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What is Zakat?

What is it?

Zakat is the third pillar of Islam and consists of the percentage of accumulated surplus wealth that is not used during a lunar year, provided that the nisab has been reached (minimum amount to be paid), which the Muslim has the obligation to pay.

The literal meaning of the Arabic word Zakat is growth, increase and purification. The use that has as a legal term here, refers to the small percentage that taxes the excess wealth of several specific classes – specifically certain types of agricultural products, livestock, commercial goods and monetary wealth – and that is officially collected every year when it exceeds certain amounts and then be distributed among specific categories of people in need. The reason that this word is used refers to two references contained in the Qur’an in which the connection with the original meaning appears: “Take from their wealth sadaqa with it you will cleanse and purify them” (9: 103) and “But what you give generously looking for the face of Allah … Those will be multiplied ”(Sura of the Romans, 30:39). Zakat is considered an act of worship similar to prayer, fasting or pilgrimage.

The obligatory nature of Zakat is specified in the Qur’an, and its importance is demonstrated by appearing almost thirty times, connected with the order to make the prayer:

“And establish the salat, deliver the Zakat and obey the Messenger so that you may be given mercy” (Sura of the Light, 24:56)

“Believers are friends allied with each other, order the recognized as good and forbid the reproachable, establish the salat, deliver the Zakat and obey Allah and His messenger. To those Allah will give His mercy; it is true that Allah is Powerful, Wise”.(Sura at-Tawbah, 9:71).

And then the command appears:

“Take sadaqa from their riches, with it you will cleanse and purify them” (Sura at-Tawbah, 9: 103).

In another passage the categories to which the Zakat can be delivered are specified:

“The gifts (here the expression gifts,” sadaqat “, specifically refers to zakat) are only for the needy, the poor, those who work to collect and distribute them, for those who have their hearts tamed, to rescue slaves, for the overwhelmed for debts, for the cause in the way of Allah and for the son of the way. This is a prescription from Allah and Allah is Knowledgeable and Wise”. (Sura at-Tawbah, 9:60).

Zakat is paid on matters with intrinsic value. The Zakat on paper money, under normal circumstances, would be paid for the value of the paper to the peso, and not the nominal value of a ticket. The position within the Malikí fiqh is that Zakat is not applicable to the nominal value of paper money.

Despite this, we understand that since paper money is the monetary form extended today and other forms with intrinsic value are in disuse, we are in a situation of darura, necessity, and the damage of not paying on the nominal value of paper money It is greater than paying. So this allows the application of zakat to the nominal value of paper money without taking into account its intrinsic value.

Who pays the Zakat?

Zakat is obligatory for every individual, man or woman, Muslim, who is free and sane and who has had full possession of the minimum amount, the nisab, for a lunar year and who still has it at the end of this.

There is a difference of opinion on whether the child who has not yet reached puberty or someone who is not sane, is obliged to pay the Zakat.

The nisab, or minimum amount, is the equivalent of 85 grams of gold (20 gold dinars) or 595 grams of silver (200 silver dirhams) in the local currency (this would amount to 3885€ in gold and 306€ in silver, to 01/01/2020). This minimum wealth must have been in possession for one year.

According to the consensus, the nisab will be calculated in gold, therefore the minimum amount to be valued in the local currency is stipulated at 3,885€.

If you have possession of gold or silver, Nisab is half a dinar for every 20 and 5 dirhams for every 200, or its equivalent in grams.

What is Zakat paid for?

Zakat is paid on certain types of agricultural products, livestock, commercial goods, monetary wealth and other less common categories.

Zakat becomes obligatory when we reach the nisab of one of these categories and have possession of it during a lunar year.

How much is paid from Zakat?

The general amount that is paid from Zakat is 2.5% of the excess wealth accumulated during a year. Other categories, such as livestock, agriculture or goods for sale that are maintained over a long period of time, may have different considerations about the percentage to be paid and the regularity of their payment.

Who receives it?

Allah, Praise be Him, stipulates in the Quran the categories that are Zakat recipients:

«The gifts (here the expression gifts,« sadaqat », specifically refers to the zakat) are only for the needy, the poor, those who work to collect and distribute them, for those who have their hearts tamed, to rescue slaves, for the overwhelmed for debts, for the cause in the way of Allah and for the son of the way. This is a prescription from Allah and Allah is Knowledgeable and Wise. (9:60)

This stipulates that there are 8 categories that receive Zakat: (1) the needy, (2) the poor, (3) who work to pick it up and distribute it, (4) those whose hearts are tamed (close to Islam), (5) to rescue slaves, (6) for those overwhelmed by debts, (7) for those who strive in the cause of Allah, (8) for travelers who have no means.

These are the categories mentioned in the Quran, but when making them applicable, the ulama have established the necessary parameters to be able to clearly discern who is given Zakat and what can be used by dividing these eight categories into other subcategories.

How is it collected?

The traditional way, and the practice at the time of the Prophet, that peace be upon him, is that collecting and distributing the Zakat is the responsibility of the person of authority among the Muslims of a community. This, in turn, designates trustworthy people who have the knowledge of the Zakat regulations to pick up and distribute.

Although today in many places such authority does not exist or does not have the competence to pick it up and distribute it and other institutions and organizations take their place, which is feasible, it is necessary to clarify that, according to the Fiqh, the collection and distribution Zakat is a responsibility of the leader of a community since it has an important social and spolitical components.

How is it distributed?

The Zakat has to be distributed first in the locality where any of the categories that can receive it is collected and it is the power of the person of authority or of those who delegate to decide which categories are the most in need of attention, as long as they are within the stipulated parameters.

People who fall into the categories that can receive the Zakat can ask the organizations or people in charge of distributing it to be delivered, and these same organizations and people can distribute it to people in need without requesting it.