Zakah

WHAT IS ZAKAT?
Offering zakat is a religious obligation for Muslims, and is the third of the five pillars of Islam (right after prayer). In Arabic, zakat means purification, growth and blessing. Paying zakat is meant to remind Muslims to be appreciative of the blessings that Allah (Subhana Wa Ta’ala) has bestowed upon them, and to help empower those who have less. There are two primary forms of zakat: zakat al-mal and zakat al-fitr.

WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR ZAKAT?
Islamic Relief collects and distributes zakat to those who are most in need, in accordance with Islamic guidelines. Giving your zakat through IRUSA means you can help provide emergency food, shelter for refugees, job training, medication and so much more.

According to the Holy Qur’an (9:60), there are eight categories of people who qualify to be beneficiaries of zakat:

The poor
The needy
The collectors of zakat (Islamic Relief USA is an example)
Those who hearts are to be won over
Captives
Debtors
A mediator or someone who pays from personal monies to fix or mediate problems among the people
In the cause of Allah (swt)
Travelers
Most scholars agree that the poor and needy are the most important categories of people to receive zakat. Given that, it is acceptable to give your entire zakat allotment to individuals who are in those groups.

IRUSA follows the practice agreed upon by most scholars, which states that collectors of zakat are one of the eight groups that are eligible to receive zakat. As such, IRUSA is eligible to use up to 12.5% of donations made to zakat-specific funds for core work, including administrative and operational functions.

Islamic Relief USA consults with a council of imams who follow the Fiqh Council of North America for information about religious donations. It is advised that you consult with your local imam or scholar for more detailed inquiries.

ZAKAT ON GOLD
Zakat is payable at 2.5% of the wealth one possesses above the nisab. Nisab, which is equal to 3 ounces of gold, is the minimum amount of wealth one must have before they are liable to pay zakat. *As of May 29, 2017, nisab is estimated to be $3,587.79. Zakat is liable on gold, silver, cash, savings, investments, rent income, business merchandise and profits, shares, securities and bonds. Zakat is not paid on wealth used for debt repayment of living expenses such as clothing, food, housing, transportation, education, etc.

Items That Fall Under the Scope 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)

General Conditions of Zakat

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.
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.

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