By: Mass Shiara Usuf
The Quran says in (2 : 155),
“And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient.”
What comes to our mind when one hears the word zakah? Month of Ramadan, gold, silver, money etc. In English terminology, charity is known to be voluntary, not compulsory. But in the shariah, when one talks about Zakah, it is the obligatory charity. A compulsory one.
WHAT DOES ZAKAH MEAN?
Zakah comes from the root word Za Ka Wa. There are several meanings for it according to the Quran. In some places Allah mentions it as a form of purification and cleansing. Why purification?? Because when one gives Zakah, one actually cleans and purifies ones soul and wealth. It gives the giver a sense of care, affection and love towards those in need. It dawns on the giver the condition of those less fortunate than him, and helps them to be thankful to Allah for all that they have been blessed with.
TYPES OF CHARITY
Now there are different types of charity. We have the zakah, which is the compulsory one. The one that allah has instructed and commanded us to pay. It is one of the five main and important pillars of islam. Now the other types of charity are for instance:
Kaffara charity – which is paid when one fails to do a required act of ibadah for whatever reason, or when one commits a sin. The amount of charity that one pays as a result of the sin depends on the degree of the sin that one has committed.
Fidyah charity – which is charity that is paid for various reasons. For instance due to some ill health one is not able to fast in the month of Ramadan, then one is required to pay fidyah. With regards to hajj, when one violates the restrictions of the ihram, then one is required to pay fidyah charity or fast or sacrificing an animal.
Fitrah charity – The zakathul fitr which is paid before the Eid ul Fitr prayer.
WHEN TO GIVE ZAKAH?
Zakah can be given any time of the year, once the item on which zakah is to paid has completed one full calendar year of possession. The misconception is that Zakah HAS to be paid only in Ramadan. Its not like that. The purpose of giving zakah in this month is so that we get more reward while in the state of fasting.
ON WHAT SHOULD WE GIVE ZAKAH?
Zakah is to be paid on a number of things. Such as livestock (goats, camels etc.). However what the common man possesses is usually gold, silver and money. So I will mainly touch only on those areas in terms of zakah.
HOW MUCH ZAKAH TO PAY?
- Gold : If you have a possession of more than 84.7 grams of gold for a period of one whole year, then by the end of that one year of possession, you should pay 2.5% of zakah on the excess of 84,7 grams of gold. For instance, you own 94.7 grams of gold for a period of one year. So by the end of one year of possession, you should pay 2.5% of the excess i.e. 10 grams of 2.5%, and that would be the amount that you are supposed to pay as zakah.
- Silver: If you have a possession of more than 592.9 grams of silver for a period of one whole year, then by the end of that one year of possession, you should pay 2.5% of zakah on the excess of 592.9 grams of silver.
- Cash: If you have a possession of a certain amount of cash (untouched for one whole year), then you have to see the price of 592.9 grams of silver as at the end of one year, and if the amount of money (untouched) that you possess is more than the monetary market value of 592.9 grams of silver, then you have to pay 2.5% of zakah on that excess money that you possess. For instance, if you own Rs. 50,000 for one whole year (untouched), and the market value of 592.9 grams of silver by the end of that one year is Rs. 30,000 then you have an excess of Rs. 20,000 in possession, for which you must pay zakah. That is, 2.5% of Rs. 20,000.
DO NOT SAY YOU CANT
Not everyone is capable of giving zakah. But even if one does not have the provision to give charity, one shouldn’t say that one cannot give sadaqah. Sadaqah can be anything:
Abu Dhar reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:
“Your smile to your brother is a sadaqah (charitable act) for you. Your commanding the right and forbidding the wrong is a sadaqah. Your guiding a man in the land of misguidance is a sadaqah for you. Your seeing (showing the way) for a man with bad eyesight is a sadaqah for you. Your removing a stone or thorn or bone from the road is a sadaqah for you. Your emptying your bucket of water into your brother’s (empty) bucket is a sadaqah for you.”
From this hadith we can see that almost every act of goodness done for others is like an act of charity. But the secret is when we do any act of goodness for the benefit of others we must keep our intentions pure.
WHAT SHOULD OUR INTENTIONS BE?
Our intention should be that whatever we are doing we are doing it solely to seek Allah’s pleasure and not to make a show of it to others. Whether it’s a form of charity in monetary sense or from an act of kindness towards a person.
DO NOT REMIND ANOTHER ABOUT YOUR GENEROSITY
“O you who believe! Do not render in vain your Sadaqah (charity) by reminders of your generosity or by injury, like him who spends his wealth to be seen of men, and he does not believe in Allah, nor in the Last Day. His likeness is the likeness of a smooth rock on which is a little dust; on it falls heavy rain which leaves it bare. They are not able to do anything with what they have earned. And Allah does not guide the disbelieving people.” (2:264)
In here Allah says do not render your sadaqah by reminders of your generosity or by injury, meaning when one gives charity to another, don’t make it a useless, worthless and rewardless charity by reminding the recipient of a charity you gave that person, nor cause injury. For instance treat that person with low status and respect, expecting that person to be thankful and helpful to you always because you helped that person. Or expecting that person to be on his toes to jump in and help you, and if he doesn’t to cause him harm in anyway by words or actions. This is completely prohibited according to the Quran. When we give sadaqah and remind people or boast about it to others, its like we are left with nothing in the end. No reward no pleasure from Allah SWT.
There is another hadith in this regard:
Abu Dharr said that the Messenger of Allah said,
(Three persons whom Allah shall neither speak to on the Day of Resurrection nor look at nor purify, and they shall receive a painful torment: he who reminds (the people) of what he gives away, he who lengthens his clothes below the ankles and he who swears an oath while lying, to sell his merchandise.)
ALLAH IS RICH
“O mankind! it is you who stand in need of Allah. But Allah is the Rich, Worthy of all praise.”(35:15)
Allah is the most rich, self sufficient. He doesn’t need us in anyway what so ever. The wealth that we possess has been entrusted to us. Its not ours to keep only to ourselves. So Allah has instructed and commanded us in various places in the Quran
Akimu salah, wa thu zakah
“Establish salah and give zakat”
Its not a choice but a command by Allah.