What is Zakat?
Zakat means “Purifying wealth” by giving a compulsory and regular donation to good causes. It is the third pillar of Sunni Islam and the third of the Ten Obligatory Acts of Shi’a Islam (Foroo ud Deen).
We must see wealth as ultimately belonging to Allah and giving Zakat helps to make people more equal. Helping one another is also seen as helping Allah. Zakat donations help us to purify our souls by not being greedy. It is said that the giver of the money will receive a ‘hundred-fold’ back in hereafter.
It is obligatory to pay Zakat on the following things:
Wheat, Barley, Dates, Raisins, Gold, Silver, Camel, Cow, Sheep (including goat) and as an obligatory precaution, upon the wealth in business.
And if a person is the owner of any of these ten things he should, in accordance with certain conditions, put their fixed quantity to one of the uses as prescribed.
Payment of Zakat becomes obligatory only when the property reaches the prescribed taxable limit. However, it is not applicable for those who are not formers or owners of above-mentioned 10 items.
What is Zakat ul Fitrah?
There is another type of Zakat called “Zakat ul Fitrah” which is an obligatory upon all. The Arabic word Fitr means the same as iftar, breaking a fast, and it comes from the same root word as Futoor which means breakfast. Zakat al Fitr is a smaller amount than Zakat al-Mal.
Why Zakat ul Fitrah?
The main purpose of Zakat al-Fitrah is to provide the poor which they can celebrate the festival of breaking the fast (`Eid al-Fitr) along with the rest of the Muslims.
When and how it should be paid?
At the time of sunset on Eid ul fitr night (i.e. the night preceding Eid day), whoever is adult and sane and is neither unconscious, nor poor, nor the slave of another, he should give, on his own behalf as well as on behalf of all those who are his dependents, about three kilos per head of wheat or barley or dates or raisins or rice or millet etc.
It is also sufficient if he pays the price of one of these items in cash.
To whom it should be paid?
A person, who is not a Sayyid, cannot give Zakat ul fitrah to a Sayyid, and if any Sayyid is his dependent, he cannot give to another Sayyid either. A sayyid can give his Zakat ul Fitrah to both Sayyid and non-Sayyid.