Zakat is the fourth ‘pillar’ of Islam. Zakat means setting apart for Allah every year a certain portion of one’s savings and wealth (generally 2.5 percent) and spending it upon religious duties and on needy members of the community. The fulfillment of this duty is, in fact, a kind of reminder that all one has is in trust for Allah. Man should, therefore, hold nothing back from Allah. To whatever one may amass in one’s lifetime, one’s own personal contribution is insignificant. If the Supreme Being, who is at work in the heavens and on the earth, refused to co-operate with man, there would be nothing that the latter could accomplish single-handed. He would not be able to plant so much as a single seed to make things grow. Nor could he set up any industries, or carry out any other such enterprise. If Allah were to withdraw any one of His material blessings, all our plans would go awry, and all our efforts would be brought to naught.
Zakat is the practical recognition of this fact through the expenditure of money. Islam requires man to consider his personal wealth as belonging to Allah and, therefore, to set apart a portion for Him. No maximum limit has been prescribed, but a minimum limit has definitely been fixed. According to statutory Zakat, each individual must abide by this and spend a fixed minimum percentage of his wealth every year in the way prescribed by Allah. In so spending his wealth, he is permitted neither to belittle the recipient nor to make him feel obliged or grateful to himself. His wealth must be given to the needy in the spirit of its being a trust from Allah which he is making over to the genuine title-holders. He should feed others so that he himself is fed in the Hereafter, and he should give to others so that he himself is not denied succor by Allah in the next world.
Zakat is a symbol of one’s obligation to recognize the rights of others and to be in sympathy with them in pain or in sorrow. These sentiments should become so deep-rooted that one begins to regard one’s own wealth as belonging, in part, to others. Moreover, one should render service to others without expecting either recognition or recompense. Each individual should protect the honor of others without hope of any gain in return. He should be the well-wisher of not just friends and relations, but of all members of society. Zakat, first and foremost, makes it plain to people that their entire ‘possessions’ are gifts of Allah, and, secondly, dissuades the servants of Allah from living in society as unfeeling and selfish creatures. Indeed, throughout their entire lives, they must set aside some portion for others.
One very wrong way of conducting oneself in any social set-up is to live in expectation of worldly gain from the services rendered to others. An example of such behavior is to lend money in the hopes of getting it back with interest. Where this is a common practice, exploitation becomes rampant, with everyone trying to subjugate and plunder others. As a consequence, the whole of society is plagued with disorder. No one, be he rich or poor, can be happy in such a set-up. If a man is correctly motivated, he will be of service to his fellow-human beings only in the hope of receiving a reward from Allah: he will give to others with the divine assurance that he will be repaid in full in the next world. In a society where there is no exploitation, feelings of mutual hatred and unconcern cannot flourish. A climate of mutual distrust and disorder is simply not allowed to come into being; each lives in peace with the other, and society becomes a model of harmony and prosperity.
On the legalistic plane, Zakat is an annual tax, or duty, in essence and spirit: it is recognition on the part of man of the share which Allah, and other men, have in his wealth.
Wealth or asset on which zakat is payable or on which zakat will be determined
Rate of Zakat
|Gold, Silver or ornaments
||85 grams of gold or 595 grams of silver
||2.5% of the Value|
|Cash in hand,stocks, bonds, trading goods or any other liquid asset
||Amount equivalent to 595 gram