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What is the wisdom behind zakat?
On the individual level, Zakat brings about spiritual purification to those who fulfil it as one's soul is purified and filled with goodness and heart is filled with love and care. As a form of purification, Zakat expands one's wealth and develops a feeling of gratitude for Allah's bounty and this brings about a sense of peace and well-being.
On the community level, Zakat minimizes feeling of envy among those who are at different stages of financial stability, gives an Islamic guideline in handling one's financial matters and a method of managing the society's economy and finance which makes possible for part of the wealth of the rich to be distributed among the poor.
What is the difference between Zakat & Sadaqah?
Zakat is obligatory (wajib, one of the pillars of Islam), has specific rate of 2.5% and minimum level (Nisab), specific period of fulfilment (Haul) and specific beneficiary (Asnaf).
Sadaqah is encouraged (sunnah), has neither specific rate nor minimum level, specific period of fulfilment nor specific beneficiary.
Who is eligible to pay zakat?
The conditions to be eligible for fulfilment of Zakat are:
Full ownership of the wealth.
Nisab is reached: Nisab is the market value of 86 grams of gold.
Haul is reached: Possession of the assets for one Hijrah year or 355 days.
Is it permissible for one to pay zakat on wealth before it reaches haul so as to attain the benefits during Ramadan?
Payment of zakat can be made earlier before it reaches haul with the condition that if and when it finally reaches haul, the wealth is much higher than the one that has been paid for, the excess zakat must be paid.
What are the consequences upon those who do not pay zakat?
A person who does not pay zakat has destroyed one of the pillars of Islam. Just as those who can afford to pay zakat gives it out to those who need it most and at the same time causing a sense of respect and care among the two classes of the community, refusal to do so will also cause some conflict or a feeling of hatred amongst the community. Allah s.w.t has ordained that the rich give out a very small portion of what they have every year to the poor and needy and this group will always be hoping to receive what they are entitled for. The rich must be grateful to Allah .s.w.t for the rizq and wealth that Allah s.w.t has bestowed on them by paying zakat. Refusal to do so is akin to taking away the rights of the poor and needy and taking away a person's rights is definitely something that will cause hatred in the hearts of those that have been oppressed and will incur the wrath of Allah s.w.t.
Can one pay zakat using interest monies?
Interest monies are considered syubhah and cannot be used for personal expenses. Therefore, it is not permissible to be used to pay one's zakat obligation.
I am a Singaporean, living and working in UK. I am supposed be paying Zakat this month but I am not sure whether to pay it in Singapore or UK. Can I get an advice whether I should pay in Singapore or UK? Should I pay in my own country or the place I am currently living in?
There are two types of Zakat: Zakat Fitrah and Zakat Harta. In terms of the place where you should fulfil your Zakat obligation, the condition differs for both.
For Zakat Fitrah, you should fulfil your Zakat at the location where you think you would meet the last night of Ramadan and the first night of Syawal (the last maghrib period of Ramadan). For Zakat Harta, you should fulfil your Zakat at the location where the source of the wealth is generated from. In this case, this may be in UK.
However do note that the above are general recommended guidelines. Hence if you face difficulty in these, you may fulfil your Zakat at a location that is easy for you.
May I know if a Muslim organization is required to pay Zakat Harta when its bank account balance has fulfilled the criteria for haul and nisab?
Organizations that are welfare-oriented, non-profit-oriented and focus on charity services for members and public at large are exempted from Zakat obligation.
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