May God forgive me and guide me regarding any sign that would have been misinterpreted in this study and elsewhere. May He always guide us to a better understanding of His profound scripture so we can purify ourselves and increase our knowledge.
One of the most important theme in the Quran, simply because it represents the essence of Islam, is to believe in God and do good deeds. For example :
وَٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ وَعَمِلُوا۟ ٱلصَّٰلِحَٰتِ
أُو۟لَٰٓئِكَ أَصْحَٰبُ ٱلْجَنَّةِ هُمْ فِيهَا خَٰلِدُونَ
(2:82) And those who believe and do good deeds are those who will be the dwellers of paradise. They will reside therein forever.
God enjoins us to “believe and do good deeds” tens of times throughout the Quran, to make sure that we do not forget that most important message. It is why He instituted the ritual prayer (“believe”) and the zakât (“do good deeds” through charity) as the core rituals of Islam. It is also why, right after sura Al Fatiha, which the Quran describes as the “seven [verses recited] in series of two” in 15:87 (see the article on salât), sura 2 starts in the following manner:
(2:1) Alif, Lam, Mim. (2:2) This is the book for which there is no doubt; a guide for those who fear [God]. (2:3) Those who believe in the invisible realm and perform the ritual prayer (salât), and from what we provide to them, they give in charity (zakât and charity in general).
The other pillars of Islam, despite being very important, are not at the same level of importance, as we will see later.
Just like all other rituals of Islam (the ritual prayer, the fast of Ramadan, the ‘Oumrah and the Hajj), this study will prove once again that the obligatory charity (zakât) as it is described in the Quran has been distorted in Sunni Islam. We will also see that Shia Islam kept the correct amount of zakât, called “Khums”, but unfortunately keeps it largely away from its due recipients, that is to say the poor. Sunni Muslims, under the influence of “hadiths other than God and his verses” (45:6), pay a zakât of 2.5%. Despite the fact that the Quran proclaims that it is “fully detailed” (7:52, 10:37, 6:114), they do not hesitate to defy God and Muslims who follow the Quran alone and ask them the following question: “If the Quran is fully detailed as you claim, where do you find the correct percentage of zakât in the Quran, as well as all relevant details regarding its payment?”.
The goal of this article is to rectify the truth, God willing, regarding zakât, and to prove that it is very simply the only percentage of charity ever mentioned in the Quran (20%), which is to be paid not on the gross or net income, but on the “surplus” that we save during every “harvest” cycle. We will explain why the Quranic system of zakât is a just system that does not penalize unfairly the rich nor the poor, and forces believers to do good deeds while living within their means in order to achieve a more balanced society and a better world.
1. Zakât: Definition
The word zakât is derived from the root zakâ (زكى), which means “to grow”, “to purify”, “being clean and pure”, “being righteous”, “prosper”, “succeed”, “improve”. The word “zakât” means “purity”, “Charity”, “obligatory charity”, “excellence”. In the Quranic context which we are going to study in detail, the zakât corresponds to an “obligatory charity” of 20% (8:41) based on new yearly savings accumulated after paying all expenses (including retirement contributions) and taxes (not overall savings which are already purified) that is to be paid “on the day of harvest” (2:219, 6:141).
Any person or household has to be financially responsible in order to be able to set aside a share of what they earned and pay the due share of charity by the end of a revenue cycle to poor people, according to an order of people in need specified in the Quran (8:41).
In other words, the zakât (الزكوة) is an obligatory charity which goal is to purify us and all revenues that God granted to us by His infinite grace, thus contributing to eradicate poverty by forcing us to help our neighbor.
2. Difference between zakât and sadaqat
The root Sadaqa (صدق) means “to be truthful”, “establish or confirm the truth”, but also “verify”, “faithfully respect a promise”. The verb in the form V (tasaddaqa = تصدق) means “to forfeit something that is due as a charity” (2:280, 4:92, 5:45), “spend in charity” (9:75, 63:10), “be charitable” (12:88).
The word “sadaqat” means “charity” in general; the zakât is therefore the obligatory part of the sadaqat (charity), the Quran being very clear that it strongly encourages charity beyond the zakât, which is only a mandatory minimum.
إِنَّمَا ٱلصَّدَقَٰتُ لِلْفُقَرَآءِ وَٱلْمَسَٰكِينِ وَٱلْعَٰمِلِينَ عَلَيْهَا
وَٱلْمُؤَلَّفَةِ قُلُوبُهُمْ وَفِى ٱلرِّقَابِ وَٱلْغَٰرِمِينَ وَفِى سَبِيلِ
ٱللَّهِ وَٱبْنِ ٱلسَّبِيلِ فَرِيضَةً مِّنَ ٱللَّهِ وَٱللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ
(9:60) Charities (al sadaqât = plural of sadaqat) are exclusively reserved for the poor and the needy and those who collect them, for those who inclined their hearts (the beggars?), [to free] the necks [of those subjected to slavery], for those in debt, for the path of God (defend the ummah if attacked, preach Islam), for the [stranded] traveler. This is an obligation imposed by God, and God is All Knowing, Most Wise.
3. It is preferable in Islam to donate charities anonymously
(2:271) If you divulge [your] charities (sadaqât), they are legitimate, but if you remain anonymous and give them to the poor, it is better for you, and He will absolve your sins. God is fully conscious of what you do.
4. Zakât is absolutely obligatory for anyone who wishes to belong to the Muslim faith
Salvation of a Muslim in the hereafter depends on his faith in God, his behavior, paying the zakât, and believe in God’s verses:
وَٱكْتُبْ لَنَا فِى هَٰذِهِ ٱلدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً وَفِى ٱلْءَاخِرَةِ
إِنَّا هُدْنَآ إِلَيْكَ قَالَ عَذَابِىٓ أُصِيبُ بِهِۦ مَنْ أَشَآءُ
وَرَحْمَتِى وَسِعَتْ كُلَّ شَىْءٍ فَسَأَكْتُبُهَا لِلَّذِينَ
يَتَّقُونَ وَيُؤْتُونَ ٱلزَّكَوٰةَ وَٱلَّذِينَ هُم بِـَٔايَٰتِنَا يُؤْمِنُونَ
(7:156) “And decree for us goodness in this world, as well as in the hereafter. In truth, we have vowed ourselves to you.” He replied: “I afflict with My retribution to whomever I wish, but My mercy encompasses everything. Thus, I will manifest it for those who are righteous, fulfill their obligation of zakât, and to those who believe in Our verses”.
Just like the ritual prayer, paying the zakât is absolutely mandatory in the Muslim faith. These two rituals are placed higher than the fast of Ramadan, the ‘Umrah and the Hajj, which can in some cases be replaced by feeding the poor (instead of the fast of Ramadan) or ordering a sacrifice if someone is not in the position to perform the Hajj (please see related articles for complete details).
Believing in God and actively participating in eradicating poverty and promoting the well being of your neighbor is the essence of Islam. It is so crucial that a Muslim is not even allowed to go to a mosque if he or she does not perform the ritual prayer and does not pay the zakât, which means that someone who refuses to fulfill these two rituals is not even a Muslim in the eyes of God:
إِنَّمَا يَعْمُرُ مَسَٰجِدَ ٱللَّهِ مَنْ ءَامَنَ بِٱللَّهِ وَٱلْيَوْمِ
ٱلْءَاخِرِ وَأَقَامَ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ وَءَاتَى ٱلزَّكَوٰةَ وَلَمْ يَخْشَ
إِلَّا ٱللَّهَ فَعَسَىٰٓ أُو۟لَٰٓئِكَ أَن يَكُونُوا۟ مِنَ ٱلْمُهْتَدِينَ
(9:18) Only (انما, particle of restriction = “Only”, “exclusively”) one who believes in God and the afterlife, observe the salât and fulfill the obligation of Zakât, and fear no other than God, may be granted (the privilege of maintaining and accessing) God’s mosques. Only then may such (people) be among the (truly) guided ones.
For the same reason, a person who embraces Islam or claims to be part of the Muslim faith is not really part of the Muslim community until he or she performs the salât and fulfills the obligation of zakât.
The following verses are another example of the proven fact that performing the ritual prayer and paying the zakât are the two main proofs that allow us to judge if a person is Muslim or not:
فَإِذَا ٱنسَلَخَ ٱلْأَشْهُرُ ٱلْحُرُمُ فَٱقْتُلُوا۟ ٱلْمُشْرِكِينَ
حَيْثُ وَجَدتُّمُوهُمْ وَخُذُوهُمْ وَٱحْصُرُوهُمْ وَٱقْعُدُوا۟
لَهُمْ كُلَّ مَرْصَدٍ فَإِن تَابُوا۟ وَأَقَامُوا۟ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ
وَءَاتَوُا۟ ٱلزَّكَوٰةَ فَخَلُّوا۟ سَبِيلَهُمْ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ
(9:5) So once the [four consecutive] sacred months are over, then kill the idol worshipers wherever you may encounter them, seize them, besiege them, and wait for them everywhere you can ambush them. But if they repent, observe the ritual prayer and fulfill the obligation of zakât, then do not stand in their way; Indeed, God is Oft Forgiving, Most Merciful.
فَإِن تَابُوا۟ وَأَقَامُوا۟ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ وَءَاتَوُا۟ ٱلزَّكَوٰةَ
فَإِخْوَٰنُكُمْ فِى ٱلدِّينِ وَنُفَصِّلُ ٱلْءَايَٰتِ لِقَوْمٍ يَعْلَمُونَ
(9:11) But if they repent and perform the ritual prayer, and fulfill the obligation of zakât, then they are your brothers in religion. And We explain verses in detail for people who know.
In passing, verse 9:5 is typically quoted out of context by the opponents of Islam and terrorists for wrongly think they are part of the Muslim faith and are ready to kill anyone whom they think is not Muslim unless they force them to embrace their creed. The context of the sura is simply an all out war against polytheists who actually wanted to commit a genocide against Muslims and destroy the pure monotheism preached by our holy prophet. The Quran decrees clearly a message of peace and respect towards other religions:
لَآ إِكْرَاهَ فِى ٱلدِّينِ قَد تَّبَيَّنَ ٱلرُّشْدُ مِنَ ٱلْغَىِّ
فَمَن يَكْفُرْ بِٱلطَّٰغُوتِ وَيُؤْمِنۢ بِٱللَّهِ فَقَدِ ٱسْتَمْسَكَ
بِٱلْعُرْوَةِ ٱلْوُثْقَىٰ لَا ٱنفِصَامَ لَهَا وَٱللَّهُ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ
(2:256) There shall be no compulsion in religion: the right way is now distinct from the wrong way. Anyone who denounces the devil and believes in GOD has grasped the strongest bond; one that never breaks. GOD is Hearer, Omniscient.
ٱدْعُ إِلَىٰ سَبِيلِ رَبِّكَ بِٱلْحِكْمَةِ وَٱلْمَوْعِظَةِ
ٱلْحَسَنَةِ وَجَٰدِلْهُم بِٱلَّتِى هِىَ أَحْسَنُ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ هُوَ
أَعْلَمُ بِمَن ضَلَّ عَن سَبِيلِهِۦ وَهُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِٱلْمُهْتَدِينَ
(16:125) You shall invite to the path of your Lord with wisdom and kind enlightenment and debate with them in the best possible manner. Your Lord knows best who has strayed from His path, and He knows best who are the guided ones.
5. The zakât is based upon a percentage of our revenues
وَٱلَّذِينَ فِىٓ أَمْوَٰلِهِمْ حَقٌّ مَّعْلُومٌ
(70:24) And those whose wealth is subject to a known portion [of zakât].
وَفِىٓ أَمْوَٰلِهِمْ حَقٌّ لِّلسَّآئِلِ وَٱلْمَحْرُومِ
(51:19) And from their wealth, a portion/share/percentage [of zakât] is destined to the beggars and the deprived.
The word “Haq” (حق) has several meanings. We find for instance in the Arabic-English dictionary by Omar that it means “The Truth; One of the excellent names of Allah; Due share; Justice; Right claim; What ought to be; Duty; Incumbent.” (end quote).
This is why most mainstream translations translate 70:24 as follows:
(70:24) And those who set aside part of their wealth. (The Monotheist group)
(70:24) Those who give a due share of their wealth. (Wahiduddin Khan)
(70:24) And those in whose wealth there is a fixed portion (Shakir)
6. What is the “known rate” of zakât mentioned in the Quran?
God proclaims that His book is fully detailed (7:52, 10:37, 6:114), it is therefore strictly impossible that the percentage of zakât may be the one mentioned in hadiths (2.5%), simply because it is not in the Quran. All we need to do is find the only charity rate (haq = حق) ever mentioned in the Quran, and which indicates the rate of zakât applied to spoils of war:
وَٱعْلَمُوٓا۟ أَنَّمَا غَنِمْتُم مِّن شَىْءٍ فَأَنَّ لِلَّهِ خُمُسَهُۥ
وَلِلرَّسُولِ وَلِذِى ٱلْقُرْبَىٰ وَٱلْيَتَٰمَىٰ وَٱلْمَسَٰكِينِ وَٱبْنِ
ٱلسَّبِيلِ إِن كُنتُمْ ءَامَنتُم بِٱللَّهِ وَمَآ أَنزَلْنَا عَلَىٰ عَبْدِنَا يَوْمَ
ٱلْفُرْقَانِ يَوْمَ ٱلْتَقَى ٱلْجَمْعَانِ وَٱللَّهُ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَىْءٍ قَدِيرٌ
(8:41) And [you shall] know that from whatever spoils of war you may get, a fifth (20%) belongs to God, as well as the messenger, the close relatives, the orphans, the needy, and the [stranded] wayfarer, if only you believe in God and in what was sent down to Our servant on the day of decision, the day when the two parties clashed; God has complete power over everything.
Like all revenues in Islam, revenues derived from spoils of war are naturally subject to the payment of zakât, that is to say that they are subject to the payment of the “known rate” (70:24), or rate of zakât. We cannot but witness the fact that 8:41 is the only “rate” found in the entire Quran that is related with the payment of a rate of zakât, therefore, it is THE one and only rate of zakât. There is no objective or Quranic reason why the rate of zakât on spoils of war should be different from the one on any other revenue, simply because the Quran is fully detailed and because God would have otherwise specified it in His book. The Quranic rate of zakât has by the way been preserved in Shia Islam, where the “khums” (literally “fifth”) is calculated on profits generated on the income, that is to say the surplus, and is payable by the end of the financial year. The problem is that instead of being distributed solely to “the close relatives, the orphans, the needy, and the [stranded] wayfarer” as pointed out in 8:41, it has been turned into an income tax, and is therefore a distortion of the message of the Quran.
7. The zakât is calculated on the surplus, i.e. net profits
The only difference between the zakât on spoils of war and ordinary revenues is that the zakât on ordinary income is calculated on net profits:
يَسْـَٔلُونَكَ عَنِ ٱلْخَمْرِ وَٱلْمَيْسِرِ قُلْ فِيهِمَآ إِثْمٌ كَبِيرٌ وَمَنَٰفِعُ
لِلنَّاسِ وَإِثْمُهُمَآ أَكْبَرُ مِن نَّفْعِهِمَا وَيَسْـَٔلُونَكَ مَاذَا يُنفِقُونَ
قُلِ ٱلْعَفْوَ كَذَٰلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ ٱللَّهُ لَكُمُ ٱلْءَايَٰتِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَفَكَّرُونَ
(2:219) They ask you [O prophet] regarding what alters the mind and the game of chance. Proclaim: “There is a sin in both of them, as well as benefits for the people, but the sin embedded in them exceeds their benefits”. And they ask you [O prophet] what they should spend in charity. Proclaim: “The surplus”. Thus, God clarifies to you (plural) the verses that you may reflect.
The verb “anfaqa” (form IV: = ينفقون = what they should spend [in charity]) refers here clearly to spending in charities, just like for instance verse 2:3 quoted earlier where we find exactly the same verb at the same form (form IV).
The verb “anfaqa” (“to spend in charities”) points at the payment of zakât as well as sadaqât (charities) in general, and shows that the payment of the zakât is calculated on “the surplus” (ٱلْعَفْوَ = al ‘afwa = the surplus), that is to say on the net profits after all expenses (including reasonable retirement contributions) and taxes, every time there is a “harvest” or revenue, as we are going to see later that the Quran wants us to pay the “known rate” of zakât of 20% on the day of harvest.
The term “al ‘afwa” (the surplus) occurs only one other time in the Quran:
خُذِ ٱلْعَفْوَ وَأْمُرْ بِٱلْعُرْفِ وَأَعْرِضْ عَنِ ٱلْجَٰهِلِينَ
(7:199) hold/Set aside the surplus and enjoin goodness, and turn away from the ignorant.
The word “al ‘afwa” in 7:199 is often translated as “forgiveness” in some translations, but should in my opinion logically be in line with its meaning in 2:219. We therefore see in the verse the extreme importance “to set aside a surplus” (a profit in addition to expenses and taxes), which allows to both save money to build the future, pay the known Quranic rate of zakât of 20% on the overall surplus, and participate in other additional charities.
Such a system is just because a household with seven children and a single person will both pay 20% of new savings (not overall savings) accumulated at the end of a year, and not their gross or net incomes. Paying 2.5% of your revenues in charity as it is practiced in Sunni Islam is unjust because it penalizes people in need, that is to say people who can barely make it by the end of the month. Paying 20% of your savings after taxes is on the contrary fair because someone who has almost no savings after a pay period will pay very little in zakât, but at the same time will force that person to still pay something because zakât is absolutely mandatory, forcing that person to be financially responsible and not spend more than what he or she makes. On the other hand, someone who is very wealthy will pay a substantial amount (20%) on all the money he or she will have accumulated during the financial year.
The zakât system not only forces Muslims to do good deeds and save money, but forces people to live within their means. Since zakât is beyond mandatory, nobody should even consider buying anything he or she cannot afford, or he or she would be in grave danger not to be able to pay his or her mandatory zakât, which would mean you are not considered Muslim anymore. It is a system that, if well understood, guarantees financial stability on a large scale. It shields society against poverty and eradicates it at the same time. The absolute bottom line is simple: Not only should you NEVER spend more than you make, but you actually MUST save money to build the future of your family and pay your fair share of zakât and do good deeds in society. For instance, if you can’t buy a new car cash, don’t buy it; get a very inexpensive one you can afford instead. If you can’t afford to go on vacation, don’t go. Do not fall into the traps of modern societies where people live beyond their means, borrow money at usury rates and are unable to build financial security for their old days.
The educational systems around the world usually blatantly lack the most important knowledge we should pass down to our children: We should include what I would call mandatory “financial responsibility classes” to educate people and children since childhood. We should teach children how to become financially responsible, successful, save money, create and manage a business, establish realistic goals, invest, and be generous to promote a Muslim society that would thrive and truly eradicate poverty everywhere in the world.
When you pay your zakât of 20% on your savings after taxes, you are purifying your revenues and basically thanking God for providing to you. God says:
وَإِذْ تَأَذَّنَ رَبُّكُمْ لَئِن شَكَرْتُمْ لَأَزِيدَنَّكُمْ
وَلَئِن كَفَرْتُمْ إِنَّ عَذَابِى لَشَدِيدٌ
(14:7) And [remember] when your Lord proclaimed: “The more you are thankful, the more I provide for you, but if you are ungrateful, indeed, My retribution is severe.
The more you give in charity (as long as you can realistically afford it), the more God will provide for you. This is God’s system to reward generous people as He opens the doors of success for generous and righteous believers.
The system of zakât should also draw our attention on the fact that we do not own the money that we make, and God and His angels watch how we use the wealth that God provides to us.
8. God indicates an order of preference to fulfill the obligation of zakât:
Just like for the zakât regarding spoils of war, charities (which include zakât of course) derived from any revenues should follow the following order or priority:
يَسْـَٔلُونَكَ مَاذَا يُنفِقُونَ قُلْ مَآ أَنفَقْتُم مِّنْ خَيْرٍ
فَلِلْوَٰلِدَيْنِ وَٱلْأَقْرَبِينَ وَٱلْيَتَٰمَىٰ وَٱلْمَسَٰكِينِ وَٱبْنِ
ٱلسَّبِيلِ وَمَا تَفْعَلُوا۟ مِنْ خَيْرٍ فَإِنَّ ٱللَّهَ بِهِۦ عَلِيمٌ
(2:215) They ask you what they should give in charity: Proclaim [O Mohammed]: All charitable donations should go to both of your parents (mother and father), your close relatives, the orphans, the needy, and the [stranded] wayfarer. And whatever good you may do, God is fully aware of it.
The above order is the same as the one observed in 8:41:
1. The close relatives
2. The orphans,
3. The needy,
4. The [stranded] wayfarer,
The order in 2:215 applies to all charities (sadaqât), whether it be the zakât or other forms of voluntary sadaqat.
9. When shall we fullfill the obligation of zakât ?
We saw earlier in 70:24 and 51:19 that our revenues are taxable according to a “known rate” (Haq). The word “haq” (حق = percentage) is also employed in verse 6:141, which defines when the believer must fulfill the obligation of zakât.
وَهُوَ ٱلَّذِىٓ أَنشَأَ جَنَّٰتٍ مَّعْرُوشَٰتٍ وَغَيْرَ مَعْرُوشَٰتٍ
وَٱلنَّخْلَ وَٱلزَّرْعَ مُخْتَلِفًا أُكُلُهُۥ وَٱلزَّيْتُونَ وَٱلرُّمَّانَ مُتَشَٰبِهًا
وَغَيْرَ مُتَشَٰبِهٍ كُلُوا۟ مِن ثَمَرِهِۦٓ إِذَآ أَثْمَرَ وَءَاتُوا۟ حَقَّهُ
ۥ يَوْمَ حَصَادِهِۦ وَلَا تُسْرِفُوٓا۟ إِنَّهُۥ لَا يُحِبُّ ٱلْمُسْرِفِينَ
(6:141) He is the one who created gardens with or without trellises, date palms, crops diverse in taste, olives, pomegranates, [some] similar and [some] dissimilar. Consume its fruit when it yields and donate its [due] share [of zakât] on the day of harvest. And do not be extravagant. Indeed, He does not like those who are extravagant.
If we study the expression “and donate its [due] share” (Waâtu haqqahu = وَءَاتُوا۟ حَقَّهُۥ), it is immediately clear that it is the very same verb (ata = ات, form IV = to give, or in the context of zakât, to pay) that is used all over the Quran numerous times to describe the payment of zakât, for instance:
(7:156) …and they fulfill the obligation of zakât…
(9:5)… and fulfill the obligation of zakât…
(9:11) … and fulfill the obligation of zakât…
The word “zakât” occurs 33 times in the Quran, referring 31 times to the ritual of zakât of 20%. The exact expression in the imperative form “and fulfill the obligation of zakât (Waâtu zzakât = وءاتوا الزكوة) occurs 12 times. The same verb (âtâ = اتى, form IV = to give, to donate in charity) is associated with the word zakât 27 times in the Quran in different ways out of the 30 times the word referring to the obligatory charity.
This Quranic clarification shuts down the claims of the ones who deny that zakât is indeed the payment of a specific share or percentage, as outlined clearly in 6:141, and as confirmed with a 20% zakât rate on spoils of war (8:41). If 20% is not a specific percentage, then please tell me what it is.
Therefore, when God commands us to “donate its [due] share (of the yield) on the day of harvest”, we should pay the only “known share” (70:24) that is ever mentioned in the fully detailed Quran and relates to paying the zakât, that is to say 20% (8:41). This is the one and only authentic rate of zakât for people who really wish to follow the Quran alone and obey Allah.
According to 6:141, the due share of Zakât needs to be paid “on the day of harvest”. This can be once a year (according to the concept of solar year, and not lunar because a harvest is indexed to a solar cycle) if a farmer only has one type of crop, or every time he reaps a harvest on his land. In other words, a believers needs to pay his zakât every time he has revenues, whether they are monthly, weekly, yearly, etc…
In modern societies, and given the fact that taxes are often very high and complicated to calculate, it is very difficult to know exactly what your real harvest is, and I would personally propose that zakât would be paid yearly according to the concept of a solar year. A Muslim society could arrange the day to pay taxes shortly before the time of the main harvest (wheat, corn, etc..) in a given country, state or region, so that people would know exactly how much they really made during the year after taxes, and be able to exactly know how much to pay in zakât on the day of harvest.
Given the fact that 2:219 indicates that we should donate in charity based on “the surplus”, the zakât should be calculated on what remains of the preceding harvest on the day of the new harvest, and not on the one that is being harvested because a harvest is often harvested on several days and rarely sold the same day. In other words, we should pay 20% of “the surplus” (the actual harvest for everyone) after taxes and all expenses incurred during the year, making sure that we set aside a surplus (7:199) because it is beyond mandatory for every Muslim to pay the zakât. Paying the zakât on the day of the main harvest once a year would also have the advantage for Muslims to be in a position to give much more in one time, rather than fragmented amounts that would not necessarily make a substantial difference for people they try to help.
Zakât is about purifying the revenues which God blesses you with and entrusts to you.
The Zakât is to be paid:
– On “the surplus” (2:219),
– A “surplus” needs to be carefully set aside (7:199),
– The Zakât is a “specific rate” (70:24, 51:19, 6:141),
– It is the Quranic rate of 20% mentioned in 8:41,
– It has to be paid on the day of harvest (6:141),
– The believers need to pay the zakât bearing in mind that God recommends an order of preference to:
1. Both parents,
2. The close relatives,
3. The orphans,
4. The needy,
5. Stranded travelers, or travelers in financial difficulty.
– In case of war and if spoils of war are seized, the 20% rate of zakât is deducted from the overall amount seized (8:41), which is an exception.
All other charities are otherwise donated based on “the surplus” (2:219), that is to say based on new savings accumulated at the end of a given year (and not based on overall savings which are already purified if you correctly paid your zakât), meaning what believers can really afford after deducting all expenses (including retirement contributions if they are not already deducted from your salary) and all taxes.
For example, if you only saved a new $100 at the end of a given year after all expenses and taxes, you are going to pay $20 in zakât that year. If you saved a new $100,000 at the end of a given year, you are going to pay $20,000 in zakât.
It is simple, it is fair, it is an absolute obligation if you want to be part of the Muslim community, and it forces believers to save and be financially responsible, which protects society from poverty. Most of all, zakât based on the Quran alone eradicates poverty in the world.
Praise be to God, Lord of the universe.