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Frequently Asked Questions

1) What is the Meaning and Purpose of Zakat?

The literal meaning of Zakat is ‘to cleanse’ or ‘purification’. In the Islamic faith, Zakat means purifying your wealth for the will of Allah SWT; to acknowledge that everything we own belongs to Allah SWT and to work towards the betterment of the Muslim Ummah. According to Islamic regulations, Zakat is 2.5% of one year’s total cumulative wealth. This amount is then distributed to the poor. Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) has said “Whoever pays the zakat on his wealth will have its evil removed from him” (Ibn Khuzaimah and at-Tabaraani).

Zakat is not only a means to purify one’s wealth but it is also a spiritual purification which serves as a means to draw an individual closer to the Creator, Allah SWT. Ibn Taimiah said that, “the soul of one who gives zakat is blessed and so is his wealth”. It is quite clear from the above narration that in addition to being a moral obligation, Zakat is also a spiritual one which is why millions of Muslims every year give Zakat to the poor.

'In their wealth there is a known share for the beggars and the destitute’ (70:24-25)

We mentioned how Zakat is a means of connection between the person and Allah SWT. It also provides a connection between the giver and the recipient. The entire concept of donating a fraction of one’s wealth to the poor is a highly honourable act; one that comes with valuable lessons as well as blessings. First and foremost, it teaches Muslims self-discipline, allowing the giver to free themselves from the love of possessions and greed.

2) Who Should Pay Zakat?

Zakat is one of the five pillars of Islam. As such, it is compulsory on Muslims, provided they meet certain conditions and criteria. Any Muslim who possesses the required nisaab (the minimum amount of wealth that one must have before zakat is payable) for one whole year is bound to pay Zakat on that wealth. It is imperative that Muslims know exactly how much Zakat they owe and How to Calculate Zakat so that the right amount can be given to the intended recipient.

A lot of people choose Ramadan as the month in which they pay their zakat and for good reasons. Ramadan is the month of blessings and the rewards for all good deeds is far greater in this blessed Ramadan that in any other month.

3) What are the Beneficiaries of Zakat?

To put it in simple terms, people who are poor and suffering are eligible to receive Zakat money. They can be any of the following:

  1. The Poor & The Needy – these people may have some wealth and funds but it is not enough to make up for the nisaab.
  2. The Destitute – People who have no wealth or funds. They are living their life on the very basics necessities of life.
  3. Zakat Collectors – People who collect Zakat as well as distribute it.
  4. Muslim Converts – This category was specifically designed to get new Muslim converts who were genuinely poor on their feet. It still exists to this day.
  5. People in Debt – People who are in debt but cannot pay it back are eligible for Zakat.
  6. Travellers – Muslims who are in the middle of their journey and out of money are eligible for zakat donations.
4) What can Zakat not be used for?

Zakat cannot be used for the following purposes:

  • building mosques
  • to bury the deceased
  • to clear the debt of the deceased
5) How does the ISD use its Zakat

Muslims donating their Zakat to relief aid organisations around the world, it is a pivotal way to fight poverty. ISD Aid uses these funds to help poor communities in Darwin. Zakat funds also go towards emergency relief in case of natural disasters and Tsunamis such as Syrian Emergency Appeal.

6) What items fall under the scope of Zakat and what are the genearal conditions of Zakat?

Jewellery and Precious Metal – Case in point, Gold and Silver. Both are come under Zakat even if they are used merely for decorative purposes. The reason behind it is simple; they contribute towards your cumulative wealth and as such their worth must be tabulated when calculating Zakat.

Bank Accounts – Any cash, bonds, stock one might have in their savings account. The amount should be in the bank for one year. Loans given or funds received are also part of the Zakat process.
Cattle and Crops - Cattle and crops that are in excess of one’s need.
 ‘TAKE ALMS FROM THEIR PROPERTY THAT YOU MAY PURIFY AND SANCTIFY THEM AND PRAY FOR THEM. VERILY YOUR PRAYERS ARE A COMFORT FOR THEM’ (9:103)

Making Niyat is only half the task. Muslims must also consider the following conditions in order to ensure their Zakat contribution is paid correctly.

Recipient’s Eligibility: It is absolutely imperative that every shred of aid given reaches only those who need it most. As such, recipients of Zakat must be sufficiently poor to receive it. In a nutshell, if they don’t have personal assets that either meet or exceed the nisab, they are eligible to receive Zakat.

Paying Zakat In Advance: People who wish to pay for Zakat for future years can certainly do so. Keep in mind that the pre-paid amount can be offset against the actual zakat liability incurred in future years.
Payment in Kind: Zakat can be paid in many ways. The ideal way for today’s fast paced world is cash or if some people prefer, they can pay in kind as long as the value of goods are equal to the cash amount and furthermore, the recipient has agreed to accept the goods in kind.

7) What is the difference between Zakat and Tax?

Some people might think Zakat is a form of tax. It is not. Zakat and tax are two entirely different things. One is a spiritual act and an obligation as a caring human being and the other is a requirement of secular law. The concept of Zakat is to assist the poor and those who are suffering in order to help them end their suffering and get back on their feet.

8) What is Fitrah?

Fitrah is also often referred to as Sadaqat al-Fitr. The word Fitr means the same as Iftaar, “breaking a fast”, and it comes from the same root word as Futoor, meaning “breakfast”. Thus, in Islam, Fitrah is the name given to the charity that is distributed at the end of the fast of Ramadan.
 

9) How is Fitrah calculated?

The amount of Fitrah payable is called a “sa’a”, ie the minimum prescribed amount. It is the same for everyone, regardless of their different income brackets. One sa’a is traditionally (two handfuls or 2.176kg, approximately) of food, grain or dried fruit. This calculation is based on Ibn ‘Umar's report that the Prophet (SAW) made Fitrah compulsory and payable by a sa’a of dried dates or a sa’a of barley.

10) What is the status accorded to Fitrah?

It is a duty that is compulsory on every Muslim, whether male or female, minor or adult as long as he/she has the means to do so. The head of the household may pay the Fitrah on behalf of family members.
 
In reference to this, Abu Sa'eed al-Khudree said, "On behalf of our young and old, free men and slaves, we used to take out one sa’a of grain, cheese or raisins during Allah's Messenger's (SAW) lifetime". [Sahih Muslim 2:469 (2155)]
 
Bear in mind that Fitrah is only compulsory for a particular period of time. If one misses the time period without a good reason, he has sinned and cannot make up for it. This charity becomes obligatory from sunset on the last day of fasting and remains obligatory until the beginning of the Eid prayer (that is, shortly after sunrise on the following day). However, it can be paid prior to the above mentioned period, as many of the companions of the Prophet (SAW) used to pay Fitrah a couple of days before Eid.

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