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Zaka in Islam

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Zaka is the giving of money or food to the poor and needy. It is one of the five pillars of Islam and is obligatory upon every adult Muslim of sound mind and means to pay.

What is Zaka?

The literal meaning of Zaka is ‘to cleanse’ or ‘purification’. In the Islamic faith, Zaka means purifying your wealth for the will of Allah SWT and to work on the improvement of the Muslims Ummah.

To be liable to pay Zaka, one’s wealth must amount to more than a threshold figure (after living costs, expenses etc). This is called Nisaab and is the point at which Zaka becomes payable. As Muslims we must pay 2.5% of Nisaab for Zaka. This amount is then distributed to the poor and needy.

Why do we give Zaka?

Zaka is not charity; it is not voluntary and is not a tax, but an obligation. By giving Zaka, as Muslims we are acknowledging that everything of ours belongs to Allah SWT and we don’t really own it, and we should take this opportunity to remember Allah SWT and those who are in need. It is also an act to help free us from excessive desire and greed, learn self-discipline and honesty.

When should we give Zaka?

You should record the Islamic date on which you first become the owner of Nisaab and if on the same date the following lunar year, you will be obliged to pay Zaka if you are still the owner of Nisaab. Many Muslims decide to pay their Zaka in Ramadan as the rewards for our good deeds are greater than in any other month.

The Beneficiaries of Zaka

Zaka can only be paid to specific beneficiaries and projects. The Quran mentions 8 groups of people are who Zaka should be spent:

  1. The poor.
  2. The needy.
  3. Zaka collector.
  4. Poor and needy recently reverted to Islam.
  5. Slave; Zaka can be used to purchase their freedom.
  6. A stranded traveler in need of financial assistance.
  7. A debtor.
  8. Those who are away from home in the path of Allah.

Items that contribute to your Nisaab

Bank Accounts – Any cash, bonds and stock one might have in their savings account. The amount should be in the bank for one year. Loans give or funds received are also part of the Zaka process.

Jewellery and Precious metal – Gold and silver both come under Zaka`. The reason behind this is simple, they contribute to your wealth and as such their value must be charted when calculating Zaka. Cattle and Crops – Cattle and crops that are in excess of ones need.

How to calculate Zaka?

If you meet the threshold of Zaka, you must pay 2.5% of your assets. There are two measurements to determine Nisaab; Gold (87.48 grams) and Silver (612.36 grams).

For example, if the price of gold was £20 a gram, the Nisaab (£20 x 87.84) on which Zakat is due is £1,749. So, anyone who has £1,749 or more in savings will have to pay 2.5% Zaka on that (minimum Zaka will be £43.73).

What’s the difference between Zaka and Zakat-Ul Fitr?

While many people may be confused by the similarity in name, Zaka and Zakat-Ul Fitr are 2 very differing things. While they are both obligatory of Muslims, there are 3 differences between the 2 that everyone should know.

The first difference between Zaka and Zakat-Ul Fitr is eligibility. Zaka is only required when your assets reach a certain amount, however, with Zakat-Ul Fitr, all Muslims must pay regardless of their age or financial status (unless they honestly do not have the means to do so).

The second difference lies in the amount that is due. With Zakat-Ul Fitr, the amount very rarely exceeds £5 per person. On the other hand, Zaka can be significantly higher, as it is measured by your income.

The third and final difference is the due dates. Zaka can be paid at any time in the year, with the only circumstance being that the earnings reflect one year’s worth of net savings. However, Zakat-Ul Fitr goes hand in hand with Ramadan. It is paid during Ramadan before the month end and needs to be paid before the Eid prayers at the very latest.

Pay your Zaka with SABA Relief

The first 2 beneficiaries of Zaka mentioned in the Quran are the Poor and the Needy, both of which SABA Relief are providing for. The situation in Yemen has been called the “World’s worst humanitarian crisis” by Mark Lowcock (the head of the UN office for the coordination of humanitarian affairs, OCHA).

With your donations and support, it gives us the chance to implement many projects that help all kinds of people who have lost everything due to war and the Cholera crisis.


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