Zakah is the Fourth Pillar of Islam. It is an obligation (Fard), prescribed by God on those Muslim men and women who possess enough means, to distribute a certain percentage of their annual savings or capital in goods or money among the poor and the needy. Zakah is assessed once a year on both capital and savings from income.
The literal meaning of the word zakah is ‘purity’. The Prophet (peace be upon him) has said: “God has made zakah obligatory simply to purify your remaining property.” There is no equivalent practice in other religions. Hence, while terms such as ‘charity ” poor-tax’, ‘alms-tax’ and ‘poor-due’ have been coined by various translators, none of these terms actually conveys the true sense of the word zakah. Zakah is not a tax levied by a government, nor is it a voluntary contribution. It is first and foremost a duty enjoined by God and hence a form of worship. In Qur’an, the payment of zakah is frequently mentioned in the same sentence or verse as the establishment of salat (prayers).
“O’ Those who believe and do good deeds and establish salat and pay zakah, their reward is with their Sustainer; and no fear shall come upon them, nor shall they grieve.” (2:277)
“These are verses of the Book full of wisdom, a guide, and mercy to the doers of good -those who establish salat and pay zakah and have the assurance of the Hereafter. These are on guidance from their Sustainers, and these are the ones who will prosper.” (31:1-5)
Thus, while salat is an act of worship through words and bodily action, zakah is a devotional act through one’s wealth. Without the spirit of submission to God and love of Him, both acts are without spiritual and moral significance.
From a practical point of view, it is the duty of an Islamic state to collect zakah from every Muslim who meets the requirements for paying it. The first Caliph, Abu Bakr Siddiq, declared war on those tribes which refused to pay zakah while still professing Islam and observing daily prayers. He reasoned that the Divine law (Shari’ah) cannot be divided and that one cannot follow part of the Holy Book and cast aside other parts.
However, in a non-Islamic state, it is up to the individual Muslim to be. Conscientious enough to voluntarily fulfill this duty to God and to his community, and it is up to his brother Muslims to remind him of this duty.
2. THE SPIRIT OF ZAKAH
In the Holy Qur‘an, wealth is referred to as God’s bounty (fadl). God, as the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, is also the Owner of all things, including all the things which man possesses and uses.
“Who has created the heavens and the earth and sends down rain for you from the sky? With it We caused to grow orchards full of loveliness; it is not in your power to make trees grow in them.” (27:60)
Since God is the true owner of all things and we are merely His trustees, wealth is to be produced, distributed, acquired and spent in a way that is pleasing to Him. The acquisition of wealth is not an end in itself, nor is wealth to be squandered for meaningless or wasteful purposes, and above all, it is not to be used in order to gain power over other people through exploitation or control of the means of livelihood. Qur’an and Hadith make it very clear that any form of gain which results in some injustice or harm to others is an act of disobedience to God. On the other hand, Qur’an tells us that next to the purity of faith, the most pleasing thing in the sight of God is kindness and charity, forbearance and forgiveness, and doing good to others.
“Those who spend in charity. Whether in prosperity or adversity, who restrain anger and pardon people; for God loves those who do, good to others.” (3: 134)
Thus, God enjoins on us humility before the Creator and His creatures, moderation in the satisfaction of our legitimate needs and desires, control of our appetites, and a spirit of generosity and charity, while He asks us to shun pride in ourselves and contempt for others, self-indulgence and pleasure-seeking, and greed for material things and worldly power. We find, therefore, that prayers (salat) are made obligatory to purify our hearts from every kind of pride; fasting (seeyam)controls our appetites, and zakah to overcome our greed. The spirit behind all these acts of worship ought to be the spirit of submission to God, gratitude for all His bounties, and hope for His forgiveness and mercy.
In particular, it is with utmost gratitude and joy that a Muslim who possesses enough means that zakah is obligatory for him should fulfill his obligation gratitude for the bounties which God has showered upon him and joy in being able to help others. Because the payment of zakah is a duty to God, no one should ever think of it as a favor done to the person who receives it. In fact, it is his right to receive it and the obligation of the giver to give it. Like any other act of worship in Islam, in giving zakah it is necessary that the intention of the giver and receiver be pure and honest.
3. THE BENEFITS OF ZAKAH
The moral and material benefits of zakah are obvious giving zakah purifies the heart of the giver from selfishness and greed for wealth and develops in his sympathy for the poor and needy. And receiving zakah purifies the heart of the recipients from envy and hatred of the rich and prosperous, and fosters in him a sense of goodwill towards his brother Muslims who although they are better off, have shared their wealth with him for the sake of God.
God says in Qur’an:
“To Him belong the keys of the heavens and the earth; He enlarges or restricts the sustenance to whom He wills, for He knows full well all things.” (42:12) .
“He has raised some of you in ranks above others that He may try you in the gifts He has given you.” (6: 165)
Thus, a Muslim, whether prosperous or needy, considers his condition in this world as a test from God. Those who have wealth have the obligation to be generous and charitable and to share the bounties of God with their brothers, while those who are poor have the obligation to be patient, to work to improve their situation, and to be free of envy. Qur’an tells us that it is not a man’s wealth or position but his God-consciousness, the quality of his character, and the manner in which he uses whatever is given to him by God which determines his ultimate destiny in the Hereafter. The economic objective of Islam is just and humane. Distribution of wealth, as stated in Qur’an: “…so that this (wealth) may not circulate solely among the rich from among you.” (59:7) Thus, Islam neither approves of hoarding and unlimited building up of capital nor of compulsory equal distribution of wealth, as both are unjust. Its teaching encourages the earning of livelihood and acquisition of wealth by lawful, honest and productive means, and enjoins the just sharing of the acquired wealth among the workers, the investors and the community at large. The community’s share in the produced wealth is zakah and sadaqah (charity), the first an obligatory and the second a voluntary contribution from individuals. Zakah, when honestly practiced, results in freeing the society from class distinctions, rivalries, suspicion and corruption. It produces a community of people who love and respect each other, and who have sympathy and concern for each other’s welfare. Giving zakah is not a matter of pride. It is a devotional act, like salat, on the completion of which the contributor should be thankful to God for the fulfillment of his obligation and pray for the forgiveness of his sins.
4. KINDS OF PROPERTY ON WHICH ZAKAH IS OBLIGATORY
Zakah is compulsory on cash, cattle, and crops. The regulations differ for each of these categories. As the detailed system of computation in the last two categories is rather complicated, it will not be discussed here. Such information is available in standard books on Islamic jurisprudence.
For cash, the minimum rate is two and a half percent (2.5%). Zakah should be given only on the net balance after all lawful expenses have been met at the end of the year. The rate mentioned above is only a lower limit. There is no upper limit, except that one should not deprive himself and his dependents of meeting their lawful necessities. Beyond these obligations, the more one gives, the greater the benefit on both the giver and the recipient.
5. RECIPIENTS OF ZAKAH
Those who are eligible to receive zakah are mentioned in the Holy Qur’an.
“The alms are only for the poor, the needy, those who collect them, those whose hearts are to be reconciled, to free the captives and the debtors, for the cause of God, and for the travelers; a duty imposed by God. God is All-Knowing, AII-Wise.” (9:6ql
It should be remembered that these categories of persons who are to be helped by zakah were laid down fourteen hundred years ago. They are equally applicable to our own time.
I. The poor: Those who do not have anything to support themselves.
2. The needy: Those people who have some income or earnings but it is not enough to provide them with basic needs.
3. Zakah collectors: The salaries of these workers may be paid from this fund.
4. Converts: Those people who have embraced Islam and attempts should be made to settle them in normal life.
5. People who are not free: This category would include payment of ransom for freeing Muslim salves from slavery from their owners.
6. Debtors: People who are unable to pay debts incurred due to pressing lawful needs.
7. Wayfarers and travelers: Those people who are rendered helpless outside their city.
8. In the Cause of Allah
In the wider sense, this channel of distribution covers all methods of promoting the Islamic faith, whether through Jihad, propagating the enactment of the Islamic legislation or defending Islam through the intellectual confrontation against its opposing hostile trends.
This channel of distribution includes the following:
a. Financing Jihad activities to spread Islam and repel enemies’ attacks against Muslim countries.
b. Supporting fruitful individual and collective efforts aiming at spreading Islamic rule, establishing Islamic law, and resisting plans to marginalize Islam and its law.
c. Financing the Islamic centers and mosques established in non-Muslim countries, directed by faithful men with the aim of adopting valid methods to spread Islam in these countries.
d. Financing the serious efforts exerted to support the Muslim minorities under the non-Muslim rule.
ZAKAH ON INCOME
Additional payment receives by an individual from their employer or individual itself in the form of physical energy or professional employment or physically for the specific day, month and year are also required to pay zakah.
Employment income includes: –
1) The annual salary
2) Unpaid wages
3) Other allowances
4) Other remuneration such as bonuses, etc.
“To all men who are all faithful to Allah. Give out the best what you have worked for and this is part what comes from the earth that we have given you.”
(Surah Al-Baqarah: Ayat 267 )
Prophet S.A.W. said which means:
“ No one who worked to get rich through illegal way and he spent it with expectation getting a blessing from him and not charity it, in the hope that it will be accepted nor will it leave it as an inheritance (after he died) unless it is a supply to Hell.“
(Hadis riwayat Abu Daud)
METHOD OF CALCULATION
Using gross income (without deduction) 2.5% on gross income per year.
Total gross income per year: Rp. 62.400.000
Amount of zakah (2.5%): Rp. 1.560.000
Monthly Payment: Rp. 1.560.000/12 = Rp. 130.000