Zakat is an Arabic word which means “increase,” “growth,” or “purification.” Zakat payment is an obligation upon all Muslims to give a portion of their wealth to the poor. Therefore, Zakat is a duty imposed by Allah (SWT) on adult Muslims who have reached or exceeded an amount of wealth.
There is zakat payable on; wealth, livestock, farm products and mineral resources. One condition for the payment of zakat is that the value must reach a stipulated minimum. The minimum amount one must have to be eligible to pay Zakat is called ‘nisab’.
One fourteenth of the amount equivalent to 2.5% of nisab or any amount above the nisab is what is given as Zakat for the poor. Zakat is unique because it is not paid on income but rather on the accumulated savings of a Muslim for a year. If a person saves nothing after expenses are removed from their income, then such a person is not obligated to pay Zakat.
Poverty has always been a part of the world we live in. Poverty is a condition where individuals and families have no regular income. Thus they live with a chronic lack of opportunities, education, shelter and food.
Poverty in Islam is the failure to fulfill any of the five basic human requirements for oneself or the family. They are; Religious, physical, knowledge, dignity and needs. Zakat is placed by Allah to help those in need.
The implementation of Zakat is a means to alleviate poverty in Islam. Once, in the past Zakat has proven to be a successful tool in the reduction and almost complete elimination of poverty. Therefore, this means that Zakat can be successful again.
Zakat is payable on all forms of wealth; agriculture, silver, gold, money, and so on. When a Muslim fulfills his Allah’s given obligation to give Zakat he is helping to reduce poverty. Those who receive Zakat are those in any of the following categories;
- The Poor
- The Needy
- The collectors of Zakat
- The needy who are recently converted to Islam
- A stranded traveler
- Those working for the cause of Allah
Zakat is given at the completion of one year on the NISAB and after the settlement of ones liabilities and debts. Zakat alleviates poverty by not just giving out immediate relief to the poor but by playing a role in the economy. Zakat benefits not just the receiver but the giver. Zakat purifies wealth and curbs greed in Islam.