Fourway Logistics

Zakah Guide - The Third Pillar of Islam

Fourway LogisticsZakãh is not just any form of voluntary charity or alms-giving or tax or tithe.

Nor is it simply an expression of kindness or generosity. Zakãh is all of these combined and much more, for it also includes Allah(swt) consciousness as well as spiritual and moral and social objectives.
Zakãh is a Divine injunction and an ordinance from Allah(swt) Himself. It is not a personal matter or a voluntary contribution; rather, it is an obligation for which one will be called to account before Almighty Allah(swt).


The word Zakãh is the infinite of the verb zaka, meaning to grow, to increase and to purify. When said about a person, it means to improve or to become better. Consequently Zakãh means, blessing, growth, cleanliness and betterment.
In the Shari’ah, the word Zakãh refers to the determined share of wealth prescribed by Allah(swt) to be distributed among the deserving categories of those entitled to receive it.
Zakãh is a Divinely ordained institution and is regarded both as a Right of Allah(swt) as well as the right of the poor. In fact, an Islamic authority can forcibly take Zakãh from the rich if the rich withhold it.

As the third pillar of Islam, Zakãh is first of all an Ibadah (worship) whose spiritual impact on purification and sanctification is its most important function.
In fact, the Qurãn describes the objective of taking Zakãh out of their amwal as Tathir (purification) and Tazkiyah (sanctification). Tazkiyah also means material and/or spiritual growth.

The fact that the main objective of Zakãh is the attainment of socio-economic justice is not disputed. Islam does not like any form of concentration of wealth or income in a few hands and considers their redistribution, by means acceptable in Shari’ah, one of the major objectives of the Islamic economic system.

Ibn `Abbas (RA) narrates that when the Prophet (pbuh) sent Mu`adh to the Yemen he told him, “You are going to a people who have a Scripture, so call them to testify that there is no deity but God, and that I am the Messenger of God. If they respond to this, then teach them that God has imposed five Salãh upon them in every day. If they respond to this, then teach them that God has imposed upon them a charity to be taken from the wealthy amongst them and given to their poor. If they respond to this, then beware of taking any more of their wealth!” Zakãh was understood to be a transfer of a certain portion of Maal from the haves to the have nots.


The history of Zakãh is the same as that of Salãh. It is evident from the Qurãn that like Salãh its directive always existed in the Shari’ah of the previous Prophets. When the Almighty asked the Muslims to pay it, it was not something unknown to them. All the followers of the religion of Ibraham (AS) were fully aware of it. For this very reason Surah Al-Ma’arij 70:25 describes it as “A specified right.” Thus it was a pre-existing Sunnah which the Prophet (pbuh), with necessary reformations, gave currency at the behest of the Almighty.

Going back to the first application of Zakãh at the time of the Prophet (pbuh) is like studying Zakãh at its source in order to discover its significance, mode of application and effects, whether social, spiritual or economic.
In Makkah the verses on Zakãh were in the general form of voluntary payments and it was left to the faith and the brotherly feelings of individuals to decide what and how much to give in Zakãh . Surah Al-Ma’arij 70:24-25 advises: “And in whose wealth there is a right acknowledged. For the beggar and the destitute.”

It was only in the second year of Hijrah, some eighteen months after the arrival of the Prophet (pbuh) to Madina that Zakãh became a Fard or an obligation on Muslims. Madinan verses gave clear directives, ordering the payment of Zakãh and since that time the Prophet (pbuh) used to send out Zakãh workers to collect and distribute the due Zakãh .

The Qurãn mentions Zakãh in general and the word amwal (i.e. property or wealth or earning) is used as in the verse, “Out of their wealth take sadaqah so by it you purify and sanctify them.” (Surah Al-Taubah 9:103) and “In their wealth and properties is the right of the poor, he who asks, and he who is deprived.” (Surah Al-Dhareyat 51:19)

It is the Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh) that gives us, by example and by directives, details of the general Qurãnic command and converts the theoretical axioms of the Qurãn into a living reality.

The Prophet (pbuh) is the one who knows most about what Allah(swt) ordained and as such the Sunnah gives us detailed specifications of the kinds of Zakaatable wealth, the minimum exempt of each of them and the applicable rates. The Sunnah also gives the details of the categories of people that should receive Zakãh.

Sadaqah and Zakãh are mentioned in the Qurãn and Sunnah sometimes interchangeably and often refer to the same thing, i.e. the obligatory payment.

  1. The word Zakãh is mentioned 30 times in the Qurãn.
  2. Salãh and Zakãh are interlinked in 28 places in the Qurãn.
  3. Zakãh is not linked with Salãh in 2 places in the Qurãn. (Surah Al-’Araf 7:156 and Surah Ar-Rum 30:39)
  4. Zakãh always refers to the annual obligatory fixed payment from one’s wealth.
  5. The word Sadaqah is mentioned 13 times in the Qurãn.
  6. Sadaqah covers the meaning of obligatory and voluntary charity.
  7. Sadaqah is referred to as feeding the poor as an expiation for shaving the head while in Ihram. (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:196)
  8. Sadaqah means the obligatory charity (i.e. Zakãh ) in 2 places. (Surah Al-Taubah 9:60 and 9:103).

Allah(swt) created the worlds with the objective of worshiping and praising Him. Creations worship Allah(swt) using all their faculties and abilities, including physical, mental and material forms of worship. Some financial worships of previous nations required them to feed their material resources to a burning fire. Islam as the final and complete message doesn’t allow wastage of resources. Therefore, all financial worships in Islam find their routs to the pockets of the poor and needy.

The inner intention when discharging Zakãh should be based on the fulfilment of the Commandments of the Allah(swt). The objective is to engage in a specialised form of worship, solely for the pleasure of Allah(swt). The individual who sincerely dispenses his Zakãh most definitely becomes the recipient of the promised rewards and Benediction of Allah(swt). Surah Al-Baqarah 2:276 tells us that: “Allah(swt) hath blighted usury and made almsgiving fruitful.”

The Hadith of the Prophet (pbuh) enunciates this concept very beautifully: “When a slave of Allah(swt) pays Zakãh , the Angels of Allah(swt) pray for him in these words: “O Allah! Grant abundance to him who spends (in Your cause) and destroy him who does not spend and restricts to himself his wealth.” (Bukhari)

‘Abdullah bin Abu Aufa said that it was the common practice of the Prophet (pbuh) that when the people brought to him Sadaqa he blessed them: 0 Allah, bless them. So when Abu Aufa brought to him Sadaqa the Prophet (pbuh) said: 0 Allah, bless, the posterity of Abu Aufa. When a Muslim pays Zakãh , Allah(swt) increases his sustenance. Although at a human level it may seem that giving of wealth means reduction of wealth, in reality it is not. At a metaphysical level, Allah(swt) blesses the giver of Zakãh to the extent that which is beyond human perception. This is very well defined by the following Hadith: “Charity does not diminish wealth.” (Muslim)


Several Hadith mention the warning the Prophet (pbuh) gave to those who reject the payment of Zakãh . His warning of severe punishment in the hereafter was aimed at awakening dormant hearts and shaking miserly souls to give, both by positive encouragement and fear of punishment. Not only did the Prophet (pbuh) issue a stern warning with regard to the punishment in the Hereafter, but he went on to warn of a punishment in this life as well, both from Allah(swt) and from the State. The Prophet (pbuh) said: “Zakãh is never intermingled with any amount of wealth without destroying and rotting it.” (Bukhari). This saying has two meanings according to Al Mundhiri. Firstly, that whenever due Zakãh is not paid it will be a cause for ruining that wealth. “Whenever any amount of wealth is destroyed in the land or in the sea it could be because it’s Zakãh was not paid.” (Al-Tabarani). Secondly, if a person who takes Zakãh as recipient without deserving that Zakãh and mixes it with his wealth, it will be a reason for rotting all his wealth. (Ahmad)]


The Qurãnic reference to items subject to Zakãh is rather general. Surah Al-Taubah 9:103 mentions the word “amwal” and Surah Al-Baqarah 2:267 mentions “What you have earned,” and “what we have produced for you from the earth.” Hence, in the time of the Prophet (pbuh) it became clear that Zakãh was levied on camels, sheep, gold, silver, agricultural output and goods designated for trade. Certain items were exempt, included things used for personal purposes such as clothes, household furniture and durable commodities, etc.

Muslim jurists agree that personal and consumable Maal are not Zakaatable. Furthermore, they agree that even from among the Maal that are generally subject to Zakãh , Zakãh is only taken if these Maal fulfil the following conditions:

Ownership: The Maal must be fully owned by the potential payer. This ownership must be absolute and not restricted, except as provided by the law of the country.

Growth: The Maal must have the ability to grow or increase or multiply, or is itself a result of a process of growth, such as animals or agricultural products. However, Muslim scholars also deem money, gold, silver and merchandise to have the potential of growth as it is usually made to grow through trade.

Nisaab: For Maal to be subject to Zakãh it must first attain a minimum value. In several Hadith, the Prophet (pbuh) established certain minimum values for the different Maal and exempted anyone who owns less than the minimum from the payment of Zakãh . However, once a person owns the minimum of any Maal, then the whole amount of that Maal becomes subject to Zakãh .

The amount of Nisaab must be over and above what is required to satisfy the immediate basic needs of the payer, including family
responsibilities and due debts.


Zakãh is charged on the Maal because it is owned or possessed, i.e. one has to pay Zakãh if one possesses Maal to the value of Nisaab or more as one is deemed to be rich according to the Shari’ah. The Qurãn and the Sunnah impose this levy on Maal that covers wealth and income. The Prophet (pbuh) gave a listing of Zakaatable items and rates to be charged on each of them and determined exemptions and the criteria of Zakaatability. Still, Zakãh is only due when certain conditions are fulfilled. These conditions relate to both the payer and the Maal of the payer; and should be counted as a Mercy from the Almighty

Muslim jurists agree that Zakãh is obligatory on Muslims who are:

  1. Mature i.e. have reached the age of puberty
  2. Sane
  3. Free i.e. not captives
  4. Owning the prescribed Nisaab amount.

However, there is disagreement amongst Muslim jurists on whether or not Zakãh is compulsory on the Maal of minors and the insane. Imaam Shafi’i reports the Prophet (pbuh) said: “Invest the fund of the orphans so they may not be used up by Zakãh .” This Hadith implies that there is an obligation of Zakãh on the wealth of minors and the insane and such obligations becomes the responsibility of their guardians.

The Qurãn does not give the definition of Zakatable wealth, except in a few cases, only the general principles are given without the details, e.g.:

  1. Gold and Silver: “And there are those who hoard gold and silver and spend it not in the way of Allah. . Announce unto them a most grievous penalty.” (Surah Al-Taubah 9:34)
  2. Crops and Fruits: “Eat of their fruit in their season, but render the dues that are proper on the day that the harvest is gathered,”(Surah Ana’am 6:141)
  3. Earnings of Trade: “O ye who believe, give of the good things which ye have earned.” (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:267)
  4. Wealth from beneath the earth: “And of that which we have produced for you from the earth.” (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:267)


The majority of jurists stipulate that intention is a pre-requisite for discharging of Zakãh since it is an act of worship and all forms of worship require an intention.


When Zakãh is distributed by individuals directly to the recipients, it is preferable not to reveal that it is Zakãh , especially as many deserving of Zakãh may hesitate to take it owing to their own doubt with regards their true eligibility. This is sometimes caused by the lack of education of Zakãh . It is generally accepted that the intention need not be a verbal declaration and that it can be made in the heart.


The general principle is that Zakãh must be distributed in the same area where it is collected. The local poor and needy have a priority since the Zakãh is collected from their neighbours, kith and kin. However, surplus funds may be transferred when there are no extreme conditions locally, such as famine or disasters, etc.

The Prophet (pbuh) is reported to have said: “Allah verily did not accept the judgment of a Prophet (pbuh) or anybody else in [the distribution of] Zakãh , so He gave the Judgment on it. He divided it into eight parts.” This Hadith refers to Surah Al-Taubah 9:60.

The Poor & Al-Masakin: The Needy
The poor are those who do not have any assets and have no means through which they can earn their living. The needy are the people whose earnings do not cover their basic needs.

Al-’Amilina ‘Alayha: Administrators of Zakãh
This term applies to all those serving in the field of Zakãh , including those responsible for collecting, storing, guarding, registering and distributing Zakãh . They shoulder all Zakãh related activities.

Al-Mu’allafate-Qulubuhum: Reconciliation of Hearts
This term applies to people who have embraced Islam or who are inclined to the Truth of Islam.

Fir-Riqab: For those in Bondage
Zakãh may be allocated to help Muslims free themselves of bondage.

Al-Gharimin: Those in Debt
Zakãh may be used to pay off debts, so long as these debts were not incurred in an act contrary to Islamic law.

Fi-Sabilillah: In the Cause of Allah(swt)
Muslim jurists differ on who or what can be covered under this category, although most seem to agree that it can be used in the defence of Islam. In the wider sense however, this channel covers all methods of promoting the Islamic value system, whether through propagation or intellectual confrontation.

Ibnas-Sabil: The Wayfarer
A wayfarer refers to a traveller who left his homeland for a lawful purpose and for whatever good reason does not posses enough money to return home, even if he is rich in his own country.

Umar (RA) was once asked what to do with the Zakãh collected from Bedouin Arabs.

He answered, “By Allah, I shall render the sadaqah to them, until each of them becomes the owner of a hundred camels, male or female.” (Al Mussannaf)

In another incident, Umar (RA) declared “When you give, make [the recipient] rich.” (Al Amwal)
“Sadaqah (i.e. Zakãh) are for the poor, and the needy, and those employed to administer [the funds], and those whose hearts have been reconciled [to the truth], and for those in bondage, and those in debt, and in the cause of Allah, and for the wayfarer; [thus is it] ordained by Allah, and Allah is full of knowledge and wisdom.” (Surah 9: v60)

Muslim jurists agreed that Zakãh cannot be given to the following people:

  1. The rich (except when such are among the workers of Zakãh).
  2. Those capable but not willing to work.
  3. Disbelievers and apostates who fight against Islam.
  4. Ascendants, descendants and wives of the payer.
  5. The family of the Prophet (pbuh).

The Shari’ah has not fixed a universal date for calculating Zakãh nor any period or date for its payment. In fact, every person may have his/her own date depending on when one first attains ownership of Nisaab. This date is then used for all future valuations.

However, for people who do not remember when they first came to posses the Nisaab, they may fix any convenient date that is easy for them to remember, such as 1 Muharram or 1 Ramadaan, etc.

Abu ‘Ubayd reports from Maymun ibn Mihran, who was a tab’in that, “When Zakãh is due, calculate the amount of money (on hand), add to it the value of the goods and the amount of debts on customers that you expect to be paid, make a sum of the total, deduct whatever debts you owe to others, and pay Zakãh on the net amount.” (Al-Amwal)

Al-Hasan al-Basri said, “When Zakãh is due, one must add the amount of money on hand, plus the amount owed by others as outstanding, except the amount of hopeless debts, and pay Zakãh on the total.”


1. Make a Niyyah (intention) that you are calculating your Zakãh!

2. Note the Islamic date: _________________
3. Call Islamic Relief and note the prices of the following:
a) Value of 1g (24ct Gold) inc. VAT ____________
b) Value of 1g Silver inc. VAT ____________

4. Calculate the Nisaab
Nisaab = 612.36g X value of 1g silver): ____________

5. Make a list and total all the monies owed to you...

6. Make a list of all monies owed by you....

7. Make a list all foreign currencies held by you and establish equivalence in local currency.

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