Zakath Or Alms Giving

The word Zakath literally means “to purify” and “to increase”. It is an important act of worship by which every affluent Muslim returns from his wealth the amount ordained by the Shariah to those who are in need.

At atleast 32 places in the holy Quran have Salaah and Zakaat been mentioned together… “And be steadfast in prayer and give Zakaat….” (Al Quaran 2:110)

  • Originally a free-will donation (what is no called Sadaqah)
  • Now largely compulsory.
  • 2.5% of any cash savings held for one year.
  • 5% to 10% of any agriculture income.
  • 20% of any extracted resources & minerals.
  • Zakath = Growth & Purification.
  • Given only to needy Muslims, or for religious purposes, etc


  1. Gold and silver, in any form.
  2. Cash, bank notes or currency, stocks, bonds etc.
  3. Merchandise for business, equal to the value of Nisaab.
  4. Live stock.
  5. On income derived from rental business

Religious Importance

Zakaat cleanses our mind and soul of excessive love for this world and worldly desires. It instills in its place the love of Allah, that love which causes us to readily give out of our wealth in His way. It creates in a Muslim the passion to willingly sacrifice his wealth and his self and use his strengths and capabilities in the Way of Allah.

Zakaat is not important just for its socio-economic benefits but also for its necessity in the spiritual growth of the soul into a humble and devoted servant of Allah.

Economic Importance

The giving of Zakaat enables the proper distribution of wealth and ensures that it does not remain hoarded with just a few. Thus it helps in the building of a stable economy and maintains the circulation of wealth.It makes everyone responsible for the well being of the destitute and needy. Unlike taxes, Zakaat is the exclusive privilege of the poor and cannot be used for any other purpose. Thus it is used for the betterment of the poverty stricken, orphans, widows, old people and handicapped people, those ill with incurable diseases and those unable to work anymore. The Zakaat money is used to run free hospitals, orphanages, old age homes etc for them.


  1. To calculate Zakat on jewelry etc. one must first determine the gold or silver content and then calculate the Zakat according to current market price.
  2. If the Gold possessed is less than 87.48 grams or if silver possessed is less then 612.36 grams, but the value of both combined is equal to or exceeds the Nisaab of either Gold or Silver, the Zakat will be due.
  3. In the event of an article not being of pure gold or pure silver, but containing a mixture of other metals and the gold or silver content is more than the other metal, it will be regarded as gold or silver and Zakat will be due. But in the case where other metal/s is of greater quantity than either gold or silver, Zakat will not be due on this article.
  4. For stocks (shares held in a company), Zakat is calculated based upon the current market value. As machinery, land, fixtures and fittings, furniture, buildings etc. are exempt from Zakat, one is allowed to subtract these from the total asset. This could be obtained from annual reports. For example, if one has shares worth $1000 or `45000 and machinery, land etc., are worth 5% of the total asset, then deduct $50 or `22500/- for these assets, afterwards deduct the liabilities of the company proportionately to the percentage of shares held. Zakat must be calculated on the balance.


  1. Zakat should be given as soon as possible after it becomes due.
  2. All of the Zakath can be given to one person or to several persons.
  3. A poor man cannot be paid for his work from Zakath nor can Zakath be given in payment of services, except to the people appointed by the Islamic government to collect Zakat.
  4. Zakath will only be valid if the recipient is made the owner of that amount. If, for example, a few needy persons are fed a meal from Zakath money, then Zakath will not be fulfilled as they were not made owners of the food.
  5. Zakat cannot be given for the construction of Masjid, Madrasah, Hospital, a well, a bridge or any other public amenity.
  6. Zakat can be paid in kind from the same merchandise on which it is due, or alternatively, it could be paid in cash


The Poor and the needy: Those who have neither material possessions nor means of livelihood or those with insufficient means of livelihood to meet basic needs

Those who work in the Zakath department: Workers associated with the collection and distribution of Zakat. They should only take the amount equal to the expenses they incurred during the process.

New converts to Islam: Whom we want to harmonize into the fold of Islam. They are given Zakaat to help them strengthen their faith and to adjust.

The bonds person: Zakaat should be given to one who wants to free himself from bondage or slavery. It can also be given to prisoners of war where money is the requirement for freedom. Blood money can also be paid off from Zakaat if the person who has killed someone accidentally has no other means.

The people in debt (money borrowed to meet basic, halal expenditure): Both the guarantor and the person who is in debt.

In the Way of Allah: by financing any efforts of striving in the way of Allah or Jihad.

The wayfarer: Anyone who has run out of money during a journey, even if his wealthy. (but he must pay Zakaat on reaching his destination)

Who should not be given Zakaat

Non Muslims cannot be given Zakaat. People who hail from the family of the Messenger of Allah (the Sayyeds and the Banu Hashims) cannot be given Zakaat. Parents, grandparents, children and grandchildren or anyone whom the person giving Zakaat supports cannot be given Zakaat.
Special Cases

  1. A loan cannot be written of as Zakaat by the creditor. It can be forgiven as Sadaqah.
  2. Though Zakaat cannot be given to family members( wife, parents, children etc.) it is permissible if they are under debt. The Zakaat money can be given to them to pay off their debts.
  3. Zakaat cannot be given as remuneration for any services rendered.
  4. If some property was lost some years back but has been found again, there is no zakaat on it for all the years it was lost. Zakaat will however be due on it the next year.
  5. Any joint holding or venture though totaling the Nisaab amount is not eligible for Zakaat if the individual holders do not have wealth reaching the Nisaab.
  6. There is no Zakaat on any property in which people other than the Zakaat giver have shares.
  7. If a person has the prescribed Nisaab at the starting of the year, then it falls below the prescribed amount during the middle, but goes on to reach the nisaab value at the end, he will be eligible for Zakaat on it. However if it does not reach the Nisaab at the end of the year, their will be no zakaat on it.


Allah says in the Quran: "And there are those who hoard gold and silver and do not spend it in the way of Allah, announce to them a most grievous penalty (when) on the Day of Judgment heat will be produced out of that wealth in the fire of Hell. Then with it they will be branded on their forehead and their flanks and backs. (It will be said to them) This is the treasure which you hoarded for yourselves, taste then the treasure that you have been hoarding." (Al-Quran 9:34-35)