Zakat, as translated from Arabic, means growth, multiplicity, or increase. The word ‘zakat’ also carries the meanings of fertility, purification, and full of blessings (baraqah). The foundation of Islam is held up by the five pillars and zakat is the third pillar. It refers to the determined share of wealth prescribed by Allah Almighty to be distributed to the eight groups of beneficiaries (asnaf). It is a form of worship (ibadah) in terms of wealth.

As symbol of Islamic social justice, zakat cleanses your soul, purifies or grows your wealth, and is a socioreligious tool to help eradicate poverty in a community or society. Zakat is also a spiritual bridge and connection to Allah – to purify your wealth for the will of Allah and to His cause is to acknowledge that everything one owns belongs to Him and it is for Him that we strive to end poverty. It’s narated such as in Quran (9:103), Hadith Sahih Bukhari (24:484) and others.

Conditions for fulfilling zakat is on: one is muslim, wealth has reached nisab, one has completed haul, and one has complete ownership of wealth. There are two kinds of Zakat: Zakat al-Fitr or the Zakat of breaking the Fast of Ramadan, is the special required charity that is paid by all muslims at the end of the holy month of Ramadan in the Islamic calendar (Hijra).

This obligatory payment is termed ‘fitrah’, derived from the Arabic term ‘fitr’, a word which signifies the ‘nature’ upon which God created the human being, related also to the Arabic word for ‘fast-breaking’ (iftar), eating after a period of abstention from this ‘natural’ and defining human activity. Note that Zakat al-Fitr must be transported to reach the poor, even in other countries, to reach its most desirable recipients on the day of Eid.

Zakat al-Mal is commonly referred to as ‘Zakat’ by most muslims. It is zakat that muslims are required to pay annually on wealth that includes: currency, gold, silver, and property. It considers your comprehensive net assets (total wealth). The amount of Zakat al-Mal that each Muslim owes will vary because it is 2.5% of net wealth that a person holds for a year. Zakat al-Mal is only required once a muslim reaches a certain financial threshold known as nisab. If a muslim doesn’t reach this threshold, Zakat al-Mal isn’t required on him or her.

Zakat is given to 8 beneficiaries or asnaf: al-Fuqara (the poor), al-Masakin (the needy), al-Mu’allafati-Qulubuhum (econciliation of hearts), fir-Riqab (for those in bondage), al-Gharimin (those in debt), fi-Sabilillah (in the cause of Allah), ibn as-Sabil (the wayfarer), al-‘Amilina ‘Alayha (administrators of zakat)

The differences between zakat and shadaqah are: zakat is obligatory but sadaqah is only encouraged (an act of sunnah); zakat has a specific rate of 2.5% of one’s wealth but saqadah has no specific rate and is based on one’s goodwill and ability; zakat has a specific period of fulfillment (haul) but sadaqah may be given at any time, and zakat has specific beneficiaries but sadaqah may be given to anyone.

Some terms of zakat are: Nisab is the minimum amount of property categories for obligatory of zakat; Haul is the time limit of one year (12 months of Hijra); Muzakki is people or institutions that are obliged to issue zakat; Mustahiq is certain people who are entitled to receive zakat: Asnaf is a category of zakat recipients/beneficiaries; Amil is a person who is assigned to collect, manage, and distribute zakat; Sha is the amount of zakat issued, 1 sha means 3.5 liters or 2.7 kg.

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