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Zakat is the obligatory practice of giving a required small percentage in charity to be taken from certain types of wealth when the amount and tenure of that wealth reach a minimum threshold. Those who are eligible to receive Zakat include the poor, the needy, and those with overwhelming debts, among others.

The command to give Zakat is often mentioned along with the command to establish prayer. God says,

“And they were not ordered except to worship God sincerely, being true in faith; and to establish the prayer and give the Zakat (alms). And that is the worthy religion.”
Quran (98:5)

Whereas prayer develops the individual’s connection to God, Zakat tests the strength of that connection. God says in the Quran,

“Believe in God and His Messenger and spend of that which He has entrusted you with; for those of you who believe and spend will have a great reward.”
Quran (57:7)

The soul is confronted with the choice of holding onto its hard-earned wealth or giving some of it up out of obedience and in fulfillment of God’s command. By constantly training to give up what it loves, the soul can become less attached to worldly things, grateful for what it has received, and content with what it has. God says,

“By no means shall you attain righteousness until you give freely of that which you love,”
Quran (3:92)

Although Zakat purifies the heart, its benefit is not limited to the inner dimensions of the individual. Those who give Zakat bring benefit to the less fortunate of society while also promoting the circulation of wealth; for those who are in need are more likely to spend it on their necessities without delay. Underlying the principle of Zakat is the recognition that everything, each blessing, and possession, is from the bounty of God. Therefore, Zakat is not perceived as a gift from the giver to the receiver that entails the usual sense of indebtedness and favour that come with a gift. Rather, it is God’s gift to the poor as He is the giver of the initial blessing to the wealthy and the One who deemed it obligatory to be given to the poor and needy. Zakat is the right of the poor in the wealth of the wealthy.


The threshold (Nisab) whereupon payment of Zakat becomes obligatory in relation to gold, silver and currencies is 87.48 grams of gold or 612.36 grams of silver or the equivalent thereof in currencies. If a person has this amount in their possession at the end of one year, they become liable to pay 2.5 percent of this wealth to eligible recipients. Zakat also applies to crops, livestock, traded commodities and mined gold and silver. Further details of the prerequisites and conditions of Zakat can be found in books on Islamic jurisprudence.


Besides the obligation of Zakat, voluntary acts of charity (Sadaqa) are highly encouraged. The noble Prophet himself, peace be upon him, was most generous, and encouraged generosity. When giving, Muslims are encouraged to give from the best of what they have, demonstrating preference to others over themselves. The promise from God is that whatever they spend or share with others does not diminish their own provisions or wealth in the least; on the contrary, it increases provisions by purifying what remains in their possession and multiplying it with countless blessings. God says,

“Those who spend their wealth in the way of God are like grain that sprouts seven ears, in every ear one hundred grains. And God gives increase to whomever He wills.”
Quran (2:261)

Charity does not have to be monetary, since any act of kindness that helps another person counts as a form of voluntary charity. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said that even a smile can be an act of charity. He also said, “Every day the sun comes up every joint of each person calls for a charity: to act justly between two people is a charity; to help a man with his mount, lifting him onto it or hoisting up his belongings onto it is a charity; a good word is a charity, every step you take to prayer is a charity; and removing a harmful thing from the road is a charity.

In conclusion, God promises,

“Those who spend their wealth by night and day, in private and public, shall be rewarded by their Lord. No fear shall come upon them, and they will not grieve.”
Quran (2:274)