) whereof He has made you heirs, For, those of you who believe and spend (in charity)― for them is a great Reward.

Al Hadid: Ayat 18

For those who give in Charity, men and women, and loan to Allah a Beautiful Loan, it shall be increased manifold (to their credit) and they shall have (besides) a liberal reward.

Al Mujadilah: Ayat 13

Is it that ye are afraid of spending sums in charity before your private consultation (with him)? If, then, ye do not so, and Allah forgives you then (at least) establish regular prayer; practice regular charity; and obey Allah and His Messenger: and Allah is well-acquainted with all that ye do.

Al Munafiqun: Ayat 10-11

And spend something (in charity) out of the substance which We have bestowed on you, before death should come to any of you and he should say “O my Lord! why didst thou not give me respite for a little while? I should then have given (largely) in charity, and I should have been one of the doers of good.” (10) But to no soul will Allah grant respite when the time appointed (for it) has come: and Allah is well-acquainted with (all) that ye do. (11)

At Taghabun: Ayat 16

So fear Allah as much as ye can; listen and obey; and spend in charity for the benefit of your own souls: And those saved from the covetousness of their own souls― they are the ones that achieve prosperity.

Al Ma’arij: Ayat 18

And collect (wealth) and hide it (from use)!

Al Muzzammil: Ayat 20

The Lord doth know that thou standest forth (to prayer) nigh two-thirds of the night, or half the night, or a third of the night, and so doth a party of those with thee. But Allah doth appoint Night and Day in due measure. He knoweth that ye are unable to keep count thereof. So He hath turned to you (in mercy): read ye, therefore, of the Qur’an as much as may be easy for you. He knoweth that there may be (some) among you in ill-health; others travelling through the land, seeking of Allah’s bounty; yet others fighting in Allah’s Cause. Read ye, therefore, as much of the Qur’an as may be easy (for you); and establish regular Prayer and give regular Charity; and loan to Allah a Beautiful Loan. And whatever good ye send forth for your souls, Ye shall find it in Allah’s presence― yea, better and greater, in Reward, And seek ye the Grace of Allah: for Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

Al Bayyinah: Ayat 5

And they have been commanded no more than this: to worship Allah, offering Him sincere devotion, being True (in faith); to establish regular Prayer; and to practise regular Charity; and that is the Religion Right and Straight.

Benefits of Zakat:

Zakat expiates the sins of a Muslim and appeases the wrath of Allah.

The payment of zakat purifies the heart of the Muslim from love of wealth, greed and miserliness.

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