Zakat, A Charity Practice From Islam
Poverty is a major problem in the world which has been going on ever since human civilization started. In fact, according to United Nations data, half of the world population numbering 3.5 billions people, live below poverty line. Another scientific data shows at least about nine millions people died every year due to hunger or hunger related problem because they could afford food. To this day, we are still unable to solve this problem. However Islam as Rahmatan Lil ‘Alamin actually has the answer to this. There is Zakat, A Charity Practice From Islam which can fix this problem
Definition of Zakat
Before we dwell deeper on this subject, first we have to understand what is the meaning of Zakat. Based on its etymology, the word Zakat has the meaning of growth, to develop, flourish or to increase. Zakat is derived from the word ‘zaka”which means pure, holy, good, blessing, growing, and developing. The charity in Islam is named Zakat because the charity contains hope that the giver will receive blessings from Allah, cleansing the soul and cultivate it with various goodness. In English, Zakat is also translated as alms or charity although it’s misleading because Zakat has specific rules.
The word “growth” in zakat shows that paying zakat will actually increase the amount of your worth. Fulfilling your duty to pay zakat will cause you to receive many rewards from Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala in many forms. While the word “pure” in zakat means that it can purify your soul from ugliness, sleaziness, greediness and many other sins. Allah SWT says in the Holy Quran Surah At Tawbah verse 103, that we should take Zakat from some of our wealth so that we cleanse and purify our wealth. Allah SWT also command us to invoke Allah’s blessing for them because our prayers will become a peace of mind for us.
According the book of al-Hâwî, an Islamic scholar named al-Mawardi defined zakat as the act of taking a part of our particular assets or wealth in particular amount. So different type of assets have different amount of zakat that need to be paid and different zakat will be given to different kind of groups. People who pay zakat are called Muzaki. Whereas the person who receives Zakat is called Mustahik.
The eight groups who are eligible to receive zakat
Zakat is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. Zakat, a charity practice from Islam, is strictly regulated and only particular people can receive zakat. It ensures that zakat is given to those of whom really in need. In The Holy Quran Surah At-Taubah verse 60, Allah SWT Say that there are eight classes of people or Asnaf who should receive zakat. They are:
- Fakir – The poor people who have almost nothing and they are unable to meet the basic needs of life. Usually they are too old or to sickly to even work.
- Miskin – The poor who have limited property, a humble small house, but they do not have enough to meet basic needs for life, they barely able to eat or to own clothes.
- Amil – The next category is the people who collect and distribute zakat. Nowadays zakat are managed by established government licensed organization. There are also places where zakat is managed by volunteer. These people are allowed to take certain amount of the zakat that they managed.
- Mu’allaf – Those are the people who are new to Islam or they just recently converted. Mu’allaf need help to strengthen the monotheism teaching and sharia Islam.
- Servant Sahaya – Back when slavery was not abolished yet, Islam provided a way out for slaves who want to free themselves. Zakat which was given to the slave can be used to buy their own freedom.
- Gharimin – Those who are in debt in order to sustain necessities of life to maintain their life. People who are in debt in order to feed themselve otherwise they will strave are eligible to receive zakat. People who are in debt but their life are not in danger, for example in debt becuase of luxurious car purchase, these kind of people do not meet the criteria to receive zakat.
- Fisabilillah – Those who fight in the way of Allah in the form of preaching, religious shcool, jihad and so on. So people who are constantly trying to fight for Islam are eligible to receive zakat.
- Ibnus Sabil – Those who run out of money on the journey in obedience to Allah. For example, If you found yourself running out of your provisions when you are traveling for Hajj pilgrimae, then you are allowed to receive zakat.
So Allah SWT has given us a thorough guideline on whom we should give our zakat to, so there is no excuse to skip on paying zakat, especially when the Fakir and the Miskin or the poor comprise of half of our planet population.
Generally speaking, zakat can be devided into two categories.
Zakat Al Fitr
Zakat al-Fitr is a zakat that must be performed by every capable Muslims Family or individuals who have soul, regardless of the age. Zakat al-Fitr should be done during Ramadan, and with the limit before the Eid al-Fitr prayer. Prophet Mohammad, Rasulullah SAW said, “Whoever performs the zakat fitri before Id prayers then the zakat is received and whoever performs it after Id prayer then it only counts as alms like any other alms.” (Narrated by Abu Daud). Zakat fitrah is payed in the form of rice or staple foods for 2.5 kg or 3.5 liters per person. The quality of rice or staple food must be in accordance with the quality of rice or staple food that we consume daily. However, rice or staple foods can be replaced in the form of money worth 2.5 kg or 3.5 liters of rice.
Zakat Maal is literally zakat on property or possession or income. Something can be called a maal if it meets 2 conditions:
- Can be owned, stored, collected, or controlled
- Benefits can be taken. For example houses, cars, livestock, agricultural products, money, gold, silver, etc.
The property must be full ownership, increase or develop, enough Nisab (minimum amount until zakat must be paid), more than basic needs, free of debt, and have passed one year (haul). Nisab zakat maal is 85 grams of gold (it means that if something reach the same value of the gold, the zakat of that thing must be paid). The rate of zakat maal is 2.5%.
In conclusion, if every everyone in the world follow the charity practice in Islam, or Zakat, InsyaAllah, poverty in the world can be eliminated because Zakat in Islam is very organized and has clear guideline. Zakat also shows that Islam is a beautiful religion which really upholds human life in high regard. The act of sharing will give those who are in needs a chance to be back on their feet. It also benefits the Zakat givers since Allah SWT has promised to mutilple good deeds. The amount of zakat that should be paid is also not that much compared to what we already get, but that small amount can be very meaningful to people who needs it more. May Allah SWT always elightened our heart so that we can fulfill our duty to pay zakat easily. Amen.