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Zakat: An Overview

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By Author: Salvatore Andrea
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For those who did not know, Zakat is considered one of the five pillars that together make up the Islamic faith. A form of duty, it is performed by all devout Muslims regularly. Zakat is a kind of contribution made only once a year. In order to pay zakat, one should possess the Nisab. The latter is the amount of minimum wealth that qualifies a person for the aforementioned contribution. One needs to pay 2.5 percent of his annual savings acquired in a Hijri year. This invariably means that a person should have Nisab for the entire year. People whose annual incomes fail to meet the Nisab level are, however, exempted from such contributions. And just in case you are wondering, the wealth of an individual is calculated essentially on the basis of assets used by him while trading.

The total amount of saving is calculated only after an individual is able meet his basic necessities, family expenses, taxes and due credits. However, it would be wrong to consider Zakat as a form of charity or tax. Neither would it be prudent to think that the amount is expected from each ...
... and every Muslim out there. The contribution rather is regarded as a noble opportunity for the comparatively well off to aid their not-so-lucky poor fellow Muslims. Furthermore, it is often believed in the Islamic faith that the mixture of different kinds of wealth held by a person belongs rightfully to Allah or God. Individuals are mere trustees or caretakers of that wealth.

As pointed out already, zakah is performed only once in a year. Keeping such considerations in mind, people normally choose the holiest month of the Islamic calendar or the Ramadan month. This is also done to remember the time and dates of payment. Another important reason for choosing the month of Ramadan is that if the holy contributions are made in this month, then the blessings and rewards of the contributor will multiply. Aside from making this compulsory payment, individuals are also often encouraged to go for voluntary contributions over and above the Zakah.

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