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ZAKAAH, the Third Pillar of Islam

DEFINITION OF ZAKAAH: Zakaah literally means to increase. Technically it means to purify one's possession of wealth by distributing a prescribed amount which has to be given to the poor as a fundamental Ibaadat (worship).

THE VIRTUES OF ZAKAAH: Allah Ta'ala says in the Quraan: "The parable of those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah is that of a grain of corn. It grows seven ears and each ear has a hundred grains. Allah increases manifold to whom He pleases." (Baqarah 261)

The Quraan states that wealth increases abundantly by giving Zakaah. And the reward increases according to the sincerity of the Niyyah. In another Aayah Allah says: "Allah destroys wealth obtained from interest and will increase deeds of charity." (Baqarah 276) Yet in another verse Allah says "The shaytaan threatens you with poverty and bids you to coin evil and Allah promises you His forgiveness and bounties and Allah is Bountiful All-Knowing." (Baqarah 268) There is no Barakat and benefit from interest and it will either decrease or vanish altogether, whereas wealth spent in the way of Allah increases manifold.

It is stated in the Hadith that by giving Zakaah the following benefits are derived:

1. Gaining the pleasure of Allah;
2. Increase in wealth;
3. Protection from losses;
4. Obtaining Allah's forgiveness and blessings;
5. Safety from calamities;
6. Protection from the wrath of Allah and from a bad death;
7. The Zakaah will provide shelter on the Day of Judgment;
8. Security from seventy misfortunes;
9. It will serve as a shield from the fires of Jahannam;
10. It contributes to longevity;
11. It saves from fear and grief.

Allah Ta'ala says in the Quraan: "And there are those who hoard gold and silver and do not spend it in the path of Allah, announce to them a most grievous penalty (when) on the Day of Qiyamah heat will be produced out of that wealth in the fire of Jahannam, than with it they will be branded on their foreheads and their flanks and backs. (It will be said to them) This is the treasure which you hoarded for yourselves, taste then the treasure that you had been hoarding.' (Tawbah 34) Rasoolullah (saw) has said; "The nation that does not give Zakaah, Allah will bring about a drought on them (i.e. necessities of life will become scarce)." Rasoolullah (saw) has also said; "The person on whom Allah has bestowed wealth, and he does not give Zakaah, on the Day of Qiyaamah, his wealth will be turned into a venomous bald serpent which will wind around his neck and bite his jaws and say: "I am your wealth, I am your treasure." (Bukhari) Once Rasoolullah (saw) saw gold bangles on the hands of two women. He enquired if they gave the Zakaah for the bangles. They replied "No." Rasoolullah (saw) then said: 'Do you wish on the Day of Qiyaamah that you be made to dress in bangles of fire?" They replied: "No." He then said: 'Give Zakaah on them." (Tirmizi)

ZAKAAT IS NOT A TAX – IT IS AN IBAADAH: Allah Ta'ala says in the Quraan: "Take from their wealth Zakaah so that you may cleanse them and purify them there-with.' (Tawbah 102). This Aayat points to the fact that Zakaah is not a governmental tax, but its main purpose is to keep those who are wealthy clean monetarily from sins. There are two major benefits of giving Zakaah:

1. It keeps one away from sin and saves the giver from moral ills arising from the love and greed for wealth;

2. Through Zakaah the poorer class, (those who are not capable of providing for them selves) are being cared for, such as widows, orphans, the disabled, the poor and the destitute, and it is in fact a vital part of the elaborate and equitable system of the distribution of wealth established by Allah for mankind. Even if there are no widows, orphans, poor or needy persons, Zakaah is still incumbent upon Muslims. This clearly shows that Zakaah is not solely for giving to the destitute and the poor but has been ordained as a monetary devotion. In the same manner that Salaat and Sawm are a physical devotion, Zakaah is a monetary Ibaadah. It is a special favour of Allah on this Ummah, and in this manner the wealth which is spent in the way of Allah is made lawful for use by the poor and the needy.

1. Gold & Silver. (Whether Jewelry or any other form)
2. Merchandise for business.
3. Income derived from properties.
4. Value of property bought for resale.
5. Cash currency (on hand or in bank).
6. Monies owing to you (details to be sought from an Aalim).
7. Livestock (the Nisaab of livestock is different from above).

1. Home for living.
2. Home for living.
3. Household requirement e.g. furniture, car etc.
4. Personal requirements (not of gold and silver.)
5. Other precious metals or stones, such as diamonds which are for personal use.
6. Fixtures and fittings and other equipment required to run the business e.g. delivery trucks etc.
7. If liabilities exceed assets.

NISAAB: The amount of wealth which makes one liable for Zakaah is called Nisaab. The Nisaab of gold and silver fixed by Rasulullah (saw) is as follows: Gold 20 Mithqals 87.48 grams 2,8125 Troy Oz. Silver 200 Dirhams 612,36 grams 19,6875 Troy Oz. The Nisaab of assets other than Gold and Silver (e.g. merchandise and cash etc.) will be the equivalent of what is lesser in value between Gold and Silver. (E.g. if the Nisaab of Gold is for instance $800 and the Nisaab of Silver is $500, then the Nisaab of the merchandise, etc. will be $500. The rate of Zakaat is 1:40th i.e. 2.5% (2.5 cents in a Dollar) annually.

A sane adult Muslim possessing the above amount of gold and silver or excess wealth equivalent to the above will be liable to pay Zakaah, Provided he has possessed it for a full year.

NOTE: Zakaah should be calculated according to the Islamic (Lunar) calendar as the Christian calendar falls about 11 days short each year.

1) The Banu Hashim who are the children of Sayyadatina Fatima (RA) and all members of Rasoolullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam)'s family and wives (RA)
2) Parents, grandparents, children and grandchildren.
3) Institutions or organizations that do not give the rightful recipients (Masaarif) possession of Zakaah, but instead use Zakaah funds for Consumption, investments or salaries etc.
5) Zakaah cannot be given as remuneration for services rendered.

HOW TO DETERMINE ZAKAAH ON GOLD AND SILVER: The value of gold and silver to be calculated by an expert (e.g. Jeweller). Only the gold and silver content should be taken into consideration. The benefit of charity and sincerity of intention As adapted from a saying of the Prophet (saw): There was a man who said to himself "By Allah, I am going to give sadaqah," so he went out that night and gave sadaqah to a man whom he thought looked like a poor man. He was actually a thief going to steal, and he gave him sadaqah. When he woke up he heard people saying 'last night, sadaqah was given to a thief.' When he heard that, he said "Oh Allah, all praises are due to you," the meaning of which according to commentators is that he made a mistake, but his intention was pure, and he said, "O Allah I gave it with a good intention, and You are worthy of praise in all conditions. I gave it to a person who was undeserving of it." Then again, the next day, he said "I did not give charity," as he felt that he hadn't fulfilled his oath, so he said "I'm still going to do it," and he went out, and gave money to a prostitute. The next morning people were saying "A prostitute was given sadaqah last night." And he said, "O Allah, all praises are due to you;" he again had made a mistake. So again he felt as if he hadn't given in charity and went out to fulfill his oath. This time he put his money into the hand of a rich man. The next morning again people were talking of the sadaqah saying, 'last night sadaqah was given to a rich man.' So again the man said, "O Allah, all praises are due to you." Then he saw in a dream, although some say an angel came to him, and he was told "As for your charity to that thief, maybe he will stop stealing because you gave him that." Then it was said, "And as for your charity to that prostitute, maybe she will stop fornicating because of that." And then he said "And as for the rich man, maybe this will cause him to reflect so that he will start to give out from his wealth." (For scholars say that most rich people don't really think about all that Allah has given them and that prevents them from charity.)

The Islamic Scholars say about this hadith that even if you gave charity to the wrong hands, say "O Allah, all praises are due to you " because if your intention was pure, Allah will make some good come out of it. It might not be from the hands of that person, but it may come later. One of the great scholars, Badruddin Al-Hasani (who was a master of hadith), from the city of Damascus, who died in this age, at every 'Eid, he would go out, and he would give his students charity from his own pocket, and there were places, particularly in the colonialism era, where there were a lot of women that were impoverished and forced into prostitution to support themselves, and he would tell his student to give those prostitutes charity, and he would say to them, "Tell them that Badruddin Al-Hasani asked you to make du'a (supplication) for him." And those women would weep when they heard that: "Who are we to make du'a for Badruddin Al-Hasani?." There were people who repented because of that act. Thus even if you gave charity to the wrong hands, if your intention was pure, Allah the Most Merciful, will make good come out of it.


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