Charity is one of the 5 basic incumbent pillars of Islam known properly as “ZAKAT”. The practice of Zakat in the religion must be understood in order to fulfill its purpose of pleasing The one true God whose proper name is Allah!!! Jesus said out of faith, hope, and charity, the greatest show of submission to Allah is Charity. The quote “Charity starts at home then spreads abroad” is often used, but often mistaken to one believing this actually means His own individual house and His own individual expenses!!! But that is gravely wrong and mistaken and is subject to punishment by Allah if knowing better!!! So today Brother Ameer will give clear understanding to what charity or Zakat is and who qualifies as a beneficiary of charity so no one can make an excuse as to why their duty is not being performed in the correct manner!!!
The Qur’an talks about the zakat in more than 30 different verses, mainly in the Medinan suras. In the Qur’anic view, zakat is a way to redistribute the wealth, thus increasing the flow of cash in the economy with a particular interest in the poor and the dispossessed Muslims. Zakat is considered more than taxation. One must give zakat for the sake of one’s salvation. Non Muslims are not required to pay zakat, but give a tax by a different name called Jizyah tax. While those who give zakat can expect reward from God in the afterlife, neglecting to give zakat can result in damnation. The giving of the zakat is considered a means of purifying one’s wealth and soul.
The hadith also admonish those who do not give the zakat. According to the hadith, refusal to pay zakat is a sign of hypocrisy, and God will not accept the prayers of such people. The hadith assert that the poor wouldn’t be hungry if the rich gave zakat. But they also state that zakat purifies those who give it. It is believed that Allah safeguards the property of those who give zakat. On the day of Judgment, those who didn’t give the zakat will be held accountable and punished.
Various legal aspects of the zakat are discussed in the hadith: the types of properties that are zakatable, the minimum quantity that is zakatable (the nisab), the rate of zakat, and the rule of one-year holding period.
The hadith contain advice on the state-authorized collection of the zakat. The collectors are required not to take more than what is due, and those who are paying the zakat are asked not to evade payment. The hadith also warn of punishment to those who take zakat when they are not eligible to receive it (see beneficiaries of zakat). 
The caliph Abū Bakr, believed by Sunni Muslims to be Muhammad’s successor, was the first to institute a statutory zakat system. Abu Bakr established the principle that the zakat must be paid to the legitimate representative of the Prophet’s authority, Abu Bakr, who ensured that each man, woman, and child had a minimum standard income of 10 dirhams annually, later increased to 20 dirhams.
The second and third caliphs, Umar ibn Al-Khattab and Uthman ibn Affan, continued Abu Bakr’s codification of the zakat. Uthman also modified the zakat collection protocol by decreeing that only “apparent” wealth was taxable, which had the effect of limiting zakat to mostly being paid on agricultural land and produce. During the reign of Ali ibn Abu Talib, the issue of zakat was tied to legitimacy of his government. After Ali, his supporters refused to pay the zakat to Muawiyah I, as they did not recognize his legitimacy.
Ultimately, the practice of state-administered zakat was short-lived in the early Islamic history. During the reign of Umar bin Abdul Aziz (717–720 A.D.), it is reported that no one in Medina needed the zakat. After him, zakat came to be considered more of an individual responsibility.
Today, conservative estimates of annual zakat is estimated to be 15 times global humanitarian aid contributions.
Zakat is one of the five pillars of Islam, and is expected to be paid by all practicing Muslims who have the financial means (nisab). In addition to their zakatobligations, Muslims are encouraged to make voluntary contributions (sadaqat). The zakat is not collected from non-Muslims, although they are required to pay thejizyah tax.
The amount of Zakat to be paid by an individual depends on the amount of wealth and the type of assets the individual possesses. The Quran does not provide specific guidelines on which types of wealth are taxable under the zakat, nor does it specify percentages to be given. The amount of zakat to be paid oncapital assets (e.g. money) is 2.5% (1/40). Zakat is additionally payable on agricultural goods, precious metals, minerals, and livestock at a rate varying between 2.5 (1/40) and 20 percent, depending on the type of goods. Zakat is separate from the practice khums, where Shi’ites are expected to pay one fifth of their income.
Zakat is only payable on assets continuously owned over one lunar year that are in excess of the nisab, a minimum monetary value. The nisab is calculated after adding the cash value of zakatable assets (gold, silver, cash, stocks, merchandise for business, livestock, etc.). Personal assets such as clothing, household furniture, and one residence are not considered zakatable assets. The nisab for all valuables (gold, silver, money etc) is the value of 87.48 grams (7.5 tola) of gold or value of 612.36 grams (52.5 tola) of silver (at world prices) whichever is less. For example, if the value of 87 grams of gold is $3000 and 606 grams of silver is $400 then thenisab would be US $400 which mean if anyone has savings (in terms of money, gold or silver etc) of worth more than $400 then he/she has to pay zakat accordingly. Some people often get confused with gold prices that are at far distance from silver prices and set the nisab according to gold which is wrong.
Today, in most Muslim countries, zakat is collected through a decentralized and voluntary system where eligible Muslims are expected to pay the zakat based on worship and love of God. Under this voluntary system, zakat committees are established, which are tasked with the collection and distribution of zakat funds. In a handful of Muslim countries including Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, the zakat is obligatory and is collected in a centralized manner by the state. In Jordan,Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon, and Bangladesh, the zakat is regulated by the state, but contributions are voluntary.
According to the Hadith, the family of the Muhammad should not consume any Zakat. Zakat should not be given to one’s own parents, grandparents, children, grandchildren, or spouses. Also, it is forbidden to disburse zakat funds into investments instead of being directly given to those who are in need.
Some scholars disagree whether the poor who qualify should include Non-Muslims. Some state that Zakat may be paid to non-Muslims, but only after the needs of Muslims have been met.
Fi Sabillillah is the most prominent asnaf in Southeast Asian Muslim societies, where it broadly construed to include funding missionary work, Quranic schools and anything else that serves the community (ummah) in general.Zakat can be used to finance a Jihad effort in the path of Allah. Zakat money should be used provided the effort is to raise the banner of Islam.
Additionally, the zakat funds may be spent on the administration of a centralized zakat collection system.
|This section requires expansion. (July 2011)|
The zakat is considered by Muslims to be an act of piety through which one expresses concern for the well-being of fellow Muslims, as well as preserving social harmony between the wealthy and the poor.Zakat promotes a more equitable redistribution of wealth and fosters a sense of solidarity amongst members of the Ummah.
Zakat is meant to discourage the hoarding of capital and stimulate investment. Because the individual must pay zakat on the net wealth, wealthy Muslims are compelled to invest in profitable ventures, or otherwise see their wealth slowly erode. Furthermore, means of production such as equipment, factories, and tools are exempt from zakat, which further provides the incentive to invest wealth in productive businesses.
The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad says “Whoever brings a good deed will have tenfold like it. . .”
(Holy Qur-an 6:161)
“And judging on that day will be just; so as for those whose good deeds are heavy, they are the successful.” (Holy Qur-an 7:8)