Upon becoming Muslim, one must pay the zakah (obligatory alms) to those who deserve it. The zakah is a right from the rights of Allah (Exalted be He) which a Muslim must pay to his brothers from the poor and needy to cover their requirements and save them from the humility of asking others. Allah says:
And they were commanded not, but that they should worship Allah, and worship none but Him Alone (abstaining from ascribing partners to Him), and establish the salah and give the zakah: and that is the upright religion. (Al-Bayyinah 98:5)
There is a great wisdom and many reasons why zakah has been prescribed. From them may be the following:
1- It purifies the souls of the rich Muslims and cleanses them from greed, selfishness, base covetousness, and the love of this temporal world and drowning in its desires.
2- It purifies the soul of the poor from hate and jealousy which they might feel for the rich. They see them giving from their wealth that which Allah ordered, continuously caring for them, by giving them money and treating them well.
4- It uproots poverty in the Muslim society and alleviates the dangers which result from it, like theft, murder, and acts of transgression against people’s honor. It brings the spirit of the mutual dependence and the brotherhood of the Muslim society to life, by fulfilling the needs of Islam and the Muslims.
5- It plays a role in spreading the call to Islam in the world. Through it, the non-Muslims are shown the religion of Islam and its beauty, and it is hoped that they accept it.
The Conditions of Zakah
1- Possession in the nisab, which is that amount of wealth that upon which Islam has legislated zakah. This amount is equal to 85 grams of gold.
2- The elapse of one year, if one possesses the nisab for a period of a complete year.
Who Is Eligible for Zakah?
Allah has specified those people who are eligible to receive zakah. Allah says:
As-sadaqat (here zakat) are only for the poor and the needy and those employed to collect (the funds); and for to attract the hearts of those who have been inclined (towards Islam); and to free the captives; and for those in debt; and for Allah’s cause (i.e. those fighting in Jihad), and for the wayfarer (a traveler who is cut off from everything); a duty imposed by Allah. And Allah is All-Knower, All-Wise. (At-Tawbah 9:60)
Properties Exempted from Zakah
– There is no zakah due on those items which one possesses for personal use, such as houses, furniture, cars, and animals used specifically for riding (horses, donkeys, etc.).
– There is no zakah due on those assets one holds for rental purposes, like cars, shops, houses. zakah though must be paid on the rental payment if it, combined with his other wealth, reaches the nisab and remains in his possession for a period of one year.
The article is an excerpt from the author’s book “How to Become a Muslim”.