What is Zakah?

What is Nisab?

Consequences of those who refuse to pay Zakah.

Blessings in one’s Wealth from Zakah.

The reward for paying Zakah.

What is Zakah?

The literal meaning of Zakah is to grow and making pure. Zakah is the obligation from Allah (swt) upon those Muslims, who possesses the minimum amount (Nisab). He (Allah) ordered it to be taken from those who are obliged to give it, regardless of old or young, male or female, healthy or ill. Zakah is given to purify one’s wealth by sharing it with those who are less fortunate. Allah says in Glorious Quran:

“Take Sadaqah (obligatory alms) out of their wealth through which you may cleanse and purify them, and pray for them. Indeed, your prayer is a source of peace for them. And Allah is (All-) Hearing, (All-) Knowing.”(9:103)

Zakah is different from charitable gifts which are given out of kindness or generosity. Muslims whose wealth is above nisab are required to give 2.5 per cent of their net worth annually as Zakah to benefit the poor.  Zakah was enjoined in the second year of Hijrah. The prophet (saw) sent zakah collectors to receive it from those whom it is due in order to deliver to those who are in need.

What is Nisab?

Nisab is the minimum amount of wealth, which a Muslim must have before being obliged for Zakah.

Zakah is the third pillar of Islam.

The prophet Muhammad(saw) said:

Narrated Ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with them): Allah’s Apostle said: Islam is based on (the following) five (principles):
1. To testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and Muhammad is Allah’s Apostle.
2. To offer the (compulsory congregational) prayers dutifully and perfectly.
3. To pay Zakat (i.e. obligatory charity).
4. To perform Hajj. (i.e. Pilgrimage to Mecca)
5. To observe fast during the month of Ramadan.

(Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 2, Hadeeth No. 7)

The importance of zakah is clearly indicated in the Quran and Sunnah. Allah has mentioned zakah along with salah at 82 positions. Establishment of Salah is an obligation towards Allah (swt) and the establishment of Zakah is obligations towards His slave.

Allah says,

Then, if they repent and establish Salāh and pay Zakāh, leave their way. Surely, Allah is most Forgiving, Very-Merciful. (Quran, 9:5).

“…who believe in the unseen, observe the Contact Prayers (Salat), and from our provisions to them, they give to charity” [Quran, 2:3] 

“You shall observe the Contact Prayers (Salat) and give the obligatory charity (Zakat), and bow down with those who bow down.” [Quran, 2:43] 

“You shall observe the Contact Prayers (Salat) and give the obligatory charity (Zakat), and obey the messenger, that you may attain mercy” [Quran, 24:56] 

In the Khilafah of Abu Bakr as Siddiq (ra), some Muslims refused to pay Zakah. So, he considered this an act of division and dissension.

Narrated Abu Huraira: When Allah’s Apostle died and Abu Bakr became the caliph some Arabs renegade (reverted to disbelief) (Abu Bakr decided to declare war against them), ‘Umar, said to Abu Bakr, “How can you fight with these people although Allah’s Apostle said, ‘I have been ordered (by Allah) to fight the people till they say: “None has the right to be worshipped but Allah, and whoever said it then he will save his life and property from me except on trespassing the law (rights and conditions for which he will be punished justly), and his accounts will be with Allah.’ ” Abu Bakr said, “By Allah! I will fight those who differentiate between the prayer and the Zakat as Zakat is the compulsory right to be taken from the property (according to Allah’s orders) By Allah! If they refuse to pay me even a she-kid which they used to pay at the time of Allah’s Apostle . I would fight with them for withholding it” Then ‘Umar said, “By Allah, it was nothing, but Allah opened Abu Bakr’s chest towards the decision (to fight) and I came to know that his decision was right.”

(Bukhari, Volume 2, Book 23, Hadith No. 483)

Consequences of those who refuse to pay Zakah

The miserliness and love of wealth hold one back to pay zakah and this is the nastiest form of spiritual disease. There is warning for those, who do not pay Zakah and hoards his wealth. Allah (swt) has revealed a severe punishment.

“Those who withhold in miserliness what Allah has given them out of His grace should not take it as good for them. Instead, it is bad for them. They shall be forced, on the Doomsday, to put on what they withheld, as iron-collars round their necks. To Allah belongs the inheritance of the heavens and the earth. Allah is All-Aware of what you do.”(Quran, 3:180)

“O you who believe, many of the rabbis and the monks do eat up the wealth of the people by false means and prevent (them) from the way of Allah. As for those who accumulate gold and silver and do not spend it in the way of Allah, give them the ‘good’ news of a painful punishment.”(Quran, 9:34)

These are the plain warnings to the Muslim community to make them more generous and look after the needy.

The reward for paying Zakah

Allah has bestowed uncountable favours upon us. He has also blessed His slaves with wealth. He ordered His slaves to spend wealth in His way and by doing so there will be an increase in our blessings and wealth and it will not diminish. Therefore, Zakah should be given with the sole intention of pleasing Allah and to get the reward in the Hereafter. Allah has promised a wonderful result:

“Allah will recompense them according to the best of what they have done and He will grant them increase out of His bounty. Allah provides for whomsoever He wills without measure.” (Quran,  24:38)

Here are a few hand-picked articles to help you to learn more about Zakah:

What is Zakah on Gold and Silver?

What is the wisdom behind legislating Zakah?