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Zakat

[zuh-kaht]
''This is a sub-article of Islamic economical jurisprudence.
Zakaat (زكاة zækæːh, zakaat or zakāh, has the implied meaning of 'grow', 'purify', or 'foster').

It is often compared to the system of tithing and alms but unlike these older systems, it serves principally as the welfare contribution to poor and deprived people in the Muslim lands, although others may have a rightful share. It is the duty of the state not just to collect it; but to distribute it fairly as well.

Zakat is one of the Five Pillars of Islam.

Amounts & Minimums

It is an obligation on Muslims to pay 1/40th (2.5%) of the wealth which they have had for a full lunar year, 2.5% of goods used for trade, and 5% or 10% of certain type of harvests depending on irrigation. Exempt from Zakat are a person's house and personal transportation.

Zakat is not mandatory on harvest if the total did not reach the minimum limit of about 653 kilograms , nor on gold amounts if the owner has less than 85 grams or silver less than 595 grams

Causes & Beneficiaries

In the Qur'an, God Revealed the beneficiaries of zakat:

إِنَّمَا الصَّدَقَاتُ لِلْفُقَرَاء وَالْمَسَاكِينِ وَالْعَامِلِينَ عَلَيْهَا وَالْمُؤَلَّفَةِ قُلُوبُهُمْ وَفِي الرِّقَابِ وَالْغَارِمِينَ وَفِي سَبِيلِ اللّهِ وَابْنِ السَّبِيلِ فَرِيضَةً مِّنَ اللّهِ وَاللّهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيم

"Alms are only for the poor and the needy, and the officials (appointed) over them, and those whose hearts are made to incline (to truth) and the (ransoming of) captives and those in debts and in the way of Allah and the wayfarer; an ordinance from Allah; and Allah is knowing, Wise."

People whose hearts are to be reconciled include (normally new Muslims or those close to becoming Muslim. Non-Muslims cannot be included):

  • Freed slaves
  • Those heavily burdened with paying their debts
  • Travelers who find themselves in difficult circumstances

There have been cases where you can't pay zakat for

  • Traditional zakaat laws generally do not cover trade.
  • It is not permissible to pay zakaat to some members of the family (i.e. grandparents, parents, spouses, children), for if they were needy or poor, they are under the custody of the eligible man, while Zakat is intended for public welfare.
  • Zakat doesn't become obligatory on a Muslim if he doesn't have a minimum amount in his possession that has remained unchanged for a whole lunar year; any increase in that money during the year waits for the following year and any decrease as long as the total amount is still above the minimum amount is exempted.

In all the four recognised madhhabs the fiqh of Zakat is very much the same with the key elements that make Zakat compulsory for an individual being: Islam, Freedom, the Nisab, Ownership and a Year's Possession.

  • Zakah is a form of payment, which has the spiritual development of the believer.

Therefore, it should not be looked at as being only an economic duty..

Shi'a interpretation of Zakat

According to the Shi'ite interpretation, also based on the Qur'an and reported speeches of the prophet Muhammad and his Household, there are two major forms of almsgiving: Khoms ("the fifth"), and Zakat. The Shi'ite consider both types to be a personal obligation, meaning that every Muslim has the full responsibility of purifying his own money, but the governor should have no force upon any individual to give up Zakat or Khoms. Khoms ("the fifth") is taken from war loots, metals, treasures, divings (pearls and so), and the money that is a mix between halal (pure) and haram (taboo). Khoms for money is done by taking the fifth of the increment or the increase in the income stored after one lunar year, and this is done after paying debts or bills (if any).

An example calculation of the Khoms tithe: A man starts with $5000 in his bank account; on the same day after one lunar year passes, he has $5600 in his bank account (having already paid his bills and debts), and so must take the fifth of his $600 earnings, that is $120. What remains after the fifth (that is $5600-$120=$5480) is recorded; if after one lunar year the man has more than $5480, then he finds the new difference and extracts a fifth from it as before. If instead he has less than $5480, then he has no earnings on which to pay Khoms. The Khoms is paid specifically for:

  1. Allah
  2. the Messenger of Allah
  3. the near relative of the Messenger (Ahl ul-Bayt)
  4. the orphans
  5. needy
  6. stranded traveler

Zakat on the other hand, according to the Shi'ite teachings, is assigned to specific goods. There are nine types of goods from which Zakat is paid out: gold, silver, camels, cows, sheep, wheat, barley, dates, and raisins. Each type has its own "nisab," or a limit under which Zakat need not be paid. Zakat is paid to the people mentioned in the overview of this article, although never to a Sayyid. Charity money or Sadaqah is never to be paid to a Sayyid since it is a taboo for a Sayyid to take such money, if it is not Khoms or a gift. Notice in that in both concepts, they are obligatory on the individual but should not be forced by the governor.

In modern days, Shi'ite Muslims are concerned with Khoms more than Zakat mainly because few of them are farmers and own the goods by which Zakat is paid out. On the other hand, Khoms is given by many people starting from the middle class and above that, and especially by employees.

References

See also

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