“Zakat is for the poor and the needy and those who are employed to administer and collect it, and for those whose hearts are to be won over, and for the freeing of human beings from bondage, and for those who are overburdened with debts and for every struggle in God’s cause, and for the wayfarers: this is a duty ordained by God, and God is the All-Knowing, the Wise.”
One of the five pillars of Islam, Zakat is a purification for one’s wealth, freeing one from the love of possessions by encouraging humility and discipline. An essential principle of Islam is that everything belongs to God. We do not own our wealth, but have been entrusted with worldly possessions by Him.
Zakat means ‘purification’ and ‘growth’; possessions are purified by setting aside a portion for those in need, and like the pruning of plants, this cutting back encourages new growth.
The annual payment of zakat is different to any charitable gifts given out of kindness or generosity, otherwise known as sadaqah. Zakat is a mandatory religious obligation and forms the systematic giving of 2.5% of one’s net wealth each year, benefitting targeted recipients on a sustained basis.
From the Qur’anic verses ordaining zakat, eight classes of recipients have been identified by the scholars. As Ramadan approaches, we talk to British charities that distribute support to the eight beneficiaries of zakat.
- The Masakeen - 'the destitute'Fuqaraa -'the needy or poor'Amil'
- Zakah - 'the alms collectors'Fi sabi `
- Lillah - 'in the path of God'
- Gharimun - 'people burdened with debt'
- Ibn as'Sabil - 'the wayfarers'
- Riqab - 'people in bondage or slavery'
- Mu'Allaf - 'those who have inclined towards Islam'