What Is Zakat?

Posted in: 

Zakat, the third pillar of Islam, is a donation that Muslims regard as a mandatory act within their faith. Followers of Islam who have at least a minimum amount of wealth are required to give 2.5% of their liquid assets away to charity each year.

The aid should be given to the poor, travelers in need (such as refugees) and other specifically designated groups of people. Although it is difficult to find reliable figures on the size of zakat giving, there is no doubt that it is a major source of global charitable giving.

Note: Anera has no political or religious affiliations. Supporting our humanitarian aid programs may be a way to satisfy your faith-based charitable giving.

Zakat contributions can be made at any time of year but are most typically given during the time of the Hajj pilgrimage and during the month of Ramadan, especially on Laylat Al Qadr (or ‘night of power’), which falls on an evening during the last ten days of Ramadan.

Because zakat is restricted to direct assistance to the needy, it cannot be used for infrastructure or administrative costs. This is why organizations like Anera have specific giving forms designated for zakat. Zakat aid must be used within one lunar year of when it was given.

Zakat Al Fitr is specifically given after Ramadan, before the eid prayer, and must be used to provide food for the poor.

Traditionally there are eight groups of people recognized who may receive zakat aid, including these which are most relevant to Anera’s work:

  • Al Fuqara – the poor
  • Al Masakeen – those in need following disasters
  • Ibnas Sabil – stranded and needy travellers (such as refugees and displaced peoples)
  • Fir Riqab – those who are enslaved, trafficked or otherwise oppressed
  • Al Gharimin – people in heavy debt
  • Al ‘Amilina ‘Alayha – alms collectors; some organizations use this designation to cover administrative costs pertaining to zakat aid (Anera does not)

Sadaqa

In addition to zakat giving, there is also a category of voluntary giving within Islam known as sadaqa. Sadaqa aid is given at any time of the year to help those in need and, unlike zakat, can be given on behalf of another person.

The types of sadaqa include sadaqa jariya (meaning ‘ongoing charity’) and sadaqa waqf (which refers to assets like endowments and investments that are donated, bequeathed, or purchased to be held in perpetual trust to provide ongoing charity).


OUR BLOG

Related

In partnership with Arizona State University, Anera’s English language courses are expanding opportunities for young people in Lebanon. Let’s hear from a few of the students!

Read More

Anera staffer Sarah Hachem reports on Anera’s Sama Project from Akkar, Lebanon. Early marriage is a problem for vulnerable families in Lebanon’s most impoverished governorate. Anera is currently selecting nearly 500 girls, aged 13 to 16, to participate. Their families…

Read More

You, our amazing Anera community of supporters, stepped up once again and made a commitment to help hope find a way in Palestine, Lebanon and Jordan. You and 663 other donors helped surpass our end-of-year fundraising match goal to bring…

Read More