The most important practices in the Muslim faith are referred to as the Five Pillars. These are obligations that Muslims have to meet in order to be seen to live a good and responsible life. In this blog, we examine Zakat, which is the Third Pillar. Keep reading to find out exactly what this practice is and what it entails.
A type of worship
As the charity Human Appeal UK points out, Zakat involves giving a set proportion of one’s wealth to charity and it’s regarded as a type of self-purification and worship. The practice sees Muslims give 2.5 per cent of their wealth each year to those in need. As well as helping the poor, there are a range of benefits associated with the practice. For example, it’s seen to help people learn self-discipline and free themselves from greed and a love of possessions and money. It also encourages honesty.
Human Appeal notes that Muslims are expected to pay Zakat once they reach puberty if they meet the minimum level of wealth (called the Nisab) and they are of sound mind. The Nisab is based on the current market value of just over 612 grams of silver or 87 grams of gold. Because of the significant difference between these two values, most scholars now recommend applying the Nisab for silver. The fact that this value is lower means that more people meet the threshold – which ultimately results in more money being given to charity.
Zakat is payable on precious metals (including jewellery and ornaments containing these metals), cash you keep in bank accounts or at home, business stock, agricultural produce, stocks and shares, money you have lent to others, pensions and investment properties. To work out how much money you need to pay, simply add up the value of all of these assets and then calculate 2.5 per cent of this total.
It’s worth noting that Zakat isn’t payable on your own home, vehicles you keep for personal use, debts owed to you that you’re not confident will be repaid, furniture and household goods and jewellery that doesn’t contain a precious metal.
If you want to pay Zakat and you are trying to work out precisely how much you owe, you can use online calculators to make this process easier. A range of organisations, including Human Appeal International, have these calculators on their websites.