Just like prayer (salah) and fasting, Zakat is a pillar of Islam. Zakat is therefore an obligatory act of worship intended to purify our wealth and to take care of the needy.
Zakat is obligatory upon those who fulfill the necessary conditions. There are FIVE conditions concerning the PERSON and SIX conditions concerning the WEALTH. Conditions Regarding the Person:
- Islam – Zakat is obligatory upon Muslims only, as it is an act of Worship (Ibadah).
- Adulthood – Zakat is obligatory upon Muslim Adults.
- Sanity – There is no Zakat on the wealth of an insane person.
- Freedom – There is no Zakat on slaves, as ownership of wealth is a condition for Zakat.
- Debt free – Zakat is not obligatory on someone who owes a debt to a person, however, if the wealth exceeds the debt, he pays Zakat on the excess, if that excess amounts to the Nisab (minimum amount).
Conditions Regarding the Wealth:
- Ownership – Zakat is only compulsory on what is being owned by a person, so there is no Zakat on endowments or any public related funds, properties, like Mosques, Schools, Hospitals etc
- Useable – Ability to use, if someone owns wealth but is unable to benefit from it, then there is no Zakat on that wealth (eg lost properties or debts denied by the borrower). Note: There is no Zakat on women’s dowries until they acquire full possession.
- Growth – Zakat is only obligatory on the wealth which has real growth, like agricultural products, or are made or kept for growth, like the wealth invested in business or grazing animals, or naturally they are considered a growing wealth like gold, silver, or any form of money. (al-Kasani, Badai’ al-sana’i).
- Excess wealth – Excess over basic needs, in order for Zakat to be obligatory, it is a condition that the wealth is in excess of basic needs, so there is no Zakat on dwellings, shelter, clothing, household furniture, food, utensils and cars (and nowadays computers and other necessary technological devices), even if these things are in excess of one’s needs, as long as they are not for trade.
- The passing of a year (Hawlan Al-Hawl) – It is a condition in some types of wealth that a lunar year has elapsed on its ownership. The Prophet (saw) said: There is no Zakat on wealth until a (lunar) year has passed on it (Daraqutni). 6. Nisab (minimum amount) – Zakat only becomes compulsory if one owns nisab (the minimum amount which makes Zakat obligatory).
Recipients of Zakat: Allah (swt) says: Zakat is for the poor, destitute and helpless, and those who are employed to administer the (funds); reconciliation of hearts, for the freeing of a slave, the one in debt, those in the cause of Allah (fisabilillah); and for the wayfarer: this is ordained by Allah, and Allah is full of knowledge and wisdom. (9:60) The recipients of Zakat are eight:
- The poor
- The destitute and helpless
- Those employed to administer the fund
- Reconciliation of Hearts
- The freeing of a slave
- The one in debt
- In the Cause of Allah (fisabilillah)
- The way farer