Zakat is one of the five pillars of Islam and is an obligatory charitable contribution that Muslims are required to give to the poor and needy. It is considered a form of worship and a means of purifying one’s wealth.
The word Zakat means “purification” and “growth” in Arabic. Muslims are required to give 2.5% of their annual savings and assets (excluding necessities like housing, food, and clothing) to those in need. This contribution can be made directly to individuals, to charitable organizations, or to the mosque.
The primary purpose of Zakat is to help the poor and needy, including widows, orphans, and the disabled. Zakat can also be used to support the spread of Islam, to free slaves, to help those in debt, and to provide for travelers who are stranded.
Zakat is not just a financial obligation, but also a spiritual one. It serves to remind Muslims of their obligation to help those in need and to demonstrate their commitment to their faith. By giving Zakat, Muslims are purifying their wealth and demonstrating their gratitude for the blessings that they have received.
Eligible to receive zakat
In Islam, there are eight categories of people who are eligible to receive Zakat, as mentioned in the Quran (9:60):
- The poor: those who have little or no wealth and struggle to meet their basic needs.
- The needy: those who have some wealth but still require assistance to meet their basic needs.
- The collectors of Zakat: those who are authorized by the Islamic State to collect and distribute Zakat.
- Those whose hearts are to be reconciled: those who have recently converted to Islam or who are not yet Muslims, but are showing an interest in Islam.
- Those in bondage: those who are enslaved and need help to gain their freedom.
- Those in debt: those who are in debt and unable to pay it off.
- The wayfarer: those who are traveling and have run out of funds.
- The cause of Allah: those who are working to spread Islam, defend Muslims, or provide support for Islamic causes.
It is important to note that Zakat should only be given to those who are genuinely in need and meet the criteria set by Islamic law. Muslims should also consult with a qualified Islamic scholar or organization to ensure that their Zakat is being distributed in the most effective and appropriate way.