Ramadan has come to you. (It is) a month of blessing, in which Allah (swt) covers you with blessing, for He sends down mercy, decreases sins and answers prayers… In it, Allah looks at your competition (in good deeds), and boasts about you to His angels. So show Allah goodness from yourselves. The Prophet Mohammed (pbuh), as narrated by Tabarani
Ramadan is a blessed month of reflection, prayer and fasting for Muslims. During the month, observers gain a better understanding of and appreciation for the suffering of impoverished and hungry people around the world. Ramadan also serves to remind Muslims of the importance of charity, and their obligation to be charitable during the month and all throughout the year.
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B.C. Dodge & R. Mordant Mahon talk to Islamic Relief USA’s Naeem Muhammad about caring for our communities in this episode of “What a Relief!” — IRUSA’s official podcast. Are you familiar with...
zakat is more than a percentage.
It’s a gift.
Zakat brings direct relief to a fellow human’s suffering.
Here are some things your Zakat can do:
Emergency food • Shelter for refugees • Job training • Medication and much more—all in accordance with Islamic principles.
No matter who you send your Zakat to, there’s one thing in common: The people who receive it are truly grateful. It’s more than a percentage, and more than a check—it’s a link between hearts.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about zakat. Please remember that there are many rulings and differences of opinion regarding zakat. The following answers—derived through the consultation of a council of imams who follow the Fiqh Council of North America—are meant to provide a basic understanding of zakat. It is advised that you consult with your local imam or scholar for more detailed inquiries.
What is zakat?
What is nisab?
Nisab is the minimum amount of wealth a Muslim must have—after calculating necessary expenses—to be eligible to contribute zakat. Nisab is equivalent to the value of 3 ounces of gold. The nisab we’ve calculated for our zakat calculator is based on the most-recent report available to us (disclaimer: this number may change daily depending on fluctuations in the gold exchange rate).
What is hawl?
Hawl is defined as the completion period for a zakat asset, which is one lunar year. In other words, the wealth on which zakat should be paid must have been held for at least one full year. There are some forms of zakat that do not require hawl, such as for crops, when zakat should be paid at the time of the harvest. For clarification, it is recommended that you consult with your local imam or scholar.
Who is obligated to pay zakat?
Every adult Muslim who meets the requirements of nisab and hawl in a calendar year must pay zakat for that year. There are some conditions that may require others, a wali (guardian) of a minor for instance, to pay zakat too. As always, it is best to consult with your local imam or scholar for clarification.
Must I have the intention to pay zakat for it to be accepted?
Yes. In Islam, intention is an essential part of any act of worship, including the payment of zakat. The intention must be made at the time the zakah is paid.
What kinds of wealth are included in the calculation of zakat?
For a detailed list of wealth to include, please see IRUSA’s zakat calculator.
These stipulations delineate the type of wealth that should be accounted for when calculating zakat:
- The wealth is yours and under your control. You do not need to include outstanding debts when calculating zakat.
- The wealth is subject to development and increasing.
- After calculating necessary expenses, the wealth meets the requirements of nisab.
- Personal belongings, such as clothes, primary homes, food, cars, are exempt from zakat.
When can I pay my zakat?
Zakat should be paid as soon as possible prior to or at the time that you’ve earned the requisite amount of nisab each lunar year, or one year after you last paid it. Tip: A good way to ensure zakat is made in a timely fashion is to pay your zakat during Ramadan.
Is it acceptable from a religious perspective to give zakat toward any of your funds, or does the fund have to specify zakat?
You may make your zakat contributions toward any of our funds or projects. It is your intention that counts in this case. However, if your contribution is specifically made to our zakat fund, then we will follow specific zakat guidelines.
Who can my zakat be given to?
According to the Holy Qur’an (9:60), there are eight categories of people who qualify to be beneficiaries of zakat:
- The poor
- The needy
- The collectors of zakat
- Those who hearts are to be won over
- A mediator or someone who pays from personal monies to fix or mediate problems among the people
- In the cause of Allah (swt)
Most scholars agree that the poor and needy are the most important categories of people to receive zakat. Given that, it is acceptable to give your entire zakat allotment to individuals who are in those groups.
Do I have to pay my zakat on my home?
One does not have to pay zakat on a primary place of residence. If the house qualifies as a secondary residence that sometimes get rented out, however, zakat is due on it after subtracting necessary expenses from the income generated.
Do I have to pay my zakat on jewelry?
Yes, on jewelry you do not regularly wear and that you own for investment purposes.
Do I have to pay my zakat on stocks?
Yes. You may use the current value on stocks.
What’s the difference between zakat and sadaqah?
In the language of the Holy Qur’an, zakat and sadaqah are the same. In practice, however, sadaqahis the term used to indicate voluntary charitable giving while zakat is obligatory.
What is the difference between zakat and Zakat al-Fitr?
Zakat al-Mal (commonly called “zakat“) is due when a person’s wealth reaches the nisab amount and can be paid anytime during the year. Zakat al-Fitr is paid by the head of the household for each member of the family, before Eid al-Fitr prayer. Zakat al-Fitr is about the price of one meal—estimated at $10 in 2014.
On whose behalf do I have to pay Zakat al-Fitr? What if I have young children?
Zakat al-Fitr should be paid on behalf of everyone in the family. There are some scholars that recommend that Zakat al-Fitr is also paid on behalf of unborn children after the 120th day of pregnancy, but do not view it as obligatory. Most scholars do agree, however, that Zakat al-Fitrshould be paid on behalf of the baby after his/her birth. Please do consult with your local imam or scholar for further clarification.
When should I pay my Zakat al-Fitr?
It should be paid before Eid prayer (or any day during Ramadan). There are some schools of thought that also allow for Zakat al-Fitr to be paid even before Ramadan. Consult with your local imam or scholar if you need additional information.
Zakat is payable at 2.5% of the wealth one possesses above the nisab. Nisab, which is equal to 3 ounces of gold, is the minimum amount of wealth one must have before they are liable to pay zakat. *The nisab amount listed is based on the latest available report for April 2016 (note: This number may change daily depending on fluctuations in the gold exchange rate). Zakat is liable on gold, silver, cash, savings, investments, rent income, business merchandise and profits, shares, securities and bonds. Zakat is not paid on wealth used for debt repayment of living expenses such as clothing, food, housing, transportation, education, etc.
Ramadan food distribution in South Sudan.
“All the time my children and I pray to Allah (swt) that may Allah help those who helped us, even more than what they did for us,” said Zakia, a widow in Afghanistan who received Ramadan food packages that freed her from the worry of finding food for her children each night. “… Their help counts a lot because they helped in the holy month of Ramadan a widow and two orphans.”
Islamic Relief teams distribute food packets in impoverished communities to provide relief during Ramadan. Each food packet holds about 30 pounds of food that is important to the local diet of the recipients, and is designed to help a family of five to seven people. This generally includes rice, wheat, lentils or oil, and often also sugar, canned fish or meat, and dates. Foods are procured locally within each country whenever possible, to ensure that they’re appropriate for the recipients and to help the economy as well. The Ramadan program is designed to complement longer-term relief and development projects that provide sustainable assistance in improving living conditions.
IRUSA’s 2016 Ramadan campaign will support brothers and sisters in need in these locations:
Afghanistan >>> Albania >>> Bangladesh >>> Bosnia & Herzegovina >>> Chad >>> Chechnya >>> Ethiopia >>> India >>> Indonesia >>> Iraq >>> Jordan >>> Kenya >>> Kosovo >>> Lebanon >>> Malawi >>> Mali >>> Myanmar (Burma) >>> Niger >>> Pakistan >>> Palestine >>> Philippines >>> Somalia >>> South Africa >>> South Sudan >>> Sri Lanka >>> South Sudan >>> Syria >>> Tunisia >>> United States >>> Yemen >>> Zimbabwe
Check out this album of IR Ramadan food distributions that took place around the world last year. Masha’Allah!
The Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) said, “I and the person who looks after an orphan will be in paradise together like this,” reports Al-Bukhari, describing the motion as raising his forefinger and middle finger together.
Providing care for orphans is especially important to the Islamic Relief community. Islamic Relief USA has dedicated programs to do just that: Orphan Support and annual Sponsorships.
Orphan Support means your donation will help orphans however is needed most in a country of your choice or anywhere around the world. And donations toward Orphan Support are flexible—you can offer support whenever you’re ready, and as often as you like.
Annual Orphan Sponsorships provide direct support to an orphan and his or her family for a full year. Sponsorships through IRUSA allow orphans to stay with a loving guardian by helping the guardian pay for the child’s needs.
IRUSA donors are sponsoring more than 13,000 orphans in nearly two dozen countries around the world; combined with the support program, the value of these efforts is immense, masha’Allah! And, with our global affiliate Islamic Relief Worldwide, the total number sponsored has reached 30,000 orphans a year.
Full annual sponsorship costs between $43 and $65 a month—just about $1.50 to $2 a day, less than the price of a cup of coffee you’d have for suhoor or after iftar. You can provide food, clothing, health care and an education to an orphan all for $2 a day or less!
$43/month | $516/year
Bangladesh – Chechnya – Ethiopia – India – Mali – Somalia* – South Africa – Sri Lanka
$49/month | $588/year
Afghanistan – Albania – Indonesia – Kenya – Niger – Pakistan
$65/month | $780/year
Bosnia – Jordan – Kosovo – Lebanon – Palestine*
*Please note: Orphans originally from these countries may currently be living as refugees in neighboring countries depending on need.
fidya / kaffara
In some circumstances, a Muslim is not able to fulfill his or her religious obligation to fast during the month of Ramadan, or may want to recompense for a broken oath. Fidya and kaffara are two solutions offered that can help a Muslim compensate for not fasting or breaking other obligations—paying of fidya or kaffara also benefits members of the community who live in impoverished conditions. The following answers are meant to provide a basic understanding of fidya and kaffara, and were derived through the consultation of a council of imams who follow the Fiqh Council of North America. It is advised that you consult with your local imam or scholar for more detailed inquiries.
“Fidya” is a donation type within the Islamic tradition paid by individuals who cannot fulfill the obligation of fasting due to illness or old age. Fidya payments are meant to feed a miskeen (person in need) for each of the fasting days missed, and are equivalent to the price of one meal each for two people or two meals for one person. The estimated cost, on guidance from the Fiqh Council of North America, is $10 for each day missed or $300 for all of Ramadan. That price is based on the average cost of a basic meal throughout the country. Of course, if, on average, you spend more per meal, it is permissible to adjust the price accordingly. In addition, if the donor is from a low-income family, he or she should then care for the family’s needs first before considering giving a separate fidya donation.
“Kaffara” is also a donation type within the Islamic tradition that provides individuals who deliberately miss or break a day of fast during the month of Ramadan without a valid reason. According to Islamic guidelines, if a person misses a day of fasting unnecessarily, he or she should either fast for 60 consecutive days or feed 60 masakeen (underprivileged people) per day. The estimated cost is $10 per person for 60 people, which equals $600 a day for each missed or broken-fast day.
Beyond Ramadan, kaffara may also be given to recompense for broken oaths or promises. In these cases, 10 masakeen (underprivileged people) should be fed for each occurrence. The amount paid should be about the average you would pay for a meal. The estimated cost is $10 per person for 10 people, which equals $100 per broken promise. If the donor is from a low-income family, and cannot afford the payment, it is recommended that he or she should fast for three days, and make sure to “protect your oath,” meaning he or she should stay true to his or her word going forward.
Please remember, the prices noted are listed on guidance from the Fiqh Council of North America, and are calculated based on an average. If you typically spend more on a meal, you can adjust the price accordingly.