Zakat is one of the five pillars of Islam. Zakat is mentioned together with Salah in eighty two (82) verses of the Qur’an. Allah says: “And perform Salah and give Zakat.”
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Islam is based on five pillars: “The testimony of Faith, the performance of Salah, the payment of Zakat, the performance of Hajj, and the fasting of Ramadhan.” (Bukhari and Muslim) Whoever denies that Zakat is a pillar of Islam is considered to have renounced Islam and become an apostate. The importance of Zakat in Islam is undeniable and should not be underestimated. The Arabic word “Zakat” literally translates as “Purity” and it is known that giving Zakat purifies excess wealth. The Islamic meaning of Zakat is that a certain percentage of excess wealth is taken from the rich Muslims and given to the poor Muslims. It bridges the gap between the rich and the poor Muslims, and fosters brotherly love among them.
Zakat is obligatory It is incumbent upon every Muslim who owns nisab (minimum amount) of wealth to pay its Zakat. The nisab (minimum amount) and the percentage of Zakat to be taken from different types of excess wealth is clearly defined in the Qur’an and Sunnah. For example, when a quantity of 85 grams or more of gold or 595 grams of silver or their equivalent of cash are held in possession for one year, Zakat of 2½ percent becomes due upon it, once the nisab has been reached.
Who receives the Zakat? The eligible recipients of Zakat are clearly mentioned in the Qur’an: “The Zakat is only for the poor, and the needy, and for those employed for collecting it, and those whose hearts are made to incline towards Islam, “and for freeing slaves”, and for those in debt, and in the cause of Allah, and for the wayfarer as a duty imposed by Allah, and Allah is All-Knowing, Wise.” (9:60)
Why pay Zakah? A man said to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) “Tell me about a deed which admits me to heaven.” He said: “Worship Allah ascribing no partner to Him, perform Salah, pay Zakat and maintain good relation with your kinfolk.” (At Tabarani)
Warning against withholding Zakat
Allah Almighty says: “And let not those, who withhold out of stinginess what Allah has given them from His bounty, think that it is good for them; nay, it is evil for them. They shall have what they withhold out of niggardliness made to cleave to their necks on the Day of Resurrection.” (3:180)
Ibn ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with them both) said: “The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) made giving a saa’ of dates or a saa’ of barley as Zakaat al-Fitr an obligation for all Muslims, slave and free, male and female, young and old, and ordered that it should be given before the people went out to pray (Salaat al-Eid).” (Al-Bukhaari, 1503).
AlsoNarrated Nafi’: Ibn ‘Umar said, “The Prophet made incumbent on every male or female, free man or slave, the payment of one Sa’ of dates or barley as Sadaqat-ul-Fitr (or said Sadaqa-Ramadan).” The people then substituted half Sa’ of wheat for that. Ibn ‘Umar used to give dates (as Sadaqat-ulFitr). Once there was scarcity of dates in Medina and Ibn ‘Umar gave barley. ‘And Ibn ‘Umar used to give Sadaqat-ul-Fitr for every young and old person. He even used to give on behalf of my children. Ibn ‘Umar used to give Sadaqatul-Fitr to those who had been officially appointed for its collection. People used to give Sadaqat-ul-Fitr (even) a day or two before the ‘Id.” (Bukhari Volume 2, Book 25, Number 587)
This is a special kind of Zakat that is due at the end of the month of Ramadan. Allah the Exalted has instituted Zakat ul-Fitr as a means of purification from idle talk that one may have uttered during this month, as well as a food gift to the needy to save them the embarrassment of asking for it on the Day of Eid, thus the poor may celebrate the joy of Eid along with the rich.
1. Consists of a “sa’a” (measure of about 7 pounds) of rice, wheat, dates or similar types of food.
2. Zakat Al-Fitr should be given on before Eid Prayer, and it can be paid days before Eid Prayer.
3. ( Note) : many scholars’ vew is that Zakaat al-Fitr must be food, not money ( except for extreme need or tharoorah) but the view of other scholars like the Hanafis, ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al-‘Azeez and al-Hasan al-Basri and others, that it is permissible to give the value of zakaat al-fitr in cash and in Islamic society of Western mass we go with the view of giving it cash based the previous Hadith of Ibn Omar:“The people then substituted half Sa’ of wheat for that”, where is allowed to pay the substitute or the equivalent.
4. It is not permissible to delay in giving Zakat Al-Fitr after the Eid prayers, with the exception of some valid reasons.