The Zakat historically
Zakat was imposed in the second year of the Hegira with well-defined rules, but its entity was imposed in Mecca without specific rules.
In Surah An-Naml, revealed in Mecca, Allah says:
» Tâ, Sîn. These are the verses of the Qur’an, from a Book of clear clarity, which is good guidance and glad tidings for the believers who observe salât, pay zakât and have faith in the future life » Qur’an 27/1.
El-Jama’a reported from Ibn ‘Abbas that when the Prophet peace be upon him sent Mu’adh Ibn Jabal to Yemen, he said to him:
» You go to the people of the Book. First of all, you shall invite them to testify that there is no god but Allah and that I am the Messenger of Allah; if they accept, inform them that Allah the Exalted has instituted five prayers for them every day; if they obey you, let them know that they have to pay an alms from the property of their wealthy to be distributed to their poor; if they obey you, beware of taking the best of their property. Beware of the imprecation of the oppressed, for between it and Allah there is no screen «
Definition of Zakat
The word ‘Zakat’ means purification, growth, blessing in Arabic. Zakat is the third pillar of Islam and is mentioned 28 times in the Qur’an along with prayer, the second pillar of Islam, thus demonstrating its great importance. Zakat is a divine obligation requiring a Muslim who has wealth up to a certain threshold (called Nissab) to give a portion of his or her wealth, usually 2.5% (or slightly more depending on whether the lunar or solar calendar is used) to beneficiaries that God has clearly defined in the Quran.
Zakat is a worship that increases faith. It is a means of purifying one’s possessions from possible illicit gains but also from selfishness and greed.
Allah says : » Say: My Lord bestows His gifts generously or restricts them to whomever He pleases among His servants. And whatever expenditure you make (in good), He replaces it, and He is the Best of Givers » Qur’an 34/39.
Who is liable to pay Zakat ?
You are required to pay Zakat if you meet these conditions :
– You are a Muslim man or woman
– Possessing wealth up to the NISSAB
– Possess these assets for a full lunar year without regressing below the Nissab threshold. This is the HAWL
The overwhelming opinion is that the child and the person lacking discretion are also obliged to pay Zakat if their wealth reaches the Nissab. It is their guardians or parents who must pay it for them.
The nissab is the minimum amount of wealth above which the payment of Zakat is obligatory. The nissab is equivalent to 85g of gold – equivalent to $5044 on 22 November 2021 – or an equivalent to silver: 595g – equivalent to $476 on 22 November 2021-.
Where does the Nissab come from ?
At the time of the prophet peace be upon him, there were two different coins for buying and selling. A gold coin called Dinar and a silver coin called Dirham. One gold coin (Dinar) was worth 10 silver coins (Dirhams).
The Prophet peace be upon him himself fixed the value of the nissab. If one possessed 20 dinars in gold coins or 200 dirhams in silver coins, beyond one’s basic needs, then one was liable to pay Zakat.
Contemporary scholars, including Sheikh Al Qardawi, have weighed 20 Dinars to estimate the value of nissab today. 20 Dinars is equivalent to 85g of Gold and 200 Dirhams is equivalent to 595g of Silver. But the value of silver has since fallen and today 595g of silver is worth only about $476 while 85g of gold is worth about $5044.
So today, which Nissab should be considered ?
There is a divergence on this subject, but the majority of scholars are of the opinion that the Nissab of Gold should be taken into consideration as it is more stable.
What assets are taxed by ZAKAT ?
Zakat is calculated on the money you own, but also on several categories of assets :
– Assets, property and wealth (cash, precious metals, savings books, bank deposits, cryptocurrencies)
– Bank securities (shares, bonds, treasury bills, investment funds)
– Crops and livestock
– Salaries and fees
– Bonuses, gratuities and bonuses
Your private house or car is not subject to Zakat, as these are vital needs like food.
When to pay Zakat ?
On the day your wealth reaches or exceeds the Nissab threshold, this day will indicate the beginning of the lunar year, at the end of which you should pay your first Zakat.
Zakat should then be paid every year according to this anniversary date. If you are unable to remember this date precisely, you should try to estimate it, but it is best to note it in a digital diary. The online website: SADAQATOKEN will allow you to register the start of your Zakat payment.
What about the Hawl-Nissab relationship ?
Regarding the temporal aspect of determining the Nissab, the Shafiites and Hanbalites believe that the condition of eligibility for Zakat lies in the continuity of the Nissab without regression of the threshold, throughout a lunar year, from its beginning to its end. Thus, if a Muslim who has savings of $5044 or more, then spends $100 and falls below the Nissab threshold during the Hawl period -not voluntarily to avoid Zakat- and then before the Hawl expires, acquires an amount equivalent to the amount spent, i.e. $100, according to theological schools, the Hawl is considered to be broken.
On the other hand, the Hanafites take into consideration both ends of the Hawl. Therefore, according to them, if the Nissab is reached at the beginning and end of the current lunar year, Zakat is eligible even if the property decreases during the year without disappearing completely.
The merits of paying Zakat
The observance of this pillar has several important merits for the preservation of our person and our community.
Spiritual: It brings one closer to God through obedience and purification of one’s wealth and soul. God reminds each of us that all the wealth He places at our disposal belongs to Him alone and that we are only the custodians of it; it is an offering from God, who can at any time increase, decrease or even make it disappear.
It is a means of combating thrift and excessive love of the goods of this world, by sharing them with those who have the need but above all the right to them. The social system advocated by Islam makes mercy the basis of all social relations.
Socio-economically : it ensures sustainable economic development by fighting poverty and unemployment in an effective and permanent manner.
Socially : it enables the distribution of Allah’s blessings to the community by ensuring that solidarity is created between the rich and the poor. It thus contributes to social justice.
This purifying social tax is of paramount importance because it allows for the redistribution of wealth in society and ensures a dignified and decent life for everyone, and guarantees social stability through a more equitable distribution of wealth among citizens.
Who can receive Zakat ?
Allah has determined in the Qur’an eight categories for the distribution of Zakat.
– The poor
– The needy
– Those who work to manage Zakat
– Those whose hearts can be won over to Islam
– The emancipation of slaves (no longer relevant, but one can envisage an emancipation fund to escape from capitalist and ideological and elitist slavery, the Qur’an is unchanging and applicable to all times…)
– Those who are in debt
– In the way of Allah
– The traveller in distress
» The Sadaquats are meant only for the poor, the needy, those who work in it, those whose hearts are to be won (to Islam), the liberation from yokes, those who are heavily in debt, in the way of Allah, and for the traveller (in distress). This is a decree of Allah! And Allah is All-Knowing and All-Wise » Qur’an 9/60
Who cannot collect Zakat ?
Those who are not eligible for Zakat are
– The rich
– A person who is healthy and working
– A person who is in good health and refuses to work to support himself
– Members of the Prophet’s family (Banu Hachim and Banu Abdou al Mouttalib).
Zakat al Fitr
Zakat al fitr or ‘the alms for the breaking of the fast’ is also an obligation for every Muslim and must be paid every year at the end of the month of Ramadan.
Zakat al fitr purifies the fasting person from futile and indecent talk and is, like Zakat al maal, a benefit to the poor. It enables them to spend the festival of Eid al fitr in better conditions, for the Prophet peace be upon him said:
» Spare them from begging on the day of Eid « .
According to Ibn ‘Omar:
» The Messenger of Allah peace be upon him, made the alms of breaking the fast obligatory by giving a saa’ of dates or a saa’ of barley to every slave or free person, male or female, small or large among the Muslims. Then he ordered it to be given before people go to the (Eid) prayer » [Reported by Al Bukhari, Muslim, At-Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud, Nassai and Ibn Madjah].
Every Muslim must pay it for himself and all his dependents, such as his wife, children, parents etc.
As described in the hadith opposite, it can be offered in the form of a ‘saa’ (a measure of about 2.7 kg) of wheat, dates, or other food. Today, scholars have concluded that it can be given in money and this is more beneficial.