What is Zakah?
According to Qur’anic descriptions, zakah is an obligatory payment made annually under Islamic law that each Muslim is expected to pay as a religious duty and it is used for charitable and religious purposes. The term sadaqah is an Islamic term that means “voluntary charity” and this concept encompasses any act of giving out of compassion, religious duty or generosity.
At the ADAMS Center, we define zakah distribution as something that is not attached to one’s gender, age, maturity or sanity. Therefore, those are able to afford charity in the form of zakah are encouraged to do so. In one example, if an individual acquires a loan from the bank and benefits financially from it, this individual is response for paying zakah.
Zakah is due on all economic goods purchases except those acquired for personal necessity and survival. If an individual or family determines that they fall within the categories of nisab (financial exemption limit), they are not required to pay zakah. However, this wealth is calculated according to the number of his or her dependents in the same household as well as the cost of living from the previous year.
“Alms are for the poor and the needy, and those employed to administer the funds for those whose hearts have been recently reconciled to the truth; for those in bondage and in debt; 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: Verse 60, The Holy Qur’an)
Having the options furnished by this verse, the ADAMS Center’s Zakah Committee, selected these priorities in accordance with the circumstances and needs of the community, on behalf of our nation, and for the Muslim ummah (community) at large. As a result, the ADAMS Center has adopted the following explanation for the eight avenues of permissibly receiving zakah from another:
- The Poor: the impoverished or poor are defined as those who do not have sufficient sustenance to survive and lives under nisab (financial exemption limit) in their area.
- The Needy: the person who was rendered helpless and quiet by the demeaning poverty so that he or she does not beg others for help.
- The Zakah Collector: Direct expenses due to the zakah process, such as a collector’s compensation, postage, telephone, stationery, transportation, etc.
- The Reconciled: Individuals identified by Muslims as those who the ummah would like to gain on their side, as well as those who have recently adopted Islam and are in need for support.
- The Oppressed: Any individuals who are identified as captives of wars or victims of oppression, persecution, or restricted of basic freedoms and human rights. Throughout history, this method was previously used to emancipate slaves.
- The Insolvent: The person who is not able to meet his liabilities. The debtor who borrowed money to meet his or her basic requirements or to cover humanitarian case, but could not reimburse his creditors.
- The Cause of Allah: This category is for those who spend their finances towards humanitarian rights and freedoms as well as good deeds that serve the application of Islamic teachings and help in the understanding of Islam. This positive behavior promotes the propagation of the Islamic message and assists with establishing mosques and Islamic schools and centers throughout the country.
- The Wayfarer: This person is identified as one who was forced to desert his own land or the refugee who was thrown out of his country, or who immigrated under conditions of civil war in their own country and no longer has access to his or her own wealth due to these circumstances.