The benefits of Zakaah
Although it holds a great rank in Islaam being one of the pillars without which no one's Islaam is complete as in the Hadeeth previously mentioned many people have neglected this obligation.
Zakaah is one of the most obvious merits of Islaam because it reflects the extent to which Islaam takes care of those who accept and practice it; it is vital due to the great benefits it contains and the dire need of the poor for it.
The benefits of Zakaah are many
- Assuring the feeling of harmony between the rich and the poor in the community since man by nature becomes inclined towards those who are kind to him.
- Causing one to become worthy of the blessings of Allaah Who increases one's provision and replaces what one spends. Allaah says what means "And whatsoever you spend of anything (in Allaah's Cause) He will replace it. And He is the Best of providers." (Saba': 39). The Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam said that Allaah said "O son of Aadam! Spend (in charity) and I will provide for you." (Al-Bukhaari & Muslim).
- Purifying the soul elevating its rank and thwarting stinginess from the soul. This is indicated by the saying of Allaah what means "Take Sadaqah (alms) from their wealth in order to purify them and sanctify them with it." (At-Tawbah: 103).
- Getting the Muslim accustomed to generosity and mercy towards the needy.
Allaah gave a severe warning to those who become stingy and refrain from paying out their due Zakaah. Allaah says what means "And those who hoard up gold and silver (Al-Kanz: the money the Zakaat of which has not been paid) and spend them not in the way of Allaah announce unto them a painful torment. On the Day when that (Al-Kanz: money gold and silver the Zakaat of which has not been paid) will be heated in the fire of Hell and with it will be branded their foreheads their flanks and their backs (and it will be said unto them): `This is the treasure which you hoarded for yourselves. Now taste of what you used to hoard.'" (At-Tawbah: 34-35).
Any person who amasses wealth and does not pay its due Zakaah will be punished by his wealth on the Day of Resurrection. The Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam said "No owner of a treasure (of gold or silver) who does not pay Zakaah will be spared for his treasure will be heated in the Fires of Hell and then made into plates. His flanks and his forehead will be branded with them until Allaah pronounces judgment on His servants during a day lasting fifty thousand years." (Muslim).
The Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam also mentioned the owner of cattle who does not pay its due Zakaah "Whoever is made wealthy by Allaah and does not pay the Zakaah of his wealth then on the Day of Resurrection his wealth will be made into a bald-headed poisonous male snake with two black spots over his eyes. The snake will encircle his neck and bite his cheeks and say 'I am your wealth I am your treasure.'" Then he sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam recited the saying of Allaah which means "And let not those who covetously withhold of that which Allaah has bestowed on them of His Bounty (wealth) think that it is good for them (and so they do not pay the obligatory Zakaat). Nay it will be worse for them; the things which they covetously withheld shall be tied to their necks like a collar on the Day of Resurrection." (Aal 'Imraan: 180) (Al-Bukhaari).
Zakaah is due on four things: produce cattle gold and silver and trade merchandise. These things have a specific Nisaab (a minimum amount which requires Zakaah) below which payment of Zakaah is not required.
Nisaab on produce is three hundred Saa' of dates raisons rice or wheat where each Saa' is four times all what one can hold in two handfuls. When this amount is reached one should pay ten percent (10%) of that in Zakaah if the trees which produce these foodstuffs were watered naturally by the water of rain rivers or springs. However if one had to personally water these trees himself then the Zakaah due on their produce is only five-percent (5%) as the Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam has informed us.
Nisaab on cattle is a very detailed and lengthy issue which is available in any book on Zakaah but since we intended this booklet to be brief we will not mention these details here.
The Nisaab on silver and gold is approximately US$900 (which is the equivalent of 92 grams of gold depending on the price of gold) and the amount of Zakaah due is two and a half (2.5%) after a full lunar year of possessing it. Another item which is related to this type is gold and silver ornaments that women wear; Zakaah applies to these ornaments whether they were in their possession all that time or lent to others because the Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam said "No owner of a treasure (of gold or silver) who does not pay Zakaah will be spared for his treasure will be heated in the Fires of Hell and then made into plates." (Muslim). This is a ruling which is general and applies to gold and silver used for trade or anything else as he sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam also said to a woman who had two golden bracelets "Do you pay Zakaah on them?" She replied "No." So he then said: "Are you pleased that Allaah may put two bangles of fire on your arms?" Thereupon she took them off and placed them before the Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam saying: "They are for Allaah and His Apostle." (Abu Daawood & An-Nasaa'i).
Merchandise used for trade must be evaluated at the end of the year and two and a half percent (2.5%) of its value must be paid out as Zakaah. Samurah may Allaah be pleased with him said "The Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam used to command us to pay Zakaah on anything which we used in trade." (Abu Daawood). Land used for trade is also included as well as cars and machinery. As for buildings which are rented out and not being sold Zakaah only applies on its rent after the full lunar year has finished. Likewise is the case of personal cars and taxis which are not used for trade but if a taxi owner collects money which reaches the Nisaab and this remains unused for a full lunar year then he should pay its Zakaah regardless of the reason why he saved this money.
Zakaah is also applicable on money saved for orphans or the insane whenever it reaches the Nisaab and has been saved for a full lunar year; guardians of this money should pay out the due Zakaah on their behalf.
Zakaah is the right of Allaah which should not be taken lightly; it should not be given to those who are not eligible; a person should not pay it in order to bring benefit unto himself or to prevent harm from befalling him rather it should be paid to a deserving category of people regardless of whether or not it brings benefit to him. It should be paid willingly and with sincerity to Allaah in order to receive the reward from Allaah and fulfil one's obligation concerning this pillar.
Allaah explained in His book the categories of people who are deserving of Zakaah; Allaah says what means "As-Sadaqaat (here it means Zakaat) are only for the Fuqaraa' (poor) and Al-Masaakeen (the poor) and those employed to collect (the funds); and to attract the hearts of those who have been inclined (towards Islaam); and to free the captives; and for those in debt; and for Allaah's Cause (i.e. for Mujaahidoon ـ those fighting in a holy battle for the sake of Allaah) and for the wayfarer (a traveller who is cut off from everything); a duty imposed by Allaah. And Allaah is All-Knower All-Wise" (At-Tawbah: 60). Allaah concluded this verse with two of His Great Names to bring to the attention of his slaves that He is All-Knowing of the affairs and dealings of His slaves and of who is worthy of taking Zakaah and who is not; and that He is All-Wise in what He legislates and what He decrees and that he would not prescribe anything unless it is suitable even if people do not fully realize the benefit and wisdom behind the legislation.