Zakat ImageWhat is Zakat?

The word Zakat (or Zakah) means: Blessing, purification, increase and goodness. It is so called as it blesses the wealth from which it is taken and protects it from misfortunes. It represents obligatory charity; all Muslims who are wealthy enough, must perform this charity in order to purify their wealth in the eyes of God. It is one of the five Pillars of Islam.
Zakat is the tool, in particular, that helps refine and polish the human soul through a delicate taming of the desire to have more. Zakat is a religious obligation for helping the poor, responding to the needy and supporting and protecting common interests upon which the well-being of the community and the nation depends. Zakat thus becomes the divinely established balance between the rich and the poor(1). The primary religious duty of any Muslim community that has settled anywhere is clearly defined in the Quran:

"(They are) those who, if We establish them in the land, invoke regular prayer and give ordained charity, enjoin the right and forbid the wrong."
(Chapter 22, Verse 40-41)


Over the past 100 years, the Muslim community in Canada has expanded and settled across the country. Many organizations were established to support the needs of this growing community. The primary focus was directed at establishing places of worship.

 

As the community grew, so did its needs. These needs included operating schools and places for teaching the Quran and its associated Arabic language, caring for orphans, women and the elderly, and providing food and other essential services to those in need. The local collection and distribution of zakat, as well as other Islamic charities, provided the financial resources that supported these initiatives and programs. There was no organization or agency, however, that focused solely on zakat and whose sole mandate was to promote its practice, advance its cause, and to receive and distribute it according to the widely accepted Islamic rules and guidelines.
__________________________

(1) For more information on jurisprudence and principles of Zakat, refer to "Fiqh al-Zakat" by Yusuf al-Qaradawi - Part Six: Objectives of Zakat.

 

Who Benefits from Zakat? 

1. The poor and needy – they do not have enough to pay for their necessary needs

2. The destitute – they are worse off than the poor

3. Those employed to collect and distribute zakat

4. To reconcile hearts – for bringing cordial closeness amongst communities through charity

5. To free captives

6. Those who are indebted and unable to pay their debt

7. Those who struggle In the path of God

8. Travellers who have run out of money and need help to reach their destination

Reference: Quran - Chapter 9, verse 60 

 

When Zakat is due?   

 
Zakat is due on earnings and different types of assets when such assets meet prescribed minimum amounts (nisab), within a specified period of time. In general zakat is calculated and paid annually, but assuming that the nisab can be projected, zakat can be paid throughout the year. In such cases, the final zakat payment should be adjusted to reflect the actual earnings and eligible assets.