How Do You Pay Your Zakat?

Islam is not merely a creed of ritual worship and social customs. It is a complete code of conduct or way of life that guides man and helps him establish systems that guarantee success both in this world and the hereafter

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Islam is not merely a creed of ritual worship and social customs. It is a complete code of conduct or way of life that guides man and helps him establish systems that guarantee success both in this world and the hereafter.

The Qur’an repeatedly exhorts the believers to establish salat (prayer) and pay zakat (poor due). The Qur’an (22:41) says: “They are those who if We establish them in the land establish regular prayer and give regular charity enjoin the right and forbid wrong: with Allah rests the end (and decision) of (all) affairs”.

The Qur’an (9:103) also commands the Holy Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be with him) to: “Take alms of their wealth and make them pure and clean”.

The Holy Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be with him) said: “I have been commanded to collect zakat from the rich among you and distribute it to the poor among you.”

The beneficiaries of zakat are mentioned in the Qur’an (9:60) “Alms are for the poor and the needy and those employed to administer the (funds); for those whose hearts have been (recently) reconciled (to truth); for those in bondage and in debt; in the cause of Allah; and for the wayfarer: (thus is it) ordained by Allah and Allah is full of knowledge and wisdom”. One of the beneficiaries of zakat are the zakat collectors mandated by the Islamic state. It means that the salary expenses of zakat-collectors can be paid through zakat funds.

All the above clearly indicates that the right method for collecting zakat is that the Imam of Muslims should receive it regularly and distribute it systematically. The Holy Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be with him) and the Caliphs worked according to this very system. All zakat used to be collected by the officials of the Islamic government and it was distributed from the centre. Zakat is thus part and parcel of the public domain and will be forcibly collected by the Islamic government as can be borne out by the following narration:



Abu Hurairah relates: When Allah’s Apostle died and Abu Bakr became the caliph some Arabs turned renegade (reverted to disbelief). (Abu Bakr decided to declare a war against them), ‘Umar, said to Abu Bakr, “How can you fight with these people although Allah’s Apostle said, ‘I have been ordered (by Allah) to fight the people till they say: “None has the right to be worshipped but Allah, and whoever said it then he will save his life and property from me except on trespassing the law (rights and conditions for which he will be punished justly), and his accounts will be with Allah. Abu Bakr said, “By Allah! I will fight those who differentiate between the prayer and the zakat as zakat is the compulsory right to be taken from the property (according to Allah’s orders). By Allah! If they refuse to pay me even a she-kid which they used to pay at the time of Allah’s Apostle. I would fight with them for withholding it” Then ‘Umar said, “By Allah, it was nothing, but Allah opened Abu Bakr’s chest towards the decision (to fight) and I came to know that his decision was right.”



Muslims have forgotten that in Islam every work is achieved through collective efforts (ijtemaaiat). Islam does not like individualism. If you are staying far from the mosque and say your Salat (prayer) alone, it will be formally correct but the Shari’ah demands that Salat must always be offered in congregation (jamaat). If there is no Islamic government that collects zakat then efforts should be made to form a Jamaat or a party that will try to resurrect the Islamic system and establish the Deen of Allah with all its associated systems, including the collective system of collecting and distributing zakat. It will be correct to take out zakat and spend it on an individual basis only in the absence of collective zakat system. But efforts should in any case be made to centralise the collection of zakat in order that its distribution be conducted in a systematic manner. One can give zakat individually and spend it under the heads sanctioned by the Shariat as an exception or aberration, not as a norm or rule. It is incumbent on all Muslims to think out methods of establishing a collective system for receiving and distributing Zakat because without it the benefits accruing from making zakat obligatory remain incomplete.



This is the most obvious question that will be posed by people who are habituated to pay zakat individually to their relatives, near and dear ones. But just imagine for a moment. If an Islamic government is formed today and it establishes a system of collecting zakat, then this difficulty of giving zakat to your relatives will still remain as it is not incumbent on the authorities to follow your diktat on whom to give your zakat.

Maulana Sadruddin Islahi has said that while there were those who refused to pay the zakat after the demise of the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be with him), there were also those who said that they were ready to pay zakat but would not give it to the Khalifa (Islamic government) but would distribute it locally. And Abu Bakr in all his wisdom decided to wage a war against both. The point is your relatives deserve more than your zakat. You can support them with sadaqah and infaq on a regular basis as it is their divinely sanctioned haq (right).



The recipients of Zakat as defined by the Holy Qur’an include the following:


1. The poor (Fuqara)

This refers to someone who has no income. The sheer volume of zakat funds collected centrally will help formulate a master plan for poverty alleviation and will help make the poor khud-kafeel (self sustaining) in the long run.


2. The needy (Masakeen)

This is someone who for instance, may have a job, a house and a car, but their income is below the minimum requirement. Zakat funds can help implement huge cost intensive projects like unemployment schemes, minimum wage programme, car and housing interest free loans, thus improving the quality of life for the citizenry.


3. Aamalin az Zakah (Employees of the Zakat)

This category is sub-divided into the following:

The group of people who as social services workers go into the community to evaluate who is Faqeer and Miskeen.

those who collect the Zakah money

the accountant of the Zakah money

investors who increase the share of the Zakah

the clerical worker or secretary who puts the files in order

those who will deliver Zakah to the ones who need it

the outside Auditor.


4. Mual-lafatul-quloob (Sympathizers)

These are those people who might enter or who have already entered Islam. Anyone we feel are good friends of ours (non-Muslim or new Muslims) are eligible for gifts from the Zakah money. This group is usually ignored when we give zakat individually as our relatives take precedence over this very important task of creating a healthy environment for Dawah activity.


5. To Free Riqab (slaves)



6. For the Gharimeen (



7. Fee Sabeelillah (for the Cause of Allah)

This can be anything for the love of Allah. Some examples:

for the employment of a Daiyah, Imam, or religious teachers to do Dawa

building Islamic schools

building Muslim clinics and hospitals

providing money to young men who want to marry but cannot afford Mehr

to assist poor travellers

to establish water springs on streets for those walking or travellers

(please note, these last three things were done by Khalifa Umar ibn Abdul Aziz)

to defend Muslims who are under attack

For television, radio or newspaper project aimed at doing Dawah

to help someone publish a book for Dawah

to pay for the studies of a student..


8. Ibn as Sabeel

This refers to a traveller who for instance has lost his wallet and or belongings and has to get back home.


Individual welfare lies in collective welfare

Each and every single person’s welfare is inextricably bound up with the well-being of the community in which he lives. If you help your brethren with the wealth you possess, then that wealth will circulate and come back to you with many of its benefits, and if you by way of selfishness keep it to yourself or spend it for your own personal benefit, it will ultimately get reduced. Collective zakat is need of the hour and needs to be revived by the Ummah if its benefits are to be accrued. Paying zakat individually must become history.

money can be used to pay off debts. For example, someone who has gone bankrupt because of job loss and is overloaded with debt.those who are in debt) is the term used to describe the group of people who are slaves. The Zakat money is used to free the slaves. Islam did not invent slavery, but it gradually abolished it. Zakat funds can be used to free those unjustly held in prison and languish in jail for long periods of time for no fault..