English Translation (Saheeh International):
Who establish prayer and give zakāh, and of the Hereafter they are certain [in faith]. Source — Quran
The importance of “Zakat” could be well understood from the fact that it is the third important pillar of Islam. The Muslims who are rich and those who have enough earnings are obliged to pay Zakat.
If a Muslim who is obliged to pay “Zakat” does not follow the commandment of ALLAH (SWT), then that person has committed “sin”.
Just like Gold is heated and made pure through continuous heating and other treatments, “Zakat” purifies the earnings of a Muslim.
Some Muslims who are not so religious may find it difficult to pay “Zakat”, but it is the promise of ALLAH (SWT) that whoever will pay Zakat, ALLAH will increase the “Rizq” and will give “Barakah” in the money of that person.
Just like paying “Zakat” is Obligatory (Fardh) on the Muslims who live according to the rules and guidelines as prescribed in the Qur’an and Hadith, the “Zakat” must be given only to the person who is eligible to receive Zakat.
Not many who are obliged to pay zakat to know to whom Zakat can be given. Let us find out.
To Whom Zakat Can Be Given ?
English Translation (Saheeh International):
Zakāh expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy and for those employed for it1 and for bringing hearts together [for Islām] and for freeing captives [or slaves] and for those in debt and for the cause of Allah and for the [stranded] traveler – an obligation [imposed] by Allah. And Allah is Knowing and Wise.
1. Miskeen (Poor & Needy)
The first category of people who are eligible to receive “Zakat” is the Miskeens (poor and the needy).
Who are considered poor people then?
The definition of poor may not be specifically defined, since different areas have different types of poor people.
For Eg, a poor and needy individual of America may be considered rich in India. However, the best method is to judge with the base Poverty line. Every country has some fixed base Poverty line for individuals.
If the person comes under BPL (Below Poverty Line) or just earns a little above the Poverty line not enough to meet his and his family’s basic important expenses, then the Zakat can be paid to that individual.
2. Only Needy Muslims
The “Zakat” can be paid to Muslims only. “Non-Muslims” are not eligible to receive Zakat.
Any portion of your earnings given to non-Muslims won’t be considered as Zakat. It can be considered as charity.
3. Zakat Collector
There are specific Muslim Madrassas or Organisations in almost every country that appoints a person to collect Zakat. Zakat collectors usually do the job of collecting zakat from people who are willing to pay zakat and hand it over to people who are eligible to receive Zakat. These Zakat Collectors are also eligible to receive Zakat.
Zakat can be given to the relatives except for one’s siblings (brothers and Sisters), Parents, Grandparents, Children, and Grandchildren.
4. The Reverts (Newly Converted Muslims)
A newly converted Muslim (the reverts) is eligible to receive “Zakat”. They may be in a situation completely boycotted by their family and close companions. Because of this, they might not have any financial or family support behind them.
5. Debt Ridden
A person who is in extreme debt can receive the Zakat (if his/her net assets and liabilities are not enough to pay the debts).
“Zakat” is an obligation (Fardh) on every Muslim who has been blessed with plenty of wealth and resources like Money, Gold, Property, Livestock, etc.
As “Zakat” is the third important Pillar of Islam, one cannot get away from paying Zakat, especially in the month of Ramadan.
If the person has been blessed with plenty of wealth resources by ALLAH (SWT.) and does not pay “Zakat”, then the person has violated the important pillar of Islam and has committed a Grave sin. On the day of Judgement, these people will be punished.
Hadiths About Zakat
Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said,
“Anyone whom Allah has given wealth but he does not pay its Zakat, then, on the Day of Resurrection, his wealth will be presented to him in the shape of a bald-headed poisonous male snake with two poisonous glands in its mouth and it will encircle itself round his neck and bite him over his cheeks and say, “I am your wealth; I am your treasure.”
Then the Prophet (ﷺ) recited this Divine Verse: — “And let not those who covetously withhold of that which Allah has bestowed upon them of His bounty.” (3.180)
— Source: Saheeh Bukari (4565)
Narrated Abu Dhar: Once I went to him (the Prophet (ﷺ) ) and he said,
“By Allah in Whose Hands my life is (or probably said, ‘By Allah, except Whom none has the right to be worshipped) whoever had camels or cows or sheep and did not pay their Zakat, those animals will be brought on the Day of Resurrection far bigger and fatter than before and they will tread him under their hooves, and will butt him with their horns, and (those animals will come in circle): When the last does its turn, the first will start again, and this punishment will go on till Allah has finished the judgments amongst the people.”
—- Source: Saheeh Buhari 1460
Thus, “Zakat” must be paid to the Misqeens and Fuqara on time. ALLAH (SWT) loves the Muslim who gives “Zakat”. ALLAH (S.W.T.) will give “Baraqah” in the earning and wealth of a person who pay zakat. Allah(swt) will also increase his/her treasure ten times.
The person will also be rewarded for his deeds in the hereafter. Muslims must pay Zakat on time to earn the blessing and mercy of ALLAH (SWT) in this life and life hereafter.