"They ask you (O Muhammad) what they should spend in charity. Say: 'Whatever you spend with a good heart, give it to parents, relatives, orphans, the helpless, and travellers in need. Whatever good you do, Allah (SWT) is aware of it.'" – (Holy Quran, 2:215)
I’m sure we’ve all been in a position where we have had to buy a gift for someone who is very close to us and we want to give them the best possible gift we could afford, so that it strengthens our relationship. For example, if you are at school, you would want to give the best gift to your friend just like parents would want the best possible gift for their child, and lots of time and effort is spent in buying a wedding gift.
There is also the expectation that, when we celebrate an occasion, we will be given something of a similar value, or even better. Zakat is like this! We are instructed, by Allah (SWT), to give our dues (2.5% of the value of our assets in savings in terms of goods or money) to the poor and the needy. In doing so, we are demonstrating to Allah (SWT) that we are following and acquiescing to His guidance.
Allah (SWT) is the Lord of the universe, He is the Master of the Day of Judgement, and He does not need our money, just the proof of our intentions and actions. Allah (SWT) then wants to give something much better back to us, so He increases our wealth, achievements, happiness, peace and so on for the following year; seven hundred times more the amount we had initially given. Not only this, but we are also insuring our place in Jannat.
Zakat is not just a blessing for the giver; it is also a blessing for the receiver! The whole point of the wealthy giving 2.5% of their finances to the poor and the needy is so that the wealth is distributed throughout the community and the society, so that those in need can also feel benefited by the wealthy.
Here we should understand the fact that Allah (SWT) is the provider for all, but Zakat is a means of testing those whom Allah has provided more than others. Allah (SWT) always provides for everyone; some He gives excess in terms of wealth, others children, intellect, honesty, integrity and so forth. He does not provide everything to a single individual; He leaves something out as a means to test them with. So, by giving Zakat, we must never feel that we are bestowing a favour upon the receiver, but rather that we are carrying out our duty by the commands of Allah (SWT).
Who should Zakat be distributed amongst? There is a very clear Ayat in the Quran that states the eight categories of people that Zakat should be distributed amongst:
‘Welfare funds (Zakat) are only for the poor, the destitute, the tax collectors, those whose hearts are inclined (towards Islam i.e. the reverts), the slaves, those who cannot pay their debts, for the cause of God, and for those who have become needy on a journey. Paying Zakat is an obligation that Allah has decreed. Allah is All-knowing and All-wise.’ (9:60)
1] The poor: Those who have nothing to support themselves with. For example, the refugees that have been displaced from their war-torn countries and are living in camps.
2] Those in need: Those who have some income, but not enough to cover their basic needs. For example, the widows in poor countries, who work as labourers but can’t make ends, meet.
3] Zakat collectors: In Muslim countries where there is a whole department for collecting Zakat, this could pay the salaries of the employees.
4] Reverts to Islam: People who have embraced Islam should be helped to settle into their new way of life.
5] The slaves: Ransom could be paid to free them, but also to help treat any form of addiction that could enslave them in some way.
6] People in Debt: Debts could be paid off, as long as the debt has been incurred due to lawful means.
7] For Allah’s (SWT) cause: Disseminating information to promote the true values of Islam, providing funds to educate young minds and protecting the image of Islam.
8] For the travellers: If they need financial support on their travels in order to get home.
Receiving Zakat is a blessing for the people of these categories, as it helps to alleviate their grief and suffering. Allah’s laws are the greatest and the most just!
‘The righteously striving believers, who are steadfast in their prayers and pay the Zakat, will receive their reward from Allah. They will have no fear, nor will they grieve’ (2:277)
We can all strive to insure our place in Jannat by making sure we pay our Zakat, so everyone can share the benefits that Allah (SWT) has bestowed upon us. Through this, we can alleviate or eliminate our own grief!
Find out what zakat you owe by using the zakat calculator. Browse our website and find out more about our various different campaigns such as child sponsorship and feed the hungry.
So, donate to Muslim Aid today and make a difference in the world we live in.