Zakaat is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, an obligatory act of charity for Muslims. It is a form of almsgiving and a means of purifying one’s wealth. The word “Zakaat” means both “purification” and “growth.”

Zakaat is typically calculated as a fixed percentage (usually 2.5%) of a Muslim’s total savings and wealth above a minimum threshold known as “nisab.” This amount is then distributed to specific categories of individuals in need, as outlined in Islamic teachings.

These categories, known as “asnaf,” include:

The Poor and Needy (Fuqara’ and Masakin)
Those who are unable to meet their basic needs due to poverty.

The Destitute (Al-Mu’allafatu Qulubuhum)
Those who may be inclined towards Islam or those whose hearts are to be reconciled.

Debtors (Al-Gharimin)
Those burdened with debt incurred for legitimate reasons.

The Wayfarer (Ibnus-Sabil)
Travelers who are stranded or in need of assistance.

Those Engaged in the Cause of Allah (Fisabilillah)
Individuals working in endeavors that benefit the Muslim community.

Zakaat is an act of worship, and like all acts of worship, it requires intention. Therefore, when giving money to someone as Zakaat, the intention of Zakaat must be made beforehand (in the heart). You cannot retrospectively consider an amount given to someone without the intention of Zakaat as Zakaat.

Who you cannot give zakaat
You are not allowed to give Zakaat to anyone you are obliged to support (when they are in need and you are capable of doing so), especially your parents (and their parents) and your children (and their children). Giving Zakaat to them would relieve you of your obligation to support them in this manner. However, an exception is made if a person does not have enough to support them, in which case they may give from their Zakaat.

Previous years
Zakaat that you have not spent in previous years, due to reasons such as ignorance, does not expire. By repenting, you reconcile what is between you and Allah, but the obligation to the poor and needy remains. If you are unsure about your exact earnings, you may estimate until you feel that you have paid Zakaat on all your previous earnings (while still adhering to the conditions mentioned in the previous message). Allah does not burden a person beyond their capacity.

By giving Zakaat, Muslims fulfill their religious obligation and contribute to the welfare and support of those in need within their community.

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